Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sideways (2004)

Taylor A darling of the Oscar and film festival circuit a few years back, Sideways is the story of two friends, a future groom and his best man, traveling through California wine country a week before the groom's marriage. Along the way, the play golf, meet some of the locals and drink lots of wine, their friendship being tested by the situations they find themselves in.

Kinda.

Let's start with the positive aspects of the film. I will say that the casting was spot on. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church were completely believable in their roles as Miles and Jack. I can see why Giamatti was so well respected for his portrayal of Miles in the film. As it begins, you really don't like the character. He appears to be nothing more than a pretentious loser. As the film continues, however, I found myself sympathizing with his loneliness and his lack of control over his life. Church was also committed as Jack, the over the hill actor who wants to have one last fling before his wedding. Jack makes no apologies for his plans for the week, and just when you think that you understand the character, he portrays a side of himself that is a testament to the actual love the character shares for his bride. Finally, Virginia Madsen was by far the standout of the foursome making up the main players in this film (Sandra Oh was nice enough, but I found myself thinking her to be the weakest of the actors, and thought that her character could have been played by a multitude of actresses.) Madsen plays Maya as vulnerable and likable from the moment she walks into the film. She has a monologue that uses wine as an analogy for life that many other actresses could have chewed up and performed in an overdramatic way. Madsen's performs the scene with just enough passion, just enough subtlety that makes you believe that what she is saying is true for her. It's a beautiful, understated performance.

Now, that being said, did I enjoy Sideways?

Eh.

For all the hype I had heard about the film when it came out, I was really expecting an amazing film. I thought that at times the material was pretensious and self-indulgent. Some of the camerawork appeared very 70's-esque to me, (angles, lighting, etc.) and considering these characters are supposed to be in the very upper crusty wine country, I found that to be an odd choice. If you took the film and split it into three acts, I would say the second act was by far the most enjoyable to watch. The first act of the film seemed to take a little too long (We get it, they're going to wine country), and the final act appeared to flounder for a while (including a scene with a stolen wallet and a car accident that seemed a little too zany for the movie's sensibilities.) But, this seems to be a recurring theme with the director, Alexander Payne's, previous works (Election and the sinfully underrated About Schmidt).

Sideways is one of those movies that I'm glad I saw it, but am fine with never seeing it again. If you happen to catch it on cable, watch it for a while. Sideways gets 3 Pugs.

Babaloo Sideways is about Miles (Paul Giamatti) going through a sad and pathetic mid-life crisis. He takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) to wine country to taste wine. But alas Jack would rather get drunk on Women before he gets married the following week. At first you kind of feel sorry for Miles. He is to controlling and uptight about a lot of things. Jack his best friend, the whore, wants nothing more to loosen his friend up.

I happen to enjoy this movie. Why? Cause it was about a geek (Miles) talking about wine….I know nothing about wine but I have some knowledge of geek speak. I don’t know, I guess I could relate in a way. Like a geek talking about comics and then geek meets super hottie geek.

The story was slow at first but very good and entertaining towards the middle and end. My favorite part of the film was the Monologues between Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Maya (Virginia Madsen). Miles talked about how complicated it is to grow a pinot grape and Maya how good a wine tastes after so long. It was the most absolute brilliant way of expression in writing between the two characters I have ever seen. The film had a lot of subtle funny moments that were also brilliant.

Not much bad to talk about.

The beginning was slow and the film seemed low budget but that didn’t bother me as much. The acting and the story itself was very entertaining.

I give it 4 pugs out of 5.

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009)

A Babaloo Review
To say that I have been waiting for this film for awhile is an understatement. When they decided to push the film back 7 months, I was appalled. So you can tell that I am a Harry Potter fan... I have read all the books and seen all the movies.

Although, this was the only time I did not see the midnight showing of the film.

ANYWAY....

It's the 6Th year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter played by Daniel Radcliffe and mayhem ensues (as usual) and very deliciously I might add. Draco is up to no good, Ron and Hermione are having a lovers tiff, Voldermort is terrorizing the wizards and the muggles, Dumbledore prepares Harry for the battle that lies ahead of him as he deals with his ragging hormones. Tom Riddle is a psycho, Snape is a douche, Luna is adorable, Horocrux's, Luck potion's, Quidditch etc.....

Yes, this film is jam packed. As a huge fan/reader, I have always thought the Harry Potter films as more of an afterthought or cliff notes (if you will) of the actual books. This one one was no exception but yet I think it is one of the best in the series. The film had a great balance of heart and humor with dark tone in the film. If you have or have never read the books, you will enjoy this film.

