Tron: Legacy – end of (the) line? (Part 2)

Friday, December 17, 2010 5:24 PM Comments (30)

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On paper, one might care about the plight of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, reprising his role from the original), whose father crossed the digital frontier in the first film, and who has vanished permanently in between films, leaving his son to grow up fatherless. Now a disaffected young hacker who chooses to play anarchic pranks on his father’s company rather than lead it, Sam remembers his father’s bedtime stories about the grid, but has no idea they’re real until one day when he falls down the rabbit hole after his missing father.

For Sam’s journey to matter, he would have to connect in some meaningful way with something in grid-world. His...READ MORE

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Kung Fu Panda vs. How to Train Your Dragon

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 3:52 PM Comments (19)

Dragon Warrior or Dragon Trainer?

I seem to be on a comparison kick: A while back I did a massive comparison/contrast between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and The Empire Strikes Back. Then I followed up with a comparison/contrast of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.

More recently, I found myself in a discussion weighing the relative merits of two of DreamWorks Animation’s recent features, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. How do they stack up? My exhaustive analysis is below! (If Mark Shea thought my Harry Potter/Star Wars post was super-nerdy, wait till he sees this one!)

Warning: Spoilers ahoy!

  • Overall scope: Kung Fu Panda offers a funny-animal genre spoof of every kung-fu movie and hero’s journey...READ MORE

Filed under animation, dreamworks, family entertainment, how to train your dragon, kung fu panda, movies

UPDATE: Reel Faith: The Advent/Christmas edition!

Friday, December 03, 2010 3:51 PM Comments (15)

Reel Faith

UPDATE (December 3, 2010): A belated announcement that “Reel Faith” is back for 5 weeks only, starting last Sunday. Now airing on Sundays at 7pm, the mini-season runs through December 26.

The first episode, covering Megamind, Morning Glory and Due Date, is currently available at the Reel Faith website. Episode 2, covering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Tangled and 127 Hours,  airs on NET this Sunday (watch online).

UPDATE (September 2, 2010): Last week’s episode of “Reel Faith,” now available at the Reel Faith website, was the last episode for the summer. Following NET’s season schedule, the show is now on hiatus. When will we return? Watch this space! I’ll keep you...READ MORE

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Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: New on Blu-ray/DVD

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 4:26 PM Comments (0)

Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are newly available in a 4-disc Blu-ray/DVD edition. A 2-disc DVD edition is also available.

Seventy years ago, Walt Disney released Fantasia, an ambitious animated project that represented an even more ambitious idea. Rather than a static motion picture, Fantasia was originally conceived as a repertoire, a selection of presentations that over time could be augmented by new pieces while old ones were retired, like an orchestra rotating its concert lineup. It was a high-minded extension of Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” shorts, and in those heady days, only a few years after the great triumph of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, anything seemed possible.

Alas,...READ MORE

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Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: New on Blu-ray/DVD (Part 2)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 4:25 PM Comments (29)

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Another general weakness in the newer film is its aversion to “pure” imagery, to imagery without narrative. The original made a point of interpreting “pure music” like the opening piece, Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue,” with abstract imagery—shapes and masses of color and light. In other pieces, from the “Nutcracker Suite” to Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” with its riot of classical mythology, there’s action to follow, but not necessarily a “story” as such.

Fantasia 2000 opens with a selection from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but the abstract geometrical shapes quickly resolve into a quasi-narrative depicting colorful butterflies fleeing dark batlike pursuers. (The...READ MORE

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Harry Potter’s Empire Strikes Back? Don’t Make Me Laugh

12 reasons why Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is no Empire Strikes Back … or even The Two Towers

Monday, November 29, 2010 12:59 PM Comments (13)

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Monday, 11/29: The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner died this morning. As it happens, this essay, just published Friday, is probably about as in-depth a paean to that film as I will ever write. As one of the all-time great sequels and the most-admired of the Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back was a constant point of comparison in evaluating other sequels. Few if any films to which it was compared benefited from the comparison. I’d like to think Kershner might have appreciated this essay.

To the unenchanted, myself included, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 plays as a dark, confusing downer without much magic, action or emotional weight....READ MORE

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Harry Potter’s Empire Strikes Back? Don’t Make Me Laugh (Part 2)

12 reasons why Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is no Empire Strikes Back … or even The Two Towers

Friday, November 26, 2010 9:56 AM Comments (0)

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  1. Memorable new characters and creature designs. ESB and TTT introduce memorable, consequential new characters and state-of-the-art creature effects—sometimes at the same time, the crowning examples being Yoda and Gollum. Consider also Treebeard and the Ents; Taun Tauns, Wargs and winged Fell Beasts; Lando Calrissian, Éowyn, Éomer and Faramir.
  2. Characters and creature effects, of course, have been a stock in trade of the HP series. For nearly a decade, a who’s who of British thespians sporting outrageous prosthetics and even more outrageous performances have brought to life a supporting cast as colorful as Batman’s rogue’s gallery; and we’ve seen everything from giant...READ MORE

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Harry Potter’s Empire Strikes Back? Don’t Make Me Laugh (Part 3)

12 reasons why Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is no Empire Strikes Back … or even The Two Towers

Friday, November 26, 2010 9:55 AM Comments (56)

"42? Well, that's not bad for a pointy-eared elvish princeling, I myself am sitting pretty on 43."

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  1. Humor. ESB and TTT are way funny—funnier than their predecessors, arguably. Besides the romantic comedy between Han and Leia, See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo are at the top of their comic-relief game. Yoda: Funny also. Funny bits in TTT include Legolas and Gimli’s orc-slaying competition, a mortified Gimli asking Aragorn to toss him, and Merry and Pippin drinking Ent-water. DH1 isn’t without a few mildly funny bits —the polyjuice bits are amusing, and there’s Hermione’s seemingly all-inclusive bag—but I can’t think of a single exchange remotely as funny as Han and Leia’s exchange about discussing things in a committee. Is DH1 even one of the funnier HP films to date? I doubt...READ MORE

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About Steven D. Greydanus

SDG
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Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues, and is a regular guest on several radio shows. Steven has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. He is pursuing diaconal studies in the Archdiocese of Newark. Steven and Suzanne have seven children.