Average User Score: 7.2Jun 22, 2012Last year, Pixar gave us Cars 2. Critics and audience members alike were appalled at the product. It was no where near the masterpieces that Pixar had brought us previously. But while it wasn't perfect, I still enjoyed Cars 2. But I definitely didn't want Pixar to keep making movies like Cars 2. I wanted more masterpieces. So Brave comes along. The film that everyone is hoping will save the day and remind us all why we love Pixar.
Unfortunately, many critics aren't all that impressed with Brave, and while MOST of the critics liked it, the reception has been a little disappointing, especially when you consider how well the rest of the Pixar films have done. Brave is being considered one of the worst Pixar films.
But I think this is bizarre. I'm not quite sure why this is being met with such lukewarm reception. Brave is nothing short of a masterpiece. In fact, it's one of Pixar's BETTER films, in my opinion.
Brave (originally titled The Bear and the Bow) is about a princess named Merida who wants to be an archer. Unfortunately for her, Merida's mother, Elinor, wants Merida to be a bit more ladylike. Merida puts up with her mother, but when she's being forced to marry before she's even ready. There's an argument between the Merida and Elinor, a witch, and next thing you know Elinor is a bear. So Merida must change her mother back to a human and at the same time, regain her bond with her mother.
Brave has all the ingredients that every good movie needs. For one, the characters are very memorable. I doubt any of them will replace anyone's favorite Pixar character, but they're funny and well developed. Also, Brave is very funny. It's not as humorous as Up or the Toy Story films, but there's enough gags to entertain adults and kids. Admittedly, some of the humor feels a bit more tilted towards the Dreamworks canon, but I still found myself laughing often.
The last main ingredient; heart. And Brave has heart to spare. Pixar has almost always managed to make me cry, I don't mind saying. But then came Cars 2. Sure it made me laugh, and the animation impressed, but I never felt any real emotional connection with anything going onscreen.
But Brave reminded me why I look forward to Pixar films every year. I did cry at times, and there were times when I held back tears. Brave is one of the most moving pictures I've ever seen. Seeing Merida and Elinor's relationship grow as the film progresses, and the sacrifices they make for each other is particularly moving. Rarely do I feel so engaged with the characters.
Some critics were complaining about the uneven tones. From soft mother-daughter scenes, to boy-ish humor. I actually LIKED the shifts in tone. There were times when things got a little tragic and humor really helped to lighten the mood.
Patrick Doyle composed the score for Brave. This is his first time scoring a Pixar film, and having heard very little of Doyle's scores, I wasn't sure how I'd like his music. Well, Doyle has proved himself a hundred times over. I was extremely impressed with the score, and hope to see Doyle compose more Pixar films in the future.
The voice acting is, as usual for a Pixar film, superb. The voices are a little more recognizable this time around, but in the end, I wouldn't have changed anything. Kelly MacDonald does a more than respectable job as Merida, while Emma Thompson does excellently as mother (though unfortunately, she spends most of the movie as a bear). And Billy Connoly does a hilarious job as Fergus, Merida's rambunctious father.
And naturally, the animation is gorgeous. Easily outdoing any of Pixar's previous films. Trees, water, mist, hair, all of the above. Pixar does an eleven-out-of-ten job on their animation, making Brave the best looking animated film of the year thus far.
Brave is being unfairly labeled as one of Pixar's weaker films, and a merely decent film. Brave is, in fact, a masterpiece and hopefully the so-so reviews and the female protagonist won't stop male audience members from seeing it. Cars 2 was decent, but left me nervous as to Pixar's future. Brave has put all those fears to rest. Pixar is back baby: Hopefully forever.
