February Film Reviews
Kung Fu Panda
I found Kung Fu Panda in the bargain bin at the local supermarket – and since I am a huge fan of both 3D animation, and martial arts, I had to give it a go.
And, surprisingly, I wasn’t at all disappointed. I am not a massive fan of Dreamworks animated output. Their films never seem to have the story telling power or heart and soul of similar movies (yes – I mean Pixar).
Kung Fu Panda tells a fairly traditional Kung Fu story – inept martial arts wannabe unexpectedly becomes the ‘chosen one’ and has to compete against his own lack of skill, the other considerably more qualified students, and the greatest evil (in this case voiced by Ian McShane).
Since it’s essentially a martial arts movie I was concerned about the fighting and how it would be portrayed in cartoon fashion – but thankfully it was done incredibly well. Each character has their own style that matches their personalities or characters.
For any martial arts fan Kung Fu Panda will be the sort of story you have seen many times before, but for someone new to the genre it will be a gentle opener to something much larger. Technically it’s as good as any other computer animated movie out there, and I recommend it to anyone, martial arts fan or not. Just don’t be tempted to try the moves out yourself!
The Soloist is another film gifted to me by Universal, and it’s a film I hadn’t even heard of before I watched it which always makes things more interesting.
The Soloist is based on a true story. A newspaper reporter finds a mentally ill, homeless street musician who can play a rather dilapidated violin incredibly well (it only has two strings!). It turns out he used to play the Cello and is obsessed with Beethoven…
And so begins a very unusual friendship.
The story centers around the reporter, Steve Lopez, trying to improve the life of his new friend Nathaniel Ayers. Unfortunately Nathaniel isn’t as receptive to Steves assistance as you would imagine.
Generally films should inspire some sort of thought or emotion. Whether it’s happiness or fear, guilt or joy – you should get some sort of feeling. The Soloist didn’t make me feel anything. The story was formulaic and I didn’t feel any compassion towards the characters.
The Soloist flits between the plight of the homeless in Los Angeles and the unlikely friendship of two people, and neither story takes hold in it’s own right. Ultimately it ended up rather untidily which is a shame as, with a bit of focus, I think it would have been so much more powerful.