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Posts Tagged ‘” Brad Bird’

“THE INCREDIBLES 2” My rating: B 

118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

“The Incredibles” (2004) always was too good for kids.

Youngsters may have made up the bulk of ticket buyers, but so much of Brad Bird’s yarn about the Parrs, an urban family with superpowers, was directed at adults — especially boomers with a collective memory of James Bond films and early ’60s kitsch.

The long-in-coming “Incredibles 2” is more of the same.  Far from being a radical departure from the original film, it picks up precisely where the first one left off (with the arrival of the John Ratzenberger-voiced Underminer and his gigantic burrowing machine); you could watch the two films back to back as one big story.

Once again, Bird’s screenplay pits the family against a villain — in this case a mysterious figure known as the Screenslaver who uses the world’s TV sets  as  invasive hypnotic devices. And the sequel continues the earlier film’s plot thread about a worldwide ban on superheroes, which forces our protagonists to operate mostly in secret.

All well and good. But the real theme of “Incredibles 2” is gender roles.

Because of its early ’60s setting, Bird can dabble in bad-old-days male chauvinism, particularly as it affects the marvelous Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), who finds herself more or less working solo to fight the Screenslaver.

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Britt Robertson, George Clooney

Britt Robertson, George Clooney

“TOMORROWLAND”  My rating: C

130 minutes | MPAA rating:  PG  

It’s overwritten, overcomplicated and overlong.

But if you can get past its narrative muddle, really irritating dialogue and a plethora of unanswered questions, “Tomorrowland” offers a potent metaphor about the triumph of human hope and ingenuity.

Wish it were enough. But this time the winning run of writer/director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”) has hit a major speed bump.

It’s not all bad news. George Clooney heads a fine (if not particularly well-used) cast, the state-of-the-art effects are terrific and the film (co-written by Damon Lindelof of “Prometheus,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and TV’s “Lost”) cleverly taps into a deep well of baby boomer nostalgia.

Nevertheless, the film is an emotionally muted mess that can’t decide if it’s for kids or grown-ups.

It starts out promisingly enough. At the 1964 World’s Fair in NYC, young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) proudly submits his homemade jetpack to an invention contest.

His creation is rejected, but Athena (Raffrey Cassidy), a mysterious young girl with a Brit accent, introduces the boy to Tomorrowland, a futuristic city  in another dimension. Tomorrowland is accessed by a secret portal in Walt Disney’s major fair attraction, the “It’s a Small World” ride. (Bird, a big Disney buff, rarely misses an opportunity to tap into the shared childhood memories of his generation. And the Disney studio gets a plug for its theme park ride.)

In the present we are introduced to Casey (Britt Robertson), a brainy teen whose engineer dad is working his way to unemployment by dismantling NASA’s launch pads in Florida. (Haven’t you heard? The good old USA is pretty much out of the space business.)

Casey finds herself in possession of a mysterious  souvenir pin from the ’64 World’s Fair. When she touches it she is instantly transported to Tomorrowland, a bustling city of sleek towering buildings, zipping monorails and buzzing hovercraft where whatever you dream up can be made reality.

She begins investigating the origins of her pin, hooks up with Athena (who hasn’t aged a day in 50 years) and eventually finds herself with the now-adult Frank (Clooney), a hermit holed up in a farmhouse crammed with sophisticated electronics. Frank — who has a bank of TV screens monitoring environmental disasters, wars, water and food shortages, nuclear threats and social upheavals — is glumly awaiting the end of the world.

Literally. He even has an electronic clock counting down to the day a few weeks hence when it all goes to hell.

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“MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL” My rating: B

133 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

If “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”  feels like a live-action version of a cartoon, it only stands to reason.

The man behind the camera is animator Brad Bird, who gave us “The Iron Giant,” “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles,” three of the smartest and most ambitious animated features of recent years. And he brings to the “M:I” franchise the same breathless pacing, eye for action and sly humor that has marked his animated work. (more…)

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