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

9 A Grim Kind of Happy

9

9’s a VERY short movie title. I think I’ll call it Tim Burton’s 9. But as it were, Timur Bekmambetov is a producer of this movie, too. Their initials (middle names exempt) are the same, so the title is now Double TB’s 9. Teebeenine? With all that unrelated crap out of the way, I’m sure you’d actually like a review.

9’s not your typical post-apocalyptic movie. Where another director might use zombies or gun-toting mercenaries, Tim Burton would use dolls animated by a fragment of a human soul. The plot isn’t terribly complicated, but it still manages to fill 80 minutes without any major lulls. Considering it was based off of an 11 minute short, that’s particularly impressive.

The story begins with 9 waking up in the room of the scientist, confused and alone. He meets 2, who gives him his voice and is inadvertently captured by the “Beast,” a giant dog-like creature left behind after the world-ending war. A little backstory: The scientist created a highly intelligent and creative A.I., which was seized by the military government and forced to make war machines. Long story short, the machines went berserk and shrouded the Earth in a deadly poison gas.

9The first struggle is with the Beast. 9 and 2  face off, resulting in the elderly 2 being whisked away to the factory, along with a mysterious little device. After 9 unites with the rest of the numbered crew (1-8), 9, 6, and 7 set out to rescue 2.

You know what, let’s make this easier. Identities to names, GO:

  • 1: The elderly control freak that is scared of everything.
  • 2: The elderly inventor who explores and collects stuff.
  • 3-4: The mute twins that capture images with their eyes.
  • 5: The good natured, one eyed doll that helps 9 repeatedly.
  • 6: The oddball that has the most knowledge about the “device.”
  • 7: The lady-warrior that has too many moments of badass.
  • 8: The big beefy jerk with all the weapons. Also 1’s bitch.
  • 9: The curious protagonist. Creative and clever on the spot.

9The final struggle is with the scientist’s A.I., brought back to life after 9 connected the device to it. It begins to develop more war machines, trapped in its volatile cycle even without soldiers to fight. Then again, 1-9 could be seen as the enemy soldiers.

My issue is, the dolls all harbor a piece of the scientist’s soul. The scientist claimed that the Machine was incomplete because it lacked a human soul. Throughout the movie, the Machine tries desperately to absorb the fragments of the scientist’s soul to complete itself. Even though you’re meant to empathize with the doll people, you kind of wonder what would happen if the Machine acquired all nine pieces. Would it gain a higher intelligence? Would it give up on the imaginary war and try to repopulate the planet with machines? Wait for it… 9 2, the Machine’s Story.

9 isn’t a movie you’d want to miss if you’re into Tim Burton’s stuff. Josh Tyler of Cinemablend thinks that 9 isn’t up to scale, regarding proportions and distance. He could be going a little harsh, since the movie is based off an eleven minute short. If the focus was on them walking, there would be lulls. The terrible kind that I was talking about. But still, it’s a fair point. Here’s the review link: http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/9-4159.html

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, or Sod’s Law

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

They advertise Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as a daring spy movie with lots of high tech gadgetry and arse-glued-to-seat action. Yeah, I suppose that’s what the movie would look like if you weren’t really paying attention. The things I notice most about Ghost Protocol are the things that go wrong. Tom Cruise can never do an epic jump correctly. All of the tech Simon Pegg whips out winds up malfunctioning horribly and in the worst situations possible. I’ll give a shortie of the plot, then talk about what breaks.

The IMF is a secret organization working to resolve international issues and threats under the radar. The main team consists of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Jane Carter (Paula Patton). They infiltrate Kremlin in order to retrieve classified information regarding nuclear warheads. Their mission is sabotaged by Kurt Hendricks a.k.a. Cobalt, who is working alongside a man named Winstrom to bring about world destruction via nuclear war. The two terrorists bomb the Kremlin, pointing the blame squarely at the US.


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
This gets the IMF disavowed and disbanded, at least officially. They are then given the mission to track Cobalt and Winstrom, using any and all means to prevent them from firing the first nuke. Ex-agent Willian Brandt, an analyst for Ethan’s now-dead boss, joins them in their mission after Ethan saves his ass from an assassination attempt made by a shady subsection of the Russian government.

There are a lot of close calls, and a lot of action, combat, and chase scenes. I wouldn’t call this an edge of your seats movie, though. Simon Pegg is just too silly. Since Tom Cruise keeps bashing his head on things and having his tech malfunction, the fourth installment of Mission Impossible almost feels comedic. Let’s talk about the major movie malfunctions, shall we? And I certainly don’t mean unintentional errors.

