Treasure Planet…….

"On the clearest of nights, when the winds of the Etherium were calm and peaceful, the great merchant ships, with their cargos of Arcturian solar crystals, felt safe and secure. Little did they suspect that they were pursued by… pirates. And the most feared of all these pirates was the notorious Captain Nathaniel Flint." -Narrator, Treasure Planet

treasure planet

Treasure, to me, is finding a movie which is good, but I haven’t seen.  Treasure Planet is just such a movie.  Rented with low expectations, this movie turned out be far more interesting and engaging than I imagined.

Treasure Planet is a compelling hybrid.  The wildly creative aspects of Japanese Aime are blunted somewhat by the Americanizing influence of the Walt Disney sensibility.  It is more The Fifth Element than Firefly, but there are certainly ideas borrowed from each.

The story is very loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  I have not read the book, but if is one of you favorites, I suspect this will not be your movie.  At best, the original Treasure Island provides a rough shell which is customized with tuner parts, straight out of Tokyo.

Animation is one of the few entertainment mediums whose value is based on creative merit rather than star-power and the Hollywood spin machine.  Stories have to be strong and the characters interesting.  Otherwise, you are just watching a bunch of pixels. 

Heathers…….

"Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count. " -Veronica Sawyer in Heathers

heathers

Heathers is the reason why, when Winona Ryder got caught during a shoplifting spree, it was news worthy.  Heathers is the teen movie which pulls no punches; the movie John Hughes didn’t quite have the stomach to make.

This is a black comedy of the darkest type.  It is not for the squeamish or the bone-head who actually believes violence is the best way to solve a problem.  Anyone who does not appreciate irony should look for their laughs elsewhere. 

However, if you suffered or are suffering now through the insult which is high school, this movie is sweet nectar.  Heathers will deliver a certain satisfaction for anyone who was harassed by their high school’s version of a Heather, Kurt. or Ram.

But wait, there is even more to this under appreciated teen flick.  Lurking underneath all of the 80’s lingo and Bonnie and Clyde antics, lies an also Chomsky-esque analysis of institutional power.

One of the central themes of Heathers is that certain institutions, such as high school, create the perfect environment for unchecked power to blossom.  In addition, the corrupting influence of this power is so great that it doesn’t really matter who is on top.

Now, what’s the up-chuck factor on that?

Over the Hedge…….

"That is an S.U.V; Humans ride in them because they are slowly losing their ability to walk." –RJ from the movie Over the Hedge

over the hedge

The effect of suburban sprawl is the unlikely topic explored in this very funny Dream Works movie.   I can’t imagine what the pitch must have been that earned this movie the green light, but I’m grateful it worked.  Over the Hedge is an absolute gem.

The story is about a motley group of animals who awake from hibernation to find most of their beloved forest gone.  Instead, it has been replaced by an imposing hedge which secures 54 acres of suburban paradise.  Now the animals face a food shortage, and to make things worst, they are suckered by a willy raccoon who needs their help gathering a wagon full of human food for an angry bear.

Rent this one today.  You will not be disappointed.

Here is track thirteen for the playlist: My City Was Gone by  Pretenders.

Akeelah and the Bee…….

Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”W.E.B. Du Bois

akeelah

My pet peeve with most reality television is its celebration of dysfunctional and at times destructive behavior.  The more selfish and short-sided the behavior the higher the participant is elevated on a pedestal.  Given the sorry state of our affairs, do we need more examples of how not to succeed in life or society?  How, exactly, does this strategy lead to our next win?

What’s more, employers are having a difficult time finding employees with the necessary skills to make it in the modern work place.  The most desirable skills are the product of self confidence, the ability to communicate, and to get a long with others.  Employers want people who can think intuitively and have the self confidence to imagine and innovate.  These individuals easily communicate their ideas to others.  They can work collaboratively in teams and have the self confidence to be flexible and improve their ideas in a adaptive fashion.

Akeelah and the Bee is a truly inspirational story which dares to celebrate the human spirit’s desire to succeed.  The movie makes some especially interesting points.  The first being, the fear of success is a more powerful force than the fear of failure.  In fact, it is easy to fail and on a certain level socially acceptable.  Success, on the other hand, brings unpredictable change to your life and relationships. 

The other important idea is the use of competition as a tool to coax out the greatness hidden inside each competitor.  Today, much of what passes as competition, is little more than an excuse to belittle, crush, or destroy.  Instead, it would be helpful to remember the etiquette of the dojo.  After sparing, the competitors bow as a show of gratitude.  The opponents understand that only through competition will they be given the opportunity to sharpen their skills and improve their performance.

It is time for this country to accept the the tragic consequences of wasting human potential.  In the world economy, we need every one of our citizens performing at their optimal level.  The days of leaving all of the mental and creative work to the arbitrarily determined top ten-percent have long since past.

Hoodwinked…….

Hoodwinked

Hoodwinked is a fresh look at the time worn tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  This time the police are on the case and Red, Grandma, and the Wolf have some explaining to do.  Otherwise, as the Bear police chief points out to the Wolf, "You’ll be doing nine to five in an old shoe with no windows."  More than anything else this movie cleverly explores the idea of individual points of view and the problems which occur when incorrect assumptions are made.

Cory Edwards has created a fast paced movie with funny, interesting characters who communicate using sharp, witty dialog.  He also has a well honed eye and ear for pop culture.  The Wolf seems to be modeled after Chevy Chase’s Fletch, complete with his love of disguises and Laker jerseys.  Grandma has a lust for life similar to Ruth Gordon’s Maude.  Twitchy, the super charged squirrel, spends one scene in a sheep costume reminiscent of GIR’s dog disguise for Invader ZIM.  In addition, the band Wild Critters is straight off The Warped Tour.

So, this Halloween when you see Triple G cruising down the street, give a shout out.  You may just get a snicker-doodle, a’ight!