ISSUE 01 AUGUST 2010
(NO 3D GLASSES INCLUDED, SORRY!)
TOY STORY 3
INCEPTION FANTASTIC MR FOX
CONTENTS UP PREVIEW - Pixar's unconventional venture…3 THE REVIEW - Was it worth the excitement? …4
SHALL WE PRETEND THAT NOTHING HAPPENED?
Looking forward to the next instalment of the Toy Story franchise…8
SCORING GUIDE 1/10 – Absolutely and agonisingly terrible. Consider suicide rather than watch this film. Don't worry, you will never see me give out this score unless they do a limited re-release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in cinemas and Phil forces me to go and see it because he's a sadistic little git at times. 2/10 – Really, really bad with no redeeming features other than the fact that it's not as terrible as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Rest assured, if that film didn't exist a film scoring 2/10 would actually score 1/10. Think yourselves lucky 2/10'ers!!! 3/10 – Seriously not worth your time. There might be a tiny glimmer of hope in there somewhere but it's hidden under so many piles of shit that it's really not worth digging for. Avoid. 4/10 – Might be worth seeing with your mates if only to have laugh at. This is the point were a film is bad but almost enjoyable for various reasons. Terrible reasons, but still. Don't watch it on your own as you probably won't get a lot out of it (if anything)
TOY STORY 3 The Toy Story 3 review, how will it fare in the end? …9
FANTASTIC MR FOX
As fantastic as he seems? The stop motion film event of the year…13
but rag it with your mates and you'll have a good enough time. 5/10 – Meh. It's watch-able but you won't want to see it again. Some good things about it but unfortunately too many flaws to really be anything too decent. Shame. See it if you want but don't expect a lot. 6/10 – Good. If you have an interest in this particular type of film you'll probably get enough out of it to make a viewing fairly worthwhile. It's not going to change your life but it won't exactly be a waste of
INCEPTION The review for the most eagerly anticipated and mind bending film of the year…18
your life either. Worth considering. 7/10 – Now this is more like it. The official point at which a film would be worth seeing again at some point and could maybe even earn itself a place in your DVD collection if it plays its cards right. An enjoyable film spoilt by a few things which let it down a bit but which ultimately is a satisfying viewing. If you have any interest in this type of film you should definitely
A WORD FROM THE EDITOR… SO, THE BLOG WASN’T WORKING OUT TOO WELL WAS IT? I COULDN’T be arsed to write the reviews most of the time and I always wondered if anyone else actually bothered reading it. Then, one fine day, Hayley said, “Look what I did with your film stuff - do you like it?” And I loved it. There were my own words, affectionately and creatively laid out in a way that you would usually only find in a professional magazine. For some reason she thought I would laugh at it and brush it aside. But it inspired me. The old brain cogs started to whirr. And now you are holding in your digital, non-existent hands the first issue of our new film magazine, Filmic. With this new format we have created our own unique image and now I, as yet another wannabe film critic, feel I at least stand out from the crowd a little. It’s made the whole business seem a bit more exciting to me and I hope we can now find some stability and structure to proceedings. The plan is for a new issue every month with three reviews and maybe something extra, time permitting. I work better with a deadline looming over me so expect much more output! For now though, have a look at the excellent things Hayley has done with my past reviews. Yep, issue one is a ‘best bits’. Bloody marvellous, innit? See you next month!
go to see it. 8/10 – Pretty much a 7/10 but with less flaws, resulting in a better overall package. Thoroughly recommended! 9/10 - You need to see this film. Very little to complain about and the only things I can really think of are pretty minor niggles. Almost perfection. 10/10 – Heaven. Reserved only for the likes of Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Toy Story 3 and a few others. I will only award this score if I feel something really is a true classic! Additionally I will clarify that you will never see me giving '.5' marks. That would basically be scoring out of 20 which is absolutely ridiculous. The scope is far too wide to really mean anything. I mean, how would you clarify the tiny little difference between a 15/20 and a 16/20? It's seriously not worth it. The only time '.5' should ever be used is when scoring out of 5. But if your giving half marks in that situation your scoring out of 10 anyway so you may as well just use a 1-10 scale you idiots.
