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“Resident Evil: Afterlife”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Alice is back… Again. And this time she’s bringing it to you in 3D, but this ain’t Wonderland. It’s more of a zombie wasteland. To be honest, I know I’ve seen the previous three movies, but I don’t for the life of me remember anything about them. To be brutally honest, I didn’t even remember that this was the fourth movie in the series. I actually thought it was the third, but in my defense it is called Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D. Why can’t they just say, in 3D? Saw 3D is not the third movie of the series, it’s the seventh. So, say Saw VII in 3D. Where as, Jackass 3D works because it is in fact the third movie. See what I mean? Getting back to the series at hand, I do however remember that the last one took place in Las Vegas, and that birds were infected with the T-virus, which made for a cool scene, but other than that it’s all pretty fuzzy. I probably should have brushed-up on the other movies before going to Resident Evil: Afterlife, but to continue being honest, I don’t think it really mattered. In a nutshell, it’s still all about Alice’s ongoing battle with the Umbrella Corporation. And, what’s better than Milla Jovovich kicking a bunch of zombie ass? That’s right, multiple Milla Jovovichs. The clones are back as well, and they start out the movie by finally taking down the Umbrella Corporation’s main headquarters located in Japan. We’re also introduced to another one of the game’s franchise characters, Chris Redfield, played by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller. I know that these movies are based on the Resident Evil video games from Capcom, and that their realism is to be taken with a grain of salt, but there is a moment in this latest installment that wouldn’t even be believable no matter how much you suspend your disbelief. Not that this is going to take away from your enjoyment of the movie, I’m just saying that the main character would be so dead within the first twenty minutes of this movie… Just saying. On the other hand, the movie’s 3D is really good. Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson does a great job of utilizing the 3D’s field of depth. He not only brings the action off the screen, but he also manages to keep the movie’s sense of 3D consistently throughout the film. Unlike Clash of the Titans, Resident Evil: Afterlife was filmed completely in 3D, and not just reformatted for the sake of a higher ticket price, and it shows. The movie might not be one of the best examples of modern cinema, but I would highly recommend experiencing the 3D in theaters if you get the chance. The Resident Evil movies definitely have a good sense of self, and each movie sets up the next just as well. That’s right. I think it’s safe to say a fifth Resident Evil movie will be getting the green light any day now, which I think I’m okay with. Just be sure to check your logic and reason at the door.

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“Toy Story 3”
a review by Darby O’Gill

First they were lost, then they were stolen, and now forgotten; but thankfully for us, Pixar has not forgotten their roots. Back in 1995, Pixar released their first feature length film, Toy Story, and to say it was a game changer would be somewhat of an understatement. In the last 15 years, Pixar has racked-up 249 various awards out of 487 nominations. But, in the end they’ve proven one thing more than anything else, and that is that even an animated cartoon can make you care enough to cry. I’m not kidding. The amount of sniffs and snorts around me in the last fifteen minutes of this movie was almost deafening. Pixar’s sense of story has always set them apart, but their true sense of artistry and artistic vision complete the package in a way that others can only dream of. I went to a private art school, and was there when the first Toy Story came out. While I was there, I was completely surrounded by art and creative people, and there was this sense of breaking boundaries every day, a feeling that you would think I’d still feel in Hollywood; but sadly it’s not the same. I realized that when I was watching Toy Story 3. Each Pixar movie always opens with a short, and they have always made me think of art school, but “Day & Night,” the new short attached to Toy Story 3, really made me realize that I don’t have that creativity around me any more. It also helped to transport me back to that way of thinking I had back when the first Toy Story came out so many years ago. Thanks for indulging me, and playing my therapist for a moment, but maybe we should get to the review.

In Toy Story 3, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang, are back and facing possible retirement. With Andy getting ready to leave home for college, the toys are faced with the fate of life in the attic, or even the possibility of being trashed! The one thing I always do love about the Toy Story movies is their ability to give their storylines these great double entendres that speak to children and adults alike. Much like the other two movies, after a misunderstanding, the toys have to find their way home, and try not to be seen in the process. You know, when you say it like that, you can’t help but realize that all three movies are basically the same in structure. But, that’s what makes Pixar so great! They can take brand new storylines, using the same structure, and yet you feel like you’re seeing something you’ve never seen before. Toy Story 3 is full of those wonderful moments that remind you of being a kid. Hands down my favorite moment is the barrel of monkeys atomic blast, pure genius. The one thing I think Toy Story 3 proves, is that when a movie is made for the right reasons, they can truly work, and still make the studio more than enough money. Pixar doesn’t just make a sequel to cash-in on the last film’s success. That’s something I wish the Shrek franchise would have realized, because the first movie was unbelievably creative, and could have easily have had the same success with their sequels as the Toy Story franchise if they had. You can clearly tell that if the story wasn’t worth telling in Toy Story 3, they wouldn’t have made the movie. I really enjoyed this, the possibly last story in the Toy Story saga, but I’m sure if we see them again, it will be for all the right reasons.