Note: Brave was preceded by a short film entitled La Luna. This was both imaginative and magical. Don't come late or you'll miss it, and you will not want to miss this.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Jun 10, 2012Treasure Planet has not been greeted with negative reception, by any means. But compared to other Disney films, the response has been lukewarm at best, and Treasure Planet was a major box office flop. But here's the catch: It's really good. Like, really, really good. Treasure Planet is inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Treasure Island. Having not read the book myself, I cannot judge how closely the movie follows the book (my guess is not much due to the fact that this is an outer space adventure), but it provides a wonderfully entertaining yarn anyway. Jim is something of a rebel, but it's mostly his Dad's fault for leaving him and his mother at such a young age. Jim is constantly in trouble with the law, and his mother doesn't know what to do with her nearly-adult son. But when Jim gets a map from a deranged sea captain, Jim hopes to redeem himself and bring back the gold of Treasure Planet. A canine friend named Doppler tag along, as the two sail on a ship with a questionable crew, a cyborg cook named Mr. Silver, the captain named Amelia, and a host of others. The characters are instantly memorable. Yes, we have the stereotype "cute" character in the form of a shapeshifting alien named Morph. Yes, we have the stereotype villain in the form of a sneaky spider named Scroop. And yes, we have the stereotype "humor" character in the form of a robot named B.E.N. (who I didn't find all that funny at all). But there's a slew of original characters elsewhere. The protagonist, for example, Jim is a slightly different glove than the kind Disney usually likes to wear. Far from perfect with a messed up moral compass, Jim is rebellious, and doesn't like to take orders, but we see him change throughout the movie into a much more respectable chap. Likewise, Mr. Silver, who is the film's primary villain, never really knows if he wants to help Jim, or deploy his villainous plot to take the booty of Treasure Planet for himself. He's an interesting villain, far more interesting than almost any other villain that Disney has brought us so far. The visuals are incredible. Stunning. Really some of Disney's best. The same technology used in Disney's, also gorgeous, Tarzan film has been employed here with even better results. CGI backgrounds and often props mix with traditionally animated characters creating a visually superb film. And of course, Treasure Planet is hilarious. While B.E.N. is more than a tad annoying, he has some redeeming lines, and there are lots of other humorous characters as well. Captain Amelia gets a lot of great lines, and Doctor Doppler is equally funny. The score was unexpectedly wonderful. This is really some of Disney's best work in the music department. Composed by James Newton Howard (a composer I've had mixed feelings about), the score balances emotion and playfulness skillfully, applying enough strong, triumphant tunes as well for some of the more grand scenes. Unfortunately for Treasure Planet, there is a montage that occurs just before the halfway point, that was just screaming for the score to kick in and deliver the musical masterpiece to get it nominated for Best Original Score. Alas, Treasure Planet has decided to insert an incredibly irritating lyrical song instead. The song has an extremely loud and annoying sounding drum section, and an ill-fitting electric guitar. What could've been the centerpiece of the film, turns out to be the worst part, and this really is a shame. Treasure Planet shocked me by delivering one of Disney's best films so far. There's an abundance of memorable characters that you really care about, beautiful animation, and it's naturally hilarious. And while these are all important traits for a film, Treasure Planet also has something even more important: A heart. Treasure Planet doesn't settle for artificial sentimental stuff that so many other films have adopted and use only to attract a broader audience. Treasure Planet brings us a genuinely emotional film that I will not soon forget.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.6Jun 5, 2012Alice In Wonderland really is a mixed bag. I know that's hardly a way to begin a review, but when you've got a bag as mixed as this, it's hard to know quite where to start. I never can tell what Alice In Wonderland is trying to be, whether a drama, an action movie, a comedy, but it appears to be juggling all three at once, which provides mixed results, as I mentioned previously. Instead of being a mere adaption of the Alice In Wonderland book, Tim Burton instead creates a story that occurs 13 years after. Alice is set to marry a lord who she does not want to marry at all. Demands from her mother and parents of Alice's predetermined husband further confuse and frustrate Alice. So to escape it all, she follows a familiar rabbit into a rabbit hole, and we all know what will happen from there. Or do we? Since this is, in fact, 13 years after the original Wonderland incident, things have changed. Wonderland (or Underland, as we learn it is called) has become a much darker, and dangerous place. Alice is destined to slay a beast called the Jabberwocky, but she doubts herself, and the Red Queen wants her killed. It's all a little bit more complicated than it needs to be. But Underland is all about complications. I will start by pointing out Alice In Wonderland's biggest strength: The visuals. Between the magnificent makeup, the ridiculous costumes, the outrageous hair, and stunning special effects (and they are stunning sometimes), Alice In Wonderland is one of the most visually captivating films ever made. But if only everything else was as wonderful and undeniably incredible as the visual effects. The characters, while mostly amusing, feel a little bit...predictable. Tim Burton usually likes to recreate the