  • Ethan Hunt bashes his face three times in separate attempts to make epic jumps: Once into a very high-up window, once off a building and onto a truck, and once off a lift onto a car. Bonk, bonk, bonk.
  • The digital false wall Benji and Ethan use to infiltrate the Kremlin can’t handle the POV of more than one person. It works at first, then another guy comes in and it starts freaking out. Fizzle-fizzle.
  • The all-surface grip gloves Benji gives Ethan fizzle very quickly when he uses them to climb a building. One fizzles halfway up, and the other fizzles as he kicks the window of his target room in.
  • The mask-making machine Benji sets up to aid them in their attempt to trick an assassin into giving them the launch codes tweaks out and dies.
  • The face-scan contact lens William is given blows his and Ethan’s cover when the assassin they’re trying to trick sees it.
  • The magnetic lift Benji uses to move William into an underground server room keeps twitching and slamming the poor guy into things. Then it shorts out and dies.

Mission Impossible: Ghost ProtocolI’m pretty sure you know that this movie has a happy ending. Most of the stuff Tom Cruise does is corny in some way or another. Corny, cheesy, so-serious-it’s-silly, call it what you will. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is, despite this, a good movie overall. If everything worked, there’d be no “oh crap” moments to make you cross your fingers for Tom Cruise. Whether you’re hoping he dies horribly or not I can’t say, but that’s hardly the point. I do believe the writers made their high-tech claim a little hypocritical by making everything break constantly. The way I see it, you come for the Mission Impossible title and stay for Simon Pegg and his unfortunate contraptions. I love that guy, and you should too.

BlackSheepReviews sticks Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol with a positive review, and I’m glad to see that. Tom Cruise actually does play a very strong part in this movie without overwhelming it with his… Cruiseyness. I’ll admit I was a little sad when Lea Seydoux was kicked out of a window. I feel like her character didn’t play much of a role outside greasing the plot wheels. Can’t expect much from side antagonists, I guess! Here’s the link: http://blacksheepreviews.blogspot.com/2011/12/mission-impossible-4-ghost-protocol.html

Pan’s Labyrinth is A-MAZE-ing


Pan's Labyrinth
Sure, the title isn’t funny, but the fact that Pan’s Labyrinth had to be tagged as “not a children’s movie” while being sold is. You look at the front and think it’ll be some cute story about a little girl in a fairy tale world, and then realize that you’re wrong; so wrong that you’re probably going to cry.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a story about a little bookworm, Ofelia, traveling out into the woods of 1944 fascist Spain with her pregnant mother and sadistic army officer stepfather. She discovers a mysterious insect that leads her through and ancient, broken labyrinth, dropping her off in what appears to be a well dedicated to a mythological god. A faun appears before her and explains that she is the daughter of the King of the Underworld, and that she has to accomplish three tasks before the moon is full.

I should note that Underworld in this context doesn’t mean Hell; it just means a world underlying the “real” world. Just thought I’d clear that up. Oh, and while I’m clearing things up, this entire movie’s in Spanish. No dubs, only subtitles.

Onward. As she departs from the well, the faun gives her a book that explains the three tasks as they occur. The first is to crawl into a dying tree and feed a giant toad a set of three stones in order to kill it. She manages to pull this off, but ruins the dress and shoes her mother gave her accidentally. The tree was messy and muddy. Poor girl.

Pan's LabyrinthBefore she can accomplish the second task, her mother begins to hemorrhage; a complication with her pregnancy. When she returns to the faun, he scolds her for not following through, but then gives her a mandrake root to put under her mother’s bed in a bowl of fresh milk. So long as she keeps the milk fresh and the root fed with two drops of blood each day, her mother’s health will improve.

A halt in the partial synopsis here to state that there are actually three perspectives going on throughout the movie. Ofelia’s is one. Then comes Mercedes, a servant to the fascist officers occupying the area. She’s spying for the rebels in hiding, and helping them by sending food and medicine. Finally, there’s Captain Vidal’s (Ofelia’s stepfather, the sadistic officer) perspective. He’s busy hunting rebels for the most part, so he doesn’t really ever join the party until Ofelia’s mother’s condition worsens, or when he begins to find clues linking Mercedes to the rebels. It’s high tension, bound to keep you on your toes until the very end.

Pan's LabyrinthYou know what, skip the synopsis. I don’t want to ruin it all. I’ll just leave it a little ruined. A major point I’d like to make is that Pan’s Labyrinth has no serious flaws. The acting is great, the emotional scenes hit home, the tone is dark and somber, and the visuals are, for lack of a less clichéd word, stunning. Seriously. That faun is freaky looking. And wait until you see the Pale Man of Ofelia’s second task. Yucko. The conclusion will definitely leave you wondering what really happened, since mixing fairy tales with reality never really tends to create a definitive plot. An ambiguous, satisfying ending, more or less. You’ll like it.

Lexi Feinberg of CinemaBlend shines the spotlight on this movie’s tendency to make you feel pretty bad about everything. It is, in essence, the anti-Disney movie of the year. Every time something changes, it drags the tone deeper down into the swirling black abyss of hopelessness. Shame, eh? Here’s the link, just in case you want to double-check and make sure I’m not making this up: http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Pan-s-Labyrinth-1832.html