ParaNorman is not only the best animated film I’ve seen this year, it’s one of the best films of 2012, period. This stop-motion-style movie, directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell (Flushed Away), fills a void left by Pixar’s surprisingly disappointing Brave, released earlier this year. Finally Pixar’s crown passes to the animators at LAIKA, who previously worked on Henry Selick’s Academy Award-nominated Coraline.
ParaNorman is the story of Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a boy born
with the ability to speak to the dead and foresee the terrible events of the
future. When an ancient witch’s curse threatens the Massachusetts town of
Blithe Hollow, Norman is the only hope the once-puritanical borough has for
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
There have been numerous pretenders to the Grand Theft Auto throne, clone games that produce some half-assed version of the GTA experience, leaving gamers wanting the real thing. Square Enix's Sleeping Dogs would accurately be called a GTA copycat; however, while the game certainly has its share of flaws, an engaging story and fun action sequences make Sleeping Dogs one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012.
Sleeping Dogs stars Wei Shen, an undercover cop moving his way up the ranks of the infamous Triad, a powerful crime syndicate centered in Hong Kong. Wei battles personal vendettas, legal obligations, and new found loyalties in a complex story that is both deep and rewarding. Selling the narrative is an excellent list of Hollywood stars, including Emma Stone and Lucy Liu, all of whom lend their talents to what really would make a fantastic movie script.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
It’s unreasonable to expect a movie that exists only to package together a ridiculously-cool cast to be much more than just a good time. The first Expendables (2010) was a huge disappointment, focusing too strongly on its very weak plot, while not providing enough of the action moviegoers hoped to see.
The story in Expendables 2 is definitely lacking, but still strong enough to tie all the fist fights, gun battles, and jokes about Randy Couture’s ears together into one cohesive package.
There’s a story here about a bad guy who is so evil that he enslaves women and children to dig in his mines, searching for a stash of old soviet warheads.The film’s villain, Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), seems to have an endless supply of henchmen and weapons at his disposable. His motivations remain unclear, likely because he’s just too evil to be understood by a movie audience with normal ambitions.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
I had to see The Dark Knight Rises twice before I knew exactly how I felt about it. Leaving the theatre after the first viewing, I felt thoroughly let down. After my second screening I found myself still retaining some of the same disappointment; however, I was able to look at the film more objectively, and come to some mixed conclusions. So, as a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, I can finally say this: The entire trilogy is an incredible achievement, but Rises is absolutely the weakest entry in the series.
Part of the problem here is the level of expectation I had going into this final chapter. The first two, Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), were incredible films, packed with a level of depth not previously seen in any comic-book adaptation. My desire for this third movie to match its predecessors in quality is a tall order in and of itself, but part of me had been hyped to believe Rises would be the best in the series.