Stir-Fry Cinema Podcast Series

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stir-Fry PSA: 3D Movies

Enjoy this short Public Service Announcement from

Stir-Fry Cinema's own Eli "E" Lister.

Learn how to protect yourself and loved ones

from the dangers of...

Protect yourself, folks.   

You wouldn't let this into your home, would you?

Then why would you let 3D Movies in?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Genre: Scif-Fi, Comedy

Starring: Dorothy Stratten, Stephen Macht, J.D. Hinton, Avery Schreiber

Director: William Sachs

Release Date: June 6th 1980

Click the link below for this week's

Stir-Fry Cinema Podcast


(or use the embedded player above)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Astro Boy

Astro Boy
Genre: Family, Animation

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane

Director: David Bowers

Release Date: October 23rd 2009

     In the floating metropolis of Metro City, technology has taken the form of robots that serve society's every whim.  They cook for us, clean for us, drive for us, and when they become broken or outdated, they are discarded to the Earth's surface.  The most brilliant robotocist in Metro City is Dr. Tenma, widely respected yet wholly neglectful of his son, Toby, a genius in his own right.

     While demonstrating his new "Peacekeeper" robot, tragedy strikes for Dr. Tenma.  Stricken with grief, Tenma builds Astro Boy, a truly state-of-the-art robot packed with defensive capabilities, and bearing the name and memories of his son.  Powerful people have other designs for the boy, though.  Can this new Toby find his place in the world before it's too late.

     Adapted from the famous Japanese manga series of the same name, Astro Boy is a pleasant surprise amidst a slew of disappointing and lackluster family films.  Though a fan of manga and anime, I was not very familiar with the original Astro Boy series, and I think this probably worked in my favor as far as my enjoyment of the film goes.  I didn't go into it with lofty expectations, so I wasn't disappointed by any changes they may have made.

     The first thing I noticed is the art style.  They keep the over-exaggerated physical characteristics so common to anime in many places, and I think it worked well for the way the characters were designed.  Also, the animation itself is beautiful.  Every scene is clean and complete, with a great attention to detail that really made the sci-fi utopia Metro City really immersive.

     The action scenes were particularly well done, also.  Each choice of angle is well planned, and complements the scene without intruding.  I enjoyed the film overall, but the action/fight sequences particularly caught my attention.  It's not every day an animated film gets my adrenaline going.

     Having said that, the story is a bit formulaic.  There are some nice (though predictable) "surprises", but the writing wasn't award worthy by any meas.  That didn't detract from my enjoyment, though, as this is really a film for kids, and you have to approach it with that in mind.

     Despite other weaknesses in the script, though, there were some VERY funny moments.  As usual when he is part of the cast, most of these belonged to Bill Nighy.  The humor was not too highbrow, though.  Even though I enjoy when a movie like this can slip in some humor for the parents, I feel many movies these days try much too hard at that, and as a result, they miss opportunities for good humor that children will enjoy.  This one did a nice job in balancing that, though.

     The voice acting was all tolerable at least, and very good in some cases.  Nic Cage's voice tends to drive me a little crazy, but it wasn't too overwhelming in this.  The same goes for Donald Sutherland.  They irked me, but not too much.  Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell both did nice jobs.  Nathan Lane and Bill Nighy are both old hats at voice acting and were, of course, the highlights for me.  Nighy actually played two roles in the movie, one of which I didn't even realize was him until the credits rolled.

     There are some potentially upsetting places, particularly when Toby dies in the beginning.  I think for the most part, though, this will be more distressing for parents than for children.  At least when we watched it, when my daughter saw the robot that looked like Toby, sounded like Toby, and acted like Toby, she just thought, "Okay, Toby's back."  My wife didn't get past that quite as easily.

     Overall, this was a very nice film, animated or no.  I think it really stands out amid the stock of family films that have come out recently, and I am sad it didn't get appreciated more than it did.  I know I didn't hear much about it until it hit DVD.  Hopefully if they make a sequel, they will keep the same spirit and quality, because they could have a very good franchise on their hands.

Story: 4 out of 5
Animation: 4.5 out of 5
Voice Acting: 3.5 out of 5 (rating the cast as a whole, good with the bad)
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Petey & Pussy

Petey & Pussy
Genre: Graphic Novel

Written and Illustrated by John Kerschbaum

Publisher: Fantagraphics

Release Date: October 29th 2008

     Petey & Pussy is the story of a dog and cat with human heads, and the adventures and misadventures they find themselves in.  With a slew of other animal characters and very few humans, these two balding anthropomorphics occupy the bulk of the story.  This is not actually a good thing, though.

     I did not enjoy this book.  ANY of this book.  It seemed, as I read it, that it had absolutely nothing to recommend it whatsoever.  I only finished it because it was short, and I was tenacious, determined to find some humor in it.  Unfortunately for me, I failed miserably in that task.

     The story is unimaginative and boring.  There are many small asides to it, but the straightforward plot is this.  Petey is a gross and mannerless stray dog, who is friends with Pussy, a cat who wars glasses.  And once again, yes, they have HUMAN heads.  The bulk of the story surrounds trying to retrieve Pussy's glasses when they fall down a storm drain.  there's also a suicidal parrot, Bernie, who wants nothing more than for Pussy to kill him.  There is a mouse that Pussy repeatedly tells how badly he wants to kill.  Most disturbingly, there is a nasty old woman (Pussy's owner) who apparently suffers from dementia and likes to put things up her cat's namesake.  Yep.

     The writing is equally boring.  I think the extent of Kerschbaum's "idea" was to swear a lot and try to be as grotesque as possible, presumably to shock his readers into laughing.  I'm not easily offended, not by any stretch of the imagination.  I am relatively certain, however, that I did not actually laugh once.

