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>> Friday, July 23, 2010

Not so despicable...
Steve Carell and Jason Segal go head to head in the surprisingly entertaining Despicable Me. I, like everyone else, has seen the trailers and constant bombardment of dancing, yellow, one eyed little dudes in the weeks prior to this film’s release. However, I did relatively little looking into before seeing the film as frankly, it looked funny, but my desire to see it was … meh.

However, at a time where there really wasn’t much to see I decided to give it a try. I didn’t regret it. Despicable Me is the story of an evil mastermind named Gru (Steve Carell) who is constantly trying to trump every other evil genius out there and make headlines as the best thief ever. He’s a loveable character who seems to be past his glory days and has trouble thinking outside the box. He has his typical minions (Oompa Loompa-inspired shorties colored yellow) and a mad scientist named Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) at his disposal. The new guy in town, however, named Vector (Jason Segal) is the new kid with the new ideas and the better technology. Wherever Gru seems to strike, Vector is right behind him stealing the thunder.

As part of one of his dastardly plans to steal a shrink ray from Vector, Gru decides to adopt three girls from an orphanage to infiltrate Vector’s lair. However, what he doesn’t expect is he may end up kinda like-liking the girls a little more than he may have planned on.

Despicable Me has a more typical ending than I would have liked, however where it won me over was the atypical overall feel of the film which reminded me a lot of Coraline. It has some darker moments that fit the tone of the overall movie perfectly, and in a way I can’t describe it sort of gave me the heebie jeebies. This is far from a bad thing though as it makes the tone of the movie far more richer than something like Shrek, which is hit and miss but always typical. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

It’s this touch of originality though that I loved about the film which is why I am giving it an open door. The film treats you right and hits a lot of the right notes without selling out. Plus I love Steve Carell. Let’s just hope he doesn’t overdo it in the future like Robin Williams, where just because he’s awkward and silly and makes funny voices he feels like he can forgo any effort whatsoever, when it comes to acting and or voice acting.

*Stills courtesy of Illumination Entertainment



>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Little one, did I ever tell you about the time
I fought off bad guys for a good couple of hours while drunk?

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan contribute to the ongoing remake, sequel and “reimagining” fad with their version of The Karate Kid.

I know for sure at some point in my life I saw the original, and maybe a couple of the sequels (Hilary Swank was in one apparently?). Mr. Miyagi (played by the great, late Pat Morita) was just too cool a guy to not pay attention to and we all of course remember “wax on, wax off” which was replaced in this film with a more applicable “jacket on, jacket off”. Yes, I’m aware what the latter part of that phrase sounds like, but I didn’t notice that until now so I don’t see it as an issue.

Smith’s character Dre moves with his mother to Beijing, China for some unknown reason. Maybe the recession is so bad in the US they moved to a country where kids get paid a penny an hour to make Walmart merchandise? Hard to say. Either way, they end up there and Dre finds himself slowly building an accidental relationship with his and his mother’s maintence man, Mr. Han (Chan).

It seems bullies don’t just exist in North America, they exist in China too – except there they know Kung-fu. Turns out that’s a bad thing when you’re a smart-ass. After getting rescued from one of these kung-frontations by Mr. Han who shows off his mad skills and serves the group of unruly teens, Dre is put in a position where he must learn the art of Kung-fu to respectfully take on his foes one at a time in a tournament that’s just around the corner. Start the 80’s montage seqence…

Ultimately, The Karate Kid is a reimaginging (guess The NEW Karate Kid didn’t have the same ring to it) that’s about your typical ‘retired master finds himself through the new student who in turn finds his own way due to the retired master who finds himself through the new student who – well, you get the point. Do they learn lessons in the end? Yes. Is it predictable? Yes. Does Jayden Smith borrow every acting nuance from his famed father Will Smith? Yup.

But dammit all I liked it anyways. The movie has a more authentic feel to it than the original, and Jackie Chan outdoes himself to the point where if this movie wasn’t, well, this movie – he may have even been considered for an Oscar next year. Chan hasn’t looked this comfortable in a role since The Tuxedo, and that’s saying a LOT.

The Karate Kid was still really fun and waaay better than I thought it would be. Not many remakes do the original justice and the mistake is that they usually don’t try often enough to be their own movie (otherwise what’s the point?). This film is a great example of that, another would be Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight (2008) – they do something different and don’t try and reshoot the original with different actors and CG (I site 1998’s Psycho).

For those reasons and definitely a few more I’m giving The Karate Kid an open door. Not because it’s the best movie of the year, but because it did right by the material and a resonating fan base and came out on top regardless of the pre-release negative expectations. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, but it’s not a half bad way to kill a couple of hours, either.
*Stills courtesy Columbia Pictures


TOY STORY 3 (2010)

>> Monday, July 5, 2010


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