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Non-Review Review: Ted

Ted is an impressive directorial debut from Seth McFarlane, the creator and star of Family Guy. Those familiar with McFarlane’s work will know what to expect from Ted. It’s loud, it’s crude, it’s full of retro pop culture references, but it’s also constructed with almost surreal innocence and earnestness. McFarlane can be brutal at times, and he does make a few cheap shots here or there over the course of Ted. (Take that, Justin Beiber! Take that, Brandon Routh!) However, for the most part, the film actually does a remarkable job of balancing its crass in-your-face offensiveness with a weird emotional warmth. At it’s heart, Ted is still the story of a boy and his teddy bear. It just so happens to be a really messed up teddy bear.

Bear with me…

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Thoughts on Snyder’s Superman

It has been over a week since the news that Zack Snyder would be directing the Superman reboot was announced. And what a week it has been. No sooner was the movie announced than details started flooding in – Luthor would not be the main villain, it would be an origin story of sorts, it would not share continuity, Zod would be the primary antagonist, Brandon Routh would not return. That’s quite a bit of news to get straight out of the gate, and I took a while to really shape my opinion of it all. And I’m optimistic, just very cautiously so.

Look! Up in the sky!

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Oh My Zod: Nolan’s Superman Movie Gets Its Villain…

It had been quite an exciting day for Superman fans. First, director Zack Snyder was confirmed as the man who will be helming the movie under the tutelage of Christopher Nolan. It was then suggested Brandon Routh would not be returning to the role. And then we got some supervillain confirmation. Thankfully it looks like the movie won’t be featuring Lex Luthor as its primary antagonist, but will feature General Zod.

I'm Zod-ding in approval...

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Non-Review Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

If it weren’t for Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World would be the most visually impressive film of year. Maybe it still is. This tale of adolescent irrelevence might have a bit of difficulty finding an audience, but it certainly deserves one – it’s a pure kaleidoscopic sugar rush of youthful exuberence and energy, all focused through a simple but effective emotional narrative. Indeed, perhaps its closest companion is (500) Days of Summer, the breakout romantic comedy of last year – except this time the emotional complexity is dialed down and the visual flair way up. And neither of those are bad things. In fact, as part of Edgar Wright’s latest film, they are actually quite genius.

Scott packs quite a (cup of) punch...

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Non-Review Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

In short, if the title doesn’t offend you, give it a go. There are worse things to do with your time.

Kevin Smith has come on miles as a director. What’s really notable about the film is that Smith manages to draw fantastic performances from just about every member of the ensemble. This is particularly evident with performers who have worked alongside Smith over a long period of time – Jason Mewes and Brian O’Halloran – both of whom give better performances than I’d have thought they could. It helps that Smith knows them both well enough to hide their weaknesses (O’Halloran does better as a supporting player than a lead) and play to their strengths. The performances in the film are all top-tier. Not one performance feels forced or awkward. True, some like Seth Rogan or Brandon Routh play within their comfort margins, but it’s Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes and a scene-stealing Justin Long that are revelations.

The film is populated with the kind of uniquely crazy individuals that seem to inhabit Kevin Smith movies, but he writes them and casts them so well that we don’t consider their money-generating scheme as bizarre as we should (given I doubt it would have occurred to anyone watching in similar dire straits – otherwise Ireland would be a low budget porno haven at this stage). It’s odd when the inevitable “emotional complications” that always pop in on Smith’s third act seem more oddly out of place than the two acts of audacity that proceeded it, but it feels a little out of place here. Maybe it’s because while we expect Smith to mix the crass and the romantic, we don’t expect the extremes to be so far apart. In a comparison to crass-comedy forefather The 40 Year Old Virgin, Zach and Miri manages to be both cruder and sweeter. It’s jarring mix that doesn’t necessarily work, but the comedy is fantastic.

So, yep, if you’re not too prudish for it, it’s a damn funny film that maybe gets a little too sacchrine towards the end, but features several fantastic performances (Long’s extended cameo as an actor who star in productions with “all-male casts” is too amazing for words). Banks in particular shows a growing range which makes her one to watch in the years to come.

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Zach and Miri Make a Porno is a film directed by Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Clerks). It’s on his second major film (after Jersey Girl) not to feature his trademark characters Jay and Silent Bob. It stars Seth Rogan (Observe and Report, Knocked Up) and Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs, W.) with supporting turns from Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dogma), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Clerks 2), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Justin Long (Live Free and Die Hard/Die Hard 4.0).