Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pixar's sequels

I noticed the page has gotten quite slow, which is probably due to it having too much YouTube videos. Thus, I will have to start posting more posts which don't have any videos whatsoever. I think I will try to get a free press photo to illustrate these from now on.

One of this summer's biggest blockbusters is surely Toy Story 3, which continues the, Story after ten years absence. Everyone in the world with the right mind loves Toy Story 2. And I as well. But although it is very good, it's still to me one of the lesser Pixars. Basically, it's A Bug's Life for me. And this new sequel makes me a bit nervous, as it deals with the toys getting abandoned, which is something that was dealt with in the first sequel already.

Toy Story 2 came to life as Disney was in its direct-to video-sequel spitting phase at the time. Instead of letting hacks make the cheapo sequel, Pixar took the matter into its own hands and created something vastly better. While I prefer the first one, you can not say that TS2 doesn't expand the world into new directions and also dealing with some pretty deep themes. Such as being immortal vs. being loved. It does everything a sequel should.

But also it feels a bit bloated. The cast of toys was already quite big, and as everything in sequels should be bigger and shinier, so a lot of new toys are introduced. Toy Story 3 brings us even more new toys, including Michael Keaton's Ken and Timothy Dalton's Mr. Pricklepants. This would imply that there will be a lot of fighting for screen time in an hour-and-a-half movie.

The only Pixar film I flat-out don't like is Cars. It was one of those films that had too many characters, an obvious plot, too much speed for ADD kids, and as a cherry on the top, a very unappealing main character. It seemed to fit DreamWorks's movie-churning plan better than Pixar's. Little boys obviously loved it and I suppose its merchandise is the strongest of all Pixar flicks, as I still see some Cars crap everywhere all the time. They don't have many Ratatouille-themed childrens parties any more, I can tell you that.

So, next year's Pixar movie is a sequel again, Cars 2. And that I probably won't see, as opposed to TS3. OK, so one can imagine that when Pixar's and Disney's relationship was in a crisis, and the last scheduled Disney/Pixar movie (Cars) was bringing dough, Disney greenlighted the sequels to keep the brands it owns still poignant. Whereas Pixar greenlighted independently three of its very best films, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up. All Oscar-winners, all universally appealing, all hugely original. They felt like new stuff, not just re-hashing old ones.

As Pixar has a much bigger saying on Disney animation now, one would think that they would carry on on the same track, creating some brand new, innovative, great movies. But as it happens, a while ago there was an announcement that made me very fearful for this future. Pixar cancelled its upcoming original movie Newt, and opted for Monsters Inc. 2 instead. While I love Monsters, Inc. it is one of those movies I would want to just be left alone. The storyline ended just on the right place. I don't want to see little Boo all grown up and forgetting her monster friends and have that be the sequel's conflict to be solved.

I suppose designing new monsters is fun and the merchandising will be huge. Still, it feels a little like Pixar is taking the Shrek route. And if Shrek has shown us anything, it is that the law of diminishing sequels is well and true. It is sad to see something original to be scrapped because of this. Currently, the only original animation to be released by Pixar is the Bear and the Bow, which itself sounds a little too close to DreamWorks's Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon ground, as it's a medieval hero knight story with a twist.

So I will probably wait for Toy Story 3 before I will make any lasting judgements. Everyone seems to trust Pixar a lot, and rightly so. But there is still a threat that all the success will eventually turn it into a soulless animation studio among others. I just hope it will be later rather than sooner.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

Ever more movies I-wanna-see

No one has told me to stop, so here's a new collection of those wacky films I wanna see:

First Bulletproof, which I saw between Tweeting about it and this blog post. But I'll reccommend it to everybody! Gary Busey at his craziest! Your worst nightmare, butthorn.

Beast in Space
Star Wars-themed sexploitation starring the finnish bombshell Sirpa Laine!

The Challenge of the Lady Ninja
This is the first occasion on this list about my love for the kunoichi. I want to see this soo bad!

Captive planet (Sette uomini d'oro nello spazio)
Features suicidal robots without genitalia


Usually, 50's and 60's B-movies aren't worth it. But this looks like an exception. It has the funkiest theme song!

Day of the Dolphin
Dolphin Assassins Yield the Greatest Movie Poster and Tagline Ever?

Hobo violence!

