Sunday, October 31, 2010

Movie Review - Alice in Wonderland (2010)

by Alex Popp

Fantastic fun for the whole family.

Not really.

In "Alice in Wonderland," directed by Tim Burton, now 19-year-old Alice is welcomed back to the fantastical land that she went through 13 years earlier. There she meets up with the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, and encounters random creatures and objects including a floating, ghostly cat and a smoking caterpillar. Alice realizes that she is there to conquer the horrific Jabberwocky and restore the rightful queen to her throne.

How this film made over $1 billion, I will never know. Maybe everyone just wanted to see another performance by Johnny Depp. He isn't a bad actor at all, but his role as the Mad Hatter doesn't come close to the charming wittiness of Jack Sparrow.

I felt like I was on speed or something watching this movie. I guess it's supposed to be kind of a sequel to the hand-drawn version from the fifties and I actually remember being seven and liking it. But this one was just plain weird. The effects are pleasant to the eye, though nothing like "Avatar." I'll tell you when we saw trailers for it, my brother said it looked to him like a children's horror flick.

Rated PG for intense violence and perilous situations, far out of anything that young kids could view. But it was also PG for something that no other movie has been before: a smoking caterpillar. Yes, it literally says that in the MPAA rating! I guess they had to tell you some way that it isn't a human smoking.

Two stars (out of four) for the weird and vaguely unsatisfying, "Alice in Wonderland."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Emperor's thoughts... I think there was a little more to it. I really enjoyed Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Johnny Depp's performance was great, but it did seem similar to his Willie Wonka.

And the movie had a fun story with good action and effects. I could tell, though, that Burton was having a lot of fun with creepy things like having Alice jump onto floating decapitated heads.

Overall, I have to agree that it was a tad too creepy for Disney. Was it strange and seem like a bad trip? Sure, a little, but then again, so do the books. Disney originally painted the weirdness with a fun and light perspective. But Burton views the weirdness with a haunting and violent perspective.

- The Emperor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Review - To Save a Life

by Alex Popp

Some people are just dying to be heard.

The most popular kid in High School feels like he's got the whole world at his feet until a childhood friend commits suicide in "To Save a Life."

The teenager had everything. He had a beautiful girlfriend, he was the champion in basketball and beer pong, and everyone loved him, but now after the death of his friend, he is forced to ask himself "Could I have saved him?" As he sets out to find out how he can stop others from doing the same, he gets acquainted with a local church and begins to have a change of heart, and it all leads to very surprising results.

This is definitely the kind of movie that should not have famous actors, and most of them are unknown except for Sean Michael Afable from "Akeelah and the Bee."

I was there when the whole youth group saw it back in February. The great thing was that I hardly knew anything about the movie until I saw it, and I was completely blown away. In fact, it's part of the reason I went to Reaching: Seattle. This film is so influential; it gets you waking up to the fact that there are some people who are literally dying to be heard.

By the way, if you search this title on the Internet Movie Database, you'll see all the data under "Fun Stuff," such as trivia, goofs, movie connections and quotes, which are, believe it or not, all posted by me.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes involving suicide, drugs, sex, partying and other bad teen habits, but should be seen by all teenagers. The rating is necessary, though it never gets anywhere near as bad as R-rated comedies. Focus on the Family even made a remark in their review that suicide, alcohol, sex, teen pregnancy, divorce, drugs, cutting, and hypocrisy aren't usually things they would list under positive elements. In this extraordinary flick, all this sin is dealt with in a Christian way.

Four stars (out of four) for the extraordinary and influential "To Save a Life," bound to be the best of 2010. I doubt even "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is going to beat it.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review - The Last Song

by Alex Popp

Do you ever really forget your first heartbreak?

Miley Cyrus plays a seventeen-year-old girl who is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father, whom she hasn't really forgiven for divorcing her mom in "The Last Song" from Nicholas Sparks, the author of "The Notebook."

There she meets a handsome young man and they fall in love with each other. And being in a good mood, she is helped to reconnect with her father.

First of all, this movie is incredibly touching. I have never cried in the theater before since "Eight Below" from four years ago. I will say for the record, you can't exactly class this as a chick flick.

Also, you may be hearing rumors going around that Miley Cyrus can't act. That is incorrect. She made an excellent performance. As a matter of fact, her whole personality in the film reminded me of my sister. And that's what I like to see, as you may have guessed. I'm sorry to break it to you, Matthew, but Miley Cyrus can act. I mean it, she made like third or fourth best performance I've seen by an actress in a lead role (I haven't seen any Meryl Streep movies). And there were other great performances by Greg Kinnear as the girl's dad and particularly Bobby Coleman as her younger brother. If anyone in the movie is deserving of an Oscar nominee, it's him. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the movie half as much if it didn't have the girl's brother. He was played brilliantly.

I am a guy and I liked this film a lot. However, the thing that made me not love it was that there was a lot of kissing going on between the girl and her boyfriend when they had just started dating. I remember my mom leaning over to me in the theater and she whispered "I probably won't like this movie." But later it just turns around and she agreed.

Rated PG for this sensuality, mild language and some violence. I'd say it's okay for audiences over the age of 10. What surprised me was that they aimed the movie toward teenagers, male and female. Usually doing that, they would brought the negative content to more extreme measures, but not in this case.