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“Shrek Forever After”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, Shrek and the gang are back… again. Only this time they claim that it will be the last time. I guess only time will tell, but with a Puss in Boots spin-off already in the works, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Oh, did I mention it’s in 3-D? Did I need to? I thought it was a given that all animated movies are made in 3-D these days. I don’t even think it’s possible to make a 2-D animated movie any more. Never the less, Shrek Forever After doesn’t really need to be in 3-D. A few scenes work, but over all it’s just another reason to increase the movie ticket prices once again.


In this, the fourth installment of the Shrek trilogy saga, Shrek finds himself going through a mid-ogre-life-crisis, and wishing that his life could be more like the good old days. Thanks to Rumpelstiltskin that’s exactly what he gets. And by exactly, I mean not at all. Not only does he get to be a real ogre again, but due to oversight in the fine print, he finds himself having never been born; which means he’s never met Donkey, or even saved Princess Fiona from the Dragon’s Keep for that matter. All of which, changes Far Far Away into Rumpelstiltskin’s own personal kingdom. I don’t want to sound like a prude, or that old man that says back in my day, but I do have a parental problem with the movie. Not that I have kids mind you, but you’ll see what I mean in a second. In order to break his deal with Rupelstiltskin, Shrek needs to get Fiona to fall in love with him again. So, what does Shrek do to win her heart? Why he tries to kicks her ass of course. Look, maybe I’m over reacting here, but do you really want your kids to think the way to a woman’s heart is by punching her in the face? I do realize that in the context of the scene, Shrek and Fiona are sparring, but I think it still sends the wrong message to young kids. And when movies like this are used as babysitters, and are watched over and over to no end, I really think it’s the filmmaker’s responsibility to take that into consideration when making the film. Okay, I’m going to leave it at that because I’m starting to feel like a crotchety old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Shrek Forever After is not a horrible movie it’s just not nearly as good as the first Shrek. But, its way better than Shrek the Third, which was so bad I wouldn’t watch it again if you paid me. The thing that worked so well in the first two movies was their clever usage of the classic fairy tales. In the last two movies it seems as if they’ve turned their backs on that approach, which is sad, because that was the whole charm. I also miss the once creative Mike Myers. I want the So I Married an Axe Murderer Mike Myers back. He seems to just keep regurgitating the same old same old these days. Not even Eddie Murphy’s Donkey can save these movies any more. The bottom line here is that they should have stopped making these movies after the second one. But as with everything else, they’ll keep milking the dead cow as long as people are still willing to pay for the milk. And if you truly think this is the last you’ll see of Shrek and the gang, you must really enjoy the “reality” of reality television.

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“Clash of the Titans”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Someone please put back the Kraken! I don’t know about you, but I’m just about over the whole Hollywood re-make thing. I haven’t seen the original Clash of the Titans film in years; but I also didn’t want to watch it before seeing this new version, because I was afraid it would jade me. I was hoping I would be able to enjoy the new one a little bit more that way. Now that I’ve seen the new version of Clash of the Titans, I think I need to see the original movie I loved as a kid, and just hope that it’s enough to redeem itself for me. It’s not that the new movie is bad, as much as it’s not good. It felt like the pace of the movie was off. The score also didn’t really seem to fit at times; and if I didn’t know any better, I would have said it was temporary music. The score should have been epic and grand, but it was nowhere near that level. The one thing that really didn’t work, or make any sense for that matter, was the film’s use of the 3-D. There was absolutely no reason for this movie to be made in 3-D. If I had paid top dollar to see this movie in 3-D, I would have been so pissed! I realize that this contradicts what I’ve said before about the use of the 3-D format in modern films, but Clash of the Titans doesn’t even try to make it worth the audience’s time. I love that they didn’t poke things at the camera; but at the same time the movie also didn’t have that sense of depth, which makes me think they just wanted the extra six bucks a ticket. People really should complain and ask for their ticket difference back if they paid to see it in 3-D and not 2-D.

