Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Ring Two / *1/2 (2005)

"The Ring Two" isn't so much a sequel to "The Ring" as it is a full-fledged re-analysis of that successful 2002 horror film. This, suffice it to say, is not a compliment. The fundamental flaw essentially comes down to the approach - instead of carrying the pre-established narrative into newer and more challenging territory, as a legitimate sequel might have done, the movie seems more motivated by explanations of past events here rather than developing on them, and the celluloid is filled with so much incessant narrative double-speak that it essentially makes the original story more convoluted than it already was.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Robots / ***1/2 (2005)

With the onslaught of offbeat cartoon casts dominating computer animation, it's just as well that the filmmakers behind "Robots" opted to take a more broad approach by relying on an ensemble of talking machines. Such things aren't shackled by physical delicacy like fish or bugs are, nor do they live by the seeming elasticity of superheroes or toys. But they move, talk and interact without the kind of restraints expected of their counterparts; they have human qualities but rise above their manacles, and occupy a space of the universe that seems just as complex and surreal as the very essence of their own intricate being. Of course, cinema's ongoing fascination with all things machinery - stretching all the way back to a villainous computer mainframe in "2001: A Space Odyssey" - no doubt sets a solid stage of reputation beforehand here, but more promising a prospect is the notion that these types of characters simply seem ideal for the animated canvas. Reality makes them a template for big dreamers, and the gravity-less scope of CGI enhances that prospect into something truly awe-inspiring.