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Recently in When Animal Movies Attack Category

Jurassic Park 3D: Five Flaws the 3D Won’t Fix

Like almost everyone else who saw Jurassic Park during its initial theatrical run 20 years ago, I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for Steven Spielberg's feature-length montage of dino rampage, which was based on Michael Crichton's best-selling book. It's an old-fashioned summer blockbuster executed with then new (and now old-fashioned) digital wizardry that plays like gangbusters when seen on the big screen with a packed crowd. And I have no doubt that the third-dimension enhanced Jurassic Park 3D, which opens theatrically on Friday, will be one of the better post-3D conversions of library titles, if only because Spielberg is a James Cameron-level stickler when it comes to the presentation of his past work. But as impressive as the T-Rex, those velociraptors and the rest of the film's computer-generated cast of giant lizards might look in 3D, there are some deep-seated flaws with Jurassic Park that even the format change won't be able to compensate for or distract from. Flaws like...

War Horse and We Bought a Zoo: Which Cheesy Animal Movie Should You See This Christmas?

Blame it on Marley & Me. When that cutesy-poo tearjerker about a family and their dog topped the holiday box office charts a few years back, Hollywood started looking around for other sentimental animal-centric tales designed to warm the hearts of even the sourest grinches. This year, families can choose between not just one, but two cheesy movies about adorable animals and the humans that love them, Steven Spielberg's War Horse and Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo. The latter is based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee and stars Matt Damon as a widower, who packs up his two kids and moves them to a dilapidated zoo, which they have to get up and running again before it's shut down for good. The former is derived from Michael Morpurgo's children's novel (which also served as the basis for a recent Tony Award-winning play) and follows a spirited horse named Joey, who gallops through the lives of an all-star cast of European character actors (Emily Watson! Benedict Cumberbatch! Niels Arestrup!) against the backdrop of World War I. Although they tell very different stories, both films have the same ultimate goal: to make you weep often and openly. So which one succeeds? We'll answer that by pitting the films against each other in a few key areas.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: You Finally Made a Monkey out of Me

Full disclosure: I, like many of the people who will go to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes this weekend, have never actually seen an entire Apes film from start to finish. I have, however, watched the famous clips, know the plotlines and have all of the Simpsons references committed to memory. I tell you this because instead of going into this film as a fan of the franchise, I wanted to view it more as standalone summer blockbuster. I believe that even if I was a diehard Aper (that's what y'all are called, right?), I wouldn't feel a substantial amount of yearning to know the complete origin story of exactly how the apes came to take over earth by the year 3978 -- or, I suppose, 5021, if you're a Tim Burton fan . The premise makes sense and everything as a movie, but it can also just be summed up in two words: crazy science.

Zookeeper: The Talking Animals Are More Dimensional Than the Humans

If you thought Paul Blart was the most genius comedy of the last decade, or have a particular affection for all things talking animal related, then this is the film for you. For the rest of the world (including myself), this movie is about as entertaining as you'd expect, by which I mean that there are perhaps ten genuinely funny minutes (I might be rounding up a tad) during the hour and a half running time. According to the credits, five people wrote this movie, but I honestly wish that the person responsible for the opening proposal scene had contributed more, because that might have upped the overall quality from a D to a solid C+.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Five Movies the Trailer Reminds Us Of

The first trailer for the Planet of the Apes prequel/remake/reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has hit the Internet, and it looks pretty great. That's mostly because it looks nothing like Tim Burton's overwrought remake of Planet from 2001, but also because it seems to borrow as much from recent horror films as it does Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the 1972 film that it partially draws on. Here are the other movies I couldn't help but think of as I watched the trailer.

Hanna-Barbera Cartoons That Deserve Movies More than Yogi Bear

Watching the trailers for Yogi Bear makes my eyes hurt. Not only because of the computer-generated fur on Yogi and his pal Boo-boo, but because I'm picturing the horrible future that awaits us if the movie succeeds. Snagglepuss! Huckleberry Hound! Quick Draw McGraw! All of these funny-voiced animals are on the list of Hanna Barbera creations that could conceivably get a crack at the big screen if Yogi does well, and while I have fond memories of those characters, I simply can't see how any of them would make good movies. The worst part? Hanna-Barbera made hundreds of cartoons, not all of them starring animals, and some of them would make amazing movies. In fact, Warner Bros. is developing a movie based on the adventure series Jonny Quest for 2012 -- granted, they first tried back in 1995, but this time I hope they'll be able to make it stick. Here are some other HB properties (yes, even a few talking-animal 'toons) that I think would be great big-screen spectacles.

Marmaduke: Other Comic Strips That Deserve Movies

Hollywood has long turned to comic strips for its source material, from Li'l Abner back in 1940 to Dick Tracy in 1990 to today's CGI-enhanced Garfield franchise. Now we have the live-action Marmaduke, in which a mostly real Great Dane speaks with the voice of Owen Wilson, despite the fact that Marmaduke is one of the few comic strip animals that never spoke. And while Great Danes are certainly adorable, we can't help but think about all of the much better comic strips out there that have never gotten and will likely never get their own movies. Here's a smattering of strips that we'd love to see play out on the big screen.

New Moon: Yet Another Movie About a Native American Werewolf

In the first Twilight film, we learn that Jacob Black is a member of the Native American Quileute tribe -- in the sequel New Moon, we find out he's also a werewolf. Not bound by the full moon, the Blacks can transform on command into oversized but otherwise normal-looking wolves. While not particularly creative, it's certainly a refreshing change of pace from the way Native American werewolves are normally portrayed in movies, and there are a lot of them. While most ignore the specifics of the legend, most films that combine werewolves and Native Americans cannibalize the myth (or at least the name) of the "skin-walker,'' a witch or shaman who has committed murder or another deplorable act to gain power or take revenge. (Episodes of Supernatural and The Dresden Files have, as well.) Here are some films that touch on the skin-walker legend.

Up: Solving the Pixar Formula for Success

We have to admit, Pixar seems to be able to do no wrong. Every time they make a new movie, they try to do something unique and different -- talking race cars, cooking rats, mute robots -- and each time it turns out to be a hit. But are they really all that unique and different? We've seen a bunch of footage from their newest film, Up, and we can see a bunch of similarities to their previous films. Are all Pixar movies pretty much the same story? Doesn't everyone tell the same story, in a way? Isn't life just one big story that's forever being told? Ponder that one as we search for patterns in the Pixar universe.

Tom Hanks: Angel… or Demon? His Best and Worst Roles

Angels and Demons opens this weekend, and boy, does it look... exactly the same as The Da Vinci Code, except this time Tom Hanks has a decent haircut. And when the defining characteristic of your lead character is his haircut, you may be in trouble. (In other words, don't expect to beat Star Trek, Tom.) We're kinda disappointed, because usually Hanks delivers memorable, distinctive performances, whether good (Philadelphia) or bad (Bosom Buddies). Putting aside his famously Oscar-winning performance and his first steady cross-dressing job, we thought we'd run down the five roles that make Hanks a saint in our eyes, and the five that make him the devil.



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