In Clash of the Titans, man has waged war on the Gods, which forces Zeus, played by Liam Neeson, to enlist the help of his fallen brother, Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes, to once again instill the fear of the Gods into the human race. In hopes of helping to stop Hades’ destruction of the city of Argos, a demigod called Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, chooses to join the fight, and embarks on an epic journey to stop him. The biggest problem here is that there’s just too much going on. But at the same time, the audience doesn’t seem to be overly involved. At no point do you care enough about Perseus to emerge yourself in his journey, which I don’t remember being the case in the original. Maybe I’m just becoming that old man that says, “In my day…” but I honestly don’t think that is the case. I think this movie just missed its mark somehow, and that the classic will remain just that.

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“Alice in Wonderland”
a review by Darby O’Gill

It’s time to go back to Wonderland, and to do so you’ll need your Tim Burton 3-D glasses. This version of Alice in Wonderland is not so much a remake, as it is a continuation of the original classic tale. Of course, it’s also told through the eyes of visionary director Tim Burton, and marks his third remake or retelling if you will, of an already existing movie classic. I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, but I’m truly starting to miss the originality of his former moviemaking. It’s true that these remakes embody the essences of an original Burton film, but there is still this underlying familiarity of the original movies or stories on which the work is based. Which is a good thing for a remake to embody, but at this point I would really like to see Burton take me to a place I have never seen before. We don’t have many visionary directors that can do what he is capable of, and it seems like for the last few years we have been getting the “What if…” versions of Tim Burton films. For those of you that are not huge comic book nerds, “What if…” comics, are a Marvel Comics series that takes a classic storyline, like say… Spider-Man. The comics would raise the question, what if Peter Parker’s Uncle hadn’t died? Would he have learned that with great power, comes great responsibility? And that is exactly what we have here, “What if… Tim Burton directed Planet of the Apes?” Sadly, we all now know the answer to that question.

In this version of Alice in Wonderland, we follow a now nineteen year old Alice, who has forgotten all about her original adventures in Wonderland, and finds herself now facing even more grownup decisions than ever before, which could not be better timing, because the creatures of Wonderland (or Underland as they call it) are facing troubles of their own; and only Alice can save them. I think they did a really good job of putting a new spin on a classic tale, while still retaining some moments from the original story. The movie moves at a nice pace, and Tim Burton’s visuals are anything but boring. The special effects are quite amazing, and it managed to do for me what Avatar couldn’t, which was being able sell me on the movie’s world and characters. I was totally submerged in the world of Wonderland. I cared about the characters. I was interested in the story they were telling. And even though I was familiar with the story they were telling, they still managed to take me somewhere new, and give me an environment that was worth caring about. Okay, maybe I’m laying it on a little thick. The story wasn’t that amazing; but if anything, it just proves that James Cameron did not try hard enough to change his Dances with Wolves storyline in Avatar.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter is well… Okay. Look, Johnny Depp is an amazing actor. I think we can all agree on that. But, it seems like when he plays these remake roles for Tim Burton, he tends to go too far. He almost over plays the role. I’m not saying it’s a bad performance by any means, but much like his portrayal of Willy Wonka being almost Michael Jackson-ish, it feels like sometimes less could be more. I feel that these characters already have such a larger than life persona attached to them that Depp is almost trying to harness that imagery by playing them as big as he possibly can, when the truth is playing them slightly smaller, might actually give you the same effect in the end. Anne Hathaway, surprisingly, gives a horrible performance as the White Queen. I’m not quite sure what happened there. I would have to imagine that it was the way Burton wanted the role to be portrayed, but I’m afraid it really didn’t work for me. I found it to be very distracting. I couldn’t keep myself from trying to figure out why she was acting that way. The best I could come up with is that the role of the White Queen most likely would have been the role that Burton’s former fiancé, Lisa Marie, would have played if they were still together. He was most likely directing Hathaway as such, which would possibly explain the uncomfortable nature of her performance in the film. Just a theory. On the better side of the coin, Little Britain’s Matt Lucas gives an amazing performance as both Tweetledee and Tweetledum. And what Tim Burton film would be complete without current fiancé, Helena Bonham Carter? Donning an abnormally large head, inspired by the books original illustrations, Carter plays the hot-tempered Red Queen.