UP THE THING IS THOUGH, IT'S A BIT OF A STRANGE CONCEPT. THE MAIN CHARACTERS ARE A 78 YEAR OLD MAN, A FAT KID, AND A DOG WHO HAS A COLLAR THAT READS HIS MIND AND TALKS FOR HIM IN AN AMUSING ENGLISH ACCENT. THE STORY BEGINS WHEN OLD MAN Carl there takes off to South America by attaching balloons to his log cabin and riding the winds. Only he forgot that Boy Scout Russel had just been at the door trying to do good deeds so he ends up coming along for the ride too. Looks like things go a bit tits up along the way and they get lost, find Dug the dog, and fall into all manner of thrilling adventures. So not really your average kind of animated family film. No large cast of talking animals here (see Over the Hedge, Madagascar, Bee Movie, Shark Tale, Kung Fu Panda, Antz, A Bugs Life and on and on and on and on and on). No, this seems to be another risky film from Pixar, following on from the equally risky WALL-E of last year. A film were there's practically no speech for the first 30-40 minutes and, lets be honest, not a lot of story presented in that time either. Kids could have easily got bored by that fact but it's a credit to Pixar that they managed to create such an amazing, naturally funny character as WALL-E who makes us all laugh and not care that there's actually not a lot happening. Basically a pattern seems to be emerging. If you want a blockbuster style film with crazy characters voiced by A-List celebrities watch a Dreamworks film. If you want innovative ideas with an underlying, thought-provoking message then you want Pixar's offerings.
â€˜IF YOU WANT A BLOCKBUSTER STYLE FILM WITH CRAZY CHARACTERS VOICED BY A-LIST CELEBRITIES WATCH A DREAMWORKS FILMâ€™
That being said, it still seems an odd choice to base this type of film around an old man. Can you really see kids going to school with Carl on their lunchboxes or buying Carl soft toys to take to bed with them? Merchandising makes a lot of profit for filmwws like this and it strikes me that in this area Up will not be as successful as similar films in the past. Maybe they'll want to centre the merchandise around Dug instead as he's at least a more
conventional character. He is a talking animal after all.
Ultimately none of that really matters to me though if the film is still funny and entertaining. Up hits cinema screens in the UK on October 16th a full four and a half months after it's American release. Which is ridiculous. However judging by the trailer, it'll be worth the wait.
UP REVIEW I REALLY HATE PEOPLE WHO TALK AT the cinema and I could quite happily shoot them all. Well. Maybe. With a water gun I suppose. Actually what I should do is follow them home and when they're watching something they really like on TV play knock knock ginger, slowly driving them insane until they're unfit for work and lose their house and everything in it and they have to watch TV in the window of curry's instead. Then I'd heckle them from across the street so they couldn't even enjoy that sorry form of entertainment. Maybe then they'd learn a lesson. Dicks. As you can probably guess I had a couple of people talking in front of me when I went to see Up. Repeating the jokes every 5 seconds and talking in not at all quiet voices about things they knew were going to happen later in the film that I didn't know. Grrrrrr. Come to think of it this is supposed to be a review of Up isn't it? Suppose I should get on with it really… Oh, Up, you curious little film you. Who would have thought we'd get an animated children's film about the story of a 78 year old man who isn't Santa Clause? Carl Fredricksen is an ex-balloon salesman who promised his wife they would one day live her dream and travel to South America. Whilst always very serious about making their trip Carl and Ellie never quite make it and, unfortunately for Ellie, it is left too late. Spurred on by Ellie's death and the threat of demolition to his house due to building work, Carl sets sail to Paradise Falls, South America in that very same house, using his history with balloons to make it all possible. It's an astounding sight. What Carl doesn't realise however is that Russel, a 'Wilderness Explorer' (or Cub Scout) is on his porch when the house takes off, presenting both annoyance and companionship to Carl on his journey. In fact, Carl's adventure soon becomes a little too crowded for his liking with a rare, exotic bird (whom Russel names Kevin!) and a talking dog named Dug joining the pair once they reach South
America. I don't really want to spoil the story from this point on but I will tease that Kevin's rarity and a childhood hero of Carl's come into play during the second half of the film. I can't stress enough how touching and emotional this story can be, especially for what is supposedly a 'kids' film. It's surprising how sad it can be at times. The opening montage of the film, showing Carl and Ellie growing old together whilst continuously having to put their plans to travel to South America on the back burner, is sad because you know they're not going to make it in time; if they did then it wouldn't really be much of a film. But seeing some of the reasons why Ellie doesn't ever get to live her dream is even more heart-wrenching. You are only ten minutes into the film and you're already close to tears! There are a couple more moments later on too which really highlight the love and devotion the couple had for each other and make you fully empathise with Carl about his lost love. It's sadder than any other animated film I've seen, more so even than Bambi or The Lion King (damn Disney parent-killers!) But, to be fair, it's questionable whether many of the kids watching the film really have the ability to empathise with Carl and fully comprehend how he is feeling during these moments. Maybe they're not such strong moments for the younger viewers but I know I was very surprised at some of material on show here. Girls (and probably some boys) may want to take some tissues!
