Friday, January 12, 2007

Episode 7

A Simple Plan - Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton) and his brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) live in a small town in the country. On a trip to visit their mother's grave, the brothers, accompanied by Jacob's friend Lou (Brent Briscoe), wander into the nearby woods where they discover the wreckage of a small plane. Even more surprising is what they find inside: a duffel bag containing almost five hundred thousand dollars in cash. What follows is a story about trust, conscience, and responsibility as the three men try to decide how best to approach the situation. As things quickly snowball into a series of very possible (though not necessarily probable) events, each man realizes that he must do whatever is necessary to survive. I believe this marks my first review of a movie that I've seen previously. The last time I saw A Simple Plan was probably more than five years ago. I didn't remember much of it, but for some reason the name has always stuck with me. Personally, I think that A Simple Plan is one of the best examples of Sam Raimi's abilities as a director. Just about everyone has seen, or at least heard of his humble beginnings with Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, proving that he's capable of creating something fantastic with little to no resources. I'm also fairly positive that the general population is aware of the Spiderman films, which represent his most recent work and show how grandiose a production he can take on. However, it's movies like The Gift and A Simple Plan that have really convinced me of his talents. A lot of people criticize the Spiderman series for being merely about fight scenes and containing no real plot or character development. I personally don't agree with that opinion, but for people who claim these shortcomings, I suggest they watch A Simple Plan. Every single character in the movie is completely believable and realistic. Credit is due to the actors and the screenwriter, but the performances that Raimi pulls from his cast are incredible. I guarantee that while watching A Simple Plan for the first time you will be asking yourself with every new situation that arises, "What would I do if that were me?", proving how enthralling the movie is. It takes a potential situation that could easily be turned into a farce and digs down to the bottom of the human soul to ask the question "What are we capable of?" I recommend A Simple Plan to anyone who enjoys a movie experience that actually causes you to stir in anticipation. Drama at it's best.

Ice Age: The Meltdown - I am a strong believer in the idea that animated movies don't have to be, and shouldn't strictly be geared toward children. Hence, I watch just about any Disney movie that I can get my hands on, especially if Pixar is involved. It's no different for the competition, either. I saw the first Ice Age and enjoyed it quite a bit. Ice Age 2 wasn't quite so pleasing, though. Manny the wooly mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Dennis Leary) are back along with a few new characters. This time, instead of fearing the ice age, the problem they face is it's end, which threatens to melt the glaciers and flood the valley in which all the animals live. I'll forgive the chronological mishap that allows the same animals to be around for the beginning and end of the ice age since we're dealing with talking prehistoric creatures. Before long, the group is on a journey to find a safe new place to live. Early on in their trek, blatantly displaying the central theme of the movie, Manny is made fun of by other animals due to the fact that he's the last of his species. Not really something I'd think you would make fun of someone about, but hey, we are talking about talking mammoths here. So of course the gang stumbles upon a female mammoth. This is all well and good, but I was honestly very annoyed by her voice, which was provided by Queen Latifah. The catch? Having been abandoned at a young age and forced to grow up with possums, Ellie the mammoth thinks that she is, in fact, a possum. A plot thread that quickly becomes annoying. I guess what it all comes down to is that I didn't like Ellie's character at all. Actually, come to think of it, I was annoyed in the same way with Toy Story 2 when a new female character was introduced just to cause problems. She eventually grew on me, but Queen Latifah wasn't so lucky. Outside of the events involving Ellie, it bothered me that Sid and Diego, who were equally as important as Manny in the first Ice Age, played obvious second fiddles to him in the sequel. They were each given half-assed subplots to keep them busy which felt like no more than filler scenes. Sid provides comic relief, and Diego provides...well...something for Dennis Leary to do with his time, I guess. The climax is action-packed and heart-warming as is expected from movies such as these, but overall I was very let down by Ice Age 2. The first one's fun though, so if you haven't, I'd give that one a try.

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