Double Shot Reivew - The Last Airbender and Toy Story 3

It's been a few weeks since I last posted. As some followers of this blog may know, I'm buying a house and have been wicked busy going through that whole process. As a result, I haven't had much free time for movies until the last few days. So anyway, the reviews return today with a double shot:

The Last Airbender (2010), PG, 103 minutes - I've been looking forward to this pretty much since it was first announced. Even more so when the teasers and trailers started to be released. So I was worried at the beginning of the week when every advance review I saw or heard about absolutely thrashed this movie. One of the largest complaints was that inexplicably, a large portion of the cast was Caucasian, which was odd because they were all playing Inuit characters in the Nickelodeon cartoon (Avatar: The Last Airbender) that this movie is based upon.

I decided to just accept this oddity going into the movie. It happened, nothing could be done about it, I was going to try to appreciate the story, effects, etc. Despite trying to ignore the casting snafu, and having my expectations lowered by the sheer number of negative reviews, I wasn't able to walk away with much of anything positive to say about The Last Airbender.
The script is bad, the acting is even worse. There were only two performances that didn't come across as terribly forced or that successfully conveyed the least bit of emotion (Dev Patel as Prince Zuko, and Shaun Toub as Uncle Iroh).

While the acting was pretty poor throughout the film, the script was sub par as well. I know the movie is based on a children's cartoon, but I've seen some of that series and it's not written for two year olds. I became even more disappointed when I found out that director M Night Shyamalan was also the writer. I've always been an M Night fan, even when some of his other films didn't live up to the insanely high expectations that have followed his films since he burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense. He hasn't ever been known for great dialogue in his scripts, but he has made entertaining films.

If you have a youngster that has been looking forward to this, that might not be so bad. The movie's shortcomings probably wouldn't bee so blatantly obvious to a younger crowd. If you're like me, and thought it could be an (at least) somewhat epic tale, don't bother. The tale (like the animated series) is epic. What made it to the big screen however, is not. Whatever you do, absolutely, positively DO NOT see this movie in 3D. I had to because it was the only format that it was showing in at the theater I went to. You can't even tell it's in 3D. This knocks off Clash of the Titans for the worst use of 3D technology.

After such a long delay, I can't leave everyone with such a dud! That brings me to:

Toy Story 3 (2010), G, 103 minutes - Speaking of expectations, how much higher could they possibly get for Disney/Pixar? Every time out, they deliver an absolutely amazing film that strikes a chord with children and adults alike. The stories cover a just about every emotion imaginable and are tales that most anyone can relate to, even on the smallest level.

With Toy Story 3 being the third installment in the franchise, one could think that maybe Disney/Pixar were dipping into the well too many times (no other Disney/Pixar film has even spawned a sequel...yet). This is not the case. The same cast that you've come to know and love from the Toy Story universe return, this time having to deal with the fact that young Andy has grown up and is about to move away to college.

As always the animation is amazing. The voice acting is top notch as we've come to expect. The heroic Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz) are joined by the villainous Ned Beatty (Lotso) and Micheal Keaton (Ken). There's a secondary group of good toys in Toy Story 3 that have some familiar voices as well (Kristen Schaal from Flight of the Conchords, Jeff Garlin from Daddy Day Care). I'm leaving out a ton of names. They are all excellent in their roles, but there are really too many to list (the casting list can be seen at the link above) and these were the ones that stood out as I was watching.

It doesn't matter how young or old you are, Toy Story 3 is a must see film for everyone this summer.

Side Note: I didn't see Toy Story 3 in 3D, but from what I hear from friends, it doesn't matter. Those that have seen it in 3D said it looked good but wasn't anything amazing in that regard. I enjoyed the heck out of it in 'boring old 2D'.


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