Monday, November 10, 2003

The Animatrix

In a Nutshell: Different. Interesting. Not sure I liked it, but worth seeing if you're a Matrix fan. NOT for children.

Quick Plot: Nine animated shorts, in all styles from virtually photo-realistic CG to almost static black and white graphics, that relate to the Matrix, sometimes via backstory, sometimes expanding on other concepts. An interesting experiment.

In Detail: Basically, the Wachowski Brothers had some "aside" type things relating to The Matrix and its story, so they gave the 8 stories (one is in two parts) to different people and said "here, animate this." As a fan of animation in general, it was truly fascinating to see the different styles. Each is as different from the other as night and day. Some styles I liked, some I didn't. Some stories I liked, some I didn't. But it was a very interesting experiment. It certainly does things to "expand the universe," so to speak, though I think I liked most of the backstory I had made up in my head better, so be prepared for that.

Will I Buy It? Probably not.

The Matrix Revolutions

In a Nutshell: It's a semi-good action flick. Expecting something deep, or some answers? Don't bother.

Quick Plot: Picks up exactly where the previous film left off, with Neo and Bane in comas and Zion under attack.

In Detail: When I walked out of the theater after seeing this film the first time, I had no idea what to say about it. Even my husband commented, "I don't envy you trying to write *that* up." After seeing it a second time, I am able to wrap some words around it, even if they are inadequate to express how I feel. The ultimate verdict: Extremely disappointing final chapter to what should have been an awesome trilogy. At this point, I would rather them have just left it with the original Matrix film. I wasn't overly impressed with Reloaded, except with the last few minutes. The conversation with The Architect truly saved it. I was hoping that Revolutions would continue with such a promising and wonderfully complex philosophy, and perhaps give us a few answers in the process. Instead, Revolutions seems to have dumped any depth it possibly could have had (except the train station scene with the Indian family) in favor of becoming a testosterone-driven action flick. How sad. And even then, it wasn't a very good one. Don't get me wrong, the Battle for Zion is *awesome.* There is no other word for it. Visually stunning, with plenty of action. But as an action film, the non-action parts flopped. So it was neither a good action film, nor a good Matrix film. It ignored too many of its own parameters and constructs to close the deal. I'm embarrassed to admit that, at this point, I liked Reloaded better, and I wasn't all that kind to it the first time around. (I saw it again on Saturday, and it's growing on me. Not sure if that's because it's growing on me, or if it's just better than Revolutions.) Did I just miss something? Perhaps my friend Kelli, the philosophy major, could shed some light, because I think the film is missing a whole heck of a lot! As long as you see it with the understanding that it's an action flick with a momentary lapse of insight and a good bit of other pointless stuff, you will probably like it better than I did.

I would like to say a quick word about seeing this film in IMAX format. WOW! The movie was still so-so, but when they talk about "the IMAX experience," they are not kidding. The clarity of the film is jaw-dropping. You could see the texture on the olive in a martini glass, for goodness sake. I was truly amazed. And I hadn't realized how astounding IMAX surround sound is. I caught myself looking over my shoulder occasionally, it was that believable. It was expensive ($11.50, compared to the usual $8.50, or $6.50 matinee), but ultimately worth it, I think. It was the first time I tried seeing a "standard" film converted to IMAX, and I was very pleased. Not something I would spend that kind of money on for every film, but for the special ones, definitely worth it!

Will I Buy It? Undecided. I can't be any more specific than that at this point.

Addendum: We have decided to pretend that only the first Matrix film exists, no others.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Brother Bear

In a Nutshell: I wanted to love it, but I didn't. Still good though.

Quick Plot: Kenai, an Inuit young man in search of vengeance for his brother, is transformed by the spirits into a bear so that he may "walk a mile in his enemy's shoes," so to speak, and Koda (an abandoned cub) tags along. But Kenai's other brother is also seeking vengeance, and assumes Bear-Kenai is the enemy.

In Detail: A beautiful film, to be sure, eh? The Aurora Borealis animation is fantastic. I especially liked the "Great Spirits" song segment, sung by Tina Turner. Beyond that, it was just, well, okay. I really wanted to love this film, and I didn't. Liked it, yes, but not love. Sadly, most of the best stuff, you've seen in the trailers. Beyond the stunning visuals (with extensive multi-plane camera use, yay!), the story is just a touch blah. Fine for kids, I think. Worth seeing, but perhaps with slightly lower expectations. If you like ending Kodas, I mean codas, stay through the credits.

Will I Buy It? Most likely. You know I'm a Disney nut!

Runaway Jury

In a Nutshell: It's a Grisham. Good, keeps your interest, not spectacular.

Quick Plot: A high profile case in New Orleans draws the top jury consultant in the nation to insure victory for the defense, but another party "owns" a jury member, and is willing to push the verdict either way, for a price.

In Detail: It was a Grisham, which means it is bound to be entertaining and tense. It also means that it is unlikely to be spectacular, and this wasn't. My two favorite Grisham films are The Client and The Pelican Brief. The ending here, while a surprise, just seemed to be a bit of a let down. I was geared up for something much more. I'd say worth seeing, but rent it.

Will I Buy It? Doubtful.

Love Actually

In a Nutshell: Fun cast, great cameos (especially The President). Quite good! The kind of non-traditional rom-com I like.

Quick Plot: The intertwined lives (and loves) of couples and singles at Christmas.

In Detail: Not as good as Playing By Heart (if you haven't seen this film, go rent it right now!), but still very well done. The lives were actually not quite as intertwined as I would have liked, but enough people touched enough others to keep it interesting. Probably all within Six Degrees of Kevin Bac.... er, Separation, but I didn't check. Left one loose end, which I found frustrating. Even if it wasn't wrapped up neatly (fine, given the circumstances), it should have been mentioned at the end, I think. And Sam, the little boy, steals the *entire* movie!

Will I Buy It? Not sure. I'll have to think about it a little more.