‘YOU ARE ONLY TEN MINUTES INTO THE FILM AND YOU'RE ALREADY CLOSE TO TEARS!’
Whilst being a bit of a teary affair though, Up combats this by also being very, very funny. The classic 'odd coupling' of Carl and Russel works really well. They play off each other superbly with Russel's humorous overexcitement and awe being counteracted wonderfully by Carl's world-weary attitude, dry wit and forced tolerance of the young boy with whom he is stranded. Add Dug's doggy behaviours and thoughts being translated into English and Kevin's hilarious squawking and mannerisms into the mixture and you realise
you have a great set of characters here. » None of them really outstay their welcome and the funny lines just keep coming. Another high point is seeing their relationships with each other grow to the point were they enjoy being together on their fantastic adventure. This makes the film both more heartwarming and funny, as Carl begins to become a father figure for Russel and their camaraderie leads to even more amusing lines. The final scenes of the film really show how important the two become to each other. I saw Up in 3D and I must say I was a little disappointed by that aspect of the film. This surprised me as I was thoroughly impressed by the last 3D film I saw (Toy Story 3D). I think I've narrowed this down to 2 main reasons though. Firstly, I'd had fifteen years to get used to seeing Toy Story in plain old 2D so the sequences and images from the film were all stored in my head in this way. Knowing how the film looked without 3D seemed to make more of an impact on me as you could literally see the differences in front of your eyes. With Up I have nothing to compare it to. Whilst I can imagine what it all looked like in 2D, I can't directly compare it to this format unless I go to see the film again but in 2D instead. And whilst I'd be tempted with a film as special as Up, I'd say balls to that if I have to see every 3D film in 2D as well just to be impressed. So what am I saying? If you want to release a film in 3D you should release it normally first and then do a 3D version 15 years later? Hmmmm. No. But something didn't quite work. Maybe it's due to my second reason – you simply get used to the 3D after a while. Toy Story 3D was the first 3D film I saw. Maybe I enjoyed the 3D so much because it was new and a novelty for me. With Up it wasn't really a new experience anymore and the 3D suddenly just becomes expected and shockingly normal. If I've become so blasé with 3D after only 2 films I hate to think what it would be like if I'd gone to see all the tens of 3D films released this year. 3D should be kept as a rare thing, for films that can truly benefit from the technology. Whilst having 3D in Up was nice, I can't really justify it being an extra two pound.
3D and am slightly concerned about some of the cutting real-life issues the film deals with (but don't get me wrong, they didn't spoil it at all), I was thoroughly entertained for the full ninety-six minutes and would encourage everyone to see it. It may look like a cute kids film but Up could appeal to anybody. There was even an old man sat alone in the audience at the showing I went to. Maybe he could relate to Carl and will now be inspired to follow his dreams despite being in his twilight years. Or maybe he was just lost. I'm not sure.
ADD DUG'S DOGGY BEHAVIOURS AND THOUGHTS BEING TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH AND KEVIN'S HILARIOUS SQUAWKING AND MANNERISMS INTO THE MIXTURE AND YOU REALISE YOU HAVE A GREAT SET OF CHARACTERS HERE.
