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Featured Movies

Best Animated Film 2011 – Which Should Be Nominated?

As seen at Slashfilm, there will be at least 18 eligible animated movies to get Oscar nominations this year, which means there could be 5 nominees in the category.  I’ve actually seen most of them, aside from the four foreign ones and the ones releasing in the next few weeks.  With Pixar’s only entry the underwhelming Cars 2, chances are you could be seeing an underdog take the award this year.  Mark your nominees in this poll:

Oscars: Best Animated Feature Nominees

  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (40%, 2 Votes)
  • Rango (20%, 1 Votes)
  • The Adventures of Tintin (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Rio (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Cars 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Chico & Rita (0%, 0 Votes)
  • A Cat in Paris (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Alois Nebel (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Smurfs (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Happy Feet Too (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Arthur Christmas (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Puss in Boots (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Winnie the Pooh (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mars Needs Moms (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gnomeo & Juliet (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hoodwinked Two! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Wrinkles (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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You can pick up to five movies.  For reference, I’ve seen Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rio, Gnomeo & Juliet, Mars Needs Moms, and plan to see Puss in Boots and The Adventures of Tintin.  May see Cars 2 at some point soon also.  My daughter saw Winnie the Pooh without me.  For me, Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 (which I said was just about the perfect sequel), and Rio should all be nominees.  I’m thinking Tintin gets one with the Spielberg/Jackson connection, and the fact that it sounds like a pretty darn good movie.  I wouldn’t be surprised (as mentioned in the Slashfilm article) if one of the foreign movies gets in as the fifth nominee.

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Featured Gadgets Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Liquid Breathing and Sand Tiger Sharks

Hope everybody had a great week.  I came home from Virginia Beach, and the weather followed me (in the 90s here in sunny Buffalo).  Of course, it’ll be in the 70s in a few days…anyway, here are last week’s posts:

Other things that caught my eye:

Bake your video card to fix it, which sounds really strange but it CAN work.

The Navy is testing a remotely controlled watercraft to patrol bases and harbors.  No weapons…YET.

A fascinating look at language, word sounds and the way the brain works.

 Thanks to a mention of it at Dinosaur Comics, here’s a link to perfluorohexane, a molecule that can let you breathe liquid by adding oxygen to it.  The fact that it feels like you are drowning is a minor bump in the road.  In all seriousness, there are some great uses for it, including breathing help for premies, and treating the lungs of burn victims.  If you’ve seen the move The Abyss, you saw a real rat really doing this.

Speaking of Dinosaur Comics…sand tiger shark babies might be nature’s ultimate baby badasses.

Via Gizmodo, from NASA,  an image of the Shuttle’s last landing, taken from the ISS:

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Featured Review

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Sequels 101

I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 this weekend with the kids at the Movieland 8, and we enjoyed it immensely.  Even my 3 year old sat through most of it with rapt attention, except for the times when I let her little popcorn tray get empty. ;)  Kung Fu Panda 2 is an excellent example of a sequel – something I’ve thought a lot about if you’ve been reading along here.  Here’s a few things I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 did that should be an example to future sequel makers:

  • DO introduce a new character or two to shake things up…but don’t overdo it.  When I say character, I mean a main character.  KFP2 had a new, interesting villain and a couple of new masters to team up with.  It did not overshadow the core returning characters, however.
  • DO NOT undo or ignore the previous movie.  I truly hate when a movie takes a character that had finally achieved their goal, won the day, got the girl, settled down for a long life…and uproots them and destroys it all for the sake of not having to think up a new idea.  Many movies (especially animated ones) are set up well for sequels on purpose, which is fine.  But if the movie was not set up for it, you’d better make sure you have a good reason for these characters to go back at it.  I still hate Men In Black 2 for spending a whole subplot on getting Tommy Lee Jones back when the movie would’ve been fine following Will Smith and a new partner.
  • DO show that character growth can happen off-camera.  Unless your movie starts minutes after the previous entry in the series (Quantum of Solace style), time has passed.  Po and the Furious Five had obviously learned to work well together and had a true kinship now.  It really bugs me when a character that seemed to grow in a previous film (or episode of a TV show) is the same lackwit nutjub he was in the previous installment when the sequel rolls around.
  • DO NOT be a Disney direct to DVD sequel.  Seriously, not many of these are good.  If I see a direct to DVD Tangled 2 I will be kicking Mickey’s doors down to beat the snot out of  ’em.

