Big Eyes (2014) Review

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Big Eyes (2014)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring:
Amy Adams
Christoph Waltz
Danny Huston
Jon Polito
Krysten Ritter
Jason Schwartzman
Terence Stamp

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film focuses on American artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose work was fraudulently claimed in the 1950s and 1960s by her then-husband, Walter Keane (Waltz), and their heated divorce trial after Margaret accused Walter of stealing credit for her paintings.

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My Opinion:

Tim Burton. Oh Tim Burton. Remember when you made stuff like Edward Scissorhands? Remember how awesome that movie was?! What the hell happened?

Okay, we all know how disappointing Tim Burton’s films have become in recent years. Is Big Eyes a return to Burton’s glory days? Unfortunately not. But at least it’s better than things like Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland. Burton plays it safe with Big Eyes – he just tells an interesting story in a straightforward way (except for a brief bit that looks like Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video but that was to be expected, really, based on the look of Margaret Keane’s “big eye” paintings). It’s not exactly going to be anyone’s all-time favorite movie as it doesn’t have the originality or magic of things like Edward Scissorhands or The Nightmare Before Christmas but it’s a decent enough look at an artist’s real life story.

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I feel like I say this with every “true story” movie but I knew nothing about the story of Margaret Keane beforehand. It’s a fascinating story and a reminder of how glad I am to not have been a woman living in the 1950s or 60s. Amy Adams does a good job & is the highlight of the film. I’d heard some negative things about Christoph Waltz in this and was hoping they weren’t true as I thought he was amazing in Django Unchained. Maybe he’s only at his best when working with Tarantino? Maybe the role in Big Eyes just wasn’t quite right for him? Maybe it’s just because the character of Walter Keane is SUCH an unlikable prick and watching him control his wife and take credit for her work is uncomfortable to watch? I don’t know but, unfortunately, I didn’t like Christoph Waltz in this role.

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Honestly, I can’t think of anything else to say about this movie. Other than: Is it me, or does Amy Adams have a hairy face? In a couple scenes where the light was shining on her chin, she seemed to have tiny whiskers. Where am I going with this review?? Sorry! I have a massive headache & my mind is elsewhere. I’ve decided no one actually reads these reviews anyway, right? I think people just scroll to the rating. 😉 Meh. This movie is fine. The story is interesting. I’ll never watch it again. Those paintings are weird.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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I haven’t done one of these in ages – Here’s a Tim Burton Haiku:

Edward Scissorhands!
Then Willy Wonka remake?
Why, Tim Burton, Why?!

I was totally distracted while writing this review so I texted my hubby my shitty Tim Burton haiku. He went a little haiku crazy & texted these back to me. Yeah, these are the important kinds of conversations we have with each other… 😉

Beetlejuice PeeWee
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Need more like these, Tim

What mischief follows
Beetlejuice beetlejuice bee…
Just fuckin’ with ya.. ;-p

His muses depart
Helena Bonham Carter
And Lisa Marie

Birds nest for hairdo
Gothic daydreams his playground
Don’t keep using Depp

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Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Here we are! My final list of the four started by the fabulous Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actors I Would Watch In Almost Anything HERE. This is a great thing you started, Abbi! I believe others have made similar lists so let me know if you want me to add your link. I know Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger also did her list of actors HERE. 🙂

I did my most annoying actors & actresses last week but, surprisingly, it took THIS LIST of my favorite actresses to piss people off the most (yes – I grew up with Drew Barrymore & I love her. So sue me!). 😉 Thanks for all the wonderful comments on these – I’ll be replying to each & every one of you soon.

Now here are my Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order plus I’ve narrowed it down by only including living actors):

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Movie: The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Jack Nicholson
Best Movie: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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Morgan Freeman
Best Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

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Chris Hemsworth
Best Movie: Rush

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Tom Hardy
Best Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

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Michael Caine
Best Movie: The Prestige

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David Bowie
Best Movie: The Prestige but I also love Labyrinth & The Man Who Fell To Earth

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Christoph Waltz
Best Movie: Django Unchained

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Michael Fassbender
Best Movie: Shame (is he wearing an Iron Maiden shirt?? We’re meant to be!) 😉

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Ian McKellen
Best Movie: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

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Patrick Stewart
Best Movie: X2 or Star Trek: First Contact