So, I think you can tell I quite enjoyed Up. Whilst I question the overall necessity of the
TOY STORY 3 REVIEW
SHALL WE CARRY ON LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED? LOOK! NEW POST! NOW I'M BACK AT University I will try to update this place more. Promise. I meant to do a load of reviews over Summer as I saw 20 odd films but I never found the time and it felt too much like work. Ahem. So we'll pretend Summer didn't take place and carry on as per the mission statement. Which I posted a couple of weeks ago of course Anyway. Toy story 3 trailer! Now, I'm aware it could seem like this place is becoming a Pixar dedicated site after my one other entry being that Up preview I did (which, incidentally, came out last Friday and I'll try my best to do a review of in the next few days when I see it...See what I mean about Pixar dedication?) But I love Toy Story so much I couldn't not tell people about the trailer. Yeah, I'm a big kid, I think we all know that. Just take a look at the trailer and then come back for some opinions...oh and make sure you watch it in HD.
play towards the strengths of the franchise. Namely the stunning action sequences as the toys' plans come together and the humour, which seems very much in place just on the basis of these 2 minutes ("Lets see how much we're going for on Ebay!") The big question though is where will Woody and the gang escape to? Will they try and return to Andy? Thankfully the trailer isn't giving much away about the second half of the film and we'll just have to wait and see. Pixar love getting a Buzz Lightyear that still believes he's a space ranger into the films though don't they? They put a second Buzz into Toy Story 2 and now it looks like our Buzz is being reset to his factory settings! Which makes him a Spanish space ranger for some reason. Toy Story told us he was made in Taiwan so that's not it. Maybe the real Buzz Lightyear was Spanish? But then surely Buzz toys would all sound Spanish anyway... Whatever. If it means we see Buzz prance around like an idiot and say "to infinityâ€Ś and beyond!" in Spanish then I'm not going to complain. It struck me the first time I saw the trailer just how good it looks too. I saw the original Toy Story in 3D last week and whilst the first fully computer-animated film still looks
IF IT MEANS WE SEE BUZZ PRANCE AROUND LIKE AN IDIOT AND SAY "TO INFINITYâ€Ś AND BEYOND!" IN SPANISH THEN I'M NOT GOING TO COMPLAIN.
Awesome. Andy's all grown up (deep voice and everything) and the toys are no longer needed. So he's shipping them off to a kindergarten! That gives the story the perfect 'toys escape' set-up that the other 2 films had. Admittedly it's not entirely original but it worked very well for the previous films and I think having the same basic formula will
impressive there's no denying this type of animation has advanced a lot in the last 15 years. Most notably, Pixar's human animations now look a lot more realistic. The new 17/18 year old Andy looks beautiful! Lastly, I'm obviously just excited Toy Story 3 is almost here. I mean it's not got the best history and almost didn't get made a few times. It was canned for a few months when Disney and Pixar were about to go their separate ways a few years ago. Disney then announced they were going to make the film themselves without Pixar. Then Disney ended up buying Pixar and they both said they were scrapping Toy Story 3 again. Finally a few months later the two companies came to an agreement on a new story for the film (which originally involved Buzz malfunctioning and being recalled by his manufacturers, leading to the other toys trying to rescue him) and decided that Pixar would be the ones to make it after all. It's no wonder Toy Story 3 is being released 11 years after the last instalment!