The film had great visiuals, amazing soundtrack and alot of great acting. The young actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint) are all growing up as fine actors. For the first time I actually saw Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) be funny. Rupert Grint as Ron had a great scene in the Quidditch match (which he takes the position as the goalie) was a great diversion. Emma Watson as Hermonie was a also very funny. And of course Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn was a great addition to the film. Good choice as the teacher that lives vicariously through his students. Michael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore is always a delight but in this film was more of the fantastic wizard we have been waiting for. Alan Rickman as Snape is fun to watch him speak so viciously and slowly....makes me giggle. The other actors like Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) etc....were not so involved in the film. Which is sad but what can you do. But who can forget Helena Bonham Carter as the wicked Bellatrix....she probably had the shortest part in the movie yet very memorable.

As I mentioned before, the screen writing (by Steve Kloves who wrote most of the movies) was great and again the movies were always considered (to me) as an afterthought. BUT I can't seem to understand how they just dropped the ball at the end of the film. At the end of the book there was a great battle scene in which the students (and the school) battle it out with the Death Eaters and the reason they survived was the luck potion. As well as the realization of who the Half Blood Prince was, the whole Half Blood Prince was so underplayed. I wondered if they could only have added a few more minutes to the film if that would have made a diffrence. Sigh. And don't get me started on the funeral. Even though with these were slight nuisance the film was very good. I just could blame them for being as faithful as they possibly could.

So for that I give it.
4 out of 5 pugs.

P.S.
and Taffy...I did not ditch you >:P. You know I'm a fan. It is like asking a small child to hold his pee while waiting for the bus in the amazon....NEXT too a huge ragging waterfall.
In short, I could not contain myself. I had too....accept it.

Pineapple Express (2008)

A Taylor The Latte Boy Review
Ok, so I am not a pot smoker. I've never been a pot smoker - never even tried it. Yet I occasionally find myself drawn to movies where marijuana is a common theme. And usually, after watching the latest exploits of Harold and Kumar or whoever, I am disappointed. Pineapple Express is no exception.
The premise of the film. A process server (played by Seth Rogen) accidentally witnesses a murder, and by an odd (yet believable-ish) chain of events, goes on the run from the killers with his drug dealer (James Franco.) The two stop occasionally to make dumb decisions and/or light up, eventually deciding they need to take the main bad guy (Gary Cole) head on. It's supposed to be a buddy movie, but I found the two main characters to be annoying. Seth Rogan from the onset looks like he needs to take a bath, and while many reviewers and audiences enjoyed the tense chemistry between Rogen and Franco. In two hours these two go from Rogen being openly hostile/annoyed by Franco to announcing towards to the world that he is the best friend Rogen ever had. I didn't feel it. Franco has never been a favorite actor of mine - he is my opinion the weakest part of the Spider Man trilogy - and while his portrayal of the drug dealer is believable, even when he's supposed to be baked, he's still a little too pretty under the ratty clothes and greasy hair. It doesn't help I am aware of Rogen's appeared reputation for enjoying pot smoking and all that comes along with it. So there were times I couldn't help but wonder if knowing that about him swayed my opinion of him in the movie. As I've said on a recent PiMC episode, while I find Seth Rogen cute, the whole pot smoking vibe he has going on right now is kinda distracting and a turn off.
That doesn't mean Pineapple Express is all bad. Many of the lesser characters are fun to watch, including Ed Begley, Jr and Nora Dunn as Rogen's girlfriend's parents, Danny McBride as Franco's supplier, and a surprisingly bad ass Rosie Perez as a corrupt cop (who, oddly, doesn't have Perez's trademark whine/accent.) I was surprised at the violence in the film (especially the end) and can't say that should there be a sequel (as I have heard the powers that be are considering) that I would be partaking.
Pineapple Express gets 2 pugs.

Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009)

A BABALOO Review
Imagine yourself in a roller coaster (or a ride of some sort) that twisted and turned and flipped you around so many times, that you get sick to your stomach. But also During the ride you are wondering as to"why am I in here?" Once you have gotten off this ride, and wishing you didn't waste your time, your kinda glad you did....yeah that's Transformers.

OK so evil robots came to Earth, millions of year ago. These evil robots built a machine that can harvest the energy of the sun and use that energy to power up themselves. While doing so, they could destroy the sun at the same time destroying the planet. THEN for some strange reason a small fragment piece of cube, from the first movie, falls into Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeaouf) lap. Once he touches this piece of the cube, it downloads a "map" into his brain which leads to finding the missing piece to power source that powers the machine, that has been hidden for centuries within the Egyptian pyramid and that can save Optimus Prime.

