Since I was a wee lad, despite the forbidden entry in the 80s to cinemas by my staunchly religious parents, summer cartoons and the like were always something that intrigued (and when finally out on VHS) delighted me. As time wore on, despite Don Bluth’s prowess and attempts, all things turned Disney, then Pixar and now DisneyPixar. Eventually, almost everything in the world of animation turned into CG and 3D/CG animation. That saddens me a bit.
For the kids this week, a non-Disney, European and US joint-animated production graces screens across the country in the form of 3D/CG flick The House of Magic. It tells the sweet story of a recently-abandoned cat named Thunder who seeks refuge in a strange home belonging to an old magician, his pets and his equipment. At first, it seems the world is out to get the poor cat, as the other animals are hell-bent on getting him out of the house. Oh, but fate has a way of playing with celluloid and after an accident, Thunder becomes a mini-leader…and turns from scaredy-cat to mighty cat. There is nothing new here, but the vivid nature of the animation is spectacular, sometimes even breathtaking. Conceived and directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremy Degruson, this simple cartoon gives a decent respite to the idea that only Disney and Pixar can create quality animation. ###
And now for something completely different: the horror genre. Anyone who reads the site or knows me is well aware of how much I love “pelis de terror.” It’s my thing, frankly. The past year has given us a few good scares, but mostly a load of duds. This week is no different. With the release of The Gallows, we have another one of those 'dead teen comes to haunt her high school some years later' flick of trash. It’s funny that one of the main stars is Kathie Lee Gifford’s daughter Cassidy…playing Cassidy. Actually, all of the teen actors in the film play a character named after their actual name. Very original. Plot goes simply as follows: after the death of a student by “accidental” hanging in the mid-90s, the same Nebraska high school re-does the play in homage to the incident twenty years later. The male protagonist of said play is a doofus who can’t learn lines, so his friends devise a ploy to destroy the stage, thereby cancelling the play, and all hell breaks loose…you’ve seen it before, even if you haven’t seen this film. SIGH. #-½
Ted 2…how to begin. I have no qualms in saying that I find the basic Family Guy-humour of Seth MacFarlane to be amateurish and somewhat laughable at the same time. However, it is a scatological, simple-man type of humour that I can only bear for three minutes before I have to say “hell, nah!” That’s why when I saw the original Ted, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that a film of that kind came from a man who gave us so many middle-of-the-road cartoon comedies. Firstly, I found the bear, Ted, to be a plush cutie and genuinely funny, but I also managed to stomach Mark Wahlberg in an offbeat, comedic role which is not his usual shtick. In Ted 2, we have the same group as before, but now love’s labour is lost. Ted is in marriage drama, and his bestie John Bennett is still single and sexless. When the government gets wind of Ted and his wife Tammy’s intent to have, or adopt, a child, the crap hits the fan and the film turns into a literal, wannabe civil rights film complete with Amanda Seyfriend as a junior pothead lawyer and courtroom scenes. Even Morgan Freeman eventually joins the fray. The only thing that never quite clicks is the chemistry between Wahlberg and Seyfried and the film’s jokes. I think I guffawed once, at a scene that would have been genuinely funny in real-life. It occurs at a Comic-Con fest during a chase scene–yes, the film has that too. And it’s not that I’m opposed to MacFarlane’s sense of humour, but after a somewhat winning score with the original, this sequel feels rushed and only a tad funny, at times. ##-½
The concept of The Age of Adaline comes from the school of Benjamin Button, but in a different vein and with a female protagonist. The thing that drew me into this overt fantasy-romantic drama, which tells her long story, was the lead actress herself, Blake Lively. Truth be told I've never seen Gossip Girl or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or anything she's ever been in. Though the film is not highly stellar, I was mesmerised by Lively’s quiet yet strong presence and voice. The story revolves around a woman named Adeline, whose life is far from easy and then dies in an accident, only to be electrocuted back to life via a lightning bolt. Add in some RNA mumbo-jumbo, and the young lady is rendered immortal. By suspending my disbelief, I at least felt an emotional connection with not only Adaline, but with all of her incarnations over a century. Enter in the modern era and her love affair with Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), which leads her full circle back to her escaped past. It turns out Ellis' dad, played calmly by Harrison Ford, was one of her old lovers. Amidst a sea of flashbacks, none too confusing, though none too interesting either, we see how that love came about and then fizzled. What happens next is again a moment to just flow with the movie, despite its fantastical whims. I can easily admit that Lively caught my attention, and though the film is a tad sappy at times, this more than makes up for the spring and summer barrage of crap Nick Sparks films! ###
Enjoy the weekend and week and keep cool and hydrated, kiddos! See you all soon.