This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr found himself awake on a distant planet being hunted by macho Rastafarian aliens. Then he realized he was still dreaming. Sucked back into reality, he dove into the 3D experience of Despicable Me and reached for a dunce cap for Predators.


DESPICABLE ME

Despicable MeStudio: Universal

Rated: PG for rude humor and mild action

Starring: Jason Segel, Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Will Arnett and Julie Andrews

Directed by: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

What it’s about: Gru used to be the most dastardly super villain around. That is, until he met with a new nemesis. Now, he‘s playing second fiddle to a guy with a bowl cut and a warm-up jogging suit. In order to reclaim his former title, Gru decides to capture the moon and hold it for ransom… with the help of a trio of cute orphans.

What I liked: Okay, I will admit that this is one of the hardest films to blurb since The Golden Compass. When it‘s boiled down into its basic plot points, it sounds really damn stupid. But the beauty of Despicable Me is that it just works. Even with the silly and potentially saccharine plot, the movie clicks.

The voice cast does a fine job not just bringing the characters to life, but also not upstaging each other, or the movie itself. There was a time when A-listers were not cast in animated films, but now we have the voices making a bigger deal than the movie itself. Both Steven Carell and Jason Segel play it low-key in this movie and allow the characters to shine rather than the voices behind them.

With a plot involving three lonely orphans, the sweetness factor can be alarmingly high. But Despicable Me balances it well. It has a lot of heart, and there are some very cute moments, but it delivers this sweetness with a sincerity that makes things flow.

And finally, the look of the film is quite impressive. From the deft use of 3D, actually giving people an immersive experience rather than an afterthought, to the production design, which emulates the retro 50s sci-fi look of The Incredibles and Meet the Robinsons, Despicable Me turns out to be one cool little film.

Oh, and those minions (which I feared would be annoying as hell) turned out to be a hoot.

What I didn’t: Not much. Not much at all.

Who is gonna like this movie: Families and animation fans.

Grade: A

PREDATORS

PredatorsStudio: 20th Century Fox

Rated: R for strong creature violence and gore, and pervasive language

Starring: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins and Oleg Taktarov

Directed by: Nimród Antal

What it’s about: A random group of people wake up in the middle of a jungle no one recognizes. They soon discover that they are being hunted by an invisible band of aliens. The people must use their wits and the limited weapons they have to defeat their enemy and hopefully escape the planet.

What I liked: I‘ve loved the Predator movies with a passion. Yeah, I even loved Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. Sue me.

But there was something lacking in Predators. On the plus side, it had Predators, which always makes a movie good. I often imagine how much a film like It‘s Complicated would have been improved had there been a Predator or two in the mix.

This leads to some nice action sequences where plenty of thigns get blowed up… from trees to people to other Predators. It‘s not a total waste of time if you want some gritty, mindless action. And fans of the series will notice quite a few Easter eggs hidden in the production – from the hand-held gataling gun to the original Predator design concept.

Oh, and Topher Grace – as annoying as he can be – is actually quite funny in this movie. Who doesn’t want to see Eric Forman being hunted?

What I didn’t: The biggest stumbling block this film has is its own set-up. From the trailer – nay, from the poster and the damn name of the film – you know this is a movie about people being hunted in an intergalactic game preserve by Predators. So why does the movie take so long to so cleverly hide the opponents. In some ways, the film is just a rehash of the first film with less likeability, at least for the first half hour. Hadn’t we already seen a bunch of macho assholes in the jungle with a hot Latina woman?

There are some severe pacing issues with this movie and a reluctance to go anywhere with the characters and story. Adrien Brody doesn’t quite cut it as the action star, especially in one climactic scene where he’s going shirtless against one of the bad guys. Arnold Schwarzenegger he is not.

When Laurence Fishburn shows up, I was hoping the movie would finally take off, but it comes to grinding halt, which is so disappointing for a star who has done so much with the action sci-fi genre.

Finally, I know it’s technically correct to call this movie Predators, but unlike Aliens which featured dozens of the bad guys, this one doesn’t at all.

Who is gonna like this movie: Predator junkies and people just dying to see Adrien Brody without his shirt on.

Grade: C-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…


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