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Monday, July 19, 2010

Loveable, Despicable Me

Despicable me is anything but Despicable. It's actually quite loveable. I saw it with my younger kids on Saturday and we all enjoyed it. My older kids have also seen it and it's all they talk about. I love to point out movies that parents can enjoy with their kids and have a great time watching without worrying about bad content along the way. Despicable Me definitely accomplishes that feet.
I can't go as far as to say it's as good as a Pixar movie, because it's not. But, it comes awfully close, and that says something. It definitely has alot of heart, something I think any movie that aspires to be great must possess. The three little girls are so adoreable and funny, it's hard not to love them and enjoy watching Gru, the main character, fall in love with them too. The other secret ingredient this movie uses very well is the cuteness and funniness of the little yellow minions. They have very little to do with the actual plot, except to make us laugh along the way. And they do, time and time again. They could be seen as a cheap plot device by the writers and director to sucker us all into loving the movie more, but I can't say that, because the device worked so well, I can only say good things about the little yellow guys. They're all my kids talk about.
The other thing about Despicable me that stands out is the slightly different since of humor that the movie has that's different from all animated movies so far. Similar to the Shrek movies with it's different twist on humor in kids movies, this movie delivers it's own twist. I'm not going to attempt to describe it. I'll just say it's refreshing and laugh-out-loud funny. I also loved Steve Carell's voice as the main character. His strange European accent made many normal lines much funnier. The kids and I havent' stopped talking about our favorite scenes yet and it's been 3 days since we went. Despicable me is a great movie experience, worth sharing with the whole family.
I give it a 221 for sheer entertainment value. Morally speaking, I'll give it a 205. Combined, that makes a total score of 426.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lost - Season by Season

I followed the Lost series from the incredible pilot episode in 2004 until the finale in May of this year. I consider it to be the best dramatic t.v. series ever broadcast. Never before has there been a show so intricately written with so many plot lines interweaving and keeping us all guessing until the very last episode. Sure, every question wasn't answered but most were, enough to call the show sheer genius. We avid fans kept watching from show to show for two reasons: we cared about the characters, and because we were forced to in order to find out what the heck was going on. The fact that the writers of Lost successfully pulled off both of those reasons the whole way through is what made it pure genius.
The series can all be bought on DVD now, even Season 6. the most recent. I work with someone who's going through the show on DVD for the first time and is up to season 3. I can tell she's enjoying it as much as I did watching it on ABC every week. I thought it might be helpful for anyone thinking about buying the series on DVD to have short summaries of each season. This will also give me a chance to put down some of my thoughts and great memories of the show. I'll try my best not to give anything away, because the element of surprise is extremely important with Lost.

Season 1 - This is the season that completely surprised everyone who tuned in to watch the pilot episode about a plane crashing on a deserted island. We all thought we were tuning in to watch a dramatic Gilligan's Island for the new millennium. I wasn't even sure if I was going to stay with it at first. And then there was a scene on that show that completely caught me off guard, and I was hooked. I knew I had to keep watching and I couldn't wait for more. I promised not to give anything away, so I can only say something happens to the pilot of the airplane that will knock your socks off. The rest of Season 1 was full of mysterious happenings and introductions of all of the main characters via flashbacks. Season 1 should not be skipped by anyone hoping to watch the show if for no other reason but to learn the back story behind all of the original main characters. The last episode of the season has several big reveals and cliffhanger moments that guarantee you'll come back for more.

Season 2 - Every season of Lost has a different emphasis, that helps keep the show fresh and non-repetitive. Season 2 will forever be known as the year of the "hatch" in Lost speak. That's because most of the plot developments either happen in or revolve around a mysterious underground hatch that they discover at the end of season 1. The hatch makes for lots of fun mystery and it creates conflict between several of the main characters. Another development that sets this season off from the others is the introduction of the "tail-ees", or other survivors from the plane crash that were in the back half of the plane that landed on the other side of the island. I found their story to be intriguing, introducing us to several great characters. My favorite of these is Mr. Echo. We also get to know Desmond, a key player in the big picture of the show. However, the most important character to be introduced during season 2 is Ben, the leader of the others. I won't say how he's introduced or what happens with him, since that would give away too much. But, just keep an eye out for him because he's great, and you'll soon learn to love/hate/love/hate him. There were a few plot lines that seemed to go nowhere that I could have done without, but overall, season 2 was a great year for Lost.