     The art is equally sophomoric.  Unique though his style may be, being unique is NOT the same thing as being good.I'm sure there are people out there who greatly revere his artistic "talents" but I'm sorry, I'm simply not one of them.  Also, what he lacked in quality and creativity, he certainly didn't make up for in variety.  Pages go by with nearly identical panels and nothing else.  At one point, I think I stopped looking at the art altogether.  His work seems better suited to the "daily newspaper strip" format than to full length comics, because that is about all I can stomach of it.

     I have tried to find positive things to say about the book.  Oh, have I tried.  Sadly, I just can't.  As I said before, it truly had no redeeming qualities for me.  Not one.  If you have read this and disagree, by all means, leave a comment with your take on it.  Maybe you can help me see it in a more appreciative light.  For now, though, I suppose there is ONE good thing I can say for it:

     At least it's short.

Story: 1 out of 5
Art: 1 out of 5 (at least it's not stick figures)
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5

Monday, April 5, 2010


Genre: Action, Comedy, Western

Starring: Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn

Director: Joachim Roenning & Espen Sandberg

Release Date: January 18th 2006

Click the link below for this week's

Stir-Fry Cinema Podcast

I enjoyed the movie greatly...

...and E's lifelong dream of seeing Steve Zahn's
big white ass finally came true!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, et al.

Director: Chris Weitz

Release Date: November 20th 2009

     New Moon, the second installment of the hit series of Twilight adaptations, opened in US theaters to poor reviews and a fan following that can only be described as fanatical.  The plot from Twilight of a teenage girl, Bella Swan, moving to gloomy Forks, Washington, where she befriends and falls in love with 17 going on 100+ year old vampire Edward Cullen, takes many twists and turns in this next chapter.

     After a birthday party gone awry, Edward and the rest of the Cullens leave Forks suddenly, shattering what little grip on reality the every angsty Bella may have had.  Only her friendship with Quileute tribesman Jacob Black keeps her from falling completely off the deep end.  There's one problem with that, though.  Jacob and several of his fellow tribesmen are Werewolves, and to add to that, they are the sworn enemies of all blood suckers.  Sounds like every other love triangle, right?

     I feel it prudent to say early on that I read all four Twilight books some time ago (that's right, I really WILL read anything once).  Therefore, there was not a single plot twist that I didn't see coming.  Since I'm not an impartial judge of their effectiveness on New Moon virgins, and in the interest of fairness, I am excluding them from my discussion and rating of the movie.  Instead, I'm going to jump straight to the actors.  Really, all special effects and plot twists aside, this is a love story, and the actors are the heart and soul of it.

     What can I say about Kristen Stewart that doesn't violate the "If you can't say something nice..." rule?  Unfortunately, not much.  I don't know where she studied acting, but someone really needs to tell her that scoffing, mumbling, sighing, and making prolific use of the "awkward pause" do NOT make you an actor.  They're called levels, folks, and she lacks them entirely.  She is so bad, she borders on he point of being physically painful to observe, and through both of the first two installments, I constantly found myself wondering what the fuss was about.  These two are nearly invulnerable, powerful, mythical creatures, and they are obsessing and fighting over someone with the emotional range of a soft taco.

     Playing her bloodsucking suitor is Robert Pattinson.  Let me say up front that I do think Pattinson is a talented actor.  Maybe it was the material, or his costar, or his lack of screen time, but it simply doesn't come through for me in this at all.  He very nearly played Edward as a statue, and it is really disappointing for me to see.

     On the other side of the triangle is Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black.  While his acting isn't stellar, he at least shows some depth and emotional range.  Also, his physical acting (including his stunt work) stands out so far beyond that of his costars that it starts to look award worthy.  In fact, the Quileutes/Werewolves as a whole really stood out for me.  The actors all had such life, he really seemed like a family, like a bunch of kids thrust into a strange situation and trying to cope.  They were very convincing, and the necessary familial and tribal bonds of the characters were present and a very nice touch.

     As for the Vampires, they were hit and miss.  Some were pleasantly surprising, like Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and Esme (Elizabeth REaser).  They did nice jobs in this, as they did in Twilight.  Some, like Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) just came across as wooden and forced (as they did in Twilight).  And some, like Alice (Ashley Greene) were good or bad depending on the scene.  I will say that Michael Sheen , who you may know as the Lycan leader Lucian in Underworld (yep, he played a werewolf, now he's a vampire) was genuinely creepy, but he is an outstanding actor.  I almost think it was a mistake to have such a heavy hitter as him in the mix, as it really just highlighted for me the shortcomings of much of the rest of the cast.

     The effects were outstanding, to say the least.  The wolf transformations and vampiric speed effects in particular were top notch.  The directing and cinematography were certainly better than Twilight, (though the music was NOT), but not by much.  This is, after all, the director who brought us the abomination that is American Pie.

     Overall, it was definitely an improvement over Twilight.  Even Stewart improved, albeit minutely.  In fact, only Pattinson really seemed NOT to improve, though again, that may have been the fault of the script or his minimal screen time.  It is an effects driven movie, and if you go into it from that perspective, (or are a Twilight nut), you will not be disappointed.  If only I fell into one of those two categories.

Acting: 2 out of 5
Effects: 4 out of 5
As An Adaptation: 3 out of 5
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bitch Slap

Bitch Slap
Genre: Action, Crime, Exploitation

Starring: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Michael Hurst, Kevin Sorbo

Director: Rick Jacobson

Release Date: November 6th 2009

Click the link below for this week's

Stir-Fry Cinema Podcast

E relaxes with a Twix bar and a drink...

...while I furiously TwitterCast.