Churning out corporate marketing content by day, moonlighting as a movie reviewer for Creative Loafing, where once upon a long ago I did my time…
Give me a break. The point of the movie is to charm viewers with its too-cute story of villagers who'll scramble to do anything to get that factory built. (You'll note that just one character, herself a villager, gets to be the anti-oil-company mouthpiece, and after she's had her single objection, she's never heard from again.)
I have no idea what relevance you think "the humor that sustains these people through desperate times" has on the merits of the film, unless you think their wretched plan is one of those admirable ways these fiercely loyal people amuse themselves. I have no problem with a movie that looks at the desperate measures people take to get themselves off the dole. I have a problem with this film, which wants us to think it's adorable that they welcome a doctor under false pretenses, repeatedly lie to him, and spy on him. I'd have a much bigger problem with it if it weren't so slight and thinly imagined. At least two characters get off their duff find work off the island. The rest are content to belly up to the town bar and drink their days away. This should have been a familiar but charming fish-out-of-water tale, anchored by a nice comic turn by Brendan Gleeson. Instead, it's a slice of shallow, eye-rolling hokum with a venal heart.
I was briefly of the mind to let this comment go unremarked upon – you can’t please everyone after all, and why would you want to – but a few incorrect assumptions have be compelled to set the record straight and explain my review.
As to the assertion that I went into the movie with a bad attitude: without qualification, wrong. I happen to be very fond of the first film, and had high hopes for this one, particularly as I had been aware of the positive critical buzz it had already generated before the screening I attended. To that screening, as I do with all children’s films, I took along my son, who also loved the first movie (and this one, too). If anything, I was predisposed to give HTTDY 2 a glowing review, not a negative one.
And on the subject of negativity, you’ll notice by re-reading my rather brief review that I praise the film for looking great, and for at times being very funny. It was in the execution and synthesis of other elements that I found it lacking. I point them out in my review, so no need to reiterate here except to say that while it’s clear that HTTDY 2 attempts to be a touching, meaningful film that dramatizes mortality, loyalty, and becoming one’s own man (or woman), it didn’t strike me as successful in those attempts. I thought the relationship between Hiccup and Valka could have been mined for much deeper emotions. The flying sequences, while admirably rendered, didn’t do much for me beyond my appreciation for their creation. And the main villain, Drago, was so one-dimensional as to be a simplistic challenge to Hiccup’s inclination toward empathy and diplomacy. Even in his role as foil, he wasn’t very interesting.
Regarding mine being the only negative review you read, the spirit of your point is taken. HTTDY 2 has received glowing reviews, all praising its look (as I do) as well as its bent toward darkness, which I take to mean the side of human nature and experience we frequently see glossed over in movies. But simply acknowledging death, loss, abandonment, regret and a host of other “dark” emotions doesn’t earn from me automatic admiration. It’s what the filmmaker does with those experiences that matter. And as a handful of critics have pointed out (check out Metacritic to see the variety of opinion), the film came across as disjointed and lackluster, especially in its last act. It wants to be big, sweeping and important. If that’s how you experienced it, who can argue? But that’s not my experience or assessment, and why would you want me (or any critic) to write a review that expressed other than what they believed to be true? I sometimes disagree with my fellow critics on this site, and never do I feel the desire to criticize them for not assessing a movie as I would have.
Perhaps this will help you re-evaluate your assertion that I “missed this movie.” I didn’t; I saw it differently from you, and I stand by my assessment.
Just thinking you laughed Max Cady-style through the hankie portion of the flick made my afternoon.
I'm with you on "Top Gun," Joe. I hope this means a 3-D update of "Hot Shots" is on the way. The "wall-eye" scene with Jon Cryer deserves it.
Joran -- I remember it getting lukewarm reviews when it came out, and I didn't make a point of seeing it. However, having seen this, I'd be curious to see if how that del Toro effort compares.
Great review, Kyle -- and precisely the kind of movie I expected based on that awful, bombastic trailer.
Joe, I'm guessing the sight of Johnny Knoxville as a bathrobe-wearing, gun-loving dork didn't sell you on the passion for firearms as an adorable hobby.
All Comments »
Powered by Foundation