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Non-Review Review: Walking With Dinosaurs – The 3D Movie

You never really grow up past the love of dinosaurs. Sure, you are probably never as relentlessly fascinated with the gigantic reptiles as you were when you were a kid, but those prehistoric creatures still garner affection from children of all ages. That was, after all, the basic premise of Jurassic Park, which got a high-profile 20th anniversary re-release this year. It was also the driving force behind Walking With Dinosaurs, the ground-breaking CGI documentary broadcast on the BBC in the UK and on Discovery in America.

So adapting the show to film seems like a logical step, and Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie is a bit of a no-brainer for a holiday family release, especially with families that have children too young to watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug or Anchorman: The Legend Continues and who have already seen Frozen. It’s a concept that really sells itself, which makes it incredibly frustrating that Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie goes out of its way to sabotage itself.

"It was a night like this, forty million years ago..."

“It was a night like this, forty million years ago…”

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Non-Review Review: Planet 51

Planet 51 is an enjoyable little animated film. It mostly skirts by on it’s rather interesting premise (what if an astronaut landed on an alien world exactly like fifties America?) and razor-sharp pop culture references (I wonder how many kids are going to get the references to E.T. let alone Alien or 2001: A Space Odyssey), but it’s ultimately let down by the fact that nobody involved seems to be trying too hard… or at all, really. The film relies on its intriguing premise to carry it, which it just about does, but it’s hard to feel that there isn’t so much more that could have been done.

I'm not sure if Chuck demonstrates to Planet 51 that there's intelligent life out there...

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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).