Sunday, February 28, 2010

Christmas 2009 Movies

by: Felipe M
So back in January, I reviewed a few Christmas movies for my company's newsletter. The following are the highlights of those reviews:

--> Sherlock Holmes--2 AND A HALF STARS
-->Guy Ritchie's adaptation of the most famous detective in the history of the world is certainly an interesting one. Our hero is on the teetering brink of bi-polar disorder, but he's not completely mentally handicapped because he has the greatest power known to man: his powers of deduction. Plus our brainy hero also has fists of fury and abs rigid enough to be used as a 19th century washboard. His sidekick, Dr. Watson also comes fully equipped with Mixed Martial Arts skills and a very effective fighter--despite a gimpy leg. Besides turning these 1800s gentlemen into X-Men, the movie's other flaws include a lackluster storyline, yawn-inducing action and fighting sequences, pompous dialogue, horrible computer generated graphics, and a rushed ending.

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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG—4 STARS

Disney returns to its roots by creating an old-school, hand-drawn animated feature with more dark-skinned protagonists than what they are used to creating. Set in one of the more unique cities in America, a pre-WWI New Orleans, LA, the story tells of a hard working young black woman named Tiana, whose sole goal is to save enough money to open up her own restaurant. However, when she finally has enough money saved up to buy property for her restaurant, the sellers informed Tiana that another higher bid was made and that she was better off not having the responsibility of a property owner citing reasons that were subtly racists and sexist. That's as close as Disney will get to bring up the socio-political issues of early 20th century America, but it is still a wonderful story with unique characters and lessons encouraging hard work, hope, and companionship over materialism. The real treat, however, comes in the quick tour the film takes the audience of New Orleans from the famous Bourbon Street to its mysterious bayous with a soundtrack that will leave the audience toe-tapping to the beats of Louisiana, from R&B and jazz, to country and Cajun tunes.

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UP IN THE AIR—4 STARS

George Clooney plays the interesting Ryan Bingham, a man who makes a living flying all over the country firing people for companies who don't have the personnel courageous enough to do it themselves. Bingham likes the lifestyle his job brings him, even if its a lifestyle of a lonely nomad. The hook that Bingham uses to relieve people of their duties is one of (false) optimism citing that the firing is not the end, rather the start of a new chapter in their lives. This film just seems so appropriate with the current state of the world as director Jason Reitman has created a biography of post-911 U.S. society with its culture of consumerism, individual aspirations of attaining elite status, and the crippling effects, as a result of a decade long horrible U.S. economy, that a job firing has on people and their families that prevent them from, at the very least, maintaining a status quo existence. Even though Reitman's message comes off as sort of pretentious, but positively necessary in a point in history where the greatest country in the world can no longer guarantee the "American Dream" to its own citizens.

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AVATAR—5 STARS

This film is unspeakbly indescribable! Video game developers would have a daunting task in recreating the world of Pandora that James Cameron has built in this movie with an attention to detail that has not been seen since--perhaps ever in the history of cinema. With solid performances from everyone, most notably from the very talented Giovanni Ribisi who brings back memories of Boiler Room. Playing the role of a corporate villain, Ribisi delivers the best line of the movie when he states that a corporations' biggest pet peeve is being associated with bloodshed--however, the only thing that a corporation hates more than bloodshed is a bad quarterly report. The film's storyline is parallel to that of History's conflict between the power-hungry Western Civilizations in their encounters with foreign lands and the Natives who live there; a retrospective look at human-to-human interactions if you will. Whatever awards and praises this film has received heretofore is undeniably deserving.

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