TOY STORY 3 I can't really fully explain how much I was looking forward to this film and how desperately I was wishing that it wouldn't be a disappointment. After all, I absolutely adore the first two films and the characters are some of the most lovable and funny creations in the world of animation. They were special to me in my childhood from the day I saw the first film as an impressionable young just-turnedseven-year-old, and they remain just as special to me, if not more so, even now I am a twenty-one year old 'man'. Despite my complete confidence and general fanboy adoration for Pixar as a studio there was always a nagging "what if...?" at the back of my mind, the demon on my shoulder, the Inception-esque implanted idea in my mind that they might mess up a third Toy Story outing. As I sat and watched the final product all my fears disappeared. This film is a work of genius.Âť
THAT BEING SAID, HAVING EXPLAINED my undying love for these characters I was of course saddened that some didn't make the cut for this film. Early on Woody tells us many are missing from the ranks of toys we are familiar with. Amongst others, Bo Peep, Etch, RC, Wheezy, Zurg and, for the most part, Sarge and his Bucket O' Soldiers are absent with little explanation as to their specific whereabouts. However, being set seven or eight years after Toy Story 2 this is understandable. Some toys are bound to have been lost, sold, broken, put in the attic and so on. It makes sense and truthfully it fits in completely with the direction and message of the film. Toy Story was all about Andy's love for his toys and explored the exciting possibilities of these toys actually being alive. Toy Story 2 had more of this but brought forward the idea that Andy was growing up and soon wouldn't want to play with the toys anymore. They learnt to accept this to an extent and began to treasure every last moment they had with him. Toy Story 3 throws us straight into that dark place of being a forgotten toy, with Woody and what remains of the gang confined indefinately to the toy chest, hatching desperate plans in an attempt to get Andy to even just look at them. And if favourites like Woody and Buzz are forever locked in the chest, what really were the chances of Bo Peep and Wheezy making it this far? With Andy leaving for college soon
I GENUINELY GOT THE FEELING THAT ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN TO THE TOYS IN THIS FILM AND WAS HALF EXPECTING A DEATH AMONGST THE MAIN CHARACTERS.
those toys that remain live in constant fear that they will be the next to go. It is this fear and longing to be loved and played with again that drives the narrative of Toy Story 3. After being mistakenly thrown out with the trash and left on the curb by Andy's mum the toys make their way to Sunnyside Daycare Centre, searching for children who will play with them every day. Initially impressed by their new home the toys soon find Sunnyside is not all that it seems, with a sinister old bear with a grudge ruling over the toys and forcing the weaker ones to the infant room where they are innocently misused and tortured by the smaller kids. Lots-O'-Huggin'Bear rules with an iron fist and uses fear enforced by the stronger toys as a weapon to lock up those toys he deems unfit to live alongside him. This fear doesn't just affect the toys - it affects us as an audience too. This is easily the scariest of the three Toy Story films, beating out Sid's mutant toys in the original by giving us a large freaky looking baby doll with a constantly half-closed eye, a screaming guard monkey and a constant feeling of loneliness and desperation for the toys. I genuinely got the feeling that anything could happen to the toys in this film and was half expecting a death amongst the main characters. Thankfully this moment never occured. For whilst Toy Story 3 can often be a scary and sad affair it strikes the balance just right between drama and comedy. It never forgets that, underneath, it is a family film made to entertain and make people laugh. And this is a very funny film. Whether it is a reprogrammed,
Spanish speaking Buzz Lightyear, a Mr. Potato Head temporarily turned into a Mr. Pancake Head or a now old and fat Buster the dog coming to a not-so-successful rescue, there are many laughs to be had here. For all the losses of previously established characters, some of the new toys introduced provide a few great highlights. A very camp Ken, of Ken and Barbie fame, is the most noteworthy addition and his story throughout the film is a thoroughly enjoyable one. Chuckles the Clown, a clown toy with a constant frown, also stands out but does not get enough screen time to properly shine. Other new toys include Mr. Pricklepants the hedgehog, voiced by Timothy Dalton, Trixie, a girl dinosaur and possible love interest for Rex, and Buttercup, a unicorn toy. All are promising additions but again do not get enough screen time to really make an impact. Hopefully we will see more of them in the Toy Story short to be shown before screenings of Pixar's next release, Cars 2, next year. Something else I have to mention in this review is the amazing animation work that makes the film so beautiful to look at. Every year Pixar astounds me with the level of detail and personality they manage to inject into the characters and environments that appear in their films and every year I think the animation has improved on the last. This year is no different. The way the human characters in the film have been brought to life is astounding. Never before has an animated film looked so real as it does in those moments. Gone are the days of dead-behind-the-eyes, docile looking CGI characters. The expressions on Andy's face are good enough to be real and we know exactly what he is thinking and feeling just by