Deadly Prey
Hailed as one of the most action-packed movies of all time.

I mean the one where Denzel Washington chases a body-swapping demon.


This trash comes from Cannon - Of Course!

High-Kick Girl
Not exactly kunoichi, but kick-ass girls nevertheless!

The Iceman Cometh
Arnie would say: Let's Kick some Ice!


The best documentary about the finnish Centre Party ever made!

Karate Bear Fighter
This might be the best name of a movie ever created.

Kommissar X - Jagd auf Unbekannt
The germans know their stuff as well as the italians.

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus
OK, it's a near internet meme, but you can't say this shit isn't horrible and awesome at the same time!


Explosions! Teleportation! No Sense!

Parting Shots
I can't find a YouTube clip, but Edgar Wright recommends this Michael Winner picture for Death Wish 3 -fans. It's gotta have vigilantism!

Jumping, exploding human-bananas?

Red Phoenix
As promised, more kunoichi. The sexy kind!


"This is a bad guy." No shit, that's Gene Simmons! In a movie with robot spiders

Sorry, ladies. Not to be sexist, but this is far too entertaining.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
Garbage Day!


I'm a sucker for rich dudes hunting the homeless -flicks.

Werewolves on Wheels
I certainly don't want anybody saying I am running a highbrow-blog


Yes, that was a huge floating head saying, "The gun is good" and puking rifles to a crowd of diapered men on horseback. Once you bought your ticket, you got to hear the head finish the sentence ("... The penis is evil.")

10 to Midnight
The obligatory Bronson-picture. But they are all so great!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Scientific, Fictional 00's

The Best Sci-fi Films of the 2000s - Part II of a series

The coming of a new millennium did bring with it a wave of science fiction. What we've got is a shortage of any deeper, thought-provoking sci-fi movies. Avatar sure didn't bring THAT back. They tend to be more or less like the case of I, Robot: Taking a deep subject material and making a moronic action movie where the world must be saved out of it. Thus, we had to swallow some big disappointments such as the Star Wars prequels and the Matrix sequels. I would go on to argue that the best sci-fi of the naughties has been made for the small screen in the form of great sci-fi TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. But yet, there has been quite a few of nice movies out of the subject as well.

Here's my top 15:

A.I. – Artificial Intelligence

Ah, Stanley Kubrick. So much I love you that I'll like any movie you made, even though it might've been directed by someone else entirely. This certainly shares the cold, depressing athmosphere of most Kubrick's movies. If you just ignore the ending, that is total Spielberg, this is quite a good one.

Battle Royale

I trust the japanese to have the craziest social commentary/satire movies. In surface, this is just an ultra-violent flick of teenagers murdering each other. But peel away the layers and it reveals something crucial about the nihilistic modern day. In that, it is similar to Fight Club and American Psycho. And like those movies, it was a little ahead of its time. A cult classic probably mostly because of the violence, it's sad that this was Kinji Fukasaku's last film. One wonders what he could've accomplished.

Children of Men

Films about the future are pretty much actually films about the time they were made. This seems pretty like a possible future for mankind at this point. Just like a good sci-fi movie should. There will not be flying cars and visits to space, but everyday terrorism, a Big Brother society, and death camps for foreigners. Oh, and new children will no longer be born. This shakes our view up a bit, huh. It is tempting to compare this with up to Blade Runner and Brazil. I love how the action utilizes different levels, in a true 3D way. Also the hand held long action shots are certainly worth their salt.

District 9

Where Avatar was hammering down a noble message and was annoyingly preaching, District 9 has an anti-racist message that works, even though it's not exactly subtle. If the audience sympathized with ugly space prawns, perhaps it can then accept different people too, after leaving the theater. And the film is funny and has kick-ass action as well. The computer effects never look too videogamy. The only problem with the film is its documentary style which comes off as off-putting and annoying after the set-up at the beginning. Fortunately, it faded in the background, but should be cut off completely after a point. Anyway, quite a good story about how the racists get a taste of their own medicine.

Donnie Darko

This worked for me in a very personal level. I see much of my own teenage self in Donnie. Feeling angry and isolated, at least I didn't go to therapy, see creepy bunnies and set fire to houses while sleepwalking. The psychological aspects and lynchian mindfucks work very well in this one - no part of the story feels futile or weird for just weirdness's sake. It also has great dialogue (one of the best scripts of the decade) and the last notable role of Patrick Swayze, RIP. Try to see the original cut rather than director's - it's well worth it.

Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind

I actually am not such a big fan of the movie as many others are. This ultimately is too long and has futile subplots. But the main theme of treasuring memories is still apt and deep. Charlie Kaufman also keeps the main plot going refreshingly straight-forward, even if he has his usual gimmicks he likes to play with. One of the strongest points is the casting, which feature's Jim Carrey's best role and one of Kate Winslet's best as well.

Howl's Moving Castle

It's not one of Miyazaki's greatest, but he is such a wonderful director that even his lesser work is ten times better than what most directors can achieve with their best work. The attention to detail is stunning, as is the whole animation in this one. It also doesn't follow the usual pattern of animated movies (which even Pixar succumbs to), but is more of a spiritual and psychological journey through the mind of the main character, aged beyond her years. Funny, exciting, thrilling and beautiful. I love the cute grandmas Miyazaki treats us with.


This century's Metropolis doesn't really compare to the original. What does? But despite the fact that the story revolves around a robotic girl, it doesn't actually have much similar, either. I saw this as a teenager just about to get into anime. This and the Final Fantasy games worked as a gateway. I stayed somewhat sane with that thing, but I'd like to see this again after a long while. I should also see FFVII: Advent Children I guess.

Minority Report

This also isn't good all the way through (the only Spielberg movie that was this decade was Munich). It's certainly no Blade Runner, but it presents some interesting sci-fi ideas pretty good. After all, it is based on Philip K. Dick's novel. The view of the future is reasonable, and doesn't feel to be as depressing as it's usually portrayed. But beneath the surface, the greedy, the ruthless and the plain-out evil still rule and prevent us from ever reaching utopia. I want a magnetic car, dammit!


This is more like the intellegent sci-fi I would like to see tahn anything other this decade. It is slow, quiet and character-centred, which may be off-putting for many. I'm surprised that many don't even like the ending, which I feels aptly belongs to this story. It's either that or ripping off the trippines of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which would damage the earlier film as well. Let's hope there's more goodness coming from Duncan Jones.

The Prestige

This is too a sci-fi movie. But I won't spoil how come. This is literally movie magic. By over-analysing this ultimately does not seem to have any more content than the basic magician's trick, but who cares when it's so entertaining. Good actors, a fascinating story, really strange events, and of course the mystery, which, like magic, pales when it is revealed at the end. It's not as good the second time around, but still intriguing.


To be fair, I only remember basic plot points from this movie. But after seeing this, I watched Firefly the TV-series and appreciated the movie a lot more. If Han Solo's further adventures in the Old Space-West isn't your cup of tea, you're dead inside to me. I should see the film again, but I am a lazy bastard.


One of the freakiest time-travel movies I've seen. And that includes Back to the Future II. This spanish thriller reminds me a little of Memento, in that it seems to add up to a neat little package in the end, but the more you think about it, the more weirdness you find. Totally mind-blowing, man. I hope there won't be a Hollywood remake ever. The spaniards sure have good genre-movies nowadays.

V for Vendetta

I still think this is the best movie based on comic genius Alan Moore's work. It follows the comic faithfully, but takeing a few turns out here and there which makes it feel refreshing. Although the Wachowski brothers do make it very clunky at parts (V:s introduction, anyone?), it sure works most of the time. It's great to see that it isn't an action movie (aside some cool knife tricks) but still focuses mostly on characters. And has a dystopian future, too.


Somehow, I could symphatize with a lonely robot doomed to an eternal cleaning job better than any other film character this decade. Movies this sad and heart-warming, romances this beautiful, handsomer animations and smarter sci-fi movies are very rare. And yet they do not have it all at the same time. I'm not the only fan - Terry Gilliam loves it too. This is not quite flawless film - a few noisy spacecraft scenes seem to be added to the movie just to maintain the hyper-active child viewers' interest. I would be happy to watch only the two robots on the deserted Earth for hours. I also love the satirical picture of the future of mankind. Wall-E in ten minutes is a lot smarter and sends a more powerful (eco) message, as the entire Day the Earth Stood Still remake. I watch the DVD quite often. And every time I blubber like little baby. One of my very favorites this decade and for animation, ever.


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