**That’s 11 but Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart count as one! 😉

Inglourious Basterds (2009) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. He’s already done a review of Apocalypse Now (which you can read HERE). Thanks so much for joining in, Josh! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inglourious Basterds, IMDB rank 113 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring
Brad Pitt
Christoph Waltz
Melanie Laurent
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Bruhl
Til Schweiger
Gedeon Burkhard
Jacky Ido
BJ Novak
Sylvester Groth
Martin Wuttke

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Plot Synopsis

In an alternate history mash up, two different groups of assassins plot the murders of important Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, Hitler, Goebbels and Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunt The Basterds, a group of special forces assassins led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

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My Take

Inglorious Basterds bears Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks, mostly in good ways. Using at least three storylines and an episodic chapter structure, it is always fun and suspenseful. Soshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) take turns as the film’s protagonist, and each proves capable of carrying the movie, in no small part because all three of the actors are spectacular. Waltz won an Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, and it is easy to understand why, but his is not the only award-worthy performance. This might be Pitt’s best acting since 12 Monkeys (1995) and Laurent shines, as well, especially when she’s opposite Waltz or Daniel Bruhl (Frederick Zoller).

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Even still, the performances are not Inglorious Basterds’ greatest strength. Editing is. Tarantino and Oscar-nominated editor Sally Menke piece together the separate storylines sparklingly well, cutting away from each at exactly the right moments. Even more impressively, they time many takes and shots a heartbeat or two longer than we subconsciously expect, a decision that creates tension and heightens our anxiety. Consider the movie’s opening scene, when Landa arrives at Pierre LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) home in search of hidden Jews. When the former first meets the latter’s daughters, he politely compliments their beauty, at which point Menke and Tarantino use a wide-angle shot from behind the young women, one that frames Landa’s face with the female’s bodies, thereby ensuring we see the intimidating glare the Colonel gives them. At that point, we expect Menke and Tarantino to cut away from the shot, probably to a close up of Landa, or perhaps LaPadite, but they don’t. Instead, they hold it an extra moment, just long enough to make us feel Landa’s threat. Later in the same scene, the Nazi is centered in the frame as he drinks a glass of milk. While he’s drinking it, we expect the director and editor to show us a reaction shot of LaPadite or one of his daughters. They don’t. Instead, they hold the shot of Landa until the milk is gone, a decision that once again increases our anxiety. Why? Because now we know that Landa can and will do anything he wants, that the LaPadite family is powerless to stop him, and that soon all of them might be dead.

Such brilliant editing continues throughout the movie. Menke lost the Oscar to The Hurt Locker, but she unquestionably deserved her nomination and would have been a fitting victor.

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Tarantino makes other standout directorial decisions. Inglorious Basterds is visually striking, and the sound design is very good. So too are all of the director’s casting decisions. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as the flirtatious but frightening Frederick Zoller, and Michael Fassbender is scene-stealingly good as British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox. Diane Kruger (Bridgit von Hammersmark), Jacky Ido (Marcel) and Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels) all give memorable supporting performances, as well.

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With excellent acting, near impeccable direction and some standout technical elements, Inglorius Basterds has potential for perfection. Unfortunately, Tarantino’s screenplay is uneven. Yes his dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, as it is in everything he writes, but the way he tells this story fundamentally prevents emotional attachment to the characters, something that is all the more disappointing given each of the protagonists’ potential to be memorable. Shoshana is a tragic anti-hero if ever there was one. Raine could be, too. And Landa could be a complex opportunist, whom we never completely understand and therefore whose actions we cannot predict.

But instead, Tarantino chooses to gloss over his three lead characters, assigning each of them one or two traits, and never further developing them. Then, he introduces a bevy of minor characters, some of them historical figures and others not. He gives these secondary players as many traits as the leads, which guarantees that no one is well developed. That, in turn, means we do not care about any of the characters.

And so we do not extrapolate important life lessons from their experiences.

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Conclusion: Inglorious Basterds, then, is a prime example of style over substance. It is entertaining and darkly comedic, just as it is incredibly well made. But, thanks to underdeveloped characters, it is not thematically resonant. Though we can enjoy it, we are not inspired by it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Zero Theorem (2013) Review

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The Zero Theorem (2013) (what?? it just came out in the UK!)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Starring:
Christoph Waltz
Mélanie Thierry
David Thewlis
Lucas Hedges
Matt Damon
Tilda Swinton
Sanjeev Bhaskar
Peter Stormare
Ben Whishaw
Dana Rogoz

Running time: 107 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Zero Theorem is a 2013 science fiction film that centres on Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds meaning. Terry Gilliam has called it the final part of a dystopian satire trilogy or “Orwellian triptych” begun with 1985’s Brazil and continued with 1995’s 12 Monkeys.

