Movie Review: Odd Thomas

I’m not odd. Sure, I’m strange but I’ve never been called “odd”. Oh, you’re talking about a different Thomas. OK then…

A man with supernatural powers tries to solve a murder and save the town from the forces of evil.

First of all, I haven’t read the series. I should be thankful that Odd was able to give us some narration throughout the entire film. Otherwise, I would be more lost than I was during the viewing in understanding how the world works.

After spending some time with Odd, it becomes apparent that he will straddle the line between emulating Buffy’s quips (one of the people I was with during the viewing referenced the Hellmouth) and trying to be suave, all at once. I couldn’t get a firm grasp on his personality or his dynamic between him and Stormy.

The use of CGI was mixed. The animation of the bodachs was very smooth and composited well. However, the green screen in the belfry was obvious, complete with a green halo around Stormy’s hair. If you look closely when Odd is doing his job, the cucumber slices are CG.

The plot does manage to get some surprises in, even if you called the climax in the second act. I hesitate to mention how there are some devices that are borrowed from another supernatural thriller, especially since Odd handwaves one quote from said film. I didn’t mind much.

Towards the end, one guy pointed out something about the bodachs that escaped the film’s established logic. Within the film, these creatures seemingly cannot be harmed anything within the physical world. And yet, the leader bodach (I guess, judging by the number of limbs) is destroyed in a fire. We talked about it and couldn’t figure out where or how it was justified, aside from a large explosion.

In the end, the film is an uneven blend of elements. It’s one that can keep your interest through the running time but in the end, it’s not one I’d watch again any time soon.

4/10

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Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

I knew only part of what I was getting myself into when a mutual friend and I made plans for Valentine’s Day to see this movie. We both admitted that we wanted to see it because of how allegedly bad it was. The best way to describe is Jupiter Ascending; interest plummeting.

A cleaning woman finds out that she’s some sort of space princess who has to save the Earth from being destroyed.

I admit that my interest had piqued when I saw the trailer; however, the level of interest rested at “I’ll catch it on DVD when my library gets it”. When the reviews came out, panning the Wachowski’s latest film, I had misguided hope that maybe the critics were wrong. If worse came to worse, it would be a fun popcorn movie that would keep the patrons out from the cold for two hours.

I’m down for a film that has a great adventure and some fantastic world-building, but I shouldn’t need to ask for the characters to wear nametags (yes, it was one of those films). It reminded me of when I watched Dune for the first time, except that this is an original property. I’m sure the actors had some idea of how this universe worked but if the script was really as long as is reported (600 pages), I would’ve been lost. It’s clear that some scenes were left on the cutting room floor, if only to keep a reasonable runtime, but they probably had some explanatory elements.

Visually speaking, it’s a mixed bag. The sets are spectacular and immersive but there’s no consistency in style. There was a lot of care in the modeling of the ships and visual effects, that much is certain. The make-up at times was a cross between How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Rat King from The Nutcracker in 3D. The lighting is an uninspired teal and orange combination that has run rampant on movie posters in particular as of late (see for yourself).

The acting is okay, I guess. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum tried their best but they look uninterested in what’s going on. Now that I think about it, Mila Kunis didn’t look happy at any point in the film. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is more about the chewing the scenery; at first you don’t believe it but then it persists.

There are some unintentionally laughable moments because of what is on the screen. Sure, the roller-blade motion of the gravity boots is cool but when you do it in the middle of a corn field, it’s ridiculous. Same goes for the bees. I leaned over and quoted the remake of Wicker Man (among other things throughout the film) as it happened because of how it looked. It’s one thing to utilize visual elements for aesthetic reasons with reasoning to back it up. It’s another when they fail to work together as a whole.

It’s set up to be a franchise but there’s no need. If it does indeed continue, I hope that there are more people on hand to monitor the writing. When I rewatch the film in a year or so, you’ll know there’ll be an alternate soundtrack. Save yourself the trouble and wait for it come on DVD, if you do plan to see it.

4/10

Movie Review: The Magnificent Ambersons

 

The tape started with the usual notice, “The following film has been modified from its original version.” HA! That’s rich. Talk about ironic.

A wealthy Indianapolis family has a spoiled child and experiences scandal and financial ruin.

I didn’t realize that this took place in Indianapolis. Sure, there’s a newspaper towards the end of the film that has the city’s name but I don’t remember the film saying where this took place. With all the talk about the advent of cars, I would’ve assumed this would be in Detroit or even the classic car capital of the world, Auburn, IN. Nope.

To say that I hated the main character is an understatement; I detested him. He would’ve received several spankings if I were his father. I’m with the townspeople in that his comeuppance would come swiftly. I found no reason to sympathize with him.

Sad to say, I had trouble keeping track of everyone’s names. It’s another one of those “name-tag movies” where you want them to wear name-tags for one reason or another. Here, people looked too similar and dressed the same. Sure, it may have been the fashion but my mind had trouble paying attention to the names.

