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#468: It’s a Miracle

May 3, 2010

Notes from the Manager

Related Strips: #425: A Christmas Miracle; #431: Evil to the Last Drop

I know a few of you are dying to know what's up with Whitey and Ariela, but I had to fit this one in, since it's sort of based on my own experience with this movie. (Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are Facebook friends with me will have already heard me gush about this movie, but… well, whatever.)

After How to Train Your Dragon had been out for a couple of weeks, all the glowing reviews finally got me to check the movie out. It wasn't that I didn't think it would be good; I just didn't expect it to be very good. I mean… it's Dreamworks Animation. I love (and own) Kung Fu Panda, but every other movie of theirs I've seen has just been pretty good — at best — just barely worth watching, nevermind buying on DVD.

To my surprise, I didn't just think How to Train Your Dragon was a good cartoon. I flat-out loved it. Yet to say that How to Train Your Dragon is Dreamworks Animation's best movie doesn't even begin to explain how much I love it. It — like my favorite Pixar movie, The Incredibles; and only a handful of others is what I consider to be a perfect movie.

The characters are wonderful. The film looks breathtakingly beautiful. The 3D flight sequences are exhilirating. The story has a surprising emotional depth, despite an impressively brisk pace. John Powell's score is both rousing and deeply moving — it's easily my favorite score of the past few years. I rarely see a movie in theaters twice, but I've seen it three times already and have every intention of seeing it at least once more before it leaves theaters.

All three times, tears welled up or full-on streamed down my face at all the same points; my heart burst with joy or sadness at all the right points; and what could only have been the most ridiculous smile ever plastered my face for every other second.

As I've told everyone I've recommended the film to, your mileage may vary — but it's absolutely no exaggeration when I say that How to Train Your Dragon is the most fun I've had at the movies in the past decade. As a proud, jaded 35 year old cynic, I was actually a bit surprised to learn that I'm capable of loving an unabashed children's film as much as I do How to Train Your Dragon, but I guess that's the secret behind HTTYD's magic: it takes me back to when I was a kid like no other movie I've seen since I was a kid.

 

For the curious, the only other movie I've seen more times in a theater is Braveheart, back in 1995. I saw it five times in the seven months it spent in theaters. (Dragon probably won't make it  to three months. The movie theater biz has changed an awful lot in the past 15 years.)

Braveheart hasn't aged as gracefully as other movies in the wave of the action epics it ushered in, but Gibson's most recent directorial effort (Apocalypto) was a lot of fun, so when Mel Gibson comes out with his planned Viking movie, I could be in trouble. (Unless maybe I'm just a big fan of Scottish accents.)

UPDATE: The bad news is, Thursday's comic will be late! Sorry, spent too much time getting the Chapter 5 HD Edition eBook finished. The good news is, the Chapter 5 eBook is finished and available, and for you non-Kickstarter backers, there are six new-to-you strips in it. The free Online Edition will be up in a few days.


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Review: Coherence (2013)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

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Written and directed by James Ward Byrkit.
Starring Emily Foxler, Hugo Armstrong, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Lauren Maher, Alex Manugian, Lorene Scafaria, and Maury Sterling.

A new Patreon backer at the $50 level opted out of the usual reward of a plug in the “Become a Multiplex Patron” box (above, on the website), asking instead for me to plug the 2013 indie science fiction filmCoherence (with which he is not affiliated). I was happy to oblige, and so “A fan of Coherence” — a.k.a. The Patron, as I’ll refer to him from here out — is, for the duration of his patronage, among Multiplex‘s supporters. (And, yes, I will review just about any movie a $50 backer asks me to.)

What really got my interest in the film (aside from being asked very nicely to see it) was that The Patron compared it to Shane Carruth’s Primer, one of the best no-budget sci-fi movies ever made. I can definitely see the comparison: both are decidedly low-budget films with small casts and a science-fictiony premise. I feel like seeing the film fairly blind is probably the best, so I won’t summarize the plot beyond the premise of eight friends having a dinner party when a comet passes over and Strange Things Happen, but I don’t think I’m quite as enthusiastic as The Patron.

Unfortunately, the “go in as blind as you can” suggestion means I feel like I need to be pretty vague. Some clunky (and largely unnecessary) exposition gets spat out early on, which tried my patience a bit, but it gets fun as the plot gets rolling. And the plot is definitely the star of the film, not the largely forgettable cast of affluent, Southern California white people or the dialogue, which often feels improvised (in that it neither pushes the story forward nor reveals character, as good dialogue ought to).

Despite some genuinely terrifically creepy or suspenseful moments in the film, a handful of contrived plot points hold it back from being much more than a fun genre flick for me, but I found myself wondering what would happen next — almost up to the very end. A late turn in the film got more of an eye-roll from me than the shock that I think it was supposed register. As always, your mileage may vary, but the film’s merits make it well worth a viewing, particularly for science fiction fans suffering from blockbuster fatigue.

Here’s the trailer! If it piques your interest, please do check it out. It’s available for rent from Amazon Instant Video or for purchase from its official website, among other places. (I never recommend reading YouTube comments, but definitely on’t read the comments if you want to stay away from spoilers.)

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