Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spring Wrap-up Part Three

I just realized that my blog has been up for over a year! Yay! Well since I just figured this out now and am over a week late I don't have anything special planned. Maybe I'll do something next year... if I remember! But in the spirit of this blog here is another post on three very different movies as my seemingly endless quest to get caught up continues!

Saved! reminded me of Heathers as both movies are satires that take place in high school. Jenna Malone's performance even recalled Winona Ryder in that movie. But Saved! takes a different route as it's about religion, specifically fundamentalist Christians. However I never felt that the movie was mean spirited as there are some religious characters at "American Eagle Christian High School" who are perfectly reasonable.
Saved! features one of Macaulay Culkin's first film appearances since 1994's Richie Rich. Culkin's comedic timing was very good and its nice to see him acting again even though he hasn't done much since.
Pop star Mandy Moore has a major role in the movie and she did a good job, especially for somebody who is not primarily an actress. I am surprised she would accept a villainous role given her image, but commend her for taking the risk here as it paid off.
I quite liked Saved! and found it pretty funny but I felt that its biggest weakness was its shift in tone at around the midpoint. The first half of the movie is a satire while it turns into a straight-up teen dramedy for the last half.

Alice in Wonderland
I came into this movie ready for great special effects but not much else. I pretty much got what I was expecting, although to be honest it was a little better than I thought it would be.
I liked the angle of an older Alice coming back to Wonderland. In this sense it feels more like Return to Oz meets The Chronicles of Narina than an Alice in Wonderland movie made by Tim Burton. There are already tons of TV and movie versions of this story so I guess they tried to put a different spin on it while not making it too dark, which has already been done anyway. I'm only familiar with the Disney animated version, which I love, and have never read the original Lewis Carroll stories.
When it comes to the acting Crispin Glover (who has a surprisingly large amount of screen time) did a nice job, as did Helena Bonham Carter who played the Red Queen. Christopher Lee, Alan Rickman, and Stephen Fry all provided voices which was a lot of fun. Of course this movie was advertised as a Johnny Depp film but he isn't in the movie quite as much as you would think and wasn't as over the top as I was expecting for the Mad Hatter.
Alice in Wonderland won Oscars for art direction and costume design. It was also nominated for best visual effects but lost out to Inception. Lighting and Compositing technical director Brian Blasiak also worked on Avatar (among other movies) and worked his special effects magic for this film as well. Alice in Wonderland looked fantastic in High Definition. It was marketed as a 3-D film even though it was not filmed in 3-D but was instead converted in post-production.
Usually I have some issues with CGI but this is exactly how it should be used. The real world bookend scenes were done well made and are a nice contrast to the CGI world of Wonderland. The Jabberwocky was CGI but its design appeared to be influenced by the designs of Ray Harryhausen's monsters.
While this is not a bad movie, it's not very good either and is a movie I probably will never watch again. Still, I enjoyed it more than Burton's weaker efforts like Mars Attacks! or his 2001 Planet of the Apes remake.
I was surprised that Alice in Wonderland made so much money (11th highest grossing film of all time without adjusting for inflation), especially since it didn't come out in the summer or around Christmas. I'm don't think it deserved to make $1 billion worldwide but if you look at how much those Transformers movies made I guess I'm fine with it! It was rated PG so I could see it appealing to families with older and/or younger children as well as adults which is probably why it hauled in so much dough.

Garzey's Wing (1996)
Technically this is not a movie but a three part OVA (direct to video) anime with each episode being 30 minutes long. Garzey's Wing was written and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, the same man who developed the classic Gundam series. This is proof that even the best creators can have horrible misfires.
I'm not even going to bother describing the plot as Garzey's Wing is an incoherent disaster that is unintentionally hilarious due in part to a terrible dub. You can see what I mean here and here.
Garzey's Wing makes the infamous MD Geist (which I wrote about earlier) look like a masterpiece in comparison which is really saying something!
Despite being a total mess I must admit that Garzey's Wing is an enjoyable watch even though its for all the wrong reasons. If you want to watch a bad but fun anime with a group of friends this certainly fits the bill!

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