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Films to Look Forward To: Up & Coming (Part I: Jan. – Jun. 2011)

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The last few years have shown a variety of great movies, yet what of future films? In no particular order, here’s a few movies you may want to check out when they come around to theaters:

  1. Like Hoodwinked? It certainly brought about a fresh perspective to the old tale of Red Riding Hood – and an entirely redone plot to boot. While not at the same level of DreamWorks, it certainly passed as a successful animated film.  Coming to theaters April 29th, 2011 (my birthday as well) is its sequel: Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil [1].
  2. Thorarguably one of the greatest super heroes in the Marvel Universe (although I remain an advocate for the Green Arrow) comes to theaters May 6, 2011, let the epic war of the worlds begin [2].
  3. If you’re a fan of this Disney series, you’ll certainly want to watch its next installment! Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides comes to theaters May 20, 2011 [3].
  4. Now who could forget DreamWorks Kung-Fu Panda? Or miss its sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom? Watch Po face off against one of his greatest challenges yet… an Emperor Peacock! Skadoosh-ing into theaters May 26, 2011. Somehow I’m not shaking in my boots, though its certain to be one of this year’s best family-comedies [4].
  5. Did someone say X-Men? Marvel is  on a one-track, no-stops, back-to-back movie release agenda, and X-Men: First Class is next in its line-up! Can’t pass by an origins movie, now can we? Be sure to see all the action June 3, 2011 [5]!
  6. The green guardian sweeps into theaters June 17th, 2011 [6]. Green Lantern appears to take on the traditional role of recent super hero movies, with a modern plot and perception twist in order to expand its audience not only to comic lovers, but to the general movie-goers as well. Whether the series will meet up to the Iron Man trilogy however, is yet to be seen.
  7. Jim Carry takes on the role of Mr. Popper in theaters June 17, 2011 [7] on Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Watching how this fun children’s novel meets modern cinema will be something to behold indeed, and with Mr. Carry at the forefront of the show, we may have some laughs as well.

Here we’ll have to cut the list short until tomorrow, which will list movies from July 2011, to late 2012. Be sure not to miss it!


Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After

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Shrek Forever After is a movie that  retains the same, consistent tone that is held throughout its series. It has the same toilet humor laughs, childish appeal, and a heaping portion of DreamWorks magic to create a universal appeal – beyond age and gender. The Shrek series has just about something for everybody – the princess in distress for the avid Disney fans, the fearless Ogre and all the chaos that entails his very existence for the action-adventure lovers, and lots and lots of comedy. It’s a fairy tale, an old time adventure, and a bundle of laughs – and The Final Chapter is no exception. A movie fun for the whole family, with no strings attached except for the fee to rent or purchase it. Though if you think this movie is the end of the series – you haven’t heard about the upcoming Puss in Boots, which you can find information on at the end of this review.

Shrek (film series)

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Shrek Forever After was a surprisingly toned down movie – by which I mean, a bit less of the usually breakneck-pace of  toilet humor, and a greater family appeal. Shrek Forever After takes on a fairy-tale, moral-of-the-story attitude this time around, with humor to lighten the mood in an otherwise melancholy tale. Its a movie without the typical feel of blockbusters – it’s something pretty innocent which the whole family can watch and enjoy without having to worry about questionable content. It’s a breath of fresh air in the midst of a literary and Hollywood focus on things that may be deep, and emotionally compromising in ways that may challenge positive attitudes and rather bog you down. There are, however, movies like Shrek Forever After, and others by DreamWorks, Disney, and the like – which are fun to watch, and pleasant in contemplation.

The Plot

It’s your typical Ogre day taking care of the kids, overseeing a donkey-dragon crossbreed play-date, and sharing fairy tales with a talking cat and your friend donkey at least for Shrek anyways.

The problem is, the daily routine is getting boring. Why couldn’t things go back to the way the were? This is Shrek’s dilemma. No longer is he the villager’s worst fear – but rather a tourist attraction. Not even a peaceful mud bath! One thing leads to another, and this aggravated Ogre finds himself at the end of his line. After an angry outburst at his children’s birthday, following the smashing of the remaining cake (after the pigs had eaten the first one), and an argument  with Fiona – the day doesn’t seem like it could get any worse. Or could it?