Everything else in between is explosions and extravagant fight scenes involving huge robots that were so "busy looking" (for better use of the word) that all you see is a blur of metal and buildings and/or trees falling that you don't know who's fighting who. And Megan Fox's butt. Nothing less you'd expect from a Micheal Bay film.

Yes, the fight scenes were amazing and yes the sound will blow your mind and yes the visuals were fantastic. It was an entertaining movie, it kept you watching and wanting more things to blow up. The chase scenes kept you at the edge of your seat. The first chase scene when the Autobots and the Humans were trying to capture Decepticon robots was very well made and fast paced. The "slut" robot was the one of coolest parts in the movie. Even the small remote control toy car robot was entertaining to watch. Yes, it was cheesy with it's juvenile dialogue, plot holes, bad editing, sometimes dragged out fight scenes (like in the end of the film) and don't forget the dizzy robot blur fights scenes (seriously it was like watching hamsters fight). With all that, it was still able to entertain me and hold my attention.

That acting was alright. Shia LaBeaouf is growing up as an actor in my opinion, he was entertaining to watch. His parents played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White had small roles in the movie but were very memorable. Meagan Fox was well Meagan Fox...all she had to do was pout her lips and the world would be a better place...kidding... I really didn't see the need for her in the film. Then there are the comic relief played by Ramon Rodriguez and John Turturro which they played well off each. As for Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson they were lost in the film. And the Transformers were hard to tell them apart sometimes. The voice acting especially Prime almost felt like watching a Saturday morning cartoon all over again. Which was sometimes good most of the time....not so much.

Wait till it comes out on DVD &/or Blu Ray.

I give it 3 pugs out of Five.

The Hangover (2009)

Babaloo: Sometimes you just want to see a fun movie that will make you smile, laugh and not think to much about your problems. That is what this movie was.

The film is about four buddies going to Vegas to wish their best friend off in one night of debauchery. They wake up from that night and notice that they have lost the groom to be and don't remember how. So they try to jolt their memories by retracing their steps. This is when the real fun begins.

It was a devilishly great buddy film that had alot of funny surprises and with a truck load of crewed, lewd and rude jokes with class and heart. The film kinda reminded me of Sex and the City with guys....LOL. I guess it was the acting (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galiflankis & Justin Bartha) that was always on, you could see the brotherly love they had for each other. That being said their did seem to be some holes in the plot, like how they came to realize at the end how they lost their friend. But I guess that was the idea. The cast was playing along with each other well, the hilarious script and the beautiful film just overshadowed all the flaws of the movie.

I give it 4 pugs.

Taylor: Now, this one won't win any sort of awards, but it was a fun evening. The film definitely caters to the Frat Boy mentality, but does so in a way where it is ok for guys to hang out and care about one another. It's definitely a film that is trying to fall into the footsteps of the Judd Apatow style (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin), but I would have to say it falls short of that. That isn't to say that it's not enjoyable.

The actors were well cast (I am definitely all about Bradley Cooper now), and the situations the guys got themselves into were, while unbelievable, the kind of stories that you love hearing your friends talk about when they have that "one crazy night I'll never forget..." The only low point for me would be Heather Graham....It's kinda sad to see her now, knowing she peaked as Roller Girl in Boogie Nights. And her character sort of moves in and out of the film with no real explanation as to how she and one of the other characters are connecting.

I won't give away too much about the plot (you know, that the trailer for the movie doesn't already do for me), but while you can kinda see where the film is going, the film has enough little twists and turns to make it all very funny. And, it goes without saying that you MUST stay for the first few minutes of the closing credits.

3 pugs and half a bag of popcorn!

Up (2009)

Taylor: You pretty much know what you're getting when you know a Pixar movie is coming to your theatre. You know you're going to be entertained. You know it's going to be smart. You know it's going to take an every day idea (monsters, undersea creatures, super heroes) and put an original spin on it. Up is no different. There are somethings, however, that make it very different.
Not only is this the first Pixar film in 3-D (and it definitely works for the the film, whether you are flying through a rainforest, or walking through a neighborhood), but this is the first movie that has come out in a long time where you really don't know what the story is going to be before you walk into the theatre. All I knew was it was about an old man in a flying house with a little chubby kid. Quite frankly, that was a good thing. Something else that was unique was the first 20 minutes of the film that cover a couple of taboos including the death of two characters, one seen, one not, but integral to the story. It's an intense 20 minutes of a film, and I can't help but commend the people at Disney/Pixar for covering the topics in an upfront, but respectful and beautiful, way.