Three and a half stars for the incredibly moving tear jerker, "The Last Song." It's one of the best films of the year.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010

THOR 2011

Can't wait to see Thor!

Disney owns Thor now! =^)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Review - Hubble 3D

by Alex Popp

The Imax sparkles in the new documentary, "Hubble 3D."

This astounding 45-minute film, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, tells the true story the effort of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and to take pictures of the outside universe. Meanwhile, we see examples of other galaxies and stars billions of miles from earth.

And of course, the narrator asked, "How could all this have possibly gotten here?" We Christians have the answer: it's just more evidence that there must be a Creator. The 3D effects are neat, but never overwhelming.

Three and a half stars for the dazzling Imax movie, "Hubble 3D," playing now at the Pacific Science Center.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Movie Review - Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

by Alex Popp

Defy the future.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a rogue prince who has a problem to settle with his uncle in the mystical lands of Persia in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," based on the very popular video game.

He and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world. The two of them embark on a perilous quest to stop an evil mastermind's plot for ultimate power with the mystical weapon.

This was one I did not expect my mom to love. There is a ton of action including parquor and a storyline partially based on belief in multiple gods. If you're easily offended by that kind of thing, than maybe you should pick a different movie. But I kinda liked "Prince of Persia." The action scenes are fun and the sub plot of the prince and the princess was original, although the main plot may remind you of "The Lion King." The art direction, visual effects and costume design are neat though, making up for any unoriginality.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout.

Three stars (out of four) for "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Click here to see why it wasn't as big of a hit as it should have been:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Prince of Persia wasn't as big of a hit as it could have been

The Prince of Persia film had a lot going for it...

Jerry Bruckheimer produced it. Jerry has produced 18 films to gross over 100 million dollars in the US, including Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, and The Rock.

Mike Newell directed it. Mike directed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which brought in $290 million in the US.

The actress, Gemma Arteron, was amazing as the Princess. She is one to watch out for. She was also Io in Clash of the Titans (2010), and she was in RocknRolla.

Prince of Persia only brought in $90 million in the US, even though it cost $200 million to make it. Fortunately, it also made $244 million outside the US, so whatever it had, it was good enough for foreigners.

Essentially, Prince of Persia had the Orlando Bloom character from Pirates, but it was lacking the Jack Sparrow character. And that explains why it was piopular in places that cared more about the action and effects than the characters.

However, one redeeming character was brought to life by Alfred Molina, in what I think was his second-best performance. His best was in The Man Who Knew to Little with Bill Murray.

I give the film three out of four stars.

The Emperor

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tangled Trailer 2, Despicable Me 2, Gnomeo & Juliet: Beyond The Trailer

Great insight into the success of Despicable Me!


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Movie Review - Letters to God

by Alex Popp

Hope is contagious...

A young boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope among everyone he comes in contact with in "Letters to God," from the church that brought you "Fireproof."

An unsuspecting substitute postman, with a troubled life of his own, becomes entangled in the boy's journey and his family by reading the letters. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself and his own son he's lost through his alcohol addiction.

I would say that this film is about as good as "Fireproof" and is more suitable for younger audiences. The parts with the kids are cute, even touching at times. Like most low-budget movies, there are parts that are badly played with mostly unknown actors, except for Maree Cheatham from "Total Recall." But this touching little film will without a doubt move Christian families.

Rated PG, despite the Family Approved seal that it got, for references to cancer and alcohol, but it should be suitable for kids over the age of 6.

Three stars (out of four) for "Letters to God."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Movie Review - Toy Story 3

by Alex Popp

In "Toy Story 3," the toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

I was expecting a bit more from this film. It isn't as the tagline says "The Breakout Comedy of the Summer." There were only a few parts that were really funny. And I think Pixar wasn't trying very hard to put together a middle-of-the-movie plot. I kinda saw the villain in the movie, Lot-so Huggin' Bear, as the same character as The Prosvector in "Toy Story 2," which I would have to say is the best of the three. But the first fifteen minutes and the last half-hour of the movie are very poignant and it seems that the adults were more moved than the kids. It is vaguely worth it.

Rated G, but it might get a bit too scary for very young movie goers.

Three (out of four) stars for "Toy Story 3."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


To see The Emperor's review of Toy Story 3 (why Toy Story 2 was better), click here:


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tangled Movie Trailer 2 Official (HD)

Check out this new trailer for Tangled. It keeps looking better and better!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Movie Review - Despicable Me

by Alex Popp

Superbad. Superdad.

Steve Carell voices a criminal mastermind in the ridiculous animated comedy "Despicable Me." Just the sound of the title made me giggle.

The wanna be supervillain isn't good enough for his boss, so he and his stupid minions put together an outrageous plot to steal the moon. In order to get a weapon known as the Shrink Ray from his arch nemesis, he adopts three adorable girls to sell him cookies while he takes what he needs. But he finds out he's put a lot more work on his hands with the three girls at his place.

I haven't laughed so hard since "Horton Hears a Who!," and it wasn't much of a surprise because it had the same co-financer, Blue Sky Studios. The minions are impossible not to laugh at, and at the same time I had to nod my head at the last fifteen minutes of the movie. It meant a lot to me and my family, because I have an adopted sister.

Rated PG for rude bodily-functioning humor, but should be suitable for kids over the age of 4.

Three and a half stars (out of four) for "Despicable Me," which isn't very despciable.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

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