Real realistic reviews of Wreck-It Ralph, Alex Cross and Cloud Atlas November 5, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns

Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).

 

Quickly catching up on the current movie reviews – Cloud Atlas, Alex Cross and Wreck-It Ralph!

CLOUD ATLAS

I went based on the “visual majesty” of the previews, thinking this was more cinematographic splendor than spectacular story. Turns out it was basically five or six different films all joined together by the same actors playing different roles. (There were three directors, production managers and so on.) The stories took place from 1849 to 2351—back and forth, forth and back, with little or no setups or transitions.

As with any anthology, some stories are better/more entertaining than others. I wish they had made this a series of shorter films so I could choose the two I liked

After two hours and 44 convoluted minutes, I came away with three main observations:
1. Over half a century after John Wayne tried it in The Conqueror (as Genghis Khan), it is still impossible to make a Caucasian into a convincing Asian—and vice versa. (Same goes for a black man into an Asian man.) Completely unbelievable.
2. Hale Berry can look like a white woman.
3. Hugo Weaving makes one ugly (and unrealistic) woman.

(Film flubs: the old VW bugs actually could float. And as usual, the good guy has to reload his handgun while the bad guy’s never runs out.)

This will be one studied in film classes and spoken highly of by pretentious pedants who love to analyze and psychoanalyze films and their themes and “messages”. The rest of us? Meh.

Cloud Atlas to me came off as a vehicle to drive home a few quotes of pretentious pithiness. The best one was: “From womb to tomb, we are bound to others past and present. Through every crime or kindness, we birth our future.”

There. I just saved you seven to twelve dollars and nearly three hours of your life.
You’re welcome.

My rating: Avoid it. If you must see it, catch it or rent and fast forward to the sci-fi stories.


ALEX CROSS

Okay, this is embarrassing. Don’t think it’s ever happened. Both my wife and I thought this was the new Tom Cruise action film based on James Patterson’s novels. We got one out of three correct. Tyler Perry plays the title detective in this serial-killer thriller based on said novels. Tom Fooze was AWOL. (We had seen previews for the Cruise flick a while ago, but not for Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross and somehow confused the two! Hey, at least I’m honest.)

Pros: Solid acting, especially Matthew Fox as the villain. Right up there with Hannibal Lecter in terms of sadism and evil. A few good twists, albeit not foreshadowed well.

Cons: Some scenes were so disturbing and a couple plot points so nasty I would not want to see this again. Certainly wish I didn’t see it on a giant screen. Chalk this up as one of those, “OKAY, the villain is bad! We get it already!”

My rating: Mostly for fans of the novels or Tyler Perry. Otherwise, catch it if you must.

 

WRECK-IT RALPH

Best of the bunch! I’ve been seeing the previews of Disney’s latest animated entry forever, to the point of almost being annoyed. Thankfully, this is one of the rare instances where the previews didn’t give away the story, nor did it show the best parts. I saw it in 3D for my birthday and wasn’t disappointed.

 

Pros
–Nice use of 3D; I didn’t regret the added expense (though 2D would still have been entertaining).
–Huge emphasis on story. About three subplots, more than most animated flicks I’ve seen.
–Executive produced by John Lassiter of Pixar, and it shows. One of the credits was a thanks to “the Disney braintrust and Pixar braintrust”—which explains the focus on story and character.
–For anyone over 40, plenty of old videogame characters and in-jokes. (I’ll be hitting the pause button a lot when the DVD comes out.)
–The funny parts were mostly funny, and the sappy parts weren’t too sappy.
–The message was pretty obvious from the start, but it’s a good one so I can’t complain.
–Nice use of the voice talent; Jane Lynch steals the show. (Especially enjoyed her dialog.)
–Clever gags, set design and various details (watch how the characters in Ralph’s game move “out of game” compared to him). Expressions were purposely exaggerated but right on.
–The “Bad-Anon” meetings.
–Bright and brilliant colors and sets.

Cons
–Definitely PG. Some scenes would be just too intense/violent for little kids IMO. One of the games the character enters is like Metal Gear Solid/Call Of Duty with tons o’ guns shootin’ at giant scary bugs, with flashing strobes and loud explosions. And there’s a scene where the bad guy grabs Ralph’s head and tries to force him to watch a kid about to (possibly) get killed, with the line, “Let’s watch your friend die now, shall we?” That’s a bit much for a “kiddie flick.”
–Some critics felt the plot was too complicated. But these are probably the same hypocrites that won’t bat an eye at the convoluted Cloud Atlas. Who says younger viewers can’t handle subplots?
–Credits went by too quickly! A lot to take in.
–No real button after the credits, other than a purposely-glitchy Disney logo gag. More would be nice.

Overall, though, I loved it.

My Rating: See It/Own It. I’ll be buying the DVD for sure (at half off or more, of course.)

Special mention of the b/w short before the Wreck It Ralph, Paperman, directed by John Kahrs with animation supervised by Patrick Osborne. Absolutely beautiful, charming, inventive and romantic. This short used the in-house technique known as “Meander”, a combination of 2D line animation and CG. (Similar to that used on Princess And The Frog.) Optimists and romantics will love this. Pessimists and misanthropes, not so much. Highly recommended.

 

As a bonus, I rate FRANKENWEENIE the same as Ralph, but for totally different reasons. You can’t really compare the two. Frankenweenie is a delightful tribute to the old 50s flicks, slower-paced and with a different kind of humor. Plus, it’s black-and-white stop-motion animation. (Probably why it hasn’t done much at the box office; I guess audiences don’t like or understand b/w animated films.) A real shame because it’s another Tim Burton beauty.

Thanks for reading. So what did YOU think of either or all of those? Feel free to post below.

 

See you next week,
Mike

 

P.S.: Isn’t time you grabbed yourself a cool commission? I’ll draw any character for your enjoyment: movies or TV, comics or caricature, animated or otherwise. Just ask Craig about it here.

 

 

 

 

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