The Boondocks, Out of the Ink

The Boondocks

Yeah, it’s been out of the ink for a while, but I like that title, damnit. Right.

The Boondocks is so many kinds of good. I don’t often review TV series, as I don’t watch TV, but this is some politically incorrect, satirized, slice of life crap that’s just addicting. It follows the Freeman family, which consists of the elderly Robert (“Grandpa”) and his grandchildren, the cold and logical Huey, and the rebellious and aggressive Riley. They’re all African Americans, by the by, and that’s a major plot device. … It’s a joke! Geeze. Based on the comic strip by the same name, The Boondocks contains a lot of political and racial humor that sensitive viewers might find “overbearingly offensive.” So if you don’t like offensive humor, fuck off, I guess. Nothing personal, it’s just what to expect from the show.

The BoondocksWhile it has a measure of continuity, each episode embodies a different event or idea, like a rich white businessman monopolizing a little girl’s lemonade stand, or teaching black and white folk to praise White Jesus and punish those who are black of skin and full of sin. You’d need to see the latter to understand it, but the same can be said about most everything in this show. It can get pretty campy, but always tends to maintain a darker undertone. It’s certainly not goofy humor, as it tries to express the views of creator Aaron McGruder. So you can laugh, gain a little perspective, all that good stuff.

The artwork is amazing to boot. It has a distinctively anime twist to it, but more of a visually thematic “inspired by” than a full-on style. It’s unique, and it shows through in each of the characters. Cute characters look adorable, arrogant characters look pompous as hell, tough characters look- well, you get it. Exaggeration of traits without actual exaggeration, dig?

The BoondocksBesides the three protagonists, there are many reoccurring characters, both from the original comic and completely new to the series. Uncle Ruckus, for example. He’s the blackest character on the show, and he absolutely hates black people. He’s probably the number once source of inane racial slurs on the show, and a primary source of many sidesplitting moments. Go ahead, laugh! No such thing as guilty humor if there isn’t legitimate hate behind it.

You’ll also see a lot of real-world people brought into the show, like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, R. Kelly, Bil Cosby, and Martin Luther King Jr. Sometimes they deliver messages hidden behind layers of campy humor. Sometimes they just come out and say what they mean. Martin Luther King Jr. calls the ghetto black populace a bunch of n- well, I can’t say that in the review, but he calls them a bunch of ignorant, culturally detached N-words and says he’s moving to Canada. That’s the gist of it. Amazing. I wish they’d release season two on Netflix instant-view

The BoondocksOn a conclusive note… I wonder if my review was too white? The Boondocks has got me thinking; seeing the division between cultures. I don’t consider myself “white,” nor do I take pride in any particular cultural heritage, but the difference in perspectives is intriguing. Ah well, maybe that’s all a bit too personal. Give it a watch, have your own epiphany of racial self-awareness.

Alisha Karabinus of BlogCritics is turned off of the animated rendition of The Boondocks due to its shift of focus from social commentary comic humor to the sometimes outright silly humor on the show. It’s a classic case of “I liked the book more than the movie,” in my honest opinion, but I won’t deny the difference between the two. It’d be improper to arbitrarily state that the animated series is inferior to the comic, as they’re both made by the same person, and McGruder isn’t a fan of unnecessary censorship. Check out the longer, more negative review here: http://blogcritics.org/tv-review-the-boondocks/

Brave Breaks the Princess Standard

Brave

Tell me, my charming reader chum, who is your favorite Disney princess? Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? Tiana? Rapunzel? After seeing Brave, Merida shot to first place. As stated in the title, Brave broke the princess standard, something I haven’t seen in the Disney formula for years. No prince charming that the princess is bound to from the beginning? A strong, independent female lead who values her freedom? Wh… what the hell is going on? And why do I love it so much? I’ll tell you why. It’s silly, dramatic, and delivers a sweet yet prominent message that’s easy to comprehend. This is a movie for Disney fans of all ages.

From the beginning, Merida is bombarded by instructions on how to be a perfect princess. Her mother, Elinor, is the prim and proper queen of a seaside Scottish Highland kingdom. When she calls upon the three clans of the Kingdom to compete for Merida’s hand, the princess sabotages the archery competition by taking part and winning her own hand.

BraveThis is where a twin set of plots come in. One is relevant to the prologue of the movie, in which a young Merida discovers a will o’ the wisp and learns that they’re said to guide travelers to their fate. In a desperate attempt to stop her mother from controlling her life, she makes a deal with a witch in order to “change” her. This turns her into a bear, and the change will be permanent on the second sunrise. Simultaneously, the three clans and the kingdom are bordering war because of the insult presented by Merida’s refusal to marry. There’s a lot to fix.