And what can I say about the animation? As the process of digital animation becomes more advanced, you are going to see films like this become more lifelike, even though th characters are animated (and built like so.) Nuances in facial expressions and details like the fur on the dogs, and the balloons was, at times, moving art that drew you in. Many of the scenes are truly breathtaking.

Now, if you think I am only going to gush about Up, think again. I did have some problems with the movie. I felt it was two movies shoehorned into one. There could have been a lot more about the traveling part of the journey, in my mind, and the second half, where the main adversary for our characters is introduced, seemed like it could have been a whole other film. Some of the scenes felt disjointed to me, like they could have been a series of shorts that were strung together to make the film. And I can't help but also notice that, when you boil them down, the majority of Pixar's films all have the same basic story line:

Main character is introduced...quirky/annoying foil is revealed.....adventure begins....adventure gets hard....main character yells at quirky character, who has his/her feelings hurt and says something that shows they are smarter then the audience (and main character realize)....main character feels bad...cue piano music...main character decides he's going to do something....quirkly chracter comes in to help in the nick of time....the day is saved.

Now, that's not to say the story isn't original and entertaining, but the execution of those original stories is starting to wear a little thin...But Up is a great movie that will make you laugh and cry and you'll walk out of the theatre smiling.

Oh yeah, before I forget...SQUIRREL!

I give up 4 solid pugs.

Babaloo: This is what movies are made of. You can always count on good old Pixar to bring you nothing but the best. A beautiful visual film that is stunning on 3-D. The film should be “UP” there with Toy Story and The Incredibles. It also works well on entertaining kids and adults.

It’s the story of old man Carl, a balloon salesman and adventurer, who lived in a small house with his wife, Ellie an adventurer herself. Alas, due to small and sometimes not so small circumstances in life they never really do any real adventuring. Without spoiling anything else, this is all the first 5 to 10 minutes of the film. The film builds you up through their courtship from kids to adults. This montage was an amazing magical (sometimes almost difficult to watch) moment in a movie I have ever seen. Yet, the saddest moment in the movie is the loss of a loved one. It’s how you deal with the loss of a dream. That is where it hit me. Then like any good old fashioned adventure, were the laws of physics are thrown out the window, Carl tries to take his house with him to live the dream him and his late wife always wanted.

AND THEN that is where everything takes a turn. This is where the movie does a compete 180. It almost becomes a different movie in its second half and Pixar makes it works. We meet Russell the clueless Boy Scout. Kevin the huge dodo dinosaur looking bird and my favorite Dug the taking dog. “SQUIRREL”….sorry. I don’t want to say anything else; you just have to experience this movie on your own to appreciate it. It just caught me by surprise in so many levels and I believe that is way to experience it.

UP takes you on an exciting amazing emotional rollercoaster and makes you glad you did.

So don’t give up on your dreams, even though the journey to your dreams may take you for a loop. When you get there you might be surprised what you find. This movie reminds me a lot about a little book called
The Alchemist.

If I could give this movie 10 pugs, I would.
5 highly impressed Pugs.

SQUIRREL!!!!!!

Star Trek (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)


Taylor:
The fact that it has taken me a week to write the review for X-Men Origins: Wolverine should be the first clue as to how I felt about the film. Hugh Jackman returns as everyone's favorite claw bearing mutant as we finally see where he came from and how he lost his memories (as shown in 1999's X-Men...holy crap, that movie's 10 years old?!?). Anyway, the film is a big summer blockbuster, with lots of explosions and plot holes you could drive the Blackbird through. That's what makes it fun. However, that's what makes it annoying. There are inconsistencies throughout the film that are distracting, not the least of which is the length of Hugh Jackman's hair WITHIN scenes! (Reports show there were massive rewrites after the filming of the movie and key scenes had to be redone.) Many of the scenes in the film look like they were supposed to be part of a Ben Stiller movie making FUN of an action movie (I actually rolled my eyes when the helicopter explodes behind Logan in the middle of the film.... you'll know which scene I'm talking about....) Oh, and the commercials that laud the appearance of many mutants never before seen in the film, looking like it was going to be some sort of new X-men team? Yeah, most of them appear in the film for ten minutes, tops, sprinkled throughout the film like... well, sprinkles on an ice cream cone. (Emma Frost, in particular, was particularly frustrating because of all the very cool things they could have done with her story-wise... instead they made her up to be a big cubic-zirconia.)
That's not to say there weren't some good things about this movie. The first being lots and lots of shirtless or sleeveless scenes for Hugh Jackman (I think every Jackman movie must have a shirtless scene written into his contract.... and I ain't complainin'!) Ryan Reynolds (zing!) is great(ly underused..... sorry) as Wade Wilson/Deadpool and finally, Liev Schieber was a GREAT Sabertooth...I looked forward to seeing him on the screen as he chewed up the scenery (sometimes almost literally) with his one-liners and big white-teefs! (I don't think I realized I had a crush on him until seeing this movie). And, the scenes that take place in the Canadian Rocky Mountains were beautiful and breathtaking to look at....
I give X-men Origins: Wolverine two pugs and half a popcorn.
Oh, and the creepy CGI cameo in this one? Ew. But I'll let you see that for yourself...