Like I mention at the beginning of this review, Alice in Wonderland is a part of the new and ever growing trend that is 3-D movies. Now, I will admit that this new RealD 3-D system works so much better then those old red and blue glasses ever did. But, it’s still getting a little out of control, if you ask me. I enjoy watching these new 3-D films in the theatre, but once you watch the movie at home, I’m afraid it’s just not quite the same experience. The scenes in which the glasses just add depth are fine, but when things are constantly being pointed at you and there is sadly no 3-D there to enhance it, you truly notice just how lame those stunts make the movie look in the end. Also, the 3-D seems to have a hard time handling fast paced close-up action. Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole was very blurry; and because of the glasses, I felt like I might have missed some really nice moments on the way down. Over all, the movie does a great job of delivering a fun, entertaining, and somewhat curiouser and curiouser night at the movies.

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“Avatar”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Okay, so I finally got around to seeing Avatar. Ah, well… It was definitely… I think… You know what? Let’s come back to that. Avatar is the story of human beings doing what they do best, taking what they want. It’s the year 2154 and groups of people from Earth have traveled to the distant planet of Pandora to harvest a rare mineral called Unobtanium. Don’t worry. We’ll come back to that too. The only thing standing in the way of our obtaining the Unobtanium (God, even I want to punch me in the face.) is the natives of Pandora, called the Na’vi. They’re basically giant blue cat-monkeys. Sorry if anyone thinks that’s racist. I don’t want to aggravate you’re Pandora Blues Syndrome. We’ll get back to that as well. So, before the conflict started getting out of hand, the humans tried to negotiate with the Na’vi, by using Avatars. An Avatar is a bioengineered life form that is a mix of Na’vi DNA and the human controller’s DNA. It’s like virtual reality, but you’re not in a simulated computer system. Instead, your consciousness is uploaded into the Avatar body in the real world. When Jake Sully, a paraplegic war veteran, played by Sam Worthington, who’s twin brother is killed, the opportunity presents itself for Jake to step into his shoes… Well, metaphorically. Jake’s brother was set to work on the Avatar program, and since his DNA make-up matches that of his twin brother’s, Jake is able to operate his brother’s Avatar. Once in the Avatar program, Jake is met with the promise of getting his real legs back, if he would be willing to spy on the Na’vi for Colonel Miles Quaritch, played by Stephen Lang, and provide him with some inside information from behind the enemy lines. However, once on the inside, Jake finds himself questioning his loyalties, and will soon need to choose a side.

Well, okay. I guess I’ve got a few things to get back to here. First, it took James Cameron twelve years to make this movie, and I really find it hard to believe that in twelve years he couldn’t come up with something better than Unobtanium. I mean what the fuck! Are you kidding me?! You could have called it Shitanium, and even that would have been better than Unobtanium. James Cameron you’re better than that. I do have one request though James. Please do not pull a George Lucas, and make a new Terminator series that claims the Terminator’s exoskeleton is actually made of Unobtanium. That would be even more unforgivable than Titanic, which brings us to our next callback point, the Pandora Blues Syndrome. People are claiming to find themselves dealing with depression symptoms after seeing the film, because Pandora is not a real place. I’m not even going to touch that. Let’s move on.

I didn’t really care for this movie. Let me clarify, I didn’t find myself getting emerged in this world at all. When you see a movie like this, like Jurassic Park or Harry Potter, I think it’s really important to care about the world the film is trying to sell you on. At no point during Avatar, did I find myself immersed or excited to be experiencing this world, and in 3-D no less. Don’t get me wrong, the world of Pandora in Avatar is well imagined, but there’s just something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Once again, I have to point out that this movie took twelve years to make! In this day and age, I think we are just not as easily impressed with ground breaking effects these days. In the last decade, we’ve seen so many amazing leaps in special effects, and it’s hard to see what took twelve years to achieve in this film. It’s the kind of thing where you really need to see the behind the scenes footage to fully appreciate what they’ve done.

With that said, let’s talk about the story. Did you ever see Dances with Wolves? Great! So, we’ve talked about the story. I’m not kidding; this is Dances with Wolves in space. I understand that every story has been told before, but come on! It’s really hard to enjoy a movie when you don’t care about the world you are in, and you know every twist and turn of the story, because you’ve heard it before. Avatar is so not the best picture of the year! I can’t believe it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama. It shouldn’t even be in that category. It’s more of an animated film than anything else. I would say 80% of it is CGI generated. With all that said, I think it’s an okay movie. At no point did I want to stop watching it, I just wished I could have enjoyed it more.

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