VIDEO: MOVIE: CARTOON: ANIME: The Secret World of Arrietty aka Arrietty The Borrower aka Kari-gurashiNoArietti (2010)

Clint: 4.4/5 stars, 8.4/10.
Carolyn: 4/5 stars, 8/10.
Native rating: 3.9/5 stars (Netflix incorrectly guessed we’d rate this lower–3.7/5), 7.7/10.

Hayao Miyazaki FTW!
Almost everything he touches is gold!
Can studio Ghibli do wrong?

This is really good!

Based on The Borrowers, which is something we were utterly unfamiliar with — making it more enjoyable by depriving us of any bullshit rose-colored nostalgia for the “original”.

We actually watched the English (US, not UK) dub with Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and Carol Burnett. Normally we watch Japanese, but we ran into “technical difficulties”.

Carolyn still likes Ponyo better, but not me. I was a bit disappointed with Ponyo, despite really liking it.If I had to rank Miyazaki-involved films in order from my favorite to least, it would probably be:
Howl’s Moving Castle
Princess Mononoke
Arietty
Ponyo
Spirited Away
The Cat Returns (he was just a producer for this one)

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568921/

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Superman vs. The Elite (2012) (animated)

5/5 stars, 9/10 from both of us.
Native rating is 4.0/5 stars, 7.2/10.

Pragmatism clashes with idealism in a battle that is as much about current-world 2012 politics as it is about superheroes.

When the hell did Superman become politically relevant in a post-911 world?

Among other things, Bialya == Libya, and The Elite are pretty much a direct metahpor to the post-911 way of thinking and handling criminals, while Superman represents the pre-911 way of handling criminals.

The so-called Bruce Timm-verse of animated DC comics has been an amazing thing to experience over the past 20 years, but he is only one of 4 executive producers. He didn’t get directly involved with this one, and it has a very different (incongruous to Timm’s direct productions) feel because of that. THIS IS A GOOD THING. Variety is nice.

Seeing a whole new team of superpowered individuals that I’d never heard of was pretty cool too. The character design for Managerie was awesome!

It’s hard to fail us with these animated comic movies. They are a good substitute for the three superhero cartoons we miss the most: Batman:TAS (1990s), Superman:TAS (1990s), and Justice League (2000s).

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2224455/

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: RE-REVIEW: Mind Game (2004)

Clint:::::: 3.8/5 stars, 7.4/10.
Carolyn: 3.6/5 stars, 7/10.

THIS IS A SERIOUS DOWNGRADE from my previous rating of 5/5 stars, 10/10, after watching it 7 yrs ago in 2005, where I reviewed it on my blog at https://clintjcl.wordpress.com/2005/08/09/best-movie-ive-seen-in-a-long-long-long-time/

… Simply put, I didn’t like this as much as the first time. I wasn’t as impressed by the crazy, style-changing animation as I was the first time around (perhaps).

The film won Japan’s most prestigous anime award, and is pretty inspiring and very unique… But it just doesn’t hold up to a rewatching as well as we’d hoped.

Sucks to have to downgrade from a 10 to a 7! 50% of people who watch this movie give it 9-10/10, so it’s still quite good, and better than 95% of anime out there. Perhaps one’s enjoyment of this movie is based on one’s mood?

Studio 4oC is an awesome studio, though, and I automatically pay more attention to something if “4oC” is attached to it.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0452039/

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

4/5 stars, 8/10 from both of us
3/5 stars, 7/10 was what we gave Kung Fu Panda 1.
Native rating: 4.0/5 stars, 7.4/10. (Netflix guess for us=3.8, which makes sense since we rated the original lower).

We actually liked this more than 1! Fancy that!

I wonder if this has to do with the fact that we watched Kung Fu Panda 1 during our movie-glut of watching 200+ movies in a year.

We stopped doing that, because we eventually learned (by analyzing our numerical ratings) that watching movies more often makes you enjoy them less. The rating disparity could be completely because we are watching movies at a rate of about 90/yr instead of 200/yr (the rate we held up for several years after buying a 52″ tv – I think the honeymoon finally wore off).

Who knows.

But this was good.
And funny.
And entertaining.
And well-animated.

I forgot just how funny the dialog and attitude of these movies were.

I had put this off for a long time. Probably because of how nonplussed we were by episode 1 of the animated series.

But it turns out this is really good!
And you get to learn more backstory about Po (the kung-fu panda).

I’ll have to remember NOT to pass up movie 3 when it comes out. This franchise is better than we remember.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302011/

VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: The Smurfs 2 (2013) [watched in 3-D]

Clint: 3/5 stars (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 7/10 (6.4/10 for Smurfs 1).
Carolyn: 3.6/5 stars (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 7/10 (6.6/10 for Smurfs 1).
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 5.2/10 IMDB (5.4 for Smurfs 1).
For curiosity’s sake: The original 1981 series gets 7.4/10 on IMDB. (I gave it 7/10.)
So anyway–Carolyn, Clint, and Netflix folk all liked the 2nd movie slightly more. The notorious haters at IMDB liked it slightly less.

