Sunday, December 02, 2012

Movie Muse Shorts: Wreck-It Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, Skyfall

We've knocked off three of our holiday movie selections. Still hoping for 2-3 more before the end of the season. Enjoy!

What a fun movie Wreck-It Ralph is! As someone who grew up playing nearly every game referenced in this film, it brought back so many great memories. I was very impressed with the attention to detail for both "real" characters (Qbert, Bowser, etc) and in accurately capturing the flavor of the other games (Wreck-It Ralph, Sugar Rush, etc) in terms of both style of play and visuals. I was grinning from ear to ear most of the time! Except when I wasn't supposed to be. This movie was surprisingly emotionally complex, and I will admit to getting a bit misty once or twice. It is supposed to be a mostly fun movie, though, and it was; the interplay between characters from such vastly different worlds was absolutely hysterical! "Move your molasses" may be my new favorite line (not that I feel I can actually say that to my 8 year old, but I sure do think it several times a day now). I do feel they went a bit wrong near the very end with one of the reveals, but for the most part, it was extremely well done. (The short prior to the film is truly excellent!) So for me, as an adult, especially one who grew up playing these games, it was a blast!

However, due to all of the play on words like the molasses example, and a few other aspects of the film in terms of the characters' behaviors (things I really don't want my 8 year old mimicking), I don't think we'll be taking Luke to see it. Too much double meaning in too many lines that I don't want to have to explain, and too many behaviors I don't want him repeating. In that sense, it felt more like a Dreamworks than a Disney. Part of me says we could use it as a teaching opportunity, but the other part of me says that if he's not doing those behaviors now, why introduce them to him and then say "but don't do that," especially when they aren't behaviors that the characters get in trouble for or that cause them any issues, so we can't even use that as a talking point. I think he would really enjoy the film overall, and maybe I'm being an overly sensitive parent, but I just don't think it is a good fit for my child at this point in time. Which is sad, because I really enjoyed it myself. He'll see it in a few years. The credits are visually fun to watch, so stay if you want. There is no cut scene or bloopers or anything like that. If you're a hard core Pac-Man fan, stay to the bitter end for a teeny-tiny stinger. Most folks won't get it, but a few will. Enjoy! We did not see this in 3D (I'd have been sick as a dog with the racing scenes; they were hard enough to watch when "flat"), so I can't speak to that. I think it would be fine seen at the theater or at home.

Based on the previews, I wasn't sure what to expect out of Rise of the Guardians, so I purposely didn't read up on the film before we saw it. I wanted things to unfold without anything in mind for "where we were going." Regardless of my expectations (or lack there of), I don't think this was quite what I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, it was a good movie! Very imaginative in many respects, and I appreciate the point(s) they made. It's just very different from almost any preconceived notions you might have. That is fairly obvious from the previews, but it is still more different than anything you are likely imagining. It has all the right pieces to have been a great movie, but I think it suffered from some editing and pacing issues; it just didn't quite fully gel. My biggest issue is that I feel some of the "laugh beats" were very poorly timed. They were funny, yes, but to me, they came in the wrong places. I understand wanting a release of tension, but right in the middle of a scene where you've worked so hard to build suspense is not the place to put it! It just destroys the mood and takes you "out of the moment", and sadly, it happened more than once in the film. Some were right on target (especially with the Yeti), but several were not.

The visuals are absolutely stunning, though, and I did genuinely tear up at one point, so it was doing its job quite effectively in other places. We will probably take Luke to see this one. I'm not sure we would if he were much younger than he is now, but I do think he will enjoy it. Do stay about half way through the credits; there is a semi-lengthy additional scene. There is nothing else after that (other than more credits). We did not see this in 3D, but I bet it is stunning. I would have had motion issues with several of the scenes, though. I don't think it necessarily has to be seen at the theater, but you'll miss some of the lush detail on the small screen.

I thought Skyfall was good, but not great. I've been watching James Bond movies for 20+ years; I grew up with them (my father is a huge Bond fan!). Until Mr. Craig came along, Bond films had a certain feel to them. I appreciate them wanting to shake things up a bit and update the franchise, and I'm fine with that. (There is even a very thinly veiled jab at the "are James Bond films irrelevant" questions in Skyfall that have been circulating since MGM failed.) I quite like some of the things they did in Casino Royale, which I rewatched a few weeks ago; it's actually better than I remembered. It's not my favorite Bond by a long shot, but some aspects were quite good. (That's more than I can say for Quantum of Solace, which I would like to forget was ever made. Wow, what a terrible movie, particularly for a Bond film! So glad we missed that one in the theater.) Skyfall had some excellent throwback moments for us "old school" Bond fans, and a few other things I don't want to spoil for you (one should be blatantly obvious, and the other I should have figured out sooner than I did). I will say that, to a certain extent, Sam Mendes does make several attempts to "right the ship" in Skyfall; let's hope any directors who follow him stick to what he's done in those respects.

But some other parts were still not quite right, IMO. I do think the movie was way too long! The whole bit prior to Javier Bardem showing up should have been edited down to 10-ish minutes. I thought Bardem himself was excellent. His introduction scene is fantastic. It is a single long take, with no music or camera motion; it's just him walking toward the camera and speaking, and he is absolutely mesmerizing. You can't not watch him when he's on the screen. He looks terrible as a blonde, but I also think it makes him look that much more disturbing (and disturbed). I've only seen him in one film besides this one, and that one was not a good showcase for his talents. With Skyfall, I'm starting to understand the fuss about him. Overall, I just think the editing and pacing needed to be tighter. Again, mostly the right components were there, just in the wrong proportions. Still a good movie and worth seeing, though I wouldn't necessarily rush out to see it in the theater. No stinger or anything once the credits start to roll.
Currently feeling: ready to take on The Hobbit

1 comment:

  1. I've been a Bond fan for over 40 years now - Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond - Connery was tough to beat, but I like the edgier feel of Craig as Bond.

    We saw Skyfall a couple of weeks back, and loved it. I loved the references to the old Bond films (and the introduction of some of the characters!) - was sad to see the death of one particular character, though :(


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