Babaloo:
Wolverine…yeah…..what can I say about Wolverine.

Well. Ok. Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of the X-Men series. I grew up reading X-Men comics and always had a special place for Logan aka Wolverine.

So to say the movie was a big disappointment is an understatement; there was no originality to this movie. Everything from the fight scenes, the jokes, the acting to the recycled action scenes were a bit boring or a cliché. The fight scenes were great in the first part of the movie but as the movie progressed they kept using the same fight scenes over and over. How many times can you see Wolverine and Sabertooth growl in opposite ends then run towards each other to fight. (I believe it was like 4 times). William Stryker (Danny Huston) I think is the worst actor in history. How he gets work, I have no idea. The sight of him acting made me cringe each time. A fifteen year old high school drama student can do the job better than he did. The jokes in the movie were obvious and borderline juvenile, (“there is a naked man in our field…”) or (Wolverine popping his middle claw as to like popping your middle finger….Um…done that). The whole I am a bad ass and I am going to say something bad ass and then walk in slow motion away from the exploding helicopter to let everyone in the audience know how mad I am. MEH!!! Also the reasoning to the ending and why he got his metal claws did not make any sense. I felt nothing for these characters, they were all flat and 2 dimensional, this was typical Hollywood fluff that took a great character and story line and messed it up as usual.

The only good thing was the plentiful eye candy of MEN. Hugh Jackman butt naked was a delight. Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) arms and charm was awed at. Liev Schreiber (Sabertooth) was adorable as always. Taylor Kitsch (Gambit) was a hot bad boy. And of course the wonderful adorable dork Dominic Monaghan (Bolt). Yes, that is the only good thing I saw in this movie.

2 Pugs.

The Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

Taylor: So, tonight, we watched The Phantom Of The Opera (2004), with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. Babaloo, what did you think?

Babaloo: I enjoyed it very much, it was good. I have to say I have never see the show. I am sure there is probably diffrences. But yeah I liked it.

Taylor: I'm familiar with the soundtrack, I borrowed it freshman year from a one armed girl in college (true story) and never got it back to her. I never really understood what was going on by the music alone, but found it to be enjoyable at the time. I'm surprised to say that what I thought happened and what actually happened actually match up pretty closely. I enjoyed it as well, but with reservations. Let's talk about what we liked first. I would have to say what I liked the best about the film would be Emmy Rossum. I thought that as Christine she embodied the character in appearence and looks though there were times she looked like Brittany Murphy (which is to say, crazy and emaciated). I also really liked Miranda Richardson. I didn't know she was in it and was pleasantly surprised.

Babaloo: I am also familiar with the soundtrack (high school drama club) but I never really knew the whole story, just bits and pieces as well. I liked the cinematography of the film. It was beautiful to look at, I also loved the larger than life scenery. Which, of course, added to the beauty of the film. I was not too crazy on the acting. Although I loved Minnie Driver and Miranda Richardson. And of course Gerald Butler is always pretty to look at.

Taylor: It's funny you should mention the sets. You have said before that your problem with Blu-Ray is that everything looks like it's a movie set vs. an actual location. This was the first time that I felt that was true. It was distracting at times. I can't help but wonder if Joel Schumacher was trying to give the feel of a Broadway show on film (i.e. parts of Chicago) vs. the feeling of being "real life" (Rent). I also felt that the big broad sweeping shots of oversized statues felt a little too "Batman Forever" for me. I'm just glad he didn't put nipples on the Phantom's costume. A lot of the costumes, however, were beautiful - many of the dresses felt genuine to the time period and were purty to look at!

