Sunday, August 08, 2010

Big screen / small screen review, including Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3
I've taken a few days to blog about this film because I've needed to get my thoughts in order. Firstly, it's very good - the usual high Pixar standard. But I found it emotionally challenging.

The themes of growing up and moving on from relationships, as seen in Andy parting with his toys as he leaves for college, was arresting. There's a whole scene where the toys are trying to get Andy's attention, and can't understand why he has moved on. I'm not sure why that troubled me so much (maybe the fact that my house is full of toys plays its part), but it did.

There's a depth to this, that is far more than you'd expect from a 'kids' film'. I'm not sure kids would get it. Most adults won't either, I guess, because people don't expect to be made to think in movies...

Jongudmund's rating: 8/10

The Hurt Locker
The film that beat Avatar to the Oscar earlier this year. A lot of hype. And yet when it came down to it, not as much substance as I expected there to be.

It was very good and I'm glad I've finally watched it. Maybe it was more of a big screen movie rather than a DVD night in, although I'm not sure. There are some excellently shot scenes - a shoot-out in the desert; tense and confusing scenes in the city streets.

It also managed to show how war provides an adrenalin thrill that becomes addictive, without ever going gung-ho, or playing down the horror of war. When a character gets vapourised by an IED, there's a highly believeable atmosphere of shock and horror. People get shot and stay dead. Blood doesn't spurt in cinematic technicolor.

I'd say it's a good film, but I'm not sure it's a great film. But worth watching.

Jongudmund's rating: 8/10

Dead Man Walking
This is one of those films I'd never got round to seeing, and it was on TV last night. The story is well-known, I guess. Susan Sarandon plays a nun who visits a death row inmate played by Sean Penn, who is the 'dead man walking'. Gradually she brings him to the point of repentance when he finally admits his sins and 'saves' him even as he is killed by lethal injection.

The brilliance of this film is the closely observed funny moments that seem to interpolate into the narrative, the way things do in real life. A sign that says 'Have much rabbits' prompts a character to ask "Are they selling or bragging?" "Maybe it's a cry for help."

Again this was an emotional film. When Penn turns to his spiritual advisor and admits he'd never foudn love until she had loved him unconditionally, and thanks her for loving him, I was moved. Redemption comes in many different ways and yet it is always powerful.

Jongudmund's rating: 9/10

THX 1138
This was George Lucas' first film, recently re-released in a Director's Cut. It's set in a dystopic future where humans are enslaved by the state and are not allowed to fall in love. It's very much like other films of that ilk - Equilibrium, The Island, and so on.

There is a dream-like quality to the film. Characters seem to appear, quite literally, out of nowhere. Scenes jump around. I was never quite sure whether I was meant to be seeing reality or what the main character, THX 1138, was percieving the world to be.

I really don't think this is a film for everyone. But if you're into science fiction, it's worth watching.

Jongudmund's rating: 6/10

Planet 51
A knockabout animated kids' film about a human astronaut who causes chaos when he lands on the inhabited 'Planet 51'.

There isn't much depth to this, but the alien pet who looks a bit like the alien from Alien and pees acid onto lamp-posts is very amusing. Truthfully I didn't care much about the other characters, but the animation is good and the design of the film is very nicely done in terms of the 1950s retro style alien vehicles and things.

Jongudmund's rating: 4/10

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