Got any other sequel suggestions?  Just avoid them altogether?  Comment away!

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Featured Media

Spring and Summer 2011 Movies

The meat of the 2011 movie season is coming up, including the Summer blockbusters, and I thought I’d run them down and see which ones I’m planning to check out.  Note that as a Dad, the list leans towards animated movies as well as comic book movies and summer blockbusters.  I don’t like horror and dumb comedies.  Month by month breakdown:

March

Will see:

Rango– Interesting to see where Johnny Depp can go with this 3D animated/motion-capped role, with original Piratesdirector Gore Verbinski.

Sucker Punch – Zack Snyder and hot chicks, I’m guessing the guys at work will open the movie-going season here.

Maybes: 

Battle:  Los Angeles – Need more data on this one.

April

Will see:

Hop – From the Despicable Mefolks, so I’ll probably see it with my son.  I’d like to see more of a trailer, first, though.  They don’t have the built-up cred that Pixar has with me.

Rio – Another movie with the kids, from the Ice Age guy this time.

Maybes:

Source Code – Interesting premise, but time travel movies are tricky.

May

Will see:

Thor– Now we’re getting somewhere.  The latest in the inter-connected Marvel universe movies is also the one that seems most likely to, well, not fail, but perhaps underperform.  Fitting Norse gods into a fairly ‘real’ world, with a Shakespearean director in Branagh, is a tougher sell than a billionaire playboy with sleek toys.  For me, if you add Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins into the mix, with Chris Hemsworth as the Mighty Thor, and it could surprise the skeptics.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides– While the second and third movies weren’t super, there was some entertainment value.  I’m curious to see more of Captain Jack and Captain Barbossa, and just adding Ian McShane’s voice is a plus.

Kung Fu Panda 2– The original was a heck of a classic kung fu movie story, animated or not.  Might be looking forward to this more than anything.

June

Will see:

X-Men:  First Class – Sigh.  This might get dropped to ‘maybe’, just because I dislike the idea of rebooting something that isn’t that old (same with Spiderman).  The problems in X-Men:  The Last Stand were fixable.  But anyway, I’m a Marvel guy, so I am giving them just a little bit of rope with this one.

The Green Lantern – I’m only passingly familiar with this DC title, as I really only read Batman back when I used to buy comics.  But Ryan Reynolds is pumped, and hey, most comic movies are fun.  Definitely a guy’s night movie.

Cars 2– Ooh boy.  Would probably be a maybe if I didn’t have young children or this wasn’t Pixar.  I enjoy the original well enough, but I don’t think I need more of it.  Pixar has proved me wrong enough times though.

July

Will see:

Transformers:  Dark of the Moon – I like big robots blowing s$!# up.

Captain America:  The First Avenger– I actually liked Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, despite the failings of the Fantastic Four movies, so I think he can handle this.  Toss in Hugo Weaving and Joss Whedon, and it’s up towards the top of my list.

Maybe:

Cowboys and Aliens – Dimly on my radar at this point, but Daniel Craig and an interesting premise.  Requires further investigation.

August

Will see:

Nothing on my radar yet.

Maybes:

Conan the Barbarian – I don’t have any memories of this, save maybe being in the room by my older brothers when they watched it while ‘watching’ me. 

I’ll stop there – don’t see anything yet in September but that is far enough out that it’s subject to change.  By the way, the Smurfs movie looks like an unholy abomination.  I saw an episode of the show the other day, and while it’s not something that’s held up since childhood, I seriously hate the ‘take a “classic” set of characters and put them in the REAL WORLD’ idea here.  Like Yogi Bear, what works as a cartoon (talking bears that have a collar and tie with no shirt) just looks extremely odd as a mix of live-action and 3D animation.

Faithful readers, anything else you are looking forward to?