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 Invention of Lying

I had planned to see The Invention of Lying at the cinema – but I missed out as I couldn’t find the time so I was really pleased that Universal decided to send me the iPod Touch version.

One thing that stood out to me was how far the writers took the concept of lying. Lying is not just about telling small fibs, but extends out to any type of creative imagination or expression. Popular (actually all) movies are simply people sitting and reading pages from history books. Even television adverts tell the truth about the products.

I did find some of the truthfulness a bit silly. There is nothing wrong with not lying but throughout the film things are taken to the next extreme, with people honestly speaking their mind when, in the real world, we wouldn’t say anything (either truth or falsehood).

The references to religion were particularly tongue in cheek. Some subtle, and some glaringly obvious. I would hope that most people would see it as a bit of fun, but I can understand why some Christians may be upset by the references made.

That said I found it all very amusing, and as long as you watch it in the mindset that it’s ‘just a film’ you should get some enjoyment out of it.

The Soloist

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.

Was it good/ useful/ a load of old rubbish? Let me know on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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