characters, but instead, we get virtually the same characters from the book (and animated Disney movie), with little exception. True, Burton tries to flesh them out a bit more and add additional back story, but it does little to separate the characters in this adaption from the animated version. The acting, like the film, is a huge mixed bag. That's not to say that there are BAD actors. All the acting is very good, it's just expected. Predictable, like the characters. Most everyone is played by the book, with no special spin on almost any of them. Johnny Depp disappoints in his role as the Mad Hatter. He needs to be over the top and ridiculous. Instead, he's just rather ordinary. What happened to the wacky, bizzareness that be brought us in Charlie In The Chocolate Factory? But this isn't always the case with the acting. Helena Bonham Carter (as the Red Queen) is as outrageous and ridiculous as she needs to be, and more. Her acting is by far the most impressive in the film. Carter ends up doing the performance Depp should've done, but doesn't. One performance I didn't expect to like was Anne Hathaway's as The White Queen. "She's much too recognizable." I thought. And I was right. But she does perfectly. She's extremely dramatic and flowy, and she does a marvelous job. Without doing any research on the score beforehand, I knew that it was composed by Danny Elfman. After looking it up after the film, I was proven correct. Here's how I knew: It sounds like all his other scores. Yes, Elfman's a great composer, but all his scores sound alike, each borrowing elements from his last score. If Elfman can't get his act together, Burton may need to look for a new composer. My last opinion about Alice In Wonderland may be the most important: It makes sense. Well, mostly anyway. It's not nearly as whimsical and bizzare as it should be. It's actually, relatively straight forward. Alice In Wonderland just isn't weird enough. It needs to be more odd. More outrageous. The animated version did a much better job at this. I wanted to like this film. I wanted to love it. But Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland just isn't the film it should be. But it's not half-bad. If you haven't already seen Alice In Wonderland, it's not a bad diversion; it's just not a very good one.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Jun 4, 2012Pooh has proved itself to be as dependable as Pixar. I've never been disappointed thus far with a Winnie the Pooh film, and they've all provided strong, whimsical, and entertaining adventures. And then came Pooh's Heffalump Movie. Pooh's Heffalump Movie stars Roo, who decides to hunt and capture a heffalump that's on the loose. Roo does find and capture the heffalump (named Lumpy), but it's not as scary as Pooh and friends think, and Roo becomes fast friends with the creature. Pooh's Heffalump Movie has unfortunately decided to pander more to younger kids this time around. Most of the gags will only appeal to toddlers, and the whimsy that has surrounded previous Pooh films is almost completely gone. Pooh and the gang is back, more or less as you remember them, though with a few exceptions. Owl is completely omitted, and while we see Christopher Robin briefly in the credits, we never hear him speak. I was originally skeptical about the newest addition to the cast, the heffalump named Lumpy. But I didn't mind him. I don't think he brings anything new to the cast, and I'm certainly not sad that he hasn't returned to most of the future outings, but he wasn't annoying (mostly), and he was a little cute. There are a couple songs, which are dull and instantly forgettable. In addition, there are occasionally songs playing in the background, which didn't hurt the film at all, but it did little to improve it. There's not much to say about the score; it's mostly mediocre. The animation is certainly a cut above that of Pooh's Grand Adventure, but there's nothing jaw-dropping to see. I scarcely remember laughing at all during the movie. I'm sure this is superb for younger children, but I was usually bored. If you have kids, they'll probably love this. But if you came expecting the heart, fun, and whimsy of previous Pooh films, you'll be sorely disappointed as I was.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.7May 28, 2012At first glance, Lilo and Stitch seems a lot like E.T. An alien is found and cared for by a small child from a broken home, while the alien learns to adjust to the world. But rather than dismiss Lilo and Stitch as a rip off of the famed film, I suggest seeing the film for yourself (if you haven't already). It's worth seeing.
There are several differences in the story that are enough to make Lilo and Stitch feel like it's own. For one, the location is in Hawaii, which adds a nice atmosphere to Lilo and Stitch. The situation with the family is even more dire; Lilo, a little girl, may be taken away from her older sister who is parenting her due to death of their father.
Stitch, the furry and vicious beast from outer space has escaped execution by crash-landing on Earth. But after being hit by a semi-truck, Stitch is put into a dog pound (though no one's sure quite what he is), and is eventually adopted by Lilo, much to her sister's dismay.
The animation is some of the best I've seen in a 2D animated film. This is most evident in the water scenes, and during a spaceship chase/fight towards the end. A rainbow of colors decorate the animation giving the film a vibrant and upbeat feel, even during some of the more emotionally intense scenes.
Lilo and Stitch manages to be rather funny, though not as much as other Disney efforts. The best lines come from the disgustingly underused alien, Pleakley. Other characters get less amusing jokes (with Stitch carrying most of the extra bulk).
Also, Lilo and Stitch incorporates many lyrical songs in the background (many of them being Elvis oriented). Usually, lyrical songs in the background can be extremely irritating or distracting, but it works for the film's advantage here.
