Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend Movie Review: BRAVE 9 Stars, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER 7 Stars

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In a showdown of 3D movies opening this weekend (indeed 4 out of the top 5 movies are 3D), Pixar's BRAVE easily comes out on top. In fact another 3D animation holdover, MADAGASCAR 3 may very well win second place over Timur Bakmambetov / Tim Burton's ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. It's a shame too because I was looking forward to seeing how well this "newer" type of mash-up genre film could perform.

There are some MINOR, minor spoilers in these reviews. Nothing to worry about in my mind.

BRAVE is an amazing movie. I live in Nova Scotia (Canada) means New Scotland - our landscape, music and culture is deeply tied to Scotland. Many have the accent to some degree as well here. So who knows, I may be a little biased toward the content of BRAVE, but I had my reservations about the movie right from the start. Pixar proved me wrong.

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I was actually a bit surprised by the intensity of the mother / daughter dynamics despite being slightly clued into it by the run up marketing. Perhaps because this type of movie is so rare. Certainly word of mouth within the female demographics should nicely ramp. Believe me, my surprise was a GOOD one and I really appreciated watching this movie.

I purposely studied the mother / daughter pairs in the theater after the film - very, very interesting. Some were hugging. Others wiping their eyes. Others were watching the credits, then seemed to gain some insight, turned to look at each other and smile, talking about the movie; seemingly talking for the first time in a long time. Seemingly so anyway. I feel BRAVE has that kind of power and it is so needed today. I hope the marketing team can push the affinity of the movie for mothers to take their daughters. Bravo to the team. Of course the visuals continue to improve and amaze, but BRAVE had me with the females.

The 3D is suitably used, but not to the degree I feel that they should be considering. Pixar could use more depth - like some scenes in PROMETHEUS, but it was a safe 3D movie. There should be no complaints. Bob Whitehill, Pixar's 3D supervisor contacted me last night to ask whether I had seen it yet and I let him know how I felt. A spectacular achievement and a must see for mothers and daughters out there.

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER on the other hand suffered. Suspension of disbelief was NOT achieved for me. I could not immerse myself in the movie at any time whatsoever so in that respect it was a total failure.

The redeeming qualities of the movie were that director Timur Bakmambetov has some skill so the action scenes were quite well orchestrated. I found the historical references interesting too - like the construction of the various Washington landmarks and what was on Lincoln's desktop in the White House.

Improvements? If the President were fighting criminals or some sort of normal human threat to the nation well then the movie would have scored significantly higher for me. But vampires? It never sold me. The madly waving axe all about Lincoln's body while he positioned for his next kill looked idiotic, just as it does in the trailers. A complete waste of energy and certainly not a offensive tactic. How he came to be able to chop down that tree in the trailer with a single blow is ridiculous too. Sorry doesn't work.

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The story and character development was flawed to me as well, even in the face of the best selling book of the same name. I found it incredulous that a young boy would remember the details of his mother's murder - that he wouldn't block out certain aspects of it. The movie would have been served to us so much more effectively had Lincoln had a breakdown as a young man and suddenly realized what really happened.  If he had inherited some sort of power from his father would have helped too. We are made to realize that ANYONE could be a vampire killer if they had a simple 2 minute instruction. **Sigh**

And the ending? Well I don't want to spoil that for you, but an obvious ending did NOT take place that would have set up a sequel - a sequel that MAY have improved the story quite a bit. In fact had this ending occurred, I would have rather seen the subsequent years afterward as a movie instead of this "prequel". We may never see this now. Anyway, it's hard to discuss something I can't divulge here. We can discuss in the comments if you wish!

Here are the anticipated box office returns for the weekend:
1. Brave - $64.7 million
2. Abraham Lincoln - $17.1 million
3. Madagascar 3 - $15.3 million (-55%)
4. Prometheus - $10.7 million (-48%)
5. Seeking a Friend - $8.2 million

Special thanks to Empire Theatres for the screening!

Box Office Estimates: Box Office Mojo

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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