Monday, July 18, 2011

Three Movie Reviews: The '2' movies of summer 2011

So far this summer, I have seen three new ‘2’ movies:

Kung Fu Panda 2

Cars 2

The Hangover 2

Kung Fu Panda 2:
Of the three, I’d say I liked this one best. It is in keeping with the artistic style of the original, and it advances the story of Po’s development into a Kung Fu master while simultaneously exploring Po’s back story. Into the future and into the past: a neat feat.

Just as any good sequel should do, certain things about the original were ‘bumped up a notch.’ The kung fu action sequences were more amazing and exciting, and the Asian Art – inspired visual choices were even more beautiful.

It left us with an intriguing premise for another sequel; and when I say intriguing, I mean clever, surprising, and exciting!

Cars 2:
Of the three sequels, this one was (no contest) the most different from the original. It is completely different in tone, pace, type of story… it just happens to have some of the same characters in it. Most of them are in what felt to me like the ‘B’ storyline, though. The ‘A’ storyline only utilizes one returning character – Tow Mater – and many new characters. It’s a LOT of Mater, and even in the first film I definitely felt that he is a character best appreciated in small doses. This one had Too Much Mater for me, for sure!
This movie is a spy comedy, a genre that I really like, so I'm on board with this re-booting of the franchise. I also liked the racing sequences, and thought the animation therein was eye-poppingly gorgeous. My particular favorite was the Italy scenery.
I did have a few problems with it other than Too Much Mater (and its accompanying Not Enough McQueen). I thought it was too fast-paced. We didn’t get any scenes where we could just enjoy the characters – everything was coming at us fastfastfast.
I thought the plot resolution was too confusing for the target audience. The bad guy is who again? And why was he masterminding all this? Pretending to promote alternative fuel while secretly sabotaging alternative fuel in order to drive up oil prices because he actually is trying to sell oil even though we thought he was out of the oil business? There’s one too many twists there, I think, and Sarge’s statement of “once big oil, always big oil” doesn’t make things any clearer!
I also thought the main moral, which seemed to be ‘stand by your friend no matter what,’ wasn’t terribly effective. McQueen felt bad for snapping at Mater when he acted like an obnoxious fool at a public event for McQueen’s professional career. We seem to be telling kids that obnoxiousness should be excused if we really love someone. I’m not on board with that message. How about 'I will always love you, but this behavior is not appropriate and I believe you can learn how to behave?' Not a terribly appealing moral, but that's one I would support.
My mom loved the idea that we should love our dents because they represent memories – I’ll agree with that one. That was cute.

The Hangover 2:
I thought this movie was AWFUL. It was trying to be exactly like the original, but it didn’t even come close to being a poor imitator. It had none of the magic of the first movie. Such a disappointment.
What’s worse is that I don’t think I laughed once!

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