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Actually, mixing the trailer with the Avatar trailer music does make this slightly better.  But only slightly.

I said previously – or in the second to last tweet here – that I wouldn’t make a review for this.  I decided to just keep the tweets and place them here, instead of losing them from future Twitter deletions (I’m still missing nearly 4000 tweets, and I’ve made two requests so far to get them back).  Along the way, I may make some additional comments.  Original tweets will be quoted.

“For now, let’s get on with the Last Airbender. I’m in serious need of ripping things apart, and this will have to do.” – This is what boredom does.  Also, unintentional/very intentional masochism.

“So, twitter friends, prepare for a fun night.”

“Wow… these kids… the acting… and I’m only five minutes in. This will be a long 105 minutes.” – Yes, things deteriorated quickly.  The doe eyes, the constant agape mouths, just… it was bad.  And that was before Aang made it onto the screen and made things even worse.

“Ten minutes in: complete ridiculousness.” – See?

“In all honesty, making the Last Airbender movie is possible. You just can’t be M. Night Shamylanamamamananananan.” – I couldn’t be bothered to spell his name.  But yes, it’s possible to make an Avatar: The Last Airbender movie.  Shyamalan just sucked the soul right out of it.

“Ah! Aasif Mandvi is in this movie! And he’s affected by everyone else!” – He was.

“Um… shouldn’t the earthbenders not be locked up in a prison of, well, earth?” – Glaring, glaring problem, but I’m sure everyone caught onto that little fact.

“Okay, just because you can do an extended take doesn’t mean you’re any good Shamalayananananana. The choreography still sucks.” – This goes with the aforementioned tweet.  Shyamalan decided to run an extended cut, but what was the point?  It looked and felt terrible.

“I’m glad Nicktoons is playing the cartoon series at midnight. I’m not sure if it’ll be enough though.” – It was.

“Actually, the cartoon series probably will. Oh look, more soulless acting!” – It did.

“How does Sokka fall in love with the princess so fast? They’ve been in the city for ten minutes!” – Actually, the cartoon did this too.  I finally watched season one and wondered why two characters were professing their undying love for each other after twenty minutes.  At least it took Aang nearly two seasons to express it out loud.  Actually, now that I think about it, how will Shyamalan write Aang and Katara together, because the actors have absolutely no chemistry on screen together (not that they should, they’re 12 or something).

“God, this relationship is so fake. I hate two hour movie relationships.” – Self explanatory.

“In better news, Aasif Mandvi was killed in the movie for poor acting. And hopefully that’ll be the last bad decision he’ll ever make.” – Eh… actually, I don’t have a retort for that.  Maybe he has and I haven’t found it yet.

“The good: James Newton Howard with the music is stellar as always (why is he always stuck with Shyamalan?), and the CGI is serviceable.” – Despite being overblown at times, yes, Howard does make Shyamalan films almost watchable.  Almost, because seriously, you still can’t.

“The bad: look below. I just spent 105 minutes spelling it out. This really won’t get a review either. Why should it? Terrible: ‘D+'” – Normally I don’t grade movies after viewing them on DVD, though I should.  Anyway, this deserved every bit of its D+.  The truly horrifying thing: Shyamalan’s signed for two sequels.  Ugh.

“The DVD player sounds like it’s about to die. I blame this movie.” – It lives, but barely.

Let’s get this out of the way first: ignore everything except for the visuals you’ll be seeing on the screen. Disney, for some unfathomable reason, hasn’t had the original Tron available on DVD for months now (the last release being the 20th anniversary edition). For people like me, looking to see this sequel, having the original would have helped at least introduce the world of Tron. Luckily, the sequel tells us about Tron without having to worry about seeing the first film.

Unluckily, you’ll need a doctorate in computer engineering to try to get through the plot. You’ll also need sugar pills or adrenaline shots just to stay awake at times. The exposition is so heavy that it slows the film down to an absolute crawl. And it doesn’t make a lick of sense either. Inception, even when it didn’t make sense, had the decency to keep things moving. Tron Legacy just stops dead. Several maddening plot holes occur throughout, especially towards the end, during the final battle and climactic sequence.