Babaloo: Totally agree, for me the larger than life sets just added to the story. At the same time the cementry was a bit much, I suppose. About the costumes, yes very good. My favorite part of the movie was the masquerade. The costumes and the scenery played a big role in that part of the film. Ok, can we talk about what we didn't like? I do have a few things......at what point of the film did vougeing become ok?. Also the acting just didn't set right with me, I didn't feel any chemestry between Patrick Wilson and Emmy Rossum....

Taylor: Well, I think that you could have got more chemistry out of Emmy Rossum and a stick and butter. He's kinda proving to me that other than looks, he doesn't offer a whole lot. Plus the mullet he sports through the whole thing didn't help. I also was disappointed with the singing, for the most part. It may be because I am so used to hearing the soundtrack in my head, even having not heard it in over 10 years, that many of the voices, with the exception of Rossum, felt flat. The "big moment" at the end of Act I, where Butler jumps up on a gargoyle and tries to let out this big note, was a bit flaccid. And, while I love Minnie Driver, she was kinda a drag queen in this...but now that I think about it, that may have been the point...ok, so I take it back, I loved her. Add her to the things I loved!

Babaloo: You know they were going to get Hugh Jackman to play the Phantom but lost the part to Geralrd last minute? Oh well. I agree with you on the singing. It was alright...they tried. I felt that this movie was done a little to late....it felt like it belonged in the 80's early 90's.....I don't know...it seemed out dated. Should we wrap this up?

Taylor: Actually, you bring up a good point...For a long time I had heard that Antonio Banderas was supposed to play the part of the Phantom. There were times when Butler was singing that I thought it would have been better with Banderas. Yes, it felt dated... especially the title song with it's drum machine and organ synthesizers. But it was an enjoyable way to spend a night, none the less. I give it three pugs and a half a popcorn. You?

Babaloo: Same here 3 pugs and half a popcorn...I'm not rushing to buy it.

Taylor: That works out well. We're poor.

Wonder Woman (2009)

Taylor: Listeners of PiMC know that I am a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. I'm not sure if it started with the Lynda Carter television show from the 1970's, or if it's her star spangled panties...I've just always loved the character. So when Warner Brothers announced they were releasing a Wonder Woman direct to DVD release, I was thrilled...and a little apprehensive. Were they going to stay true to the character? Was she going to be sexualized (more than she already is?) Were they going to get the story right, or was she going to be a Xena for the new millennium?

I can safely say that most of my concerns were handled very well by the director and animators of this film. The story, while mostly an origin story for how the character came from Paradise Island to "Man's World." was easily accessible. That is not to say there are not HUGE plot holes at times, and the story is sometimes crammed into a place that, were it not an animated feature about superheroes, would make it a LOT harder to get past, but I thought that the general premise and pacing was for the most part enjoyable. I also thought the action sequences were AMAZINGLY done. It would be very easy for the animators to slip into a lazy style of action fighting, with a few warriors on the battlegrounds, or for the action to be stylized like in anime, with lots of "action lines" surrounding characters. Not in this film. There is a fight sequence in the middle of the film betweeen WW and a demon in a Washington DC mall that I remember thinking to myself that this would look amazing if it was a live action feature.

That's not to say everything about it is great. I thought that the rendition of WW in this film, while trying to stay true to the character's Greek heritage, looks a little too much like Cher at some points (Whoa, babes...). I also thought that if this character was supposed to be young (19, 20ish), that the character of Steve Trevor looked way too old for her (and while I love Nathan Fillion as an actor, I couldn't help but realize it was him through the whole movie, which I found distracting). Also, Viginia Madsen as Queen Hippolyte sounds like she's phoning it in, and smokes three packs a day while she's doing it. (Rosario Dawson as Artemis? Perfection.)

So, while I wouldn't own this move, it is definitely a solid rent and I recommend it.

Four Pugs!

Babaloo:
It’s the story of the Amazonian princess breaking all the rules and going out into the real world. Yeah ok it’s a little more than that but that is the main idea. A US fighter pilot (Steve Trevor) crash lands on a mythical island of female warrior, who have captured Ares, the God of War, after he attacked their island centuries ago. Ares uses the plane crash a chance to escape and wreak havoc on the world. So Wonder Woman is given the task to take back Steve Trevor to the US and try to recapture Ares at the same time. Mayhem ensues at Washington DC. Wonder Woman wins. Hurray!!!

