Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Recommend: 'Brave' & 'Pitch Perfect' Films

Jeff Dodge's Recommendations:

Brave (on DVD)

(Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar)
Ever since the initial trailers were released for Pixar's 2012 film Brave, I knew I wanted to see it. Of course, what ended up happening was I somehow never made it to the theater this past summer. (And now that we're on the subject, there's actually another movie from this past fall that's no longer in theaters that I originally meant to go see as well, but I'll leave that for another day.) But Brave is now out on DVD and I finally watched it recently. I remember hearing that it received mixed reviews. But I'm trying to figure out why, because I absolutely loved it, and not just because it's from Pixar--I'm a Pixar fan, though I don't follow them 100% blindly as they have had some bumps, **cough** Cars and Cars 2 **cough**.

I tweeted the above message after watching Brave. I think one of the best things about it is that the protagonist is a strong, independent female character. We need more characters like Merida in stories. There's of course the obvious comparisons to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, another strong female lead with lots of depth and vulnerability as well.

If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read what's coming up here. But for the rest of you, we all know by now that Merida's mother and younger siblings all turn into bears. Now, that was never mentioned in promos or anything. But I had come across a review last summer, which I shouldn't have, because the writer talked openly about how they turned into bears. I was under the assumption that viewers wouldn't know that the bear was her mother until the end of the film in a big reveal, but that's not the case. Rather, we see her change fairly early on, so I guess I didn't need to worry about it all that much.

Humor plays a huge role in the film also. That's one of Pixar's strengths, and they know how to pull it off effortlessly. Merida's brothers are the troublemakers, and they are hilarious in pretty much any scene they're in. Besides this, another strong suit is the animation. I think it may be some of the best animation the studio has ever done--Merida's hair, the Scottish landscape, I could go on and on.

One viewing won't be enough for me. Eventually, I'll get the DVD, and then you know I'll have it playing multiple times over the next several years. In terms of Pixar's hits and misses, Brave is by far one of its hits.

Pitch Perfect (on DVD)

(Image courtesy of Universal Pictures)
When Pitch Perfect first came out in theaters, and marketing and promotion were in full swing, I didn't know much about it at first. But as I started to see promos and especially after seeing an interview with Rebel Wilson on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I started finding out more on what the movie was about. I'm a huge fan of Glee and Smash (I also watch Nashville), and I watch all the singing competition shows, so of course this movie would be right up my alley.

The best way to explain it is it's like Glee, but set in college. And instead of showchoirs, all the groups perform the songs a cappella. Having mentioned all these shows I watch, I didn't really know where to set my expectations going into it. But even if I had set it low (or too high, for that matter), I needn't have worried. Because Pitch Perfect turned out to be a fantastic movie!

First and foremost, the songs draw you in. The music starts right from the first second, with a sort of prologue of a previous competition where our main a cappella group fails at attaining the top spot. So they have to recruit new members the following year. Many of the new members seem like jokes at first, but it's their personalities that drive the humor forward. And their big get is Beca, played by the fabulous Anna Kendrick. Her voice pretty much blew me away--some of the songs she sings are "Titanium" and "Cups." Speaking of "Cups," which is her audition song--whoever came up with the idea to have her do that is a genius. If you haven't seen the movie yet, yes, it does involve a cup.

The people who chose which songs to include did so wisely and added certain arrangements that made some of them uniquely fresh. Songs include "Don't Stop the Music," "Since U Been Gone," "Right Round" and "Party in the USA." And there's quite a few mashups, which go along with what I said about the arrangements. And I really want to get the soundtrack now--until I do, I might just have to listen to all the tracks on YouTube on an endless, obsessive loop.

The humor is very strong throughout. Having Rebel Wilson as part of the cast added to it so much. And the writers and filmmakers created certain quirks and personality traits to many of the Barden Bellas members that had me laughing. 
I loved this film so much that I actually watched it a second time the next day when I suggested to my family they should watch it as well. If you're a fan of any of the singing competition or musical shows, then I highly recommend checking out Pitch Perfect. Now, keep in mind that it is PG-13 (for language and all that), so maybe not the best for younger kids, but definitely for anybody from their teens on up. I wouldn't put an upper age limit here because it's that good.

TV Watch Online (@TVWatchOnline)

Jeff Dodge Blog:
I Recommend: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' Film & 'Catfish: The TV Show'
Look at What Book I Got Early: 'Elimination Night' by Anonymous
Short Reviews: 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' & 'ParaNorman'

BuddyTV Articles (Articles I've written recently):
'Idol' Roundup: Kris Allen and Wife Injured in Car Accident
'Idol' Roundup: Jermaine Jones Auditioning for 'The Voice'

#1 Recommendations: Brave & Pitch Perfect

Look for my end of the year roundup of the top things I recommended on this blog throughout 2012 to be up soon.

And check out my Goodreads page to follow along what I'm reading and what I plan on reading in 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @TheJeffDodge. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to tweet me, e-mail me or leave a comment below.

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