Primary Plot Details [and Potential Spoilers] Follow…

Shrek, emotionally compromised, somehow finds himself face-to-face with Rumpelstiltskin, the evil fairytale mastermind whose plans had gone awry when Shrek saved Fiona. Seeing a chance for revenge, Rumpelstiltskin convinces Shrek to sign a magical contract, which he claims will give him a day as he used to have it. The villagers running in fear, relaxing mud baths, owing time to no one but himself – the good old days. All in exchange for one day of Shrek’s life to trade with Rumpel. Still fuming from his confrontation with Fiona, Shrek signs the contract and in the next instant, finds himself transported into a familiar, and much missed world where all his dreams are practically a reality. His old life is back… but is that such a good thing? Soon he finds out that Fiona was never rescued from the castle, she knows nothing of him, and she’s wanted by the evil dictator of Far Far Away, Rumpelstiltskin! Moreover, after being captured by witches loyal to the new kingdom (then escaping), Shrek learns that the day that he traded Rumpelstiltskin for the current reality, was the day of his birth, and that if he doesn’t find a remedy he will soon disappear from existence. Shrek enlists the help of Donkey (who has no idea who he is, but tags along anyways… after lengthy persuasion) and discovers, surprisingly by Donkey’s origami expertise, that he can be returned to his reality if he receives true love’s kiss. With this in mind, Shrek sets out to find Fiona, and instead finds the Ogre resistance (against Rumpelstiltskin’s kingdom) headed by Fiona. Will Shrek succeed in winning Fiona’s love and returning to his reality? Or will he disappear forever? I think anyone who is familiar with the series can formulate a good portion of the ending.

Conclusion

The movie series (and this particular film in particular) comes highly recommended, unless you’re the type of movie-goer who strictly watches films such as Inception, and other deeply serious psychological thrillers. It’s a nice, decent family movie – and even though it entails some childish humor, it may even get a few laughs out of otherwise stoic audiences.

Upcoming Films [ 12 ]

Puss in Boots (Shrek)

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→ Puss In Boots [In Theaters November 4, 2011]

Alternatively entitled Puss in Boots: The Story of an Ogre Killer the title speaks volumes. The story follows the personal escapades of Puss in Boots, on of the most beloved and unique characters in the Shrek series – and I’d suppose he hunts Ogres… just going out on a limb there. With Antonio Banderas reprising his role as Puss, the film would appear most promising – what’s more entertaining than a cat with both the style and abilities of Zorro (also played by Antonio)?

Kung Fu Panda film poster, with Po in the middle.

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Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom [In Theaters May 27, 2011]

It’s the return of everyone’s favorite Kung-Fu fighting panda, Po! Now that he’s an epic Kung-Fu master, and not to mention the Dragon Warrior, Po is full of confidence and sure to be raring for another adventure. Though the praise of the townspeople and relaxation must wait – for a new threat, a sinister King peacock by the name of Lord Shen, has entered the scene! With the help of Sensei Shifu, the Furious Five, and a new [to the series] elite Kung Fu team, will Po succeed in defeating Shen? Or has he finally met his match?

 


Toy Story 3: An “Investigative” Review

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A look at the highest grossing film of 2010: Toy Story 3!

Disclaimer: The author of this post has been reading too much Sherlock Holmes, and writing far too much in the mystery genre. As a result, this post may resemble a detective novel, rather than a movie review.

Is Toy Story really the number one animated film, or is there another story behind it? This question plagued me as a Toy Story 3 promotion flashed across the television. I had to find out.

My investigation led me to Wikipedia, searching the articles belonging to Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and at last, Toy Story 3. It did appear that each film was number one in the box office during each of their releases – and Toy Story 3 did indeed accumulate a fame even greater than it’s predecessors. But what did the charts say?

Wikipedia: Highest-grossing films of 2010
As of December 30, 2010 [1]
Rank Title Studio Worldwide North America United Kingdom Australia
1 Toy Story 3 Disney·Pixar $1,063,143,492 $415,004,880 $116,625,632 $37,957,715
Soruce: Wikipedia– Highest Grossing Films

It certainly appeared that Toy Story 3, in itself, already had quite a solid case. Therefore my conclusion – by deduction and observation, led me to believe it was indeed “#1.” Now onto the review!

Toy Story 3 is everything that it’s box office performance reveals. It follows in the footsteps of the previous two films, and establishes a satisfying finale to the film franchise.

