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  • 2004-12-15
Thies Week - The Incredibles - Bad Santa - The Polar Express

The Incredibles

Director: Brad Bird

Pixar has once again made an ambitious, funny and powerful computer-generated animation movie, which elegantly succeeds in being enjoyable for children and grown-ups alike. Though this action comedy continues in the Pixar style of good, entertaining storytelling, it's a slightly more edgy Pixar movie than usual. However, it still boasts a familiar message: Family always comes first. "The Incredibles" is about a family of superheroes that has to hide their incredible skills because the law prevents them from doing what they do best: saving the world. The movie is filled with funny gadgets and great attention to detail. Perhaps the pacing of the story is a little off once in a while, but the incredibly inventive action and the passionate voices of the characters more than make up for it. **** (Julie Vinten)

Following in the footsteps of "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo," Disney's Pixar has another blockbuster on its hands. This is a tremendously entertaining family feature that will keep both kids and adults thoroughly enthralled. Combining action, comedy and drama you actually care about these oddball cartoon characters. Bob Parr (voice of Craig T. Nelson) used to save lives and fight evil every day. Parr is also known as superhero Mr. Incredible. He's married to the flexible Elastigirl (Holly Hunter). They also have three kids with strange superpowers. Another remarkable personage is Edna 'E' Mode, voiced by director Brad Bird ("The Iron Giant") and based on Edith Head, the Hollywood costume designer for 500 films. "The Incredibles" is a breath of fresh air, visually exciting and very funny. ***** (Laimons Juris G)

Bad Santa

Director: Terry Zwigoff

As a holiday movie, this certainly doesn't belong to the "fun for the whole family" category. Without doubt, this dark comedy is the most vulgar and rude Hollywood film of the year - and bless its soul for that. It's extremely funny, but also tragic. Billy Bob Thornton plays a low-life, shopping mall Santa Claus who is slowly drinking himself to death until he meets a kid who actually believes him to be Santa. But "Bad Santa" is uncompromising and refuses to make Thornton's character sympathetic in the way most Hollywood lead characters are. As offensive and foul-mouthed as it may be, it's also well scripted and clever. "Bad Santa" is a breath of fresh air compared to all the lousy, politically correct teenage comedies and other shamelessly sentimental Christmas movies out there. **** (Julie Vinten)

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a mean-spirited son of a bitch who's constantly drunk and uses the f-word in every sentence. He also happens to be a department store Santa during the Christmas season. He and his midget friend Marcus (Tony Cox) have been running a successful scam. After doing their gig, they rob the store and split. This bleak satire is strictly for adults and it's definitely not a movie for youngsters or uptight prudes. Four-letter words whip by at a phenomenal pace, giving "Bad Santa" an air of down-to-earth saltiness. Thornton as a down-on-his luck alcoholic (with no hope and no future) is brilliant. This is also one of the few known films in which a real-life midget (Cox) delivers a genuine Oscar-worthy performance. *** (Laimons Juris G)

The Polar Express

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, "The Polar Express" is about a small boy who doesn't quite believe in Santa Claus until one Christmas eve he is invited to take a magical journey to the North Pole to meet Santa. This $150,000,000-plus movie was made using computer generated images. and is the third collaboration between actor and director Robert Zemeckis (the first two being "Forrest Gump" (1994) and "Cast Away" (2000). I didn't have the chance to watch this movie, but the trailer gave me the creeps somewhat. The characters look like wax-dolls with dead eyes and synthetic skin. Reviewers either seem to think it's a visually stunning, Christmas-spirit bomb or a boring, saccharine mess. (Not reviewed) (Julie Vinten)

It's the night before Christmas and Hero Boy (voice of Daryl Sabara) is having doubts that Santa Claus exists. Out of the snowy darkness comes a train, pulling-up in front of his house. The conductor (Tom Hanks) tells him to climb aboard, which he reluctantly does. Robert Zemeckis has directed some astounding and enjoyable films, including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," the "Back to the Future" trilogy and "Forrest Gump," to name just a few. In this case, the story is sweet and meaningful, but the animation is downright creepy. The characters may look human, but have a wax-like glaze, the mouths and eyes being particularly eerie. The film lacks spirit and would have been more energetic and believable using live actors combined with the overwhelming and impressive computer-generated effects.**I 3/4 (Laimons Juris G)

***** Excelent. Don't miss it!

**** Very good. See it!

*** Good. It's up to you.

** Average. Nothing spetial.

* Waste of time. Forget it.