Unfortunately, the title characters can be extremely un-likeable at times, which makes it hard to root for them. Also, as fun as Lilo and Stitch can be, it's also a bit exhausting. Lilo and Stitch is certainly not at the top of my favorite Disney films, but it's funny enough, beautifully animated, and unique, if a little odd.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8May 17, 2012I've never quite enjoyed Aardman's work as much as critics. At least, not their full-length films. That's not to say I haven't liked them; I've liked them, but I certainly haven't loved them. Pirates: Band Of Misfits is different, though. This movie, I did love. None of the primary pirates are given names (their descriptions in the credits are "The Pirate With The Scarf," "The Pirate With Gout," etc., which makes this plot description a little difficult to write. The protagonist, Pirate Captain (no really, that's his name) is determined to win the pirate of the year contest. The problem; he's not a very good pirate. And with his competition being so strong, it appears the odds are against him. At least, that's what he thinks. It turns out, his trusty, rotund parrot is a rare dodo bird, thought to be extinct. There may be some booty in this after all. That is, if Charles Darwin of The Queen doesn't snatch it first. The Pirates Band Of Misfits is a fun, and often hilarious film. There are so many sight gags that a second or even third viewing may be necessary to catch them all. This is also, Aardman's most visually stunning work. It's miles ahead of any of their previous films, and there are lots of complex crowd scenes that are truly amazing. In previous films, Aardman purposefully left revealing finger-prints on the characters. Those who found this distracting will be pleased to know that Aardman has avoided doing this here. Not all characters get as much screen time as they should, but they're an amusing bunch, with (for the most part) well-defined personalities. As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of sight gags, but dialogue-oriented lines are here too. They're the witty and chuckle-inducing lines that we have come to expect from Aardman, and in much more generous amounts than in previous films. Unfortunately, Pirates: Band Of Misfits added lots of lyrical songs (playing in the background) that are usually annoying. I would've much preferred that the score continued to play during some of these scenes, because they're really are too many songs in the background. And speaking of the score, it was a little disappointing. Pirates are good music material, but the score, for the most part, is very mediocre. Then again, Aardman isn't known for their instrumentals. Flaws aside, The Pirates: Band Of Misfits is funny and witty, with wonderful animation and a cast of amusing characters. This is certainly Aardman's best film, thus far. Hopefully, it will only get better from here.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0May 6, 2012What a mess! Push is easily one of the worst action films I've ever seen! Between flat and unlikable characters to dull action, Push gets just about everything wrong. It's campy, it's silly, and painfully un-watchable. Push is much more confusing than it needs to be. In the end, it's just about a group of people trying to get a case before the "bad guys" get it. Put less simply, it's about people with a range of psychic abilities who are in a race against The Division (a powerful government that "rules" these superior beings) to find a case that contains a "billion dollar secret." The plot makes much less sense on film. In specific, the plot follows a man named Nick (Chris Evans), who is just out of his teen years, and still doesn't really have a good grip on his ability (levitation). He meets a girl named Cassie (Dakota Fanning) who convinces him (sort of) to join her on a quest to find the case. Cassie herself is a "watcher," someone who can see into the future. She draws what she sees, and based on what she sees, Cassie and Nick may not survive this adventure. As I mentioned previously, the plot is much more complicated on film. None of the abilities in Push are very cool, and none are very original. We get people who can levitate, people who can see into the future, people who can control your mind, etc. These are all things we've seen before. Been there, done that. The one new ability that Push has made is....screaming. Yes, believe it or not, Push's only innovative ability is the ability to scream. Granted, it's a scream that can destroy structures, people, etc., but in the end, it's just some creepy Asian guy screaming like a maniac. It's stupid and campy. And as if that wasn't bad enough, there are THREE villains with this ability. Push also doesn't know what kind of a movie it wants to be. Does it want to be a light, comedic action flick? A hard, heavy, end of the world film? Maybe an intelligent heist film? Push, unsuccessfully, attempts to do all three. As if I have to say it; this really doesn't work. The acting, though not awful, never gets much better than mediocre. And early on, the acting even seems a little clunky. As if Push isn't already bad off, it also suffers from an overwhelming number of obvious plot holes. And there is little characters development, if any. Most of the characters don't even have a definitive personality. The action scenes are usually brief, with no actual fights occurring. Just someone getting beat up, with a victor we can already predict. There are few exceptions. During the end, we get a long, action filled climax, but it's more tedious than exciting. And beware, the ending is a major cop-out. The one positive thing I can say about Push (aside from it's vaguely unique premise), is it's skilled editing. It shows snippets of future events than goes back to the past. The editing is just very well done, I'll give it that. Push is campy, tedious, cheesy, confusing, and stupid. It tries to be three different films at once, and character development is omitted entirely. Plot holes abound, action scenes are dull. Outside of camp value, Push has few redeeming qualities.