All posts by Lisa

How to Train Your Dragon

Lisa here, back after a hiatus, to help Matt with some reviews…

I’ve been mainly against CGI kids movies ever since Finding Nemo (and yes, I still loathe that film). But Pixar has been changing my attitudes since Wall-E and I’ve started broadening my horizons.

How To Train Your Dragon was actually a DreamWorks film, and I have a love/hate relationship with many of their movies, too. Liked Kung Fu Panda, hated Madagascar, and Shrek I was meh on. I went in to see HTTYD not really caring about the studio, I just wanted to see a decent movie with a good friend (hi Peter!).

So HTTYD was actually a first for me, it was my first 3D movie actually created for 3D (I had seen the Nightmare Before Xmas 3D enhanced film, not impressed). We saw it at a real IMAX (Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale) and let me say it was amazing.

I was worried that the 3D would be too gimmickey and feel forced like it did on Nightmare, but it really didn’t. I think they blended the 3D effects in perfectly with the story, using them only where appropriate. It all just felt…natural, which is how I think 3D needs to be used. Just enough to give that WOW factor without getting stale.

The story was actually quite enjoyable. It was serious enough to keep me intrigued, but light hearted to not be boring and dry. There was plenty of humor, and the characters were well developed and not too stereotypical. It had a good, rustic feel with the Norse theme they had, which honestly I’ve yet to see a good viking kids movie, so I was quite pleased.

My Advice: So is it a kids’ movie? Sure, take the childrens. Is it entertaining enough for an adult? Yep. It’s just a generally all around good film that has enough action and humor for kids, but enough development and plot for adults.

P.S. — There’s a sequel in the works, and yeah, I’ll most likely go see it. Heck, I bought a Happy Meal for a HTTYD toy, they’ve sold me on the franchise (I got a green dragon that flaps its wings, forgot what it was called…I’d never make it as a dragon trainer).

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog

I had been hearing about this one for a while, and never got around to seeing it until I noticed I could rent the re-release DVD from Netflix.  Not sure what drew me more to watching this, the fact that Neil Patrick Harris is in it or the story behind the whole project.  Wikipedia it if you’re not familiar with the DHSALB story.

Anyway, so it’s a 42-minute, 3-act musical about evil villains, superheroes, laundry marts, and the homeless.  I really don’t like 99% of musicals…and my exceptions are all rather offbeat ones (Avenue Q, Across the Universe, South Park Movie, etc.).  At first I did think the singing was cheesy, but later that became the charm of the whole thing.  It had great production value considering the time and budget it was done under.  The whole cast and crew really put their full effort into this series and it shows completely.  The story was a bit rushed, but considering they only had 42 minutes to work with, they at least told everything they needed to so it could be self-contained, albeit a bit too quickly.

The DVD extras were the standard commentary tracks and some behind the scenes interviews.  But they were great interviews about the production, the music, and a wrap-up, gave a lot more depth to the production of the musical and just how much effort everyone put into it.  Another great part of the extras was the Evil League of Evil auditions which were fans of the musical that sent in their audition tapes as villains applying to be in the ELE.  The ones that made it to DVD were the cream of the crop, and seriously some of them were amazingly funny.

My advice: Yes, you can get this for free on the internet, but the DVD extras of the cast interviews/thoughts and the ELE auditions are worth it.  Plus watching all three acts together without streaming lag or having to load the next video is nice.

Observe & Report

I’m a fan of Seth Rogan, and that’s pretty much why I wanted to see this movie.  Also, it came out right when Paul Blart: Mall Cop did,and with 2 mall cop movies out at the same time, this one definitely looked better.

In all honesty, I didn’t think it would be that good, but it looked okay enough to spend a few bucks at the cheap theater.  The trailer was not a good representation of the movie; I was expecting a whole “dork guy going after hot chick” plot, and instead was pleasantly surprised with a bit more deeper story than that.  The acting was good, a well-rounded cast of characters that played off each other rather well with their unique quirks.  There was a lot more action than I originally thought, usually the stuff you see in the trailer is the bulk of it, but there was quite a bit of good fight scenes and stunt work.  I’d have to say the best part was definitely the ending, not as cliche as you would expect from this movie’s premise.

My advice: This is a higher-brow dumb comedy.  Give it a chance, a rental at least.  I’ll check the DVD out because I’m sure there’s some great outtakes and deleted scenes to be had.

The Brothers Bloom

I went to this movie after being assured by my friend David that I had seen trailers for it and consented to watching with him.  I had a free ticket and nothing better to do, so I indulged him and went.  This being said, I went in to this movie not remembering what it was about or knowing anything about the directors and actors.

To sum it up in a few words without giving too much away, it’s a story of con artist brothers, starting with their first con and leading up to their biggest and final job to lead them into retirement from the criminal world.  The younger brother is an ever-reluctant party to the older’s schemes, and they get mixed up with an eccentric millionaire’s heiress.

