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In 2012, Mr. Fantastic Pirates Fox Radio

Disasters, daredevil DJs, and dashing dingoes dominate this weekend.  We are emerging from the fall season movie slump and entering the holiday movie upswing.  It happens every year, but it’s no less welcome just because it’s expected.  While two of this week’s openers shouldn’t be treated as early Christmas presents, at least one of them involves blowing up the world: 2012 (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

2012-poster-6As with the Y2Krazies, the internet is proving itself to be an invaluable resource in spreading panic. To counter the hysteria, NASA opened up a FAQ page to tell people that there’s no reason to fear the Mayan calendar’s prediction of apocalypse.  Now that you’re assured the theater will still be standing if you decide to go see the movie, let’s hear about whether it’s worth watching.

“Emmerich supposedly spent $260m to give you the biggest experience for your ticket dollar and in this regard, he has succeeded tremendously, while, intentionally or otherwise, also delivering one of 2009’s best comedies.” Michael Adams Empire Magazine Australasia

Those must be some expensive jokes.  Example please?

“Where else are you going to get a chance to see the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy drift down the side of a mile-high tsunami and take out the White House? Big. Dumb. Fun.” Austin Chronicle Marc Savlov


Knock knock

Who’s there?

The USS John F. Kennedy.

USS John F. Kennedy who-ly crap-ton of water!

“It’s cinematic waterboarding and there was more than one occasion during the film when I was convinced it was never going to end.” Brian Orndorf Sci-Fi Movie Page

On one hand it’s never-ending torture.  On the other, it’s a lot of movie bang for your buck.

“This film that imagines the end of the world not as a whimper but as an implosion is a preposterously diverting, instantly forgettable, big-screen video game.” Philadelphia Inquirer Carrie Rickey

“The result is a state-of-the-art multiplex three-ring circus whose special effects stagger the senses and play like a video game, whose human drama aims for the cosmic and lands waist-deep in the Big Silly.” Boston Globe Ty Burr

The comparison between disaster movies and video games is disturbingly common.  Are there any video game scholars reading this who’d like to question that association?  Or is it understandable given that nearly every AAA (ie top tier) game includes exploding: people, grenades, buildings, and whatever else is around?


Does he expect to see falling asteroids or money?

“As always in Emmerich’s rollicking Armageddons, the cannon speaks with an expensive bang, while the fodder gets afforded nary a whimper. Of course, that’s just part of disaster’s simple recipe: Blow us up, then blow us off.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Rick Groen

Before any more critics blow a fuse, let’s move on to the mostly true story of a group of DJs who sailed a boat around the UK blowing kids minds with rock and roll in the 60s: Pirate Radio (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

pirate-radio-poster“Pirate Radio is a great soundtrack in search of a movie. It never really finds one.” Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic

Where did it look?

“Pirate Radio, the new rock-saturated comedy that proves life really is better when it’s set to a ’60s soundtrack, is, to borrow from the Stones, “a gas! gas! gas!”’ Los Angeles Times Betsy Sharkey

I can think of a lot of places where that chant wouldn’t go over well.

“Writer-director Richard Curtis is about as rock n’ roll as the average great-grandmother, so it’s no surprise that Pirate Radio, his ode to the irrepressible spirit of ’60s classic rock, has all the electricity of a knitted sweater.” Nick Schager Slant Magazine

What if I rubbed a balloon on the sweater?  Would that amp things up?

“Pirate Radio is, in the end, about as rock-revolutionary as a tea break. But the choppy production floats on a great soundtrack (the real pirates are the Rolling Stones) and is buoyed by an inviting cast.” Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

Somewhere between the knitted sweater and the tea break, I got distracted and sailed onto Wes Anderson’s warm fuzzy animated caper movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).  Sporting old school animation, source material courtesy of Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and the best reviews of the weekend, let’s hear what we’re in for.

fantastic_mr_fox_poster2“A pleasantly cerebral experience, exhilarating and fizzy, that goes to your head like too much Champagne.” Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

A kid’s movie that will get you drunk?  How is that not part of the film promotion?

“Genuinely original: a silly, hilarious and oddly profound adaptation for adult-sized children.” Ian Nathan Empire Magazine

Adult-sized children sure, but what about children-sized adults?

“Anderson has pulled off the most elusive of goals: He’s made a nonchalant masterpiece, a movie that feels dog-eared and loved before it’s even reached our hands.” Salon.com Stephanie Zacharek


Dog-eared and lovable?

“Fantastic Mr. Fox is possibly the finest picture about family, community and poultry thievery ever made.” Stephanie Zacharek Salon.com

In the poultry thievery genre, it beat out Chicken Run, Chicken Little, and The Case of the Maltese Chicken.  So, what are the nay-sayers saying?

“Honestly, this really isn’t some kind of Transatlantic stand-off on our part. But how much longer are we expected to stand impotently by while Hollywood arrogantly Americanises our every British children’s icon? “ Ali Catterall Channel 4 Film

Despite the anger from purists, this film made a believer out of at least one Scrooge.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox renews one’s sense of animation’s possibilities.” Armond White New York Press


PDJ is an adult-sized adult

4 Responses

  1. OMG! i bet ur wishing u listNd now beeaches! imo the most awesum movie eva made about mayan predICshuns. roflmao. jk. lol.

  2. As a videogame scholar who stayed home to play a videogame instead of going with you guys to see this movie because I knew the game would be more intelligent and satisfying, I can’t rightly say whether the association is right here. But I’m skeptical. I don’t recall seeing any disaster scenes on this movie’s scale in any game. But then again, I have shot at some threatening water before.

  3. P.S. “Blow us up, then blow us off”? Why can’t Roland Emmerich just blow us?

  4. All good points Critter. After seeing 2012, I can say that the video game connection is tenuous. Just because there are over-the-top ridiculous action sequences, there shouldn’t be an automatic connection to video games. If there was an elaborate jumping sequence, sure. But, so much of this movie was spent with half-hearted drama that playing a video game of it would be supremely boring.

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