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2012

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.

Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

What it’s about: The Mayans predicted it, and now Woody Harrelson is calling out for Armageddon. Some think the end of the world will come on December 21, 2012, and Roland Emmerich has now made a movie about it. John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Chiwetel Ejiofor try to escape crumbling freeways, giant tsunamis and disastrous volcanoes.

What I liked: There are certain directors that make utter crap, but I love none-the-less. Along with Brett Ratner, Paul W.S. Anderson and Renny Harlin, Roland Emmerich is one of these. Let’s face it, no one destroys the world like this guy, and he reminds us with 2012 that he is the master of disaster.

Like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the reason to see 2012 is for the special effects. Emmerich has five years of digital effects progress on his last disaster epic, The Day After Tomorrow, and every bit of it is on the screen. It’s just an orgy of destruction and, as morbid as it is to watch, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

What I didn’t: As much of a glutton Emmerich is for his disaster footage, he’s also a glutton for his own characters and dialogue. This comes through in the running time, which tops off at more than 2 1/2 hours. There’s really no excuse for this much exposition because no one is going to remember this film for the characters or what they say.

The characters are utterly forgettable, with the exception of Woody Harrelson who is like Art Bell on crack. Sadly, he’s only in a small part of this movie. The rest of the relatively decent cast is left to deliver melodramatic dialogue in the down time between the shit-your-pants awesome action.

This movie is silly, yes, but fun. It would have been better with a more gutsy editor.

Who is gonna like this movie: Disaster movie fanatics and CGI hounds.

Grade: B-

FANTASTIC MR. FOX

Studio: Fox Searchlight

Rated: PG for action, smoking and slang humor.

Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Wally Wolodarsky

Directed by: Wes Anderson

What it’s about: Wes Anderson brings Roald Dahl’s classic novel to life with the brave choice of stop-motion animation. George Clooney stars as Mr. Fox, a bird hunter who settles down as a writer, husband and father. Craving the golden days, Mr. Fox sets his sights on the farms of Boggis, Bunce and Bean to steal their food and cider, incurring the farmers’ wrath. Mr. Fox hides his family but makes a brave attempt to fight back.

What I liked: I dearly love Wes Anderson’s movies, and this movie did not disappoint as well. Having read the book as a child, I didn’t remember much of the story, but as the film played out, it all came back to me. Roald Dahl has a great grasp of the quirk, and Anderson gives his own take on that. It’s a perfect blend of the two artists’ styles.

The voice cast is great, and this is where we see much of Anderson’s odd style. The choice of stop-motion animation was great because it gives a rustic alternative to the now-standard CGI flick.

Our illustrious executive editor Neil Miller has said that this is probably Wes Anderson’s most mainstream film, and he’s absolutely right. Using the animation makes the film more accessible to the mainstream and kids as well. It’s still on the fringe, but that’s part of its charm.

What I didn’t: The only real problem with this movie is that it takes a few minutes to get used to. The animation is rough but charming, and the voice cast isn’t necessarily what you’d expect. Give it ten minutes, and you should love it.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and fans of Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl.

Grade: A


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