how he looks. This is impressive enough when done by a real flesh and blood actor - to manufacture the same level of emotion and feeling in a computer generated image takes great skill not just from the animators but from the script-writer, director and everyone else involved in the process too. Great plaudits have to be given to the Pixar team for what they have achieved here. After escaping death from a moment that truly terrified me the toys realise their home has always been with Andy and they make their way back to his house to face whatever destiny he will make for them. Ultimately realising he no longer has a need for the toys Andy heavy-heartedly accepts the inevitable and takes them to the child of a family friend, a little girl named Bonnie who has been present throughout the film. Meeting her in the front yard Andy enthusiastically introduces his childhood favourites with full profiles and imaginary background details to an increasingly
ecstatic Bonnie. You can hear the pride in his voice as he brings them out one by one and remembers the good times he had with them. Then, in a scene of great emotional impact, he plays with his toys one last time, finally giving them the moments they have been wanting to relive for years. I have to admit I was fighting back the tears at this point both in happiness that the toys were getting a loving send-off from Andy and a hand-picked new owner, and from the sadness of the end of an era, knowing that Andy was finally going to leave his toys behind him. It is a powerful end to the tale of these toys and it couldn't have played out any better. As Andy drives away the toys watch as the car disappears into the distance, sad, yet fulfilled in the knowledge that Andy loved them until the very end and excitedly looking forward to a new life with a child who will cherish them just as much as he did. That ending alone justifies the score but honestly everything about Toy Story 3 is perfect. Surely the last full length Toy Story adventure, it wraps everything up in a very special way and is a complete joy to watch. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone, as would Hayley. Isn't that right, Mike?
FANTASTIC MR FOX
NOT 'THE' FANTASTIC MR. FOX AS IT says on my cinema ticket. Fools. Yeah, change of plan. The reviews of Dr. Parnassus and MJ will be going up tomorrow now. Thought that as I saw this today I'd review it whilst it's still fresh in the memory. I learnt a valuable lesson today though. Don't go see a family film on a Saturday evening. It tends to attract families. Noisy families. Bleh. Kind of obvious now I come to think of it but never mind. I'll stick to weekday afternoons from now on. The gits are at school. On with the review! Well this is an oddity. You can pretty much tell that just by looking at it really.
Mr. and Mrs. (Felicity) Fox are professional bird-catchers, but Mr. Fox promises his wife he'll stop being so fantastic at this particular job when Felicity finds out she's pregnant. Two years later (or twelve fox-years according to the film - I have NO idea whether this is true or not...) Mr. Fox has a loser of a son who thinks he's a great athlete and he writes a column in a newspaper, but he isn't satisfied with his life. When he hears about Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the meanest, craftiest farmers the land has ever seen, he just has to revert to his old ways and outwit them. They do not take kindly to his thievery and form an
alliance in an attempt to kill him, his family and any of the other animals who happen to get in their way. Hence, a war ensues, and only the most fantastic can win! Yeah, I think I'll stop with the 'fantastic' references now. I'm starting to sound like Christopher Ecclestonâ€Ś Now, as we all probably know, Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the legendary Roald Dahl book. I have read it on a few occasions, but not for a long time. Even so, I'm still pretty certain this is a very loose adaptation of the book. I don't recall Mr. Fox and the gang breaking into enjoyable little celebration dances in Âť
NOT 'THE' FANTASTIC MR. FOX AS IT says on my cinema ticket. Fools. Yeah, change of plan. The reviews of Dr. Parnassus and MJ will be going up tomorrow now. Thought that as I saw this today I'd review it whilst it's still fresh in the memory. I learnt a valuable lesson today though. Don't go see a family film on a Saturday evening. It tends to attract families. Noisy families. Bleh. Kind of obvious now I come to think of it but never mind. I'll stick to weekday afternoons from now on. The gits are at school. On with the review! Well this is an oddity. You can pretty much tell that just by looking at it really. Mr. and Mrs. (Felicity) Fox are professional birdcatchers, but Mr. Fox promises his wife he'll stop being so fantastic at this particular job when Felicity finds out she's pregnant. Two years later (or twelve fox-years according to the film - I have NO idea whether this is true or not...) Mr. Fox has a loser of a son who thinks he's a great athlete and he writes a column in a newspaper, but he isn't satisfied with his life. When he hears about Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the meanest, craftiest farmers the land has ever seen, he just has to revert to his old ways and outwit them. They do not take kindly to his thievery and form an alliance in an attempt to kill him, his family and any of the other animals who happen to get in their way. Hence, a war ensues, and only the most fantastic can win! Yeah, I think I'll stop with the 'fantastic' references now. I'm starting to sound like Christopher Ecclestonâ€Ś
THAT'S ALMOST HOW STOP-MOTION ANIMATION SHOULD BE ANYWAY. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS, THE FILM IS GORGEOUS AND A REAL STRONG POINT.
