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Underrated/Overrated

April 10, 2011

UNDERRATED

'How to Train Your Dragon' (2010): Every year the animated feature Oscar field can be split into "Pixar" and "everyone who loses to Pixar." That could soon change given last year's charming, Oscar-nominated film from DreamWorks. With rich visuals, sweet storytelling and inventive characters (especially those goofy-cute dragons), it shows Pixar might not be the best game in town for much longer, particularly with a sequel to the underwhelming "Cars" just ahead.

The soundtrack for '180° South: Conquerors of the Useless' (2010): A visually stunning and thought-provoking documentary about mountain climbers trekking to the Patagonia wilderness and reflecting on conservation, this film gains a quiet strength from contemplative and rustic music from the Shins' James Mercer, Mason Jennings and Ugly Casanova (a.k.a. Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock). Getting back to nature always sounds good, but here it sounds perfect.

OVERRATED

The endurance of 'Catfish': Never mind that the alleged "twist" of this talked-about 2010 documentary is something anyone who's used the Internet figures out in roughly 24 hours — that people are not always who they say — and consider its filmmakers recently signed a development deal with MTV for a series on people using alternate identities online. Good on them for finding success, but will they have enough time to document roughly 80% of the Internet?

Music in the 'Cloud': Much has been made about Amazon beating its competitors in allowing users to store their music on some hard drive in the sky to allow online access from anywhere. First, in the age of bite-sized iPods and MP3-ready phones, is accessing digital music really a problem? And second, given that every other week there's a security leak in some customer database, why is trusting a corporation with your music collection suddenly a good idea?

Chris Barton

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