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My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I’m too stupid for this movie. I’m also taking a bit of a break from reviewing movies but felt I should get this one out there (especially as we have a fun guest review coming tomorrow for another Terry Gilliam movie. In fact, one of the three of the “dystopian satire trilogy” Gilliam named above, of which The Zero Theorem is the final part). As Gilliam films are very artistic & fun to look at (and confusing), this “review” is going to be full of images from the film. Here’s a cool one (not great quality – it was fun seeing the different signs in the film):

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First off: Christoph Waltz is in this. I love him. I admit that the hubby kind of had to drag me to this movie but, when I saw that Waltz was the star, he didn’t have to try QUITE so hard to get me into the cinema. I ended up enjoying this movie more than I’d expected to and that was all down to the actors & the look of the film.

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As well as Waltz, we have the very sexy French actress Mélanie Thierry. She bares a lot of skin in this and wears outfits like the one below, which should keep a lot of male (and some female) viewers happy. I ended up really liking her character, who ends up being deeper than you first expect her to be.

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Then we had the young Lucas Hedges, who I also thought did a great job in this. He, Waltz & Thierry were the highlights of the film. I enjoyed their characters which, to me, is always very important in order for me to like a movie. The typical quirky types of characters you always get from Gilliam were played by David Thewlis in a fairly big supporting role and Matt Damon & Tilda Swinton in smaller but fun roles (especially Swinton’s – I kind of really like that crazy-ass woman. She seems like she’d be a blast to hang out with in real life. And she looks like David Bowie, the coolest person EVER).

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So Christoph Waltz is trying to figure out if life has meaning and it’s driving him mad and blah blah quirky characters and yada yada cool science-looking stuff and ooh la la sexy French chick. And what’s with Terry Gilliam & bald heads??

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Summary:

Basically, if you love Terry Gilliam, you’ll be perfectly happy with this film and I’d totally recommend it to you. If you hate him, avoid this. It’s very “him”. I had fun watching it, it gives you some food for thought if you like that sort of thing and, if you don’t, it’s cool to look at. That’s it, really. If you’re looking at this being part of some sort of “trilogy”, it’s the weakest compared to Brazil & 12 Monkeys but it’s been so long since I’ve seen those that I can’t fully comment. Time for a re-watch of both of those, I think…

My Rating: 6.5/10

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finger

Django Unchained (2012) Review

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Django Unchained

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Starring:
Jamie Foxx
Christoph Waltz
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerry Washington
Samuel L. Jackson
Walton Goggins
Dennis Christopher
James Remar
Michael Parks
Don Johnson

Running time: 165 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, the film follows a freed slave (Foxx) who treks across the United States with a bounty hunter (Waltz) on a mission to rescue his wife (Washington) from a cruel plantation owner (DiCaprio).

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My Opinion:

Django Unchained got second place after Stoker when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Sorry it’s still taking me a bit of time to get around to these reviews.

I should maybe re-watch this one as I saw it in the cinema back in January but I remember it well anyway. I still consider it my favorite film of 2013 (UK release date). But it’s one of the only 2013 movies that I didn’t review. I have a strange relationship with Tarantino films – I think they’re brilliant but I also can’t fully watch any of them as I’m a mega wuss about violence. Figure that one out… Plus so many people love Tarantino and there will be tons of great reviews online from people who are proper writers and I don’t know what I could really add to all that. So, as usual, I’ll just discuss what I personally liked about the film.

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I’ll get right to it and say that there’s ONE very specific thing that made me really go for this movie even though I literally “saw” less of this than probably any other Tarantino film as I found the violence in this one the most disturbing yet & didn’t even look at the screen for a couple entire scenes (the “Mandingo” fight for one – the sound effects alone were enough to make me feel ill). I think everyone knows what I’m going to say that one specific thing is as I think most people agree:

CHRISTOPH WALTZ

He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I have to say I’m not one to worship actors – I just like movies. I do have some favorite actors, of course, and a few actors who will make me actually watch a film they’re in (or, more often, avoid one). But I just enjoy watching movies I think are good and for the most part don’t care who’s in them as long as the actors fit the part and they’re not really horrible at acting and they’re not Tom Cruise.

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But… Oh my god I love Waltz in Tarantino films! I know that not ALL the credit can go to Waltz, though – As many people have already said, there’s just something about a Tarantino script combined with Waltz’s acting that’s just the perfect fit. I really need to watch Inglourious Basterds again – the scene with Waltz at the beginning was so intense (I barely watched that scene. Sorry – I just couldn’t! My heart was pounding like crazy).

