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Two Quick Takes

In an attempt to bring movement into my somewhat stagnant Netflix queue, I watched two movies in quick succession last week. Two consecutive movie week nights, two entirely opposed movies.

Tuesday: The Descent – first off, what a nice change of pace to have a horror movie where the women’s role is not simply to wear revealing clothing, and ever less of that, and to be either killed off as a morality demonstration (sex kills, kids) or rescued by the boyfriend. Six people, who happen to be women, go for an adventure in cave climbing and show themselves to be courageous, duplicitous, resourceful, reckless, smart, scared, noble and, at times, savage. In short, human. Frankly, I was plenty riveted by the cave drama (tight tunnels, darkness, no sure way out – hello claustrophobia) and could have done without the flesh-eating cave dwellers (external monsters where there were already plenty of internal monsters for our characters). You want tension? This movie delivers. Plus, some beautiful shots, especially one towards the end.

Wednesday: Ice Age 2: The Letdown. What was I thinking watching this movie? Well, I liked the first one, which was fun and had a nice story and was entertaining without being too sappy or saccharine (and no random songs, at least not that I remember). So, while I did not rush to see the second one in the theaters, having been burned before in that area, I did eventually put it on my queue, where it remained lo these many, many months until I had forgotten the impulse that made me add it in the first place. But because I’m obsessive that way, I can’t just remove it form the queue, no, I have to watch it. And I thought, how bad can it be, really? Plus, after the tension of The Descent, a nice fun, light-hearted movie is just what I need.

All of this justification of course is necessary to lead up to the fact that I was incredibly bored by the movie. Yeah, the animation was fantastic. The textures are amazing, especially the fur and the water effects. So detailed, it looked like real fur. Too bad all of this was expended on the very thin story line with flat to non-existent jokes, labored dialog, needless plot-expanding devices and random song intervals. Plus, too much religious overtones for me. I mean really, the flood’s coming in three days but there’s a ark boat to save all the prehistoric animals? Really? Why can’t there just be high ground at the other end of the valley? Why must it be a huge ark-shaped piece of bark, resting, ark-like, on outcroppings of rock that form a convenient ramp for animals to ascend two-by-two? Oh never mind, it doesn’t matter.  The movie wasn’t fun, and in comparison to the first Ice Age, as the computer animated magic and skills increased, the quality of the story decreased. Surface over substance, as is so often the case. Where The Descent made me tense in a wired, exciting way, Ice Age 2 just made me tired. I’m too old and cranky for these infantile jokes.

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