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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is an alternate history action movie which imagines one of the most beloved presidents of the United States of America as a part time slayer of the blood sucking undead. The screenplay (and the original book on which the film is based) is brought to us by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. So it seems his penchant for taking well known tales and putting his own twist of them continues unabated.

The background story is totally Batman; a young Abe Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses his mother killed by a vampire and as an adult vows revenge. Then it’s pretty much Batman Begins for a while as Abe is inducted into the ways of vampire hunting by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), an experience vampire hunter. Read more [+]

Speaking of Animation interview Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois

I hope some of you managed to catch How To Train Your Dragon in theaters (and 3D) and got as much out of it as I did. If you did that I also highly recommend you listen to this wonderful interview on the Speaking Of Animation podcast which interviews the directors and co-writers, Dean DeBois and Chris Sanders. As well as talking about their excellent work on How To Train Your Dragon, they also talk a bit about their past work, including of course directing and writing Lilo And Stitch when they were at Disney.

Podcast: How To Train Your Dragon directors Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois

Spoilers ahead though – so listen only if you’ve seen the film.

This interview is part master class in storytelling, part behind the scenes and all of it is fascinating. Run by Dreamworks animators and staffers, The Speaking Of Animation podcast is aimed at animators, but the show is excellent for filmmakers and film fans of all kinds. Take special note of Chris and Dean’s stories on how various story elements of How To Train Your Dragon were conceived and added, because you can see in the final product how well these ideas end up supporting and plusing the story by an order of magnitude.

Review: 12 oz. Mouse

From the co-creator of Aqua Teen Hunger Force comes 12 oz. Mouse, the strange story a green mouse as he indulges his seemingly impulsive desires and the conspiracies, destruction and strange events that trail after him. In this video review I make a goof of myself while attempting to convey the surreal awesomeness that is 12 oz. Mouse.

(12 oz. Mouse is available through Madman.)

Review: How To Train Your Dragon

How To Train Your Dragon tells the story of a village of Vikings who have to battle with constantly being raided and pillaged themselves by swarms of dragons who steal their herds and destroy their homes. Our protagonist is a scrawny Viking-to-be called Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel; animated by many), who also happens to be the son of the village chief, Stoic (voiced by Gerard Butler; animated by many). Relegated to being an apprentice blacksmith, Hiccup uses his technical know-how to construct a cannon. One night during a dragon raid Hiccup manages to take down his first dragon using the cannon – but on finding the downed beast Hiccup finds himself unable to kill the wounded dragon and sets him free.

How To Train Your Dragon is the most recent 3D animated feature from Dream Works Animation, the same studio behind the Shrek series, Kung Fu Panda and Monsters Versus Aliens – and this may very well be their best film by a wide margin.

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Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a film based on the book by Roald Dahl and while I don’t recall too many specifics of the book, I do recall it being clever, amusing and one of my favourite books for a time. I’m uncertain just how faithful an adaptation this film is, but it does still conjure the same feelings of awesome – well, with one exception. Read more [+]

Video Review: Aquarion

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I recently started watching the anime series Aquarion – but had to give up on the show five episodes into this twenty-six episode series. To illustrate just why I bailed, I decided to review a single episode of Aquarion, titled The Barefoot Warrior.

Review: Coraline

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Written and directed by Henry Selick and based on the novel by Neil Geiman, this stop-motion animated feature film tells the story of a young girl named Coraline who has just moved into a dreary apartment with her parents. Coraline doesn’t much care for her new home or her weird neighbours – but then she discovers a portal to a place which seems to be a magical, amazing version of her own world. In this ‘other world’ everyone and everything is better than it was in the real world. There’s only one disconcerting quality about this other world – everyone has buttons where their eyes should be. This is the experience of watching Coraline: it’s absolutely wonderful, but with a hint of menace. Read more [+]

Review: Acolytes

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Acolytes is the tale of three teenagers who discover the buried body of a murdered girl in the woods and become involved in a dangerous game against a serial killer and a rapist. It’s also a cautionary tale of how a film can go astray when the filmmakers indulge in their own fancies rather than focus on serving the story. Read more [+]

Review: Strait Jacket

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At first the setting of Strait Jacket appears to be somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century. There are steam trains, industrial factories and lots of quaint architecture. But despite this homeliness, in the world of Strait Jacket magic is a common but vital technology that has been harnessed by humans and is used in everything from agriculture to medicine. It’s a potentially great concept and visually the world is well developed, seamlessly blending the technology and look of several decades from the twentieth century with the bulky metal of Japanese science fiction technology. But there’s a grave danger to using magic. It requires the use of a body shell called a ‘mold’ to prevent a magic user from mutating. If the mold fails, the sorcerer transforms into a monster called a demon. These demons are giant nightmarish creatures that kill everyone they encounter. On top of that, they aren’t harmed by conventional weaponry – but can only be killed by magic. Despite this risk, magic remains an important technology. In order to quickly destroy any demons who appear, there exists a combat squad of magic users known as Strait Jackets. Read more [+]

Review: Star Trek

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Star Trek first aired in 1966; several TV seasons, films and an animated series later, J.J. Abrams is directing the newest Star Trek film intended to ‘revamp’ the franchise – an aim which this film, simply titled Star Trek, fails at miserably. I should point out that I’ve never gotten into Star Trek, having only ever watched one episode. Yet you’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the basics of Star Trek lore; things like that ‘beaming’ means to teleport someone, that Starfleet are the intergalactic peacekeeping forces, that Kirk is Captain of the Starship Enterprise and other such things that will come to be over the course of the film. While some details are hardly explained (Romulan and Vulcans are both mostly human in appearance, but are distinct alien races) but Star Trek is a film that is accessible enough that anyone can watch it, understand it and be disappointed.

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