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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013
With Monsters University (a good film, go see it), Pixar has stopped playing perfectionist forever. From now on, merely being good will have to do. Greatness seems like a thing of the past. The distant past.

Some can argue it happened almost immediately, with the release of A Bug’s Life. Others offer that Cars signaled a chink in their artistic armor. For many in the Pixar fan club, however, Cars 2 proved to be the moment when the animation dynamo went from creators of clever, inventive masterworks to mere producers of product. The anthropomorphic automobiles featured in John Lasseter’ love letter to Route 66 and American’s obsession with the open road had, between the first and second film, become one of parent overseer Disney’s most profitable toy lines. They wanted more merchandising power, and pushed Pixar to bring back Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the rest of the impulse-buy players (it also explains the non-Pixar Planes, which is listed as “from the world of Cars”).


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Monday, Jun 3, 2013
The savaged sci-fi epic After Earth is another nail in the coffin of Will Smith's once dominant commercial appeal, and the final one in M. Night Shyamalan's struggles to regain his more or less DOA cred.

While it still has a chance to recoup its budget (and reputation) in the always unfathomable foreign film market, Will Smith’s latest, the abysmal After Earth, appears poised to be the first certified bomb of the 2013 Summer season. Raking in a dismal $27.2 million at the box office opening weekend, the savaged sci-fi epic is seen as another nail in the coffin of Smith’s once dominant commercial appeal, and the final one in M. Night Shyamalan’s struggles to regain his more or less DOA cred. While one critic complained that the film was like watching a child, ill-prepared for carrying a movie on his diminutive shoulders, actually do so, the real problem here is the plot. No, not the Point A to Point B path toward a rescue beacon, but the laughable speculative fiction that fills in the fringe.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
How do you go from "the next Spielberg" to a critical joke in the span of a single decade? Just ask M. Night Shyamalan. He knows all too well.

How do you go from “the next Spielberg” to a critical joke in the span of a single decade? How, exactly, do you squander all the cinematic goodwill you’ve built up over the course of some stellar motion pictures to produce what many consider to be back-to-back-to-back bombs? It’s an intriguing set of questions, one that the subject would probably scoff at as nothing more than the irrational ‘hating’ of a fetishized fanboy nation.  But the fact remains that M Night Shyamalan is considered the owner of one aesthetic flop after another. While The Last Airbender made enough money to see Paramount past its obvious critical drubbing (it was based on a wildly popular animated kids show, after all), what’s clear is that said film, and the nearly three films in between his latest, After Earth, showcases a director no longer in control of his muse.


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The saving grace of many dysfunctional family films is finding the universality in the truly insular.

There’s an age old maxim that goes a little something like this: “you can pick your friends…you can’t pick your family” - and while that sentiment is indeed accurate, it’s still a bit specious. As a matter of fact, you can make a conscious decision to leave your legally linked biological others, and the only repercussion may be an innate sense of sadness (unless you really, really hate them) and the occasional odd look from those who don’t understand such distance. There’s also the instance where you “run out for cigarettes” and recreate a new communal brood out of the remnants of such an unexpected “break-up.” We ‘step’ through life like this all the time. So, in truth, you can pick your family—not in the literal sense (unless you have some sort of cosmic control on procreation)—but in the more flawed, figurative sense.


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Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013
Most movies dealing with the apocalypse have adults running about to stop it from happening, yet the Neverending Story is the exact opposite.

The premise of the original Neverending Story (both book and film) represents the coming of a plague dubbed as the ‘Nothing’, where the world is coming to an end because people lack the imagination to keep it stable. Most movies dealing with the apocalypse have adults running about to stop it from happening, yet the Neverending Story is the exact opposite. The Neverending Story presents a world where children are allowed to make choices without adult interference; how a child goddess goes to great lengths in acting as a guide to stop the ‘Nothing’ from destroying a world imbued with creativity and imagination; and how misconceptions of juvenile daydreaming breaks down to teach us how gifted children carry the imagination to actually bring about change.


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