I love the character of Dr King Schultz in Django Unchained. He’ll go down as one of the all-time best characters with one of the all-time greatest performances (in my opinion but, hey, he did win an Oscar for it). This is why poor Jamie Foxx seems so overlooked in the title role – He was fine but he just didn’t quite have that special “something” that Waltz has so his performance naturally pales in comparison.

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Before I go on kissing Waltz’s ass too much, there was one other performance that I also felt was worthy of at least an Oscar nomination: Leonardo DiCaprio. Why does he keep getting overlooked? Is it because he’s a former “heartthrob”? I’m not exactly a Leo fan but I think he’s had some amazing performances in a variety of films and Django Unchained is one of them.

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As for the film itself, I liked the overall story. I like revenge (Kill Bill being my favorite Tarantino film) and I like some good old-fashioned “rescue the helpless woman” sometimes as it’s set in the old West (or old South). I found the “Blazing Saddles” type of comic relief scene with the masks funny, all the stuff at Candyland was great, Don Johnson was actually not bad and, as already mentioned, DiCaprio and especially Waltz were brilliant and a joy to watch whenever they were on screen (which was quite a lot, luckily).

Tarantino’s role was a bit embarrassing, the violence was too much for me, and I’m not 100% sure if it’s okay to like Samuel L Jackson’s character or not. I love the guy (I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!) but that role was probably getting into iffy territory and I’m so not going there – there’s already been enough talk of the excessive use of the N word in this so I’ll leave that to intelligent people to dissect. I also felt that Django Unchained lost its way a bit in the last 45 minutes or so – it started to feel a little overlong and seemed to not be completely sure how to end although I found it a satisfying enough conclusion.

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Summary:

Django Unchained is another great film from Tarantino with a brilliant script and excessive violence than can be a little hard to watch. But I suffer through the violence as I think Tarantino is one of today’s most talented filmmakers. I’ve never watched classic Westerns but did force myself to watch the excellent Once Upon A Time In The West for the first time a couple months ago and it’s made me appreciate Django Unchained even more and made me want to further explore the influences on the film. Django Unchained isn’t a perfect film and does lose its way toward the end but with such a mesmerizing performance from Christoph Waltz, who cares? The man is amazing.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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See where Django Unchained ranks in My Top Five Films Directed By Quentin Tarantino.

My Shitty Django Unchained Haiku:

To rescue his love
Django and Schultz hunt bounty
The D is silent

My Top Movies Directed By Quentin Tarantino

**I’m updating this list on March 24th 2017 as I’ve now seen Jackie Brown & The Hateful Eight. Here we go! Counting down to my favorite (and not including his guest director credit on Sin City, a movie I don’t really like anyway), here are all the films I’ve seen that were directed by Quentin Tarantino:

8. The Hateful Eight (I wasn’t really a fan of this one)

7. Inglourious Basterds

6. Death Proof
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5. Django Unchained
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4. Jackie Brown

3. Pulp Fiction
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2. Reservoir Dogs
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1. Kill Bill (both of them – I count them as one)
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Inglourious Basterds was SO close to being above Death Proof, which few people will agree with. First of all, I should probably give Basterds a re-watch as I was especially wussy about violence that day and didn’t watch it closely enough except for the parts where Christoph Waltz or the lovely Melanie Laurent were on screen. It’s a much better film than Death Proof. But… Death Proof was fun and I really liked it. Zoe Bell was cool. I’m a girl and I like girls who kick ass (which is why Kill Bill is number one). So there you go!

AND I have an embarrassing confession to make: I’m a big film fan yet there’s one Tarantino-directed film that I haven’t seen. So I’ll update this list if I decide that Jackie Brown deserves a place in the Top Five. (Update – I’ve seen it now!) 😉

Now off to finally write my review for Django Unchained (Review done now!). I’ll leave you with a shitty haiku summing up how I feel about Tarantino’s crazily violent films:

Tarantino films
Are really brilliant but I
Wish I could watch them

**I need to point out that the hubby and I are having an argument over how many syllables are in the word “brilliant”. I think this is a US/UK difference. The way I say it, it’s two, dammit! Making my haiku correct… 😛

Epic (2013) Review

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Epic

Directed by Chris Wedge

Based on The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
by William Joyce

Starring Voice Actors:
Amanda Seyfried
Colin Farrell
Beyoncé Knowles
Josh Hutcherson
Christoph Waltz
Aziz Ansari
Chris O’Dowd
Pitbull
Jason Sudeikis
Steven Tyler