What I like about film is that the story was well constructed and it didn’t feel rushed. I have to say for a short 74 minute film there was a lot of story packed in it. It was also very violent, yet it hardly showed any blood, I am assuming to appeal to adults rather than teens. (Eh, who am I kidding it was made for the fanboys). I loved the action sequences; the final battle was fun to watch as well as the war at the beginning of the film. Also, I felt that the animation was right on the money for a direct to DVD/Blu-ray movie. The voice acting was very good as well….Alfred Molina as Ares was excellent. It had a big name cast like Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Oliver Platt…etc…I was also fascinated at the fact that it was heavily involved in Greek Mythology (which I love). One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Steve Trevor was trying to out drink Diana (Wonder Woman). Yeah, she wasn’t having it. "You idiot," she says as they leave the bar, "you can’t out drink an Amazonian!”

Yet there was something’s that bothered me about the film. I wished Hades was a bit more menacing other than a big fat guy. I honestly thought it was Dionysus when I saw it at first. It took me for surprise, I guess. I just wasn’t too fond of it. And can we talk about the invisible plane…really? Really? Wasn’t the plane done like in the 70’s or something. She has the blood of the Greek gods!!! Make her fly!!! Also, they never explained where the plane came from, it just showed up. ….”Oh look there just happens to be a plane in the garage…only drove it once...and wait (looks around and whispers) it’s invisible”….AND doesn’t get me started on the invisible missiles. Also, please explain to me when in the hell was there ever a shore close to the Lincoln Monument in DC….Look at a map people!

Ok so this movie was half and half. I had fun but it had its issue. I'm looking forward to the live action movie, due out in 2011!

I give it 3 pugs and popcorn out of 5

Slumdog Millonaire (2008)

Taylor
So, Slumdog Millionaire, the best picture at this year's Oscars, was constantly being described by people who had seen it at my office as "SO inspiring" or "uplifting." They said that it is SUCH a good movie. I had seen enough clips and heard enough about it (especially on NPR) to know that it is the story of a boy who goes on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and wins the big money, and how he's had a rough life.
Yeah, that pretty much is an understatement. This guy has had a SHITTY life. From the first moment we see Jamal being tortured in a police station through finding out he's won the money, we are taken back and forth through parts of his life that explain how he knew all the answers to the questions he is asked by the creepiest show host you'll ever see. Within the first 20 minutes of the film we see this kid get chased by cops, dragged into an overcrowded school, where he is beat by his teacher, swim through shit (literally), get fucked over by his brother, who is all of 6, and his mother is killed by a baseball bat to the face. I was pretty close to just getting up and walking out of the room at this point. I found the movie to be depressing and while it does have the "happy ending" we all love to see, complete with dance sequence (no, really), I couldn't get past the fact that, with the exception of the main character and his love interest, apparently there is not one person in the country of India who is socially redeemable. Everyone in the film is trying to fuck over everyone else, whether it be for fame, money, or to prove the are the top (slum)dog. After a while, it gets a little exhausting. I thought the cinematography wasn't all that great either. At times the film would suddenly go "slow motion and choppy," like if you were turning a page in a motion book. I think this was supposed to incite drama and a sense of urgency in the viewer. All it did for me was annoy.
That is not to say there were not some highlights. Watching parts of the Indian countryside is beautiful, and the actors who played Jamal at 4 and 18 were very good. My favorite part had to be the music. From music inspired by the country to hip-hop to your run of the mill orchestral score, the music was at times the only thing that was keeping my interest in what was going on in the film. I have not seen any of the other contenders for best film this year, but I have to say that if Slumdog Millionaire is supposed to be the best of them, then I am thinking I am going to be disappointed.Two Pugs and a half a popcorn.

Babaloo
How do I sum up Slumdog Millionaire? Well, it is the story of being at the right place at the right time, even though you don’t think so. It’s about destiny and never giving up….So yes I loved it. Now that being said and let me be honest, I don’t think it deserved the hype that it did BUT I still think this was a very good film. It’s like a ride you are glad you took but never want to do it again. Through most of the film, I was kinda thinking to myself “give the kid a break already”…Only just until the very end of the film did it make a complete turn around.
What I liked about the movie was the message. Like never giving up, turning the bad into good, true love, etc etc…yes yes…I know…mushy mush and marshmallows….It wasn’t just that, it was the fast passed flashbacks, the great music (listen to Jai-Ho), the fast editing, or the suspense that kept you at the edge of your seat on how this young man figured out all the answers to the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It like his whole life was built to this very moment. Which I thought was a cool idea. The last ten minutes, I must say, I cried like a little baby.
The only thing that bothered me was that it was hard for me to understanding the actor’s English. Also the subtitles were sometimes felt hidden hidden. (oh there it is…no there it is) Now, this honestly wasn’t all that bad because the story was easy to follow. BUT What really got me was the Bollywood dancing at the very end of the film in the middle of the subway. After I just cried my eyes out you’re going do a musical number….um….ok. Really? It felt weird but I forgave it.

