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Given that Despicable Me is on its fourth weekend now, I’ll make this quick (simply because whoever has already seen it will have saw it, those that won’t, well hopefully they will, but I’m sure minds have already been made up).

But, I will say see this.  In terms of computer animated films, it isn’t the best (both in story telling and in animation), but it was a delightful surprise.  The story itself is engaging enough and rather heartwarming (with Gru being changed by the girls he adopts), and some of the ideas involved with how the super villains operate is quite entertaining as well (though how they live out in the open as much as they do is beyond me).  There’s a little too much in the way of scatological humor, but a lot of the slapstick humor and the dialogue is quite funny at times.  The voice work was excellent, especially with Carell and Segel.  Without the credits, I wouldn’t have known that they had voiced Gru and Vector.  The animation was better than expected though.  For a CGI-film, the budget was on the low end (I think I saw roughly $70 million, which put it in the vein of early Pixar and the first Shrek, for comparison).  Not everything is perfect – some of the character models are somewhat low rate, and the hair on just about every character moves in one collective bunch – but it works well enough.

All in all, a better than expected start for Universal in the CGI game.  Welcome to the crowded field guys.

B

Quickie: solid “sequel” to the original Predator, in which a bunch of humans are plucked off Earth, dumped onto an alien planet, and hunted by the alien predators. There are some real nice touches to this movie, between the connection to the original, the attempt at establishing different characterizations for everyone (although some do still stay within the stereotype, like the big, lovable Russian and the silent Japanese Yakuza), and the general, lingering sense of danger at every turn. Still, you know where this is going and where it’ll end, who’ll die and who’ll live, and just about everything else with regards to the survival action genre. It’s good and solid for what it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that, really. Popcorn flick.

B-

A secret affair. A large stash of cash. A chance to get away, and an elaborate plot to do it. And then things start going horribly wrong. That is essentially the plot of The Square, an ultra tense modern noir thriller from Australia. The plot is set in less than ten minutes, while the rest of the film is non-stop in how things get progressively worse, almost in a ludicrous fashion. You’d hate to be Raymond, but that’s how his luck ends up. It must be the affair, really, that’s causing all this rotten stuff to happen. Incredible to watch, with an ending that’ll leave you shocked and breathless.

A-

Another brief one.  I’ll be resuming full reviews as soon as time allows it.

A small unit of military men get betrayed by an unknown in the CIA, left for dead in Bolivia before encountering an agent who can get them back for revenge.  Sounds like everything you’ve seen before, right?  Well, it is, but it has enough wit and humor to keep you entertained.  The action is fast paced and frenetic at times, and the characters are well rounded enough that you can care for all of them (though when they had to float their names in the beginning, I was worried: normally floating names to point out who is who doesn’t bode well for a movie).  More enjoyable than it should have been.

Now, I just need to go back and find the comics for this series.  The movie definitely had the look for it, even though it’s hard to pull off Jock’s illustration on the big screen.  Kudos to the production team for doing that.

B-

Brief review, cause I’m behind and overwhelmed right now.

Vincere is an Italian film about the unknown wife of Benito Mussolini, Ida Dalser.  Obsessed with Mussolini before he became the fascist dictator, Dalser was eventually committed to a mental institution when she refused to say that she lied about being married to Mussolini and having a son born from him.  More historical drama, as history has a tendency to erase and rewrite itself, depending on who you have in power (just ask the Russians during Lenin and Stalin), but incredibly powerful.  The movie acts at time as a propaganda piece, interspersed with footage of Italy during the first World War, up until the start of the second World War.  It’s Giovanna Mezzogiorno that drives the movie as Ida Dalser, displaying her obsession with Mussolini while trying to convince everyone that she is married to him, eventually failing and dying in a mental ward.  Completely captivating and well worth seeing.

Vincere means “win”, by the way.  Something to consider with Mussolini in general.

A-