Toy Story 3

Image by Jerrod Maruyama via Flickr

Toy Story 3 retains it’s terrific appeal to the family. It is throughly entertaining, and should prove satisfactory to the critic. It’s storyline picks up shortly after where the second film left off. The audience may observe that many toys have disappeared from the scene, including Woody’s beloved Little Bo Peep. In a brief history, through family videos and the filming of family videos thereof, we witness the growth of Andy, until at last stopping at the approximate age of eighteen, where he is preparing for college – a fact which instills dread into the remaining toys. What will be their fate? To the attic, forsaken for years to come? Or worse? At last, Cowboy Woody rallies the troops, revealing the simple truth that, as his toys, they should be there for Andy no matter what. With this encouragement however, chaos still manages to find it’s way into the mix, and the toys end up “mistakingly” being donated to Sunnyside, a children’s daycare. Amidst the joy of finally having the chance to be played with, the toys soon find out there’s a dark side to this daycare. For it is run by the evil Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear aka Lotso, who, through being left behind by his owner, has become a wicked tyrant. Will the toys get free and return home to Andy? Or will they be trapped forever – forced to stay in the toddler’s domain (where they are torn apart, and thoroughly mistreated) while Lotso’s gang enjoys the elementary-middle school side?

Totoro seen in the Toy Story 3 Trailer.

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Regardless of the seemingly “dark” storyline, the movie is (in conclusion) an altogether positive and happy tale, exploring the aspects of true friendship, teamwork, and Disney happily-ever-after’s.

For fans of Japanese anime, a character from My Neighbor Totoro (that is, Totoro himself) by Hayao Miyazaki makes a cameo appearance among the toy’s belonging to the daycare owner’s (or caretaker)  child, a girl named Bonnie (who plays a dramatically [and most unexpectedly, at first] important role in the plot).

If you liked this movie, be sure to check out…!

In order of relevance,  release date, and other factors…

Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom [May 27, 2011]

Green Lantern [June 17th 2011]

Captain America: The First Avenger [July 22nd, 2011]

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [August 19, 2011]

Sherlock Holmes II [December 16th, 2011]

National Treasure III [Christmas 2011]

Ice Age: Continental Drift [July 13th, 2012]

How to Train Your Dragon II [Summer 2013]

 

2010 Favorites:

Disney’s A Christmas Carol [Available on DVD]

Despicable Me [Available on DVD]

Kung-Fu Panda [Available on DVD]

How to Train Your Dragon [Available on DVD]

Adventure Writer Favorite: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [In Theaters]

 


How to Train Your Dragon

Como entrenar a tu Dragon - 00132

Image by Daniel Semper via Flickr

How to Train Your Dragon is about a boy named Hiccup, an out-of-sorts viking, who lives in a world that sees strength in line with respectability. But he’s more of the creative type… so while his father, Stoick the Vast, the viking chieftain, is out with his fellow men hunting dragons, Hiccup is putting his imagination to work. His sight is set on catching Night Fury, the most elusive and dangerous of all dragons – to gain the admiration of the viking community, and his crush – a tough viking girl named Astrid.

His plan to catch the most infamous Night Fury? Intense studying! And the creation of ingenious traps! Who would’ve thought that one day he would actually catch something? None other than the prized dragon itself. Yet, as Hiccup’s viking nature would otherwise demand, he does not kill the dragon but instead keeps it as a pet – feeding it fish, and gradually gaining it’s trust. Soon, he learns more about the world of dragons, and becomes a sort of Dragon Rider, (*cough* Cornelia Funke & Christopher Paolini reference *cough*) gaining enough of Night Fury’s trust to finally ride him (though at first somewhat unwillingly). A hero is born!

Amidst these fortunate developments, Hiccup finds himself in a dilemma. First of all, he must constantly keep Night Fury hidden, or risk exposure and his dragon’s capture… and ensuing demise. Next, his father has registered him for dragon-killing lessons – during which, he defeats the dragons by anatomical means, knocking them out without any harm. This fact is, however, unknown to anyone else, and they believe Hiccup to be a skilled warrior, rather than who he really is – a unique viking boy who has, with an acute intelligence, found a benevolent position among dragons.

It is inevitable that an intense competition is to take place – Hiccup vs a fierce breed of dragon – to the death! While Hiccup refuses to kill the dragon, the dragon has other plans – putting Hiccup in a life-and-death situation, in which Night Fury (named Toothless), comes to the rescue!

