What I’ve Been Watching: DVD – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs & Predator

cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs_ver3.jpgCloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
In my review of 2009, I noted that the quality of animations this year has been remarkably high. Up, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Bolt all being among my favourite films of that year.

One that I didn’t get a chance to see was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – a film penned by two writers on the first season of television’s How I Met Your Mother.

Cloudy… tells the story of Flint Lockwood, a young man determined to make a living as an inventor, and put the island of Swallow Falls back on the map.

His latest creation is something which turns water into any food he desires, and after a near disaster it works: causing the sky to rain cheeseburgers.

The remainder of the movie follows our young hero as he copes with the pressure of being the town’s new hero, tries to get the approval of his father, and win the heart of the weathergirl sent to cover the extraordinary new weather system the town’s been experiencing.

As with Pixar’s movies, the joy of this film comes not so much from the plot, but rather from the creativity and attention to detail evident on screen.

In many ways the film is a love letter to invention and creativity. The movie not only starring an inventor, but also having so many little creative touches that allow us to be part of this strange, madcap, and inviting world. The way all these parts work together reminded me a lot lot of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Aside from that, it has a lot of very quick visual and side gags. The funniest moments in the movie, are often little visual effects in the background, or seemingly throwaway lines the characters fail to react to.

Despite being a movie that will certainly appeal to kids, it doesn’t surprise me that the film has developed quite a cult following with adults as well. I can see why. Its fast-paced, imaginative style clearly resonating with an audience outside of which one might expect.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is a surprisingly fun and refreshing film. A film that oozes originality and imagination from every pore. Go rent it!

mctiernan_predator_poster_50297.jpgPredator
Following on from the watching of Commando a few weeks ago, comes Predator, a film with equal amounts of explosions, guns, and of course Arnie.

The difference is that while Commando is a fun, but completely uninspiring affair, Predator has some genuinely interesting elements to it.

The first third of the movie is fairly irrelevant to the rest of the film plot-wise, but does a great job of setting up the pedigree of the elite squad that’s been set into the jungle and the patience of the strange Predator that will hunt them for the remaining two-thirds of the picture.

Aside from this smart creative choice, where the film really shines in the thought behind and design of its title character. Between its infamous mask, thermal imaging, glowing blood, and invisibility it really is a creature its difficult to forget.

Another nice element is the decision not to give the predator any back story: it hunts, it kills, whether it’s an alien or otherwise doesn’t really matter. There’s something really refreshing about this inventive simplicity.

Finally, the action scenes absolutely do everything they should for this type of film: high-adrenaline, spectacle and one-liners all on show.

The final scene between Arnie and the Predator is certainly the highlight: as the former combines his brains and brawn in his final attempt to escape the clutches of the strange and vicious creature.

Predator is much like the antagonist around which the film is based: the best at what it does. While hardly pushing the boat out in terms of what an action movie normally does, it nevertheless has enough great individual elements to make it a must see for fans of the genre.

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