Music by Danny Elfman

Studio:
Blue Sky Studios
20th Century Fox Animation

Plot (courtesy of Wikipedia):

A girl named Mary Katherine (M.K), long separated from her father, Professor Bomba, visits him in his old house near a forest, where he lives with his dog, Ozzie. Bomba has long studied the artifacts of what he believes to be a group of tiny warriors who live in the forest and protect it. He often goes into the forest to look for them and has cameras everywhere, in hopes of confirming their existence. He is so involved with his work that he neglects M.K., resulting in her leaving and pasting a goodbye note to one of his monitors. As she is leaving, Ozzie knocks past her and runs into the woods. M.K. sets out to look for him. She comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken. In her minuscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leafmen. Soon she is forced to assist them in a war against forces of rot known as the Boggans and their leader Mandrake, while trying to find out how to return home.

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My Opinion:

I won’t again go into my love for Pixar and how they make truly stunning films for people of all ages – I don’t see them as just “kid movies”. Studios other than Disney/Pixar, however, have yet to master keeping the adults as well as the kids entertained. Despicable Me (love it!) and Shrek (meh) have been a couple of the only non-Pixar movies that I think achieved this. Epic doesn’t even come close to “keeping the adults entertained too” so I’ll review this for what it is: a kid’s movie.

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Epic is a strange one because I think the story is a bit complicated and the fact that the main character is a teenage girl makes this movie feel like it’s aimed at kids (girls especially) aged 8-13 or so. But this doesn’t seem like the sort of movie that kids these sort of ages WANT to see these days. There are some okay characters for the much younger audience (the snail & the slug are fairly funny) but I think younger kids will be a bit confused by the plot. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure who this movie is aimed at but I know I was really bored. I saw this four days ago and I’m struggling to remember much about it in order to be able to write anything. This is one of those movies I’m going to completely forget about in a year.

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The movie takes quite a while to get going and the pacing of the entire thing was off. We see a lot of the teenage girl and her estranged father at the beginning as she comes to stay with and reconnect with him. It seemed like ages before we got to the bit where she finally sees the tiny Leafmen. Yet in that time they still didn’t manage to make you feel anything for the father & daughter and for their situation – they didn’t develop any sort of connection with each other. I thought the teenage girl also adjusted to suddenly being tiny and in the middle of this epic “tiny person battle” a little too quickly. Of course, there’s a hot teenage Leafman so, naturally, I’m sure that helped. 😉

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As I said, the slug and snail were fairly funny (not good Pixar-type funny but typical kid-movie funny) so they were probably the highlight of the film for me. I guess. I found the voices of Beyonce and especially Steven Tyler a bit distracting (but, hey, kids wouldn’t notice things like that). But it reminded me of how much I hated Steven Tyler’s voice suddenly being in Polar Express and totally throwing me out of that movie (not that I was too bothered as I didn’t like that one much anyway). The teenage girl is fine as the main character – I think young girls watching the movie will probably connect with her. The dad was a bit of a bumbling idiot. The teenage Leafman was fine and the older Leafman who’s in charge was fine – these characters and the “baddies” (and the slug and snail) help to make this a movie that boys should like too even though the main character is female. There are also a lot of battles as there’s this war of good vs evil going on so I don’t mean to make it sound like this is a girl’s movie – sometimes boys see a girl as the main character and think that makes something a girl’s movie.

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Summary:

Epic is a movie where the plot is a bit too complicated for the very young but the slightly older child audience it seems to be aimed at will probably not find much they’ll care about in the film. I think older girls will connect with the main teenage girl, younger boys will like the Leafmen, the battles & the fairly scary bad guys, and the very young will like the slug and the snail. The whole thing was pretty and the animation was good and all that but I don’t think any of that is going to matter to the adults in the audience who will be checking their watches and just enjoying a bit of peace while their kids are (hopefully!) quiet and sitting still for 1 hour and 42 minutes. Meh. It’s not horrible. But it’s not that good. It’s aimed at kids but I don’t think this rating is too unfair as I don’t think many kids will exactly consider this one of their all-time favorite films…

My Rating: 5.5/10

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For a slightly better recent film aimed at kids, I did enjoy The Croods a bit more. Review here: The Croods

**And for those disappointed that there are no “underwear” pictures in this post, the closest I can think of is a picture of the character voiced by Steven Tyler. He wears a robe the whole time. With nothing underneath. And fully open. Close enough??

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