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Posts Tagged ‘Dreamworks’


Spoiler Zone: How to Train Your Dragon 2

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-posterI don’t talk about any spoilers in this post, but spoilers are allowed in the comments!

Since a few people have asked me already, I just saw How to Train Your Dragon 2, and I loved it. It is a wonderful expansion of the world and deftly sidesteps many of the pitfalls of a lot of sequels.

It’s a darker film (befitting the characters’ age), bigger without being an assault on the senses, and gorgeous to look at (and listen to).

I’ve said before that the first one is a “perfect” movie, inasmuch as any movie can be. I could nitpick about a few things (exposition-induced pacing issues in one scene, a clunky line in another, etc.) but there is so much done well — so much done perfectly, really — that I really feel like I need to see it again to solidify my opinions about it.

In any event, this second film in the series was an intense, emotional, and action-packed adventure movie featuring characters many of you already love. What the hell are you waiting for?

If you’ve seen it, tell me what you thought below! But be warned: spoilers are 100% okay below.

“Alma” by Rodrigo Blaas

“Alma,” by former Pixar employee Rodrigo Blaas, is a wonderfully creepy short from a couple of years back. Gorgeously animated and impeccably told, it wasn’t very surprising to learn that Guillermo del Toro and Dreamworks have optioned “Alma” to develop into a full-length feature, to be co-directed by Blaas and del Toro. While the resulting feature — if it should ever see the light of the silver screen — will almost undoubtedly have a more upbeat ending, I think it could work rather well, provided they keep the creepiness intact in the rest of the tale.

(Thanks to Mathew Hamilton Watts for reminding me about “Alma”!)

Review: Megamind

Directed by Tom McGrath.
Written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons.
Starring Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and David Cross.

After Dreamworks finally grew up and made its first truly great film with How to Train Your Dragon, I was a lot more interested in Megamind. Had Dreamworks finally seen the light? Did they finally realize that the short-term benefits of cheap pop culture references are greatly outweighed the long-term benefits of just making a good freakin’ movie? The answer, I’m sad to say, is: “Aw hell to the no.” (Get it? I couldn’t just say no, because it’s a Dreamworks movie! Now I’m driving the joke home too hard, because it’s a Dreamworks movie! Ahem. Anyway.)

When it’s great, it’s great, but Megamind is regrettably peppered with a few too many of mind-numbingly stupid gags to just get passed them like the two “undies” jokes in Dragon, and it incongrously tacks a groan-inducing song and dance number set to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” to the end of the film, apparently because it wants to leave the audience with a bad taste in their mouth. The taste of vomit. That kind of stuff, and a few too many more nitpicks like it, drag down an otherwise fun and often very funny super-hero action movie from being a truly terrific flick to just being an above-average Dreamworks cartoon… with some extremely cool stuff in it, (Mega-)mind you.

Megamind is at its best as an action flick — there’s stuff you see in Megamind that has never been seen on the big screen, at least not with these production values, like a supervillain swinging the top of a skyscraper at another hero like a baseball bat. You’ve definitely seen it in comics, or a few cheaply animated cartoon, but you haven’t seen it look this good. The action is so fun and so well done that it makes you ache to see a well done Superman movie. And that brings me to my two biggest problems with the movie, which, for lack of time, I’ll limit myself to…

This film is blatantly just the Superman mythology with a barely enough tweaks to prevent a lawsuit: Metro Man is a conceited, dim Superman; Roxanne Ritchi is Lois Lane almost note for note; Hal Stewart is a creepy riff on Jimmy Olsen, red hair and all; and Megamind could very easily have been Lex Luthor in one of his evil scientist incarnations. Hell, he’s even bald. For all the criticism (or praise) that The Incredibles gets for being a riff on the Fantastic Four, at least they changed up the formula, and Syndrome wasn’t a thinly-disguised Doctor Doom. But maybe criticizing a Dreamworks movie for not being original is a waste of time.

My other big quibble requires a bit of a spoiler warning. (Mind you, the film’s trailer spoils it for you, too.) The premise of the film is this: evil genius Megamind (Ferrell) accidentally kills his arch-nemesis Metro Man (Pitt), leaving him kind of bored and aimless in life after taking over Metro City, so he gives Hal Stewart (Hill) superpowers in order to turn him into a new hero. But, because Hal Stewart is creepy and ugly, of course he’s not hero material. Tighten (yes, not “Titan” — Tighten) quickly turns bad, and without a hero to fight off this new supervillain, Megamind steps up and becomes the good guy.

Which is all well and good, but everybody — Roxanne (Fey) and all of Metro City — is so quick to forgive Megamind’s past and hail him as a hero that it strains credulity way too much. I mean, if you can believe that he never once seriously injured a single innocent person, despite years of terrorizing the city, not even accidentally… except for Metro Man, whom everybody seems to mostly forget about… then maybe that’s believable, but come on. (End spoilers.) For me, at least, that flies past straining credulity and well into contrived territory. At super-speed.

But, seriously, the super-hero action is pretty awesome stuff. If that’s not enough for you, give it a pass. If it is, though, as it is with me, then you’ll have a lot of fun… in addition to rolling your eyes at the Dreamworksiness of it all.