Stay tuned for more Season Summaries of Lost

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eclipse - For Men and Women

I saw Eclipse last week with my wife, part 3 in the Twilight saga. The first movie came out around 2 years ago. The books, a few years before that. It went through my family like the plaque about 2 and a half years ago. At first it was the books, consumed by my wife, my older kids and my mother-in-law in the span of 3 or 4 months. I resisted, not being much of a fan of romance novels. That's what I thought it was at the time. Then the movies started. I'm up for just about any kind of movie, so I gladly took my wife to see Twilight. I liked it, especially the vampire stuff and hint of werewolves. For me, the romance was tolerable since it was wrapped in all of that monster lore stuff. Later, when I saw part 2, New Moon, I liked it even more. I officially became a fan with that movie because it delved deeper into the wolves side of the story than the first one. Now we had lots of vampires and wolves in the same movie. That's much more like a movie I can get into. Oh, and by the way, the love story kicked into high geer too which kept my wife and oldest daughter enthralled. And now, here we are at part 3, Eclipse. I'll sum it up by saying it has more of the same love story and more of the same monster story, but both cranked up couple more notches. The love triangle gets really intense with Edward and Jacob almost coming to blows several times over Bella. At the same time, theres more action in this one than the last. Great stuff all around.
I have not read the books, but as far as the movies go, they have an appeal that few movies can achieve. They offer something for both sexes. I don't mean to over-generalize and sound sexist, but generally speaking, women like their romance and men like to see some action enhanced by special effects. The Twilight series delivers on both accounts.
Now, I must pause for a moment and say that there are definite spiritual problems with the series that many Christians may have a problem with. For one, the vampires are all souless dead creatures, even the "good" vampires. The biggest problem for me is Bella's spiritual apathy. All talk of God or heaven and hell is just a nuisance to her. However, we've obviously decided to go ahead and enjoy the series even with it's flaws. For Christians who are secure in the truth, and who aren't easily confused by such Hollywood twisted spiritualism, the Twilght series has much to offer. It's given my wife and I something fun to do together that we both enjoy. I can't wait to see what happens in the 4th and last movie. In the mean time, Eclipse will be playing in my living room soon when it comes out on DVD, over and over and over.
My scores for Eclipse are 199 for sheer entertainment value, and 97 on the moral scale. That makes a totla score of 296.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Toy Story 3

On Father's Day, my wife and kids asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate. My choice was simple; go to the latest Pixar movie with my family. That movie, of course, was Toy Story 3. Before I go on, please note that my kids ages are as follows, 20, 18, 7, and 5. Quite an age range, not to mention my wife and I as the two oldest kids. I love Pixar movies because they are, without exception, movies that my whole family enjoys. Some of my favorites are The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Finding Nemo. I'll write about them in later posts. Toy Story 3 was another great movie. In fact, it may have been the ultimate movie for a family such as mine. We all loved it, from my 5 year old girl, to me the oldest. Sure, I complained about the elevated price of the 3D tickets, but by the end of the movie, I knew I would have gladly paid more for the experience of seeing such a great movie with my family.
Before that day, I was a little skeptical about a third enstallment of the great Toy Story story. The original Toy Story set the bar at a high level for all animated movies to come, especially for all Pixar movies. Incredibly, Pixar has continued at that high level of pure clean entertainment for something like 15 years now. Toy Story 2 was, in my opinion, even better than the first, although I will always hold the original movie up as the classic of all computer animated movies just because it was the first. To me, it's the equivalent of the Beatles arriving on the world's pop music scene in the early sixties and completely revolutionizing the whole industry, upping the antie and changing the game for every musical act that followed. That's what Toy Story did in 1995.
Part 3 might be the best of them all. I am still amazed at the incredible writing that went into this story and kept me guessing every step of the way and enjoying every minute. By the way, every member of my family seemed to be as enthralled in this story as I was. I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet, but not only did I laugh out loud and watch with amazement, but I also had a lump in my throat in one scene, and I literally had tears during another. And it was all for a story about toys that are alive and just want to be played with. Most men would be embarrassed to admit how much they love the Toy Story movies. I'm not because they truely entertain me, and I can watch them with my wife and kids. It doesnt' get much better than that.
This movie will officially go down in history as the first to ever receive the coveted Watcher500 rating of 500. That's right, a perfect score in both categories; sheer entertainment value, and moral content.

The Bright Spots

First, a little bit about myself. I'm a family man with a beautiful wife and four wonderful kids. I'm also a born again Christian. These two factors will have much bearing on my writing. My topic is things relating to entertainment. But, have no fear kind reader. I don't plan to tire my fingers writing about how horrible entertainment is. On the contrary. I plan to point out the bright spots. Those works of digital art that are doing it right. The ones that entertain us with great writing, solid production, and an emotional connection that I can walk away feeling good about for days and weeks later. You see, I love movies. I love television,and I love music. I grew up watching and listening to great stuff, and there's still great stuff out there today. It's just harder to find. I'm always on the watch for that gem of a show or song. When I find it, I'd like to share it with you. I'll tell you why it's good, and where it falls short.
I hope to reach two kinds of entertainment fans. The first is parents of kids who are old enough to understand what's on t.v. That's something like 3 and up. Adults without kids can't really appreciate how much it matters what your kids are watching until they have kids of their own. I can't tell you how many times I've asked adult friends who either don't have kids or their kids are grown and married, about a movie. I'll ask them if it's appropriate for kids and they'll say, "Oh, yeah. There was hardly any bad stuff in it." Then I get it home and the family are watching it and we have to turn it off 15 minutes into it. Those adults just don't see it with the eyes of a parent. I'd like to help you adults out there who need a review from the eyes of a parent.
The 2nd group is Christian adults who love movies or t.v. or music like I do, and want to be careful what you allow into your head. Even though I'm a parent, I do watch different movies when I'm alone or with my wife that I wouldn't watch with my little ones. I think that's a normal distinction for Christian parents. But, even when the kids aren't around, I still want to be careful. I think there are plenty of other Christian adults out there who are in the same situation.