Now, as we all probably know, Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the legendary Roald Dahl book. I have read it on a few occasions, but not for a long time. Even so, I'm still pretty certain this is a very loose adaptation of the book. I don't recall Mr. Fox and the gang breaking into enjoyable little celebration dances in Âť the book or Mr. Fox's 'trademark' clicking and whistling. I'm fairly sure they had more than one son too and the other animals didn't play such a large part in the final revenge plan of Mr. Fox. Nor was the book so damn random and crazy. None of this really matters though. Straight adaptation of source material can be great (Watchmen!), but I often feel that if you are going to bother adapting a story you should at least try to do something new with it rather than retreading what has already been done before. Mr. Fox does exactly that, taking the core story of the book and then adding it's own personality to proceedings. It doesn't harm anyone, the original book is still there to
enjoy if you prefer it, it just provides a new take on a classic story. The first thing anyone will notice about this film is the stop-motion animation. Personally I think its great and gives the film a really unique look but I know there will be some people out there who will hate it. The fact that the animation hasn't been done as absolutely perfectly as you might expect with, say, Wallace and Gromit, gives it quite a rough and ready feel. This never spoils it or makes the film look bad though as the characters and environment look so textured, detailed and realistic that you don't care if Mr. Fox's hair position changes from shot-to-shot or the characters seem a little jerky. That's almost how stop-motion animation should be anyway. Do not listen to the nay-sayers, the film is gorgeous and a real strong point.
Unfortunately Mr. Fox does take a while to get going though. The first 20 minutes or so that set up the real action drag a little and it isn't initially as funny as it thinks it is. When the jokes occasionally fall flat it feels rather awkward. The constant clicking and whistling of Mr. Fox with no real explanation or payoff starts to grate after a while, as does the constant use of the word 'cuss' to replace actual swear words. Your wishing the film to move on quickly and thankfully it does, the madcap pace later on really making up for the first act. And by the time you get to the last 25 minutes the film is on a roll with an enjoyable, action-packed finale that doesn't stop to take a breath. This is Mr. Fox at its best, fast paced and often rather crazy. If something doesn't quite work it doesn't matter too much as the film moves on straight away and you forget
Wes Anderson with the Mr Fox puppet
INCEPTION IRONICALLY FOR A GUY WHO WRITES some pretty spoilerific reviews, tries to keep track of the latest news about possible film releases and reads general synopses of those films that I like the sound of, I do like to stay in the dark about the specific's of a film's plot until I have seen it. I want to be surprised when I go to see a film, not know what's coming half an hour before it does. Basically, no spoilers. In this specific case my (admittedly patchy) rule was very easy not to break - writer and director Christopher Nolan kept a very tight leash on the information that was released about the film. Six months ago very few people who are in-the-know actually knew what the hell this film was going to be about. They just knew it would likely be superb. It is. They also knew it supposedly had a very complex, mind-bending plot. It does. And the question on the general public's lips was largely, "Will it be better than The Dark Knight?" It is. So, as I walked into the cinema pretty much all I knew about Inception was that it was going to be about dreaming. To be honest then, I was half expecting the film to be made up of crazy dreamlike happenings such as flying sandwiches, talking squirrels or herds of giant Brian Blessed's gently grazing in a field. No, I have not actually had that dream. What I actually got though was something totally different. The plot itself is pretty much impossible to do justice to in a brief explanation. Put simply, it consists of a group of "extractors" who enter people's dreams in order to gain access to their secrets. In this case though their employer wants them to plant an idea in someone's mind - inception - so that the target will then subconsciously act upon this idea sometime in the future. What follows in an elaborate journey into four
different levels of dreaming using the idea of dreams within dreams. The further down the levels you go, the more time passes in the real world. For example, ten seconds in a normal dream could last one minute in the real world. Ten seconds in a dream within a dream could be ten minutes and a dream within that dream, an hour. The only way to exit these dreams is to die in the dream or receive a "kick" - a sudden jolt to your dreaming body which then wakes you up. Once you get past the idea that it is possible for someone to enter another person's dreams, the rest of the events aren't actually that crazy. The dreamscapes are normal, everyday environments such as a rainy city or a hotel and things occur in the dreams just as they would in the real world. Definately no giant Blessed's here. People cannot suddenly sprout wings or turn into a horse. That being said, one of the ensemble, Eames (Tom Hardy), is a specialist who can appear to be someone else in dreamworlds, as long as he has enough information about them prior to dreaming. This job falls on Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a researcher who meticulously gathers information on the lives of the extractor's targets to ensure the dreamworld they are placed in is convincing enough to be confused for the real world. New recruit Ariadne (Ellen Page) is reponsible for constructing the dream worlds based on Arthur's research whilst Yussuf (Dileep Rao) develops the sedatives which put the extractors and their target to sleep. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a proffessional dream thief who leads the team and specialises in extracting the information needed from the dream.