Is there anything good about the follow-up to Citizen Kane? The sets and art direction are very detailed, as the cinematography shows. At the same time, there’s too much detail. My eyes were giving me fits as I had no clue where the focal point was. That, and the contrast values seemed to blend in with each other. It may be that I saw this on tape but I doubt it.

The cuts to this film, I think, were a blessing in disguise. Rather than spend 144 minutes with these so-called “magnificent Ambersons”, it’s shortened to 88 minutes due to cuts. Orson Welles didn’t like the cuts made but had to go to Brazil to make another movie. Those cuts were burned. Thus, we are left with this, “modified from the original version”. At the same time, the ending is clumsy. The cuts may have made this better, but we’ll never know.

Give it a year or so and maybe my opinion will change.

4/10

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400 Noms for AFI Top 100 for both years

Movie Review: Inkheart

 

I was at my library browsing the movie collection for the weekend. I found this film on the top shelf, reminding myself that this was turned into a movie. Needless to say, some stories are best left in your own imagination.

A tyrant wants a man and his daughter who have the ability to bring stories to life to summon a destructive creature.

The story really begins in late June 2005. I was bound for Europe without any parents for three weeks as part of People to People; in hindsight, I wasn’t mature enough for the trip. I’m waiting for my first flight where I spy the paperback version in the store. The cover stated that it would be a movie. I bought it and still have it on my shelf to this day as a memento. The movie came out in the states in January 2009. That’s a long time to promise young readers that a then-popular book would be turned into a movie.

Where do I begin? From what I remember from the book, the opening is wrong. Meggie met Dustfinger on a rainy night at their home, not in broad daylight on the streets as seen in the movie. Disappointed? A little but it’s not like I cared.

There was no emotional depth to the movie. In the book, Cornelia Funke took the time to let the reader bond with the characters and understand their motives. That’s not the case here, even though she was a producer. Meggie loved to read books but she barely reads in the film.

The climax is anything but. In fact, the movie ends in such a way that ensures there will be no more sequels and for the better.

I suppose I should say something positive; Capricorn’s castle was how I imagined it.

I don’t recall if it reached any of my theaters but I knew it wasn’t well-received. It was another fantasy adaptation that tried to be the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings but it didn’t have the drive, like Eragon and The Golden Compass. I had read Roger Ebert’s review of it and figured it was a film that was best left to exist and fade away.

This could have been better. This should have been exciting. That’s not the case. Maybe I’m too old for this movie. Regardless, I didn’t find this entertaining or engaging on a basic level. I would say read the book instead but I don’t see anyone doing that today.

4/10

Movie Review: Felix the Cat: The Movie

When I think of Felix the Cat, I totally think of crossing dimensions via a magical animate teardrop and some “ancient” transportation device. Cynical as that sounds, that’s really what happens.

A talking cat and his magic bag try to save a kindgom from some evil duke.

I’ve seen some Felix the Cat cartoons from when he was first around. Needless to say, I can see where one instance of scary Santa comes from. In one cartoon, Felix has a stomachache and has a nightmare. One instance involves Santa transforming into a monster, making that idea Older Than We Think.

The transition from silence to talking doesn’t exactly work with Felix. Taking a previously known character who didn’t speak and giving them a voice is quite jarring. It’s not like they did that with another feline pantomime and his rodent sidekick that were in cartoons a long time ago. Oh wait, they did.

Sure, it’s surrealistic in style like Yellow Submarine but there are sloppy areas. The sound mixing is poor to the point where the volume of certain sounds take precedence over what actually needs to be heard. There are some missing frames in sequences and points where the dialogue does not sync with the animation. Are there moments where what we see on screen fails to carry the story forward? Yup.

Take for instance the dancing bubble scene almost forty minutes into the thing. The princess dances in a bubble for some reason and afterwards we cut to a wide shot of the kingdom with a card saying “Meanwhile Back In Oriana’s Kingdom” in the middle of the dance. Some prisoners see her dance on television. Couldn’t that be better handled by eliminating that card? Sure, but that didn’t happen.

Or the scientist subplot. Honestly, they could have been removed from the entire thing and it would not have made a difference. In fact, was Felix really the character in mind to be in this kind of film? Sure Felix had some interesting things in his cartoons from his time but was he the right character to be involved with this sort of work? If there was time to heavily revamp the movie before the release, I would have removed Felix and had a new character instead that would fit with the strangeness,

At only an hour and nineteen minutes, it’s a slow burn for a children’s film. That’s right, it’s a slow burn. Don’t sit through this alone; grab some willing friends to keep watch and get some sustenance, maybe an aspirin or three when it’s over. Surprise references to A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront as well as John Wayne and Big Macs. Yup, just because.

4/10