I give it 5 out of 5 pugs.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Taylor: So tonight we watched Sleeping Beauty (1959), the first of many Disney classics we are sure to talk about. What did you think?
Babaloo: I liked it. It was a classic, although I almost fell asleep at some parts...but I did love it.
T: I loved it. I was really surprised how much I did, given that the last time I saw it was years ago, probably in college, and didn't think it was all that great at the time. But being the Disnerd that I am, I said I would buy all the Platinum Editions DVDs when they came out, so I had to follow through and get it. What did you think of the actual Blu-Ray DVD itself? I thought it was beautifully done - the picture was crystal clear, and the sound amazing, especially for a movie that's 50 years old.
B: I kinda knew that this film would work well on Blu-Ray rather than other old Disney movies from the 50's or older. The reason being is because of the format they used to make the film. The actual Blu-Ray itself was really cool.. I felt like I was in a Disney ride in the "Dragon Enconter" short. Really cool addition.
T: That was amazing. I thought that the movie, while called Sleeping Beauty, had very little to do WITH the actual character of Princess Aurora. I thought it was more about the three fairies and their mission to keep her safe from Malificent, who, by the way, is one of the best Disney villains ever!
B: Yes, very true. I was thinking the same thing when I was watching the movie. It was like watching the Golden Girls meets Harry Potter....you really don't see that in movies anymore...where the heroes are 3 old ladies. Yes, Maleficent was the best vilian ever....Were there any parts that creeped you out? I know for me, there was a part that gave me shivers down my spine when I saw it.
T: I think the only part was when Malificent was in the fireplace. The yellow eyes were creepy, and the way she sorta...appeared from the darkness. It's amazing what they were able to do with with animation, the use of shadows and "special effects." For a film from the 50s, this movie looked to be ahead of it's time. There were parts of it that had an almost adult humor to them and you could see where Disney was definitely trying to appeal to all ages. What parts were you talking about that creeped you out?
B: The fireplace scene creeped me out, too. Also, the combination of when Aurora was hypnotized by that green light, the music was playing "Aurora" over and over and the use of lighting...wow. I didn't really see any adult humor. What part was that? Also, I have to admit, even though I did love it, I did tend to doze off during the scene between the kings...yawn!
T: I don't mean adult humor like dirty humor, I just meant humor that would appeal to a parent that was taking a child to see this. I also didn't care for the kings scene, but that is a perfect example of a use of adult humor - the servant drinking the wine and getting drunk. But the important question. Is Prince Phillip hot?
B: Hell yeah...I wouldn't mind having a handsome Prince sing to me, too....in a forest..wearing his cape...and nothing else....The drinking yes, was a bit of adult humor I suppose. You can't get away with that nowadays.
T: Ok, now you just went and made this dirty....and slightly creepy.
B: You have met me.
T: Very true. I am very much looking forward to exploring more of the additional features on this one, something I don't often do with DVDs. I do find that as far as additions go, Disney does seem to do a really good job of it.
B: Yes, that's true. I can't wait to see what they do for the other films....You should watch the Making of feature. I am assuing it's the same documentary as in previous Sleeping Beauty Video/DVDs
T: You've seen it then, I take it?
B: Yep....That's how I found out why the quality of the film was going to be good for Blue Ray....Most films then and still to this day are made in 35mm film. This one was done in 70mm film....which is rarely done because it's so expensive. Yes, I know I'm a Disnerd also.
T: Well, let's wrap this up - Out of five pugs, I give it a solid four. You?
B: Four pugs and half a popcorn.
T: We're doing halves as popcorns?
B: Eh...why not.
T: Well, there ya go!
B: Yay.

Hey! Where'd The Posts Go?

So, you may be wondering what happened to all the reviews here at Pugs And Popcorn. To be honest, we are, too. We don't know what happened, but Taffy first alerted us to the fact that all the articles were gone, and while we still have followers and what not, their comments are gone, too. Attempts to ask Blogger.com what happened have all but gone ignored. A shame, really. I guess because we aren't using AdSense on here, they have no love for us.

But fret not. I have all the articles we posted in my RSS feed, and as a result, will be REPOSTING the articles, sans photos for now. I'll go back and add them later. Look for future movies to be reviewed like What's Up, Doc? (for Kevin Bee), the new Green Lantern animated flick, and Revolutionary Road.