This had some good smurf action and the 3-D was the best 3-D we’ve seen on our 3-D television since we bought it. I don’t know if it was the way they produced the movie, or the fact that they did HOU 3-D (over-under) instead of SBS 3-D (side-by-side), or if it was a good encode of the movie, but either way — Best 3-D we’ve seen, with the least ghosting (which you always get with active 3-D these days; we are in the infancy of 3-D at home — think VHS.)

That alone made it worth watching for us, but then there’s the fact that Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak/Chief Wiggum/Apu Nahasapeemapetilon/Superintendent Chalmers/Comic Book Guy/Carl & Lenny/Professor Frink/Cletus) is great as Gargamel. Such a completely unrealistic character to exist in the real, live-action planet earth, and a great casting choice to pick someone with such nuance for funny voices, and such a long career with very little time actually on the screen. He deserves this.

For a kid movie, it didn’t focus on the kid very much. The kid “Blue” (the baby from Smurfs 1) is now at talking/walking age, but was barely in the movie. So that was good for adults like us who aren’t interested in watching kids. Just kids’ shows. ;)

Instead of taking place in New York, this one takes place in Paris, France. Other than that, it is very similar to Smurfs 1, except that they introduce 2 new Gargamel-created smurfs. Apparently they are the babies that showed up later in the 1980s series, but I think I had stopped watching right around when the babies showed up. Carolyn is 2 years younger than me, so she watched it a bit longer and recognized that when they called Vexxy “a sassy lassy” at the end, it was a nod to Sassette Smurf, a baby/younger female who showed up for 2 episodes near the 1990 end run of the original series. Incendentally, I totally forgot about Johan and Peewit/Peewee, and don’t really understand how they factor into the series. I also forgot/never knew that there were alternate Gargamels in the 9th season of the original cartoon. That was 1990. I took a break from cartoons approximately from adolescence until young adulthood (i.e. 13-20) so I might have missed the alternate Gargamels. Damn. I also didn’t know there was a 1965 Smurfs movie!

One bad thing was they seem to have forgotten that when choked, a Smurf is supposed to turn yellow. NOT more blue.

But other than that, it was a generic family adventure. Stupid things that doesn’t make sense sometimes happen, because it is a generic family adventure. It is very clearly something released to make money, and I’m okay with that. The money made gave me a chance to revisit part of my childhood without having to *ACTUALLY WATCH* 1980s quality animation/writing. And while generic-family-blockbuster writing isn’t that much better than 1980’s-children’s-cartoon writing… The movie LOOKED pretty awesome, and LOOKS DO MATTER for movies. Also Jayma Mays (Hero’s waitress girlfriend from Heroes) might just be one of the most adorable females alive. Her and Emma Stone need to have a baby together.

So anwyay…. We were pleasnatly surprised. Not every sequel is better, but if you free your mind and allow yourself to enjoy things… Sometimes it actually works out.

So yeah, we’ll watch The Smurfs 3 in 2016, probably. It’s a prequel.

Directed by Raja Gosnell (Smurfs 1, Home Alone 3).
Written by J. David Stem (Smurfs 1, Shrek 2, 3 eps of Rugrats and the Rugrats movie, 2 eps of Mission Hill), David N. Weiss (Shrek 2, 3 eps of Rugrats and the Rugrats movie, 2 eps of Mission Hill, All Dogs Go To Heaven), Jay Scherick (1 ep of Caroline In The City), David Ronn, and Karey Kirkpatrick (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlotte’s Web (2006), The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick.
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Herman’s Head, Eric in Stressed Eric, The Birdcage, Eddie Brock in the 1990’s Spider-Man, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Year One, Mystery Men, Run Fatboy Run, Grosse Point Blank, 2 eps of Family Guy) as Gargamel.
Brendan Gleeson (Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody in the Harry Potter movies, The Secret Of Kells, In Bruges, Beowulf, The Village, Troy, 28 Days Later, Mission Impossible 2) as Victor.
Jayma Mays (Heroes, Epic Movie, Smiley Face, 1 ep of NTSF:SD:SUV, 1 ep of Six Feet Under) as Grace.
Nancy O’Dell (Scream 2-4, 1 ep of The Simpsons) as Herself.
Mr. Krinkle as Azrael.