It’s a fair balance between silly and serious, the darkest aspect has to be Mor’du, the black bear that took King Fergus’s leg. He (not Fergus) nearly ate Merida when she was a child, and he appears again several times to do the same. He’s also the center of a few big reveals, so don’t set him aside as the obligatory antagonist. There’s more to him, eh?

There are many likeable characters in this particular Disney flick, the scenery is just gorgeous, and the plot is just the right distance from the Disney formula to feel both new and familiar. Brave has taken a lot of crap for being bland, unoriginal, boring, and many other negative adjectives generic critics can throw out, but I personally guarantee that if you do watch, you’ll enjoy yourself. Merida’s a sassy lass, and the three clan leaders and their children are very silly indeed.

BraveYou see, this is what happens when the formula is broken. The moment these critics realized that Brave wasn’t a permutation of the typical formula, they rip at it for “trying too hard,” being unoriginal, and all that rot. You can take all those blatantly negative reviews and put them aside; on its own, Brave is a wonderful family movie, and you’ll have to gauge its quality for yourself rather than listen to pretentious and jaded reviewers shovel their empty opinions onto it because it’s fun to do. It could become a favorite, it could be vanilla, but that’s up to you to find out. If it was outright terrible, I’d let you know, wouldn’t I? But it isn’t, so you should probably go out and give it a view.

CinemaBlend’s a trustworthy source of quality reviews, I’ll have you know. I’m aware of the fact that I often spend too much time criticizing critics, but I do it for a reason. Genuine unbiased reviews are hard to come by with all this “pay for ten of ten” nonsense floating around. Anyhoo, Brave doesn’t deserve all the crap it gets, and if you read this review right here, you’ll get a good idea of why: http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Brave-5895.html

Life of Pi, Emotion on the Ocean

Life of Pi

Life of Pi really deserves the revamped attention the movie gave it. I distinctly remember wondering just how the book could provide so much content from merely describing a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger, and a few flashbacks. Same went for the movie. In both cases, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was never bored, or hoping for something more exciting.

Pi Patel was a normal boy living in India, experimenting with religion and worldviews. His father owns a zoo, and dislikes the idea of religion fervently. All the same, he thinks that forcing his beliefs on his child is a bad thing, and instead tries to impart lessons in a more constructive, unbiased way. Pi’s first strong lesson comes from his father making him watch the tiger Richard Parker eat a goat, letting him know the difference between animals and people.

Life of PiA big change goes down when the family decides to move to Canada and sell the animals. The change isn’t in the move, so much as the tanker called Tsimtsum sinking due to a storm and Pi being stuck on a lifeboat with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a tiger. The hyena eats the zebra, fatally wounds the orangutan, and the tiger eats the hyena and nearly kills Pi.

So Pi has to survive. He builds a floatation device out of oars and life vests in order to keep at a save distance from Richard Parker, while rationing supplies to extend his window of survival as long as he possibly can. Thanks to a breaching whale, he loses a lot of his biscuits and water, forcing him to catch fish and collect rainwater. As a vegetarian, this is unsettling, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Pi and Richard Parker soon discover an island with edible plants populated entirely by meerkats, saving them once again from starvation. A little bit of searching yields a human tooth wrapped up in leaves. Apparently, the island behaves like a giant venus flytrap, drawing people in and devouring them with acid emitted in the evening. So, after gathering all they possibly can, Pi and Richard Parker depart.

Life of PiThere aren’t really spoilers, considering Pi Patel is around to tell this story in the movie. So at the end of their little adventure, Pi winds up on the coast of Mexico, and Richard Parker escapes into the jungle, never to be seen again. Pi is hospitalized, and some Japanese men representing the company that chartered the tanker being used to transport the zoo animals have questions for him.

That’s where a second story is offered, one revolving entirely around people rather than the animals. In this version, the orangutan is Pi’s mother, the zebra was a crippled sailor, the hyena was the ship’s cook, and Pi was the tiger. After hearing both stories, both the Japanese me and the man interviewing Pi Patel about his life story decided to believe the tale with Richard Parker.

That’s the story, but before I link you to an alternate review, I’d like to note the extent to which I enjoyed the CGI in this movie. While it is used realistically for the most part, namely for the storm and the animals, there is one particular part that blew my mind. It was a surreal delusional memory sequence, where Pi felt as though he could see into he ocean, into the stars reflected into the water’s surface, and then into the eye of God. In theatre, it was the most abstract, beautiful sequence of images I’ve ever seen.

But hey, the rest is amazing too.

Aaron Weiss of CinemaFunk finds that the film adaptation of Life of Pi amounted to a watered down, Hollywood-warped version of the original tale. While I don’t entirely agree with this, I can see the validity. When making a movie based off of an original work, maintaining the balance between the work’s intent and the necessary “wow factor” can be rather… difficult. Take a peek here to get a better understanding of the contrast: http://www.cinemafunk.com/movie-reviews/life-of-pi.html