Bolt (2008)

Stupid cat.

Stupid cat.

Directed by: Chris Williams and Byron Howard (Howard also directed Tangled which I didn’t think much of)

Written by: Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams

Starring: the vocal cast of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, Randy Savage, Nick Swardson, Diedrich Bader, Chloë Grace Moretz, James Lipton, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio, and Jenny Lewis

What it’s about: a dog raised on a TV show finds out that he has no super powers at all

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Dog Who Didn’t Know

Movie Mash Up: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey animated

What I liked: The animation is gorgeous – especially on Bolt – and some of the scenes that don’t involve any of the characters in the movie look like real life.  Well, the movies version of real life, I guess.  I absolutely love Jenny Lewis, and honestly, there’s no reason (except that the Oscars are bullshit political garbage) that her song wasn’t nominated in the Best Original Song category.  Really, TWO songs from Slumdog Millionaire were nominated?  Idiots.  Her song still brings a bit of the old glassy-eyed reaction out in me.  The characters were fun as well.

What I disliked: For some reason, the more times I re-watch this, the less impressed I am by it.  I still think it is a decent movie, but my enthusiasm for it has dulled since I originally watched it.  Personally, I would have rather had Chloë Grace Moretz as the lead voice like they originally recorded, rather than Miley Cyrus’ fucked up nasally cigarette-infused voice.  The movie just doesn’t impact me as much anymore, but I still want a dog.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, there’s nothing offensive about the movie at all, just an enjoyable easy-to-watch romp.

Rating: 3 / 5

That is pretty adorable right there

That is pretty adorable right there

Kick-Ass (2010)

Note: I’m writing this before I go see The Dark Knight Rises, because I’m totally stoked for that movie and you read the review for it yesterday, probably, so you already knew that.

When Kick-Ass first exploded onto the scene, I knew next to nothing about it.  I had seen some footage that was released and was trying to figure out exactly what kind of a movie it was going to be.  It seemed almost like satire, over-the-top, balls out action.  Of course, that was just the scene of Nicolas Cage firing a gun at Chloë Grace Moretz’s chest after calling her “baby doll”, so you can see how I may have misread it.  I wasn’t even aware that it had only been released as a comic book series several months prior.  I wasn’t stoked about it or anything, though I generally wish success for comic book movies so I can have more of them.  Just no more Spider-Man or Fantastic Four movies, please.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (responsible for the surprisingly excellent X-Men: First Class last year), Kick-Ass is another in the gritty vein of comic book movies.  However, the production/art design on it is more Batman Forever than The Dark Knight, and that works well for it because it celebrates its comic book nature.  In my Avengers review I said that it was probably the greatest comic book movie of all time, and I still stand by that.  However, I don’t classify Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies as “comic book” movies, and every time I re-watch Kick-Ass, it gets better and better in my mind, so watch out Avengers, I might have to revise my opinion!

The strength of Kick-Ass lies in the fact that it pulls no punches.  It is dark, it is violent, it is filled with foul-mouthed characters who do Bad Things, it is a comic book come to life, although admittedly a bit filthier than your standard Marvel and DC fare.  The origin story behind the hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) is fairly believable and not condescending to the audience at all.  There’s a lot more to this movie than just the action and bad words, as a genuine romance buds between Kick-Ass’ alter ego Dave and his schoolmate, Katie (the always gorgeous Lyndsy Fonseca) and that leads to Feelings.

That’s not even more than the surface of Kick-Ass, as there are several other stories being told as well.  Damon Macready (Cage) has a vendetta planned for crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong at his movie heaviest) and has raised his daughter, Mindy (Moretz) to be a highly skilled vigilante in her own right.  D’Amico’s son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), wants to get into the family business despite his somewhat nerdish nature.  All of these storylines come together in amazing ways, and Cage gives one of the best performances of his career as an avenging husband hero type.  My words are failing me now, I just want to gush about how great this movie is.

It’s not a movie for kids, okay.  Do not sit down with your little ones to watch this little comic book movie, because you will be shocked and have to explain so much to them and unfairly resent the movie for that.  It’s not the fault of the movie that you didn’t do your homework!  Kick-Ass is an awesome and worthwhile movie watching experience.

5 / 5

Hugo (2011)

Tonight, the 84th Academy Awards will be held, and director Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is one of nine movies vying for the Best Picture Oscar.  With this viewing I’ve seen four of the nine (the other three were The Tree of LifeMoneyball, and The Help) and I swear I will be done with the Oscars forever if Tree of Life wins Best Picture.  I have a serious hate-on for pretentious garbage art-for-the-sake-of-art movies, and I’m going to say that Hugo is the direct antithesis of that hipster twaddle.

I didn’t know much about Hugo going into it, and I think everyone should go into watching it with as little background information as possible.  It makes the story all the more rich, touching and surprising.  I was a bit hesitant when it started, as I generally am at critically acclaimed films, but the wonderful whimsy of the film won me over.  It’s got a bit of an Amélie vibe to it, not just because it takes place in France, but with the wonderful little stories surrounding the supporting cast.

All the acting was top notch, and I could seriously listen to Christopher Lee recite a phone book because he’s just got such a powerfully wise voice.  So much to love about the movie, shameful that it wasn’t a box office success, but I could lay part of the blame for that on it being theatrically released as a 3D movie.  There really was no invasive 3D scenes, so I can’t imagine it gave the movie more depth or anything.  Absolutely wonderful movie, and of the four Best Picture nominated films I’ve seen so far, I would give the Oscar to Hugo.

5 / 5