The characters are severely two dimensional or less as well. Kevin Flynn is Zen-like and passive, who only accepts change because of his son Sam (Hedlund as a thankfully less whining Hayden Christensen), who seems to get everything his way. Also, why doesn’t Sam just run ENCOM anyway, or at least put competent people on the board? You’re a majority stock holder. Wield that power you have. Moving on: Quorra doesn’t move much beyond naive, CLU doesn’t change at all (but he’s the bad guy, so there’s no requirement), and everyone else just moves along as computer constructs. Only Michael Sheen brings any life in the film to his role as Caster, and he’s still just a cipher.

Got that out of the way. Now, for the visual treat. The Grid, or Tron (whichever you want to call the place), is beautiful. A friend called it “retro-futuristic eyegasm”, and she’s right. All the buildings are tall and strictly angular, with only a few choice colors used to define the city (white and black, primarily, with blue and some orange added to define sides). The 3-D, while darkening the screen (removing the glasses makes the screen brighter), is actually used properly for once, like Avatar. The emphasis is on depth, not on throwing objects at you endlessly (Tron, thankfully, did not do this once). And, the 3-D is wisely limited to the Grid as well. The producers added a warning at the beginning saying that the film was meant to be seen in 2-D, with 3-D added in post. I was not annoyed.

That said, I wanted more out of the Grid too.  Yes, we have our light disc fights and light cycle battle, but because of the heavy exposition, it feels very limited.  I found each of these sequences to be very exhilarating – the tension was heightened when Sam found out he could die in these battles – yet they were spread too wide apart.  The final battle was decent, but not as thrilling or involving as the light cycle battle.

Not terrible by any means.  Rather… underwhelming?  Or just disappointed?  Then again, I knew what I was getting into when I saw the film, so I’m not upset about the money spent on the film with 3-D.  Rather, I think I just wanted more.  Eyegasm indeed, and nothing more.

C

It should be known that the first thoughts coming out of a movie theater shouldn’t involve choice expletives and much head scratching. Yet Black Swan provoked that feeling, if only to truly figure out the madness I had witness.

Suffice to say, it’s delightfully excellent madness; our heroine’s descent into psychological horror is at once both real and unreal, playing on the potentially nonexistent fears of pressure from outside and within. See the lips move on a painting? Fear the skin prickling because of a sprouting feather? Maybe you do, or maybe not.

Much takes place on the sexual level: Nina’s ballet teacher, the demanding Thomas (a calculative Vincent Cassell), uses sex to drive his star’s performance, while Nina’s competition, Lily (Mila Kunis in her usual, sensual self), is her exact opposite. One is pure and perfection, the other is impure and mistake prone. White and black, being the prominent colors of Swan Lake, also affect the choices of every character. Nina dresses in white and pink every day, a decision that may or may not reflect on her perfectionist mother. When black enters the scene, Nina falls into a crevasse that she doesn’t want to enter, but how else is she supposed to be Thomas’ white and black swan? It heightens the lesbian tryst between Nina and Lily, but also the final thirty minutes, which goes completely off the rails and never comes back, not until the very end in a devastating twist.

Aronofsky said that this is his companion piece to the Wrestler, in terms of art and the pursuit of perfection. The Wrestler, in the world of costumed – and fixed – wrestling, presents a man who does not want to lose relevancy inside the ring, something that occurs with a multitude of wrestlers today staying active well into their fifties. Black Swan is opposite with ballet’s beauty, but not in its relevance. One ballerina is forced away to make room for another one, younger and ageless, at least for the time being, until someone else even younger and more ageless comes along. Beauty only lasts for so long, but does it in the world of plastic surgery and Botox?

Natalie Portman, never completely saddled in a bad role (save for Star Wars), gives the performance of her career here. Her acting is top notch, between her triumphs and her descent into madness, but her physical change is all the more impressive. She dances well, given how much she trained for the film, but she physically changed throughout the film as well. The dress fitter, towards the end, comments on how much weight she lost. Contrast that earlier on, when she wasn’t stressed out and punishing herself, and you can see how much she changed. Definitely one of the best performances of the year for anyone.

One of the year’s best films actually. Just be prepared to ponder what it is you actually saw.

A

Okay, now I’m caught up.

