Thursday, March 13, 2008

South Park- Imaginationland

There are two types of South Park watchers: those who watch on a regular basis and still love the show, and those who stopped watching after the third or fourth season. This DVD will appeal to both crowds.

Imaginationland was originally a three-parter from Season 11 that gets the full-length feature treatment in this DVD. Not much is different except for some re-inserted or extended scenes not seen on TV and of course is uncensored (which at times, the beeps are funnier than the actual expletives).

What fans might find appealing about this DVD (other than the awesome story) is the commentary given by creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Owners of season DVDs know that they usually only give about five minutes worth of commentary for episodes and just leave it at that. On this DVD we get commentary that lasts until about the hour mark. I won't spoil too much for those who want to listen to it, but they give insight how they toyed around with this being the second movie for South Park and how the inspiration for the story arc came from sources like Harry Potter, Narnia, 24, and Battlestar Galactica (they point out the best writing is in TV dramas these days). You'll definitely see the influence in the feature.

The two main storylines revolve around terrorists attacking our imagination and Cartman winning a bet to get Kyle to suck his balls and his quest to make this happen. Stay with me. It sounds pretty absurd and lewd, but South Park seems to be the only show to be able to pull this off (You hear that, Drawn Together?).

One of the most entertaining parts of Imaginationland is picking out the characters in Imaginationland, good and bad. You'll see everyone from Luke Skywalker, Snarf, Gizmo, Strawberry Shortcake, and yes, even Jesus, on the good side while characters like Freddy Krueger, Alien, Predator, and the Cavity Creeps on the bad side. Surely there has to be someone on the Internet who has compiled a full list of the characters shown.

There are characters that show up that the casual South Park watcher may not know, which is why they have also included the episodes “Woodland Critter Christmas” from Season eight and “Manbearpig” from Season 10 to help you understand what they characters mean in the realm of “South Park.” Both episodes are probably the best from those seasons, especially “Manbearpig.”

I'm a fan of South Park and have been watching since its first season, but I have to say that this story arc has been one of the best things to come from the show in quite some time. Definitely worth a rent or buy.

Gone Baby Gone

Let me get one thing out of the way: I do not like Ben Affleck. I think he's an ass and a terrible actor. But, watch me eat my own pride when I write, Ben Affleck is responsible for something I actually enjoyed. *GASP*

Fortunately Affleck is smart enough not to cast himself but to cast his brother, Casey, in the lead. In my opinion, Casey is the more talented of the two. Casey has what Ben doesn't have, likability and charm that doesn't come off as frat-boy smugness. Enough about my Ben-bashing.

Gone Baby Gone centers around Boston-area local detectives, played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, who are hired to investigate a young girl's kidnapping. Along the way they become entangled in a search that is not all what it seems and that ultimately leads to a decision that has to be made either professionally or personally.

It is a damn good movie, but not a great movie. The whole cast is perfect (down to the extras) and the tone and direction is spot on. Then why not “great”? I felt certain parts of the movie dragged and I felt Michelle Monaghan (from the great Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) was underused. Some people complain about the twist ending, but I think it's perfect and really helps nail the tone and theme overall.

“What would I have done?” That's something a lot of people might find themselves asking after watching this film. Is it about morals? Is it about doing the right thing? What is the right thing in the instance of law versus reality or well-being? It is that lingering question that makes the last scene of the film so powerful, and why I have to curse Affleck for making me give credit and praise where it is due.

Extras on the DVD include extended ending, commentary and behind the scenes segment from Ben Affleck. Not really thick with the extra features, but the movie is good enough that you won't mind.

You win this time, Affleck! You win...this time.