SIX MONTHS AGO VERY FEW PEOPLE WHO ARE IN-THE-KNOW ACTUALLY KNEW WHAT THE HELL THIS FILM WAS GOING TO BE ABOUT. THEY JUST KNEW IT WOULD LIKELY BE SUPERB.
It is of huge credit to Nolan that all of this is explained in the film in a way that first of all makes complete and utter sense and secondly does not feel as laboured as two Âť
paragraphs of explanation! You watch in fascination as more and more of this world is peeled away and things become clearer. The film does not always hold your hand though, and does demand your full attention. It certainly isn't casual viewing. One of the highest praises I can give to such a complex plot is that I only got lost once in the film and this confusion was soon cleared up for me. As long as you engage your brain and think a little bit this is a very rewarding film.
'sidekick' role and has some wonderful banter with Tom Hardy's Eames, providing some of the more light-hearted moments in the film. As with the film on the whole, there's not a lot to fault here. Ultimately though, the best indicator of the quality, gravitas, and emotional investment in the film is by the reactions of it's audience. When the whole cinema gasped and smiled at that ending it was the final and most rewarding signal that Inception is a very special film. At that point, I realised that everyone in that screening had enjoyed the ride just as much as I had and when you can say that with absolute certainty you know that you've seen something good. Do yourself a favour and make sure you see it too. I simply can't think of a reason someone wouldn't love it.
THE SCALE AND INVENTIVENESS OF THE FILM IS LIKE NOTHING I HAVE FELT IN A CINEMA BEFOREâ€Ś
And it's a gorgeous looking, stunning spectacle of a film too. Full of set-pieces that certainly look brilliant on a large screen but also have huge significance to the overall story, this isn't just flashy for the sake of it there's plenty of thought put into the scenes regarding the affect they have on the bigger picture. If it isn't enough that the film contains a car chase ending up with a van tumbling off a bridge into the river, an intense zero gravity battle in an hotel corridor and an heated gunfight on a snowy mountain, they all happen at the same time with the conclusions of each needing to come in quick succession less our characters suffer dire consequences. It will make your brain hurt but the sheer brilliance of it all wins through and you just have to take delight in what is developing before your eyes. The scale and inventiveness of the film is like nothing I have felt in a cinema before and it is unlikely I will experience it again any time soon. It's so clever you cannot help but admire it's ingenuity. The final hurdle to pulling it all off though is, of course, the performance of the cast. We couldn't fully immerse ourselves, become emotionally attatched and believe in this world if we felt nothing for the characters and the situations that they find themselves in. True to form, Inception's cast bring everything that is needed and more. DiCaprio is without doubt the most impressive, giving effortless weight to the character of Dom, a guy who has a lot of hidden troubles and a heart breaking past. It's a career defining role and adds a serious amount of credibility to his status as an actor, not just a heart-throb. Combine with his performance in Shutter Island and 2010 could be the year little Leo wins big time come awards season. Ellen Page also portrays Ariadne well as a young woman coming out of her shell as she realises the possibilities that are being opened up to her by the extracting lifestyle. Gordon-Levitt is strong in his
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