Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Croods 3D Review

Recently, movie studios have been quite adventurous in storytelling when it comes to animated features. There was Up (2009) whose hero was an elderly man. Last year, there was Brave, a medieval Scottish tale about an independent thinking young woman. This year, Dreamworks has released a tale about a family. But it's not just any family. It's a prehistorical tale about a Neanderthal clan.

The Croods (pronounced "crudes") are a family of Neanderthal humans. They are led by Grug Crood (Nicholas Cage, the father and leader of the family. In this family is the mother, Ugga (Catherine Keener), son Thug (Clark Duke), baby daughter Sandy (Randy Thorn), mother in law, Gran (Cloris Leachman), and young teenage daughter Eep. (Emma Stone) Grug's philosophy of life is fear. Darkness and exploration brings danger and at times they do, since wild animals could prey on humans. He commands the family to cower in the cave and not leave during the night. But the story is told through Eep who yearns to explore the world. She escapes the cave and finds Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a homo sapien young man, who knows how to make fire. After an earthquake destroys the cave, the family and Guy set out to find a new home, one which Guy calls "Tomorrow."

The performances are all pretty good. Nicholas Cage doesn't overwhelm us with any mugging and his Grug is the depiction of conservative based on fear. Ryan Reynolds comes off as youthful, and smart. But as always, Emma Stone delivers another great performance. She's hopeful and adventurous. She is the most attractive of the characters.

Directors Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps) (have written a competent screenplay based on their story with John Cleese. Yes, it's the Monty Python Cleese. I like the ideas in the film. The issue of overcoming fear with intelligence and hope is a good thing to teach children.

But it's the bizarre plot points that bring down the movie a bit. First, a number of the animals bear no resemblance to real world creatures that existed at the time. Angry birds that can strip the flesh off other animals sounds like something from another planet. And there's a saber tooth tiger that looks more like a gigantic stuffed animal created by Andy Warhol than the one you see at the museum. All this makes me want to watch this movie on drugs. Then there is using Neanderthals as protagonists. Gutsy. But frankly, they're not very attractive. Still, get through the first two thirds and The Croods' hopeful ideas carry the film.

As for the 3D, I can mildly recommend you see The Croods in 3D. Some effects pop. Best scene is where the fire sends embers in the air. But a good deal of the film takes place in the darkness. Not conducive for 3D and especially bad since you're wearing dark glasses. It's not as great as Sanders' How to Train Your Dragon. Still, the 3D effects are noticeable.

The Croods 3D is a good movie not a great one. It does have a great message about following intelligence over fear. The grade is B.

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