The best way to describe The Brothers Bloom is a quirky, slightly artsy high-brow comedy.  It reminds me somewhat of Ocean’s 11 (I only saw the remake) between the content and iconic character types.  The movie was very enjoyable up until about the hour and 30 mark, where I felt it could have ended and I would have been satisfied.  Instead, it goes a bit further at a slow, and predictable pace where the movie concludes in what to me felt like a very cliché and expected end.

Even with a weak ending, it was a good watch overall.  The brothers had a great chemistry, and Rachel Weisz gave a great performance as Penelope, the isolated, quirky millionaire who gets wrapped up in their last adventure, unaware she’s the mark they’re conning out of millions.  However, I felt the best character overall was Bang Bang, the “Silent Bob” sidekick of the Brothers Bloom.  The movie could be watched focused solely on her and you’d enjoy yourself.  While not a central character, she serves as an easter egg in each scene, usually doing something completely random and unexpected to draw slight attention to her.

My advice: If you have 2 hours to spare and enjoy plot-driven, non-vulgar comedies with a bit of action, this is a good watch.  Not completely necessary to watch in a theater, but if you plan on watching elsewhere, make sure you can pay attention or you’ll lose yourself to the con as well.

Dragonball Evolution

Historically, live-action anime adaptations have been campy at best, often riddled with misinterpreted storylines, ill-cast characters, and just general bad acting.  That being said, I went in to DBE expecting very little, and that was probably the only thing that it lived up to.

The story goes that David and I wanted to see a movie at the cheap theater.  Our options were DBE and Adventureland.  Having already seen Adventureland and sharing a pretty similar opinion to Matt’s review, I convinced him to take the devil we didn’t know over the devil I knew.  $1 admission and a small popcorn later, I want my dollar back.  The popcorn was the best part of the experience.

First, I’ll explain that I am partially versed in the Dragonball universe, so right there I do have to admit that my view on this movie is potentially tainted by the original source material.  I kept reminding myself throughout the movie to attempt to forget it was based off an existing property and just see it as a stand-alone movie.  I have hammered into my head that this was NOT an adaptation of Dragonball, it was a spin-off, a re-imagining, or in the anime lingo, an OVA/OAV.  Even after adopting this mindset, casting aside all prior beliefs and knowledge of Toriyama’s work…it was a horrible movie.

The cast was made up of a bunch of somewhat known actors, and some more well known, nay even Golden Globe nominated names.  Why they regressed to star in such a film as DBE, I will never know.  Overall, the acting was bland…Goku came across flat and unmotivated for the most part, while Yamcha was the victim of multiple personality disorder, being a surfer bum at one point, a money-grubbing twit the next, and seconds later a ‘popped-collar bro’ as the stereotype runs.

Continuity was not a friend of this movie.  We’re treated to a nice backstory montage at the start to set the scene, typical “evil guy attacks planet, is sealed away, now he’s coming back to destroy us”  We’ve all heard it before, but they forgot one key element: how’d he escape the seal?  Did it weaken over time?  Was there a limit?  Did someone free him?  These questions and more…never explained.  He’s also got a busty henchwoman who’s never even addressed until the credits scroll (she was supposed to be Mai, who worked for Emperor Pilaf, but I’m supposed to be unbiased here, so I’m just going to take the fact that she worked for Piccolo).

While I’m on the topic of continuity, let’s speak of timelines, shall we?  A total solar eclipse is supposed to happen in 2 weeks time, according to Goku’s teacher.  A day later, the reality of what that eclipse will bring is revealed to Goku and co. and they set into action, saying there’s only a week until the eclipse.  What couldn’t have been more than a day or two time, the eclipse is referenced again, only this time it’s 2 days away.  Apparently, our production team need a calendar, or at least a better grasp on how to effectively portray time advancement within a movie.

In an action flick, you expect special effects, and DBE does deliver on those…with skills possessed by an entry-level college 3D animator.  All the ‘ki energy’ work was portrayed by blobby blue particle effects (or red in Piccolo’s case), the only notable CG that didn’t look amateur was the smoke effects within the Dragonballs.

Stay through the credits, because they’re probably the best part of the movie thanks to the end theme song “Rule” by Japanese pop queen Hamasaki Ayumi.  On a sad note, the credits also sets it up for a sequel.

All in all, forgetting this was supposed to be Dragonball anything, this was a BAD movie.  Not a “this is so campy, it’s funny” (I didn’t laugh once), not even a “well, it’s not living up to the original” bad.  If you knew nothing of Dragonball and saw this movie, not only would you be confused, but you’d most likely agree that this was a waste of celluloid.  If you’re looking for a good action movie, the few action sequences will leave you disappointed.  If you’re looking for a good fantasy tale, you’ll be so confused by the lack of exposition and plot holes that you’ll lose track of what little story there is.  If you’re looking for a good movie, this isn’t it.

My advice: Do not pay for this movie.  Do not devote time to this movie.  The only reason you should watch this movie is if A) you are forced to (and the compensation had better be sweet) or B) there is absolutely no alternative aside from physical harm (and even then I may consider the physical harm).