Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My 2011 Movie Odyssey - Part XII

Wizards (1977)
I consider the animated movie of The Lord of the Rings to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen, but I was willing to give director Ralph Bakshi another chance. This time around he was telling his own story and didn't have to adapt something as massive as Tolkien's masterpiece into a reasonable running time. Unfortunately, free range Ralph Bakshi isn't much better. The fantasy world he creates makes little sense as most of the rules seem made up on the fly. The animation is cheap, often relying heavily on rotoscoping and stills. (Not-so-small side note: I categorically dislike rotoscoping in animated movies. It's as if the director can't decide whether to make an animated movie or a live action one so says, "Let's do both!" But instead of getting the best that each medium has to offer, what we are left with is the worst of both worlds. Rotoscoped images almost always look woefully out of place once they are placed into an animated world. And one of the main reasons for doing an animated movie as opposed to a live action one is the freedom animation affords filmmakers. Rotoscoping throws that freedom right out the window and deprives animators of the chance to fully ply their craft. Rotoscoping can occasionally be used for interesting stylish effect, most notably in Waking Life, but 99% of the time it is just garish. I'm also left wondering if motion capture is the new rotoscoping.) Characters flip-flop their allegiances on a whim, powerful magical people don't even know how to use their own magic, the bad guy motivates his army using the power of Hitler, and the fairy princess spends the whole movie dressed in extremely revealing lingerie. It claims to be a kids' movie, but I don't find it suitable for people of any age.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This is a very entertaining movie and Steve Rogers/Captain America is quite a compelling character. I liked how they went with a historical context for him, placing the movie during WWII. Unfortunately, the final scene felt out of place and tacked on. It really should have been the first scene of the next movie or the post-credits scene.

Machete (2010)
What started out as a fake trailer in Grindhouse has become a full-fledged movie. It's quite enjoyable as mindless, over-the-top entertainment.

Waiting for “Superman” (2010)
This documentary takes a sobering look at the state of public education in America today. While it does a great job at pointing out many of the flaws, there aren't a whole lot of solutions to be seen. And I've never been advertised to so much during the closing credits as half a dozen times I was encouraged to send a text to number X "for more information" (not to mention the number of times the film's website was thrown at me as well).

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Maybe I was just expecting too much, but I was rather underwhelmed by this movie. It tells a fine story, but it left me wanting more.

The Cove (2009)
A group of animal rights activists team up to do their part to stop the systematic slaughter of dolphins at a cove in Japan. Many of their efforts to capture the killings on camera are as thrilling as many spy movies and as intricate. But through the whole thing I found myself disagreeing with almost everything they said. After all, they're just dolphins. If dolphins are as intelligent as the filmmakers claim, couldn't they figure out a way to not get trapped by the dolphin fishermen? All the time, energy, and money they spent trying to save those glorified fish could have been better spent digging wells in Africa, teaching English in China, or working at a homeless shelter in Denver.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
With all the boring stuff out of the way in Part 1, Part 2 ends up being a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride that barely gives its audience time to catch its breath. I could quibble with some of the ways the narrative was translated from the book, but they would be little more than sour grapes. This is easily the second best of the movies (after Prisoner of Azkaban).

Kick-Ass (2010)
This is a slick, energetic movie that is loads of fun.

The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
Sergio Leone does a sword and sandals movie! While some of the sets are really nice, there's very little that separates this movie from the other films of the genre.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
John Barrymore does an admirable job at portraying both the virtuous Jekyll and the despicable Hyde. It's also interesting to note that the musical took many of its narrative cues from this movie.

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