I offer up a lesson for the artistic types out there, I take a look at the growing intercontinental feud between TV networks, I reminisce about the old days, take a long hard look at the Internet dating scene, and end by wondering what Pixar did wrong in 2011.
We’re having a by-election up here in Athabasca, and I take a large portion of this week’s episode ranting about one of the issues that’s very important to me: affordable housing. Once that’s out of my system, I also share one of my favourite stories of the making of Star Trek IV, and ponder the meaning of George Lucas announcing his retirement.
Directed by James Bobin
Starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, Animal, and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
I never considered myself a big Muppets fan. Granted, I have fond memories of watching the Muppet Show when I was a kid and I adore the Muppet movies, but I’ve always found myself someone indifferent towards the franchise. But, when I started seeing the trailers and such for this new Muppet movie, something strange started happening. I started geeking out. Big time. With the holiday movie season quickly drawing to a close, I knew I had to go see it in theatres before time ran out. And I did!
The story follows the adventures of Walter, a Muppet-like person who is one of the biggest Muppet fans in the world. Finally, he, his human brother Gary and his girlfriend Mary are off to Los Angeles to see the fabled Muppet studios! But Walter is heartbroken to find the studio is in disrepair, and about to be sold to sleazy oilman Tex Richman so he can drill for the oil underneath. Not wanting to see this fate befall this treasured landmark, Walter tracks down Kermit the Frog to let him know what’s going on. Inspired, Kermit sets out to reunite the Muppets and hold a telethon to foil Tex’s plans. Will the Muppets get back together? Can they raise enough money? Will Walter finally find where he belongs?
What I Liked
This is an old-school Muppet movie. The Muppets are back on the big screen in fine form, doing what they do best. As with the classics, it is a musical, and the songs are very good and very hum-able. As with all the classic Muppet movies, there are some great surprise celebrity cameos along the way. Being a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan, I like that the climax is very reminiscent of UHF. And Amy Adams, as Mary, is once again on the top of my list of celebrity crushes.
What I Didn’t Like
The film kind of loses its way in the middle, as it can’t decide whether the focus should be on Walter’s journey of self-discovery or Kermit and his efforts to get the Muppets back together. And some gags, while hilarious, just kind of seem random and out of place.
There’s nothing but good vibes from this film. I can’t tell if the vibes were from the film, or my childhood nostalgia, but who cares? It gave me the warm and fuzzies…and in the good way.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Riley, and Rachael McAdams.
When I saw the first Sherlock Holmes film, I kind of liked it. In a way, it served as my first true exposure to the Sherlock Holmes universe, I liked the chemistry between Downey and Law, it had some great action sequences, but it didn’t really blow me away. That being said, though, I did like it enough that when the sequel came around, I decided to drop my money down and go see the further adventures of Holmes and Watson. What adventure would these two have this time around?
Following the events of the first film, Holmes has now dedicated his life to tracking down and foiling the plot of his new adversary, Professor James Moriarty. Holmes’ investigation soon leads him to a gypsy by the name of Simza, whose brother has somehow become wrapped up in Moriarty’s plot. When Holmes learns that Moriarty has put a hit out on Watson, Holmes interrupts Watson’s honeymoon to save his friend. And from there, Holmes, Watson, and Simza are playing cat and mouse with Moriarty all across Europe. What is Moriarty’s overall plot? And will Holmes be able to bring this man to justice?
What I Liked
Downey and Law still play great off each other. There’s some great action sequences, and some great gags.
What I Didn’t Like
This film is a lot goofier than the first one, with Holmes starting to act eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. Apparently, his powers of deduction now make him MacGyver, as he’s able to piece together all manner of weapons from what surrounds him. McAdams is back for an extended cameo as Irene Adler, and I was very disappointed in what they did with her in her brief time in the film. And Guy Ritchie’s directorial style goes into overdrive here, with random slow motion shots and excessive ramping and it all gets very annoying.
I did have a good time with this, even if it did get a little silly in some places. As the old cliche goes, “If you liked the first one….”.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Directed by Brad Bird
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyquist, Samuli Edelemen, and Anil Kooper.
So…the Mission: Impossible film franchise. I remember being very disappointed that I missed the first one in theatres way back in 1996, but enjoying it on video…I remember really, really liking the second one when I saw it in theatres…and I have yet to see the third one. I’ve grown completely indifferent towards the franchise at this point. So why did I drag myself off the couch to go see #4? Because Brad Bird was directing. Bird made my all-time favourite film, The Iron Giant, and then won Best Animated Film Oscars for The Incredibles and Ratatouille. This was his first foray into live-action, and with one of my favourite directors behind the camera, I just had to see this.
Everyone’s favourite IMF agent, Ethan Hunt, is sprung from a Russian prison. His latest mission is to infiltrate the Kremlin and make off with some nuclear launch codes before a terrorist code named Cobalt steals them. However, Cobalt makes off the codes and bombs the Kremlin, framing Hunt and his IMF team for this act of terrorism. In the wake of this terrorist act, the US Government invokes “ghost protocol,” in which the entire IMF is disavowed. Without any resources available to him, due to the agency being shut down, Hunt’s mission — should he choose to accept it — is to hunt down Cobalt, recover the nuclear launch codes, and clear his name. Is he and his new team up to the task?
What I Liked
The action sequences. Oh my God. Everyone’s raving about the Dubai sequence, and with good reason. The scenes and stunts with Tom Cruise hanging off the Burj Dubai are just spellbinding. Once the action gets going, it just never lets up. It’s funny, too. And not in your typical action hero one-liner way. The humor just kind of stems naturally from the situations. Also really good is Renner, as an IMF analyst who’s thrust into the field along side Hunt and his team when things go south. This is just a great action film.
What I Didn’t Like
Sometimes, it is tough to remember who’s chasing who and for what reason, but at this stage in the game, that’s more a problem with the franchise as a whole. And we never really get to know the villains, instead spending all of our time with the heroes.
This is just one spectacular action film. It is just so much fun. I highly recommend it.