At first the villagers respond negatively, capturing Toothless and taking him to the home of all dragons, in hopes of a successful crusade against them. When, however, the vikings find themselves overpowered by an enormous Godzilla-size dragon – Hiccup, along with his persuaded friends (and crush), mount upon dragons of their own and come to the rescue! Successfully defeating “Dragonzilla,” Hiccup becomes a true hero and finally gains his long-desired respect. Dragons become incorporated into the community, and everyone lives happily ever after! Or do they? Find out in the sequal, coming out in 2013! (and a threequel coming later)

 

As many of the other movies I’ve reviewed recently – this movie is also a great choice for the family setting. Enjoyed by the young and old – that’s the magic of DreamWorks! (no, not Macy’s) It shares a similar “heroic, adventure, comedic” feel to it, that most DreamWorks movies appear to contain – which provides for a relaxing and most enjoyable movie atmosphere.

Fun-Wikipedia-Fact: “…the writer-directors of Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, took over as co-directors”

No wonder it reminded me of Lilo & Stitch!

If you liked this movie, be sure to check out…

In order of relevance, recomendation, and other factors…

Adventure Writer Favorite: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [In Theaters]

Tron: Legacy [December 17, 2010]

How to Train Your Dragon II [Summer 2013]

Disney’s A Christmas Carol [Available on DVD]

Despicable Me [Available on DVD]

Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom [May 27, 2011]

Kung-Fu Panda [Available on DVD]

How to Train Your Dragon [Available on DVD]

Iron Man II [Available on DVD]

Iron Man III [May 3rd, 2013]

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [August 19, 2011]

Captain America: The First Avenger [July 22nd, 2011]

Green Lantern [June 17th 2011]

Sherlock Holmes II (December 16th, 2011]

Ice Age: Continental Drift [July 13th, 2012]

From Wikipedia: Movie Release Dates.

 

Kung-Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

Image via Wikipedia

In response to Kung-Fu Panda’s sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom and the availability of the DVD for the holidays, we’ll track back to Kung-Fu Panda, the first movie.

Kung-Fu Panda was created by Dreamworks animation and features the voice talents of Jack Black, who plays the character Po, an overly large Panda who aspires Kung-Fu greatness! However, serving at a noodle shop with his father, a goose named Ping, isn’t getting him anywhere. On one particular day however, he learns of a tournament that is to take place – featuring the Furious Five! A group of Kung-Fu elites who Po admires greatly. With noodle-cart in tow, Po heads for the tournament, but finds he is too late – the doors are shut. Well that won’t stop this Panda! Strapping fireworks to his back, Po manages to ascend “from the heavens” into the arena, where he finds himself at the feet of Master Oogway, an ancient Kung-Fu master, who was in the process of picking the Dragon Warrior who would one day defeat Tai Lung (evil snow leopard), and it just so happens that Po landed right where he was pointing.

Determined to be the Dragon Warrior, Po has to undergo Kung-Fu training, much to the distaste of his mentor, Shifu – who plots to make such a grueling training process that Po will quit and Tigress, his favorite student, may be picked as the Dragon Warrior.

After the death of Master Oogway, however, Shifu changes his tactics. He focuses all his energy into training the panda, and finds that food is a terrific motivation. Soon Po becomes greater than even the Furious Five, finds the strength within himself, and defeats Tai Lung with a mere “Skadoosh!”

Kung-Fu Panda is a movie fit for the whole family – filled with action, adventure, and plenty of laughs.

If you liked this movie, be sure to check out…

In order of relevance, recommendation, and other factors…

Adventure Writer Favorite: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [In Theaters]

Tron: Legacy [In Theaters]

Disney’s A Christmas Carol [Available on DVD]

Despicable Me [Available on DVD]

Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom [May 27, 2011]

How to Train Your Dragon [Available on DVD]

Iron Man II [Available on DVD]

Iron Man III [May 3rd, 2013]

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [August 19, 2011]

X-Men: First Class [June 3rd, 2011]

Captain America: The First Avenger [July 22nd, 2011]

Transformers III: The Dark of the Moon [July 1st, 2011]

Green Lantern [June 17th 2011]

Sherlock Holmes II (December 16th, 2011]

Ice Age: Continental Drift [July 13th, 2012]

From Wikipedia: Movie Release Dates.