Dawn Treader, from what is said, is the most popular of the books of Narnia, but also the trickiest to film, given the episodic nature of the book.  There was no central villain or plot, but rather just the ship going on a cruise, trying to find the various lords of Narnia who fled before Caspian came to power.  The movie adds pieces of plots from other books in the series (the seven swords, the white witch) to flesh out the story.  The Silver Chair is next presumably, but given the early returns from opening weekend, it’s hard to tell if it’ll be filmed.

The movie is a return to the more overt Christian allegory that was largely abandoned in Prince Caspian (which, even if I could have found it, I didn’t really know what it was).  The movie caters more towards the Christian crowd, but one can ignore them for the most part (save for the end, when Aslan not-so-subtly says he’s known as another name in our word) and enjoy the adventure.  It’s still episodic, and on occasion boring, but it’s held together by the seven swords plot.  The special effects are good, especially when considering that the budget got reduced to have this filmed.

Will Poulter gives the best performance in the film as Eustace Scrubb (or a play on “useless”, as Reepicheep calls him at one point).  He’s overly snobby and mathematical, with a sneer present on his face for much of the film (at least until he turns into a dragon).  Of course, it takes turning into a dragon to realize this, so by the end he becomes more accepting of others and less snobby.  He becomes, well, useful.  Though, can anything that big fly for that long without rest (cause the boat seriously travels a long distance, and without wind)?  I’m not sure, and I’m probably just nitpicking here.  Simon Pegg does a good job replacing Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep, maintaining that enamoring adventurousness that he’s known for.  The Pevensie children are fine in their last go round, and Ben Barnes is effective as Caspian, always mulling over whether he’ll be a good king.

So, it’s solid, with fun action and decent special effects.  Just don’t let the preachy-Jesus talk get to you and you’ll be able to enjoy it.

B

Again, another movie that deserves a lengthy write up.  Again, I’ll try and do what I can with it.

I will say this from the beginning: this is probably one of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year (and there have been plenty of good documentaries).  That should set you forward in seeing this.

Vik Muniz, an artist, decides for his next series to involve the trash-pickers at Jardim Gramacho, one of the world’s largest landfills, in the hopes of giving back to his native country.  He meets a small sampling of the workers there, each with their own story and reasons for working the landfill.  He photographs several of them – Taio, the president of the trash-pickers union; Zumbi, the intellectual; Suelem, an 18-year old mother of two; Isis, a lover of fashion with a tragic past; Valter, the vice president and the oldest worker at the landfill; Irma, the cook; and Magna, who took a job there when her husband lost his.

Muniz’s work often involves materials that represent each aspect of his subjects.  Prior to this series, his most famous was one based with sugar and children (again in his native Brazil).  For this series, he plans on using recyclable materials to create pieces of art from portraits taken of the workers.  The trailer is just a small sampling: seeing the reactions of everyone being turned into art is astounding.  Taio is especially happy: his piece was selected for direct auction at a London auction house.

Each of the people highlighted in the film have aspirations outside of the landfill.  With the exception of Taio (who continues to represent the workers even though the landfill is scheduled to be closed in 2012) and Valter (who passed away during the filming of the documentary), most of these people aspire to move beyond life at the landfill.  There’s a major discussion between Muniz and two others about the impact they’re having on the workers, and whether it’s good or bad.  They definitely want to make their lives better, but what would the cost be?  Muniz, more than anything else, wishes to inspire these people to live better lives.

At the end of the film, Muniz explains a basic philosophy that many people often have in life.  When he was poor, he wanted everything when he had nothing.  Now that he’s successful, he has everything and wants nothing more.  It’s a dilemma that drove him to help people in Brazil, and he did so at his own expense.  All of the sales from the auction and the various prints went to the landfill, helping to build a library and purchase computers for general use.

What happens after 2012 is anyone’s guess.  Taio seems to hold a lot of influence in Rio, as he’s quite popular with the workers and people in general.  One can imagine that he would continue to find work for the workers, either in another landfill or towards other employment within and around Rio.  People has said he should run for office of some form, either as mayor or even as president.  Whether or not Taio as such lofty goals remains to be seen, but he is charismatic and, as I mentioned, inspirational.

There is more to be said, but it’s better to just see this film.  You won’t be disappointed.

A