40 posts categorized "Children's Cinema"

November 02, 2012

WRECK-IT RALPH

Wreck-It RalphCinema has finally delivered a winning movie based on a video game — or in the case of Disney’s animated treat — based on numerous video games. The filmmakers take a risk in combining various styles of video game graphics to render characters we can thoroughly enjoy. The risk pays off. Surprisingly, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a mixed-medium animated delight.

John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman put so much expression into the voices of their comic avatars (Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz) that you can’t help but fall under their spell. For their part, the film’s army of animation artists create a bold scale, and a clever color-pallet that functions precisely inside the well-written narrative by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee.

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Ralph is sick of being the bad guy in the video game where he’s worked for 30 years. Fix-It Felix is the “good guy” to Ralph’s “bad guy” stereotype. When Ralph isn’t on the guest list for a penthouse party where Fix-It Felix receives a medal, Ralph abandons ship to take the place of a soldier in a war derby game called “Hero’s Duty” — think “Halo.” Ralph gets more than just a medal before landing in a girls’ game called “Sugar Rush Speedway.” There, Ralph befriends Vanellope, a quirky “glitch”-character living in a candy-covered race car kingdom a la “Mario Kart.”

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Amusing verbal interplay feeds the heartfelt friendship that develops between Ralph and Vanellope. Fresh, witty repartee keeps the fast-paced comedy accessible to adult audiences without taking anything away from its kid-friendly storyline. “Wreck-It Ralph” is one of the best animated movies of 2012 — alongside Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie.”

Rated PG. 92 mins.

4 Stars

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September 23, 2012

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

Hotel TransylvaniaPartying with Dracula and his crew of monsters isn’t as enjoyable as you might imagine in this animated misfire. A threadbare script sets an oversimplified plot adrift. Adam Sandler does a half-decent vampire voice as Dracula, an overprotective single father to his 118-year-old daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). In human years, Mavis is just college-age. Good ole Dracula has built a secret monster resort hotel. Humans are not allowed. Dracula has gone so far as to build a phony human town in order to convince Mavis not to stray beyond their castle walls. Enter American back-backer Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), who wanders into Dracula’s sacred hotel and sets romantic eyes on Mavis. She returns the gesture. Mindless monster mayhem abounds as the rudderless story chases its tail toward a predictably anticipated ending.

Once again, Hollywood dips its toe into 3D waters without fully committing. There is nothing in the 3D effects on display to say that any value is added by its presence. “Hotel Transylvania” is a lethargic animated comedy with nothing at stake — not even any vampires.

Rated PG. 91 mins. (C-) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)

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September 09, 2012

FINDING NEMO 3D

VIDEO ESSAYS: FINDING NEMO 3D — LIBERAL ARTS — ARBITRAGE — CLASSIC - THE BAD NEWS BEARS

Finding_nemo_ver8Disney/Pixar’s 3D upgrade of its classic animated children’s movie — using an expensive new 3D format called Xpand 3D— has the dual effect of darkening the film’s vibrant colors while adding considerable depth to the screen. Still, don’t look for Nemo to come swimming out into the audience. This isn’t that kind of 3D experience. Following on the heels of its 3D re-release of “The Lion King,” “Finding Nemo 3D” seems more likely to introduce the film to new audiences, if only because the remastered film’s underwater color palate is so bold.

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Clownfish Nemo (voiced by Andrew Gold) is a mere egg when an attack by a barracuda in their home in Australia's Great Barrier Reef leaves him in the singular care of his overprotective dad Marlin (Albert Brooks). Nemo isn’t the best of swimmers owing to his undersized fin. On his first day of school, Nemo and his class go on a field trip to the reef’s drop-off. Against his dad’s commands to return to the safety of the reef, the curious Nemo swims out toward a lingering boat only to be scooped up by a diver. The boat takes off with Nemo onboard, and Marlin follows suit in a desperate effort to get back his son.

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Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a Regal Blue Tang fish suffering from short-term memory loss, teams up with Marlin to help track down Nemo to Sydney. Unbeknownst to Marlin and Dory, Nemo has been added to a dentist’s salt-water aquarium there.

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“Finding Nemo” stands up as one of the most engaging animated children’s films of all time. If you’ve never seen it before, you’re in for a real treat. If you have, you’ll love this version more than ever.

Rated G. 101 mins.

4 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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