Mini movie reviews for Wednesday: Fantastic Mr Fox and New Moon

This past weekend I caught up with a few films on DVD that I missed while they were showing at the cinema. The following are my mini reviews:

Fantastic Mr Fox is definitely the quirkiest animated film I've ever seen. Directed by Wes Anderson, who is responsible for such offbeat family-centric comedies as The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox feels exactly like a stop-motion equivalent of Anderson's live-action work... with a cast of animals instead of people. Of course, the more Anderson's influence seeps through the movie, the less the film resembles its source material: the much loved children's book by Roald Dahl.

For about two-thirds of the film, Dahl fans will probably be able to (just) stomach Anderson's liberal changes. Fantastic Mr Fox, the film, is actually a lot of frenetic fun, and good chunks of it feel like a platformer video game. The whole thing is odd - pointless conversations, long silences and extreme close-ups add to the weirdness - yet you can't help but be caught up in events and come to like the characters - voiced by an all-star cast that includes George Clooney (Mr Fox), Meryl Streep (Mrs Fox), Bill Murray (Badger) and Michael Gambon (Farmer Bean). Jason Schwartzman is especially amusing as runty teenage fox, Ash, whose personality is reminiscent of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory.

Fantastic Mr Fox's big problem though is that about two-thirds of the way through the film, Dahl's original story has run its course. And it's at that point that viewers - especially Dahl fans - lose interest. Anderson and his fellow screenwriters try to cap off the tale with an Ocean's Eleven style heist and some subplots about the father-son bond and proving yourself. And, well, it feels hollow.

Fantastic Mr Fox was in the running for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. I can't help thinking though that this oddball little film is an acquired taste, and may not please the majority of viewers.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon is the second film based on Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular supernatural romance series. Unlike the first film, Twilight, I watched New Moon without having read the book. However, many of the same issues that I had with Twilight 1 (both the book and film) surface in New Moon as well.

Once again, the film is fairly entertaining (even if it's unintentional at times) until the final half hour when it's time to add some real danger to proceedings and "evil vampires" are introduced. The Italian scenes in New Moon, with the ancient coven of blood drinkers known as the Volturi, do not fit with the rest of the film. These scenes are simultaneously hammy and stiff, and the vampire special effects are terrible. By comparison, the werewolf pack in dreary Forks, Washington is well handled, and some of the wolves' hunting scenes are actually quite involving.

Disregarding lousy special effects and ridiculous vampires, the real test for New Moon viewers will be their tolerance of the two leads, Kristen Stewart as human teen Bella, and Robert Pattinson as hundred year old vampire Edward. Although you can't really blame the actors, the characters they play are miserable and mopey to an annoying extreme - typically when they have no reason to be. For the first 20 minutes or so of the film Bella wanders around whining about the ageing process now that she has turned *gasp* 18. It's no wonder the audience naturally sides with the character of Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who, apart from being marvelous buff eye candy for the ladies, is caring and cheerful despite the hairy issues he's facing.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon has many faults, but I can't bring myself to hate it. The film is too amusing in its over-seriousness for that. Plus, it's still a helluva lot better than The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.


Dante said…
Pfangirl said…
Now is that a disappointed sigh, Dante, or a lust-filled one for Jacob? ;)

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