And the voice actors:
Katy Perry as Smurfette.
Christina Ricci as Vexy.
Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf. Did you know he was Grandpa Smurf in the original? There was an R.I.P. in the credits; this was his last film.
J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Clear History, Movie 43, The Dictator, Date Night, Mr. Deeds, 12 eps of Saturday Night Live, 4 eps of American Dad, 1 ep of The Simpsons, 1 ep of Robot Chicken) as Hackus.
George Lopez (118 eps of George Lopez, 1 ep of Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Grouchy Smurf.
Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek reboot movies, Terminator Salvation, Odd Thomas in Odd Thomas, 1 ep of Curb Your Enthusiasm, 1 ep of The Life & Times Of Tim) as Clumsy Smurf.
John Oliver (2 eps of Gravity Falls) as Vanity Smurf.
Fred Armisen (Portlandia, Terry in Out There, Eurotrip, Saturday Night Live, he’s also a small part in The Dictator) as Brainy Smurf.
Jeff Foxworthy (Bounty Hunters, The Jeff Foxworthy Show) as Handy Smurf.
Alan Cumming (The Devil in God, The Devil And Bob, John Castaway in Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, Rick & Steve The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World, Nightcrawler in X-Men 2, Garfield, 6 eps of The L Word, 3 eps of Robot Chicken) as Gutsy Smurf.
Gary Basaraba (Fried Green Tomatoes, Charlotte’ Web (2006), 1 ep of Nip/Tuck) as Hefty Smurf.
Adam Wylie (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Jimmy Olsen in Superman/Doomsday, Brainiac in Legion of Super Heroes, American Pie Presents Band Camp, 1 ep of Mad) as Panicky Smurf.
Kenan Thompson (Sit Down Shut Up, Saturday Night Live, All That, Stan Helsing) as Greedy Smurf.
Shaquille O’Neal as Smooth Smurf.
B.J. Novak (The Office, The Internship, Knocked Up, Inglourious Basterds, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Baker Smurf.
Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) as Jokey Smurf.
Jimmy Kimmel as Passive-Aggressive Smurf.
John Kassir (Mittens in Eek The Cat, Jack The Giant Slayer, The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy, Cryptkeeper in Tales From The Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Buster Bunny in Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures, 2 eps of Adventure Time) as Crazy Smurf.
Tom Kane (Professor Utonium in The Powerpuff Girls, Narrator and Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, also Yoda in Star Wars: Clone Wars, Wolverine And The X-Men, 10 eps of The Eric Andre Show, The Angry Beavers, 1995 Iron Man-TAS, 6 eps of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, 5 eps of Robot Chicken, 1 ep of The Legend Of Korra) as Narrator Smurf.
And of course, Frank Welker (Freddy in Scooby Doo, and many many many animal voices in many many many of our favorite cartoons) as Azrael.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2017020/combined

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: The Smurfs (2011)

Clint & Carolyn: 3/5 stars (Netflix avg=3.6, guess for us=3.3).
Clint: 6.4/10 (high 6)
Carolyn: 6.6/10 (low 7)
IMDB: 5.3/10.

There is so much wrong with this, but could I really refuse to watch a Smurfs movie because I think it MIGHT be lame? No, I could not. Especially with Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays (Hiro’s perfect match from Heroes), and Sofia Vergara.

And was it lame? Yes, in some ways.

Of course, the original 80’s cartoon is pretty goddamn lame if you sit down and watch an episode of it in 2012, so one could argue that this movie was actually an improvement. The problem is peoples’ rose-tinted nostalgia that causes them to reject everything made on an old idea. But The Smurfs WERE ALREADY AN OLD IDEA when they came to American television. The Smurfs as a franchise are 50 years old; the cartoon is only 30 years old. It was already an adaptation before it was adapted for this movie. So get over it. The movie was fun.

They went into the real world, which is a cheesy plot device used in so many cartoon movies, as well as an excuse to cheap out on the animation budget by using live-action people.

But there was also a real charm in seeing Gargamel as a ridiculous live-action person caught in a world he doesn’t belong to. He assumes homeless people are other wizards. It’s funny, in a 3rd Rock From the Sun Season 1 kind of way, to see someone try to figure out a world they don’t belong in.
And the CGI on Azrael was really cute.

When all is said and done, we have to admit to liking this movie, even if it wasn’t great.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472181

VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: Doctor Strange (2007)

Doctor Strange – The Sorcerer Supreme (2007) – 
Clint: 4/5 stars, 8/10. 
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10. 
Native ratings: 3.8/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

Carolyn: This was a good animated Marvel movie.  I am not as familiar with Doctor Strange in the comic book realm, so it was interesting to see his origin story.  The Marvel animated movies rarely disappoint, anyway.

Clint: I have to agree. This is the type of stuff we like. This isn’t one of the best, but I suspect it’s the only feature-length Doctor Strange origin movie that’s worth watching. 

I wasn’t as wow’ed by it as Carolyn, as I’m starting to get jaded from watching so.many.movies lately. I’m starting to get to that age where you notice stories are becoming less unique: This felt like a combo of the origin stories of Batman (in Batman Begins) and Green Lantern (in terms of ancient leaders and their corrupt inner circle members), combined with the latest season of Avatar:The Legend Of Korra (in terms of demonic gods trying to break through to our realm). I should probably take a break from watching movies for a bit, to become less jaded. (But I really want to watch one tonite!)

One interesting thing: The sound mix was excellent. 

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910865/combined

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