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Apr 22, 2012It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Winnie The Pooh. And if it was, it's not any more. So believe me when I say that the latest adaption is one of the very best. The newest installment in the beloved series of Winnie The Pooh films is about, both a search for Eeyore's tale, and a plot to trap a creature that has supposedly captured Christopher Robin. All the charm and fun of the rest of the Winnie The Pooh films are present here. Short songs and nostalgia help as well. The voice cast performs well, though some of the new voices may bother you at first. Jim Cummings plays Pooh and Tigger, and Bud Luckey (who you'll recognize as Chuckles from Toy Story 3, among other Pixar films) has been cast as the ever depressed Eeyore. The other cast members shine as well, once you get used to them that is. The animation is simple and beautiful, but during one musical number, where everything appears to be turning to honey, the animation grows much more detailed. CGI and motion capture are great, but nothing beats the traditional stuff. The music is wonderful as well, and the Winnie The Pooh theme song at the beginning revived many glorious memories. The characters may not be quite as you remembered them, though. Piglet is a bit more chipper. Owl shows a lot of emotion in his eyes. And Rabbit, while still acting superior to the rest, seems to have lost some of his crankiness. Also, Christopher Robin has changed his wardrobe and his eyes are no longer little specks. This, to me, was the change I liked the least, but I didn't mind. Too much. The film is also surprisingly funny. This is easily the most humorous of all the Winnie The Pooh adaptions, and it made me laugh much more than other so called "comedies" out there. My only real complaint about Winnie The Pooh is it's run time: An all too short 63 minutes. I know that kids don't have the longest attention span, but this trip down memory lane felt a little short. Winnie The Pooh is just as wonderful as ever, and I do hope this film is only the beginning of another league of movies from our friends at the Hundred Acre Wood.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.1Apr 22, 2012Adolf Hitler committed suicide April 30, 1945. Valkyrie is about a group of men who are plotting to assassinate Hitler. Due to the information I have just given to you, you now know that by the end of the movie, Hitler will still be alive. This is a bit of a problem for Valkyrie, but this film does a relatively good job of making you forget about this conclusion. The A-list cast does a more-than-excellent job at acting, though the actual character development is extremely minimal for most characters. Valkyrie does something very smart at the beginning of the movie. We understand that the characters are all speaking German, but they speak English anyway. This eliminates the need for silly German accents, and is much less distracting. There are times when this is contradicted though, such as one scene where there is a woman singing in German, but these are forgivable. Unfortunately, my compliments must end here. Valkyrie is not an action movie. It is not placed under the action genre, and there are almost not action scenes in the movie. Valkyrie is a war movie. Does this seem contradictory to you? I was surprised by the lack of action in Valkyrie, but a lack of action isn't necessarily a bad thing if the movie is entertaining enough. Unfortunately, Valkyrie is mostly just people talking and planning. The reward for waiting through all the talking? One explosion. Really, that's all. For all the planning and talking and such, I expected a very elaborate plan to take place. The plan, though, is really not much more then setting a bomb next to Hitler during a meeting. So I ask, how did a film with such a simple plot manage to stretch to a unnecessarily long, 2 hours? It seems that more time was spent thinking of one liners, than developing an interesting plot. What was most agonizing though, was all the potential Valkyrie. Imagine if we were given flashbacks to Hitler's childhood. And what if there was some more background about the main character's marriage? More story, a little more action, and some decent character development would've gone a long way for turning this mostly mediocre film into the masterpiece it just missed out on.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.9Apr 19, 2012It's been years since I've seen Wall-E. I remember enjoying it, just like the rest of the Pixar bunch, so I got it via Netflix to see again. A wise choice. Wall-E is even better than I remember it. Wall-E is an ingenious film that occurs thousands of years in the future. Humans no longer live on the Earth due to pollution, they instead live in a giant spaceship, called the Axim. The Wall-E robots are left at Earth to clean up the mess. All of the Wall-E's, however, have been wiped out over time. Only one remains. But when EVE, a robot from the Axim, comes to Earth to find life, Wall-E's life is flipped upside down. The first half-hour of the film is performed with minimal dialogue, but still mananges to express all kinds of emotion: Laughter, loneliness, perhaps even sadness. I cried multiple times throughout the film. The animation is gorgeous, even for today. And the musical score, composed by Thomas Newman, is excellent. There really isn't any sort of flaw to this film. It's entertaining, it's funny, it has a lot of heart, there's amazing animation, and an impressive musical score. Of course, I haven't even touched base on the best aspect of the film: the characters. Wall-E has, perhaps, some of the most memorable (and hilarious) characters in all Pixar history. From the quirky Wall-E, to the grumpy M-O, to the rotund captain of the Axim, there's an endless abundance of charming cast members. Wall-E is easily one of the greatest films ever made. Period.… Expand