Friday, December 11, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox and Avatar

Two prestige films have managed to sneak into Philippine cinemas before the annual Metro Manila Crap Fest. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson, based on the novel by Roald Dahl, is already showing in Glorietta, Greenbelt, and Trinoma, and I saw it yesterday. It is, indeed, fantastic. If you've seen a Wes Anderson film (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), you know what type of quirky zaniness to expect. Except this one's with foxes. And opossums, and badgers, and rats, and more...and the occasional human. I loved it. My only beef with it is that they capitalized the first letter of the species epithet in the scientific names of the animals, but that's just the biologist in me talking. The film-otaku is crazy for it. This is definitely a banner year for animation, with Coraline being another amazing offering this year and Up, Astro Boy, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Ponyo all being films playing on varying levels of "great."

James Cameron's Avatar will start showing on 17 December. I absolutely CANNOT wait to see it. Since hearing some three years ago about how revolutionary a film it's going to be, I've been eagerly awaiting it. Now more than a few critics have seen it, and they're raving about it. Of all the ones I've seen, here's my favorite (from awards-watcher Kristopher Tapley of, so it has a bit of an awards bent, but he's also more of a regular movie-goer like us than the Siskels and Eberts):

"The embargo on Avatar has been essentially lifted by Fox so I could go on at length about how I could sit through it over…and over…and over again. Anne and I will dig in properly in tomorrow’s Oscar Talk and I’m sure I’ll have a review at some point, maybe Monday. But a few things…

"The visual effects race, if you couldn’t guess already, is over and done with. In all likelihood, the sound races as well. And there is a compelling argument to be made for the film editing as well. But that’s the expected tech bliss the film delivers.

"Wait, let me not undersell that. This is the most amazing cinematic experience I’ve ever had. There are, admittedly, story elements that give one pause. The film isn’t total perfection (though I’d argue this is a very mature, thematically beautiful screenplay from James Cameron). The filmmaker can’t help himself in a number of instances that are too on the nose.

"But so what? Seriously. This is why we all go into dark rooms to be transported to other worlds. Cameron gets it. And he delivers. A thousand times over. It’s the kind of film you want to take any and everyone with you to see. Not to be too cheesy — it is absolute magic."

So I'm gonna line up for it on IMAX and would like to have as many people as possible watching it with me.

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