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REVIEW – Power Rangers

April 7, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Produced by: Haim Saban, Brian Casentini, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
Screenplay by: John Gatins
Story by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Edited by: Martin Bernfeld, Dody Dorn
Cinematography by: Matthew J. Lloyd
Music by: Brian Tyler
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman
Based on the Power Rangers and Super Sentai TV series
Year: 2017

 

The film I’d always been asking for is finally here! … Sort of.

… Okay, let me clarify. A few years ago, I’d gotten all nostalgic about my childhood along with some friends, as people are wont to do, and the idea of creating a serious adaptation of the Power Rangers series we’d grown up with became a topic of fascination – at least for myself. I’d always imagined it as being something between serious and openly campy, acknowledging the series’ ridiculous qualities (“teenagers with attitude,” frenetic gesticulating and dramatic declarations prefacing every action, Rita Repulsa and her frequently giant-sized cronies, etc.) and embracing them alongside the aspects that could be made obviously and genuinely awesome (the action, the Zords, the monster battles).

Years later, we got what I always wanted. It’s called Pacific Rim. And it is incredible.

Now, years after that, we now have an actual Power Rangers movie – one that is somehow a more serious film than Pacific Rim, which is actually based on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series – Zordon, Alpha 5, Rita, and everything. Read more…

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REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

December 22, 2016 2 comments
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasDirected by: Andy Knight
Produced by: Lori Forte, John C. Donkin
Written by: Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Bill Motz, Bob Roth
Edited by: Daniel Lee
Art Direction by: Julie Eberley, Clive Powsey
Music by: Rachel Portman, Michael Starobin
Songs by: Rachel Portman, Don Black
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Paul Reubens, Haley Joel Osment, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Year: 1997

 

Disney may not have invented the concept of the midquel (a follow-up that takes place between the timeframe of the original work, rather than before or after), but with their direct-to-video series, I swear that they’re probably the one studio to make unusually extensive use of the concept. There’s Tarzan 2, Bambi II, The Lion King 1 ½, The Fox and the Hound II, and, as a follow-up to a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary just this year, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. (This would itself followed up by Belle’s Enchanted World, which was actually a compilation of episodes meant for a TV spinoff set within the timeline of the original movie that never came to be.) Along with the Aladdin movies and the first Lion King sequel, this was one of the few direct-to-video follow-ups my family actually had sitting around while growing up, and I recall that my sister and I would proudly claim that we were the owners of “the only good Disney sequels,” which… yeah, I don’t know about that, considering there weren’t that many at the time to begin with, and they all were pretty awful to meh in terms of quality. The Enchanted Christmas, in particular, is probably the worst of the four that we owned (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the others, granted), particularly considering the quality of the film that bore it. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Ghostbusters (2016)

July 19, 2016 1 comment
Ghostbusters (2016)Directed by: Paul Feig
Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Amy Pascal
Written by: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Edited by: Melissa Bretherton, Brent White
Cinematography by: Robert Yeoman
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong
Year: 2016

 

I really don’t know how to start off this review. With the whole ridiculous “controversy” surrounding this movie for its leads being “gender swaps” of the original actors, not to mention the subsequent fears of sounding like a misogynist for not liking the trailers (and misogynists fearing being called out for being one while still giving their misogynist opinions on it), I’m fairly certain that Ghostbusters surpassed even Batman v Superman and the whole Ben Affleck casting in terms of the absurd levels of stigmatization surrounding it. For a reviewer, it’s pretty hard to even begin reviewing this film without addressing it, and if you happen to not like it, I can only imagine it’s even harder to articulate your thoughts without them being twisted, misconstrued, or misworded into something that someone somewhere would take offense at. I know – I’m a man, and I’m reviewing this movie. In fact, every time I thought about how I was going to review this movie, I hated the fact that I felt that I had to work the review around this controversy, even as someone who personally could not have given any damns about the casting because I had absolutely no problems with it nor the particular women that were cast. “God help me,” I thought, “if I don’t end up liking this movie.” Lucky me, I did.

For the most part. Read more…

REVIEW: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

December 17, 2015 1 comment
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)Directed by: Ron Howard
Produced by: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Edited by: Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
Cinematography by: Donald Peterman
Music by: James Horner
Original song by: Mariah Carey, James Horner, Will Jennings, performed by Faith Hill
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Josh Ryan Evans, Clint Howard, Anthony Hopkins (voice)
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Year: 2000

 

I’m not really certain what makes studios think that live action adaptations of things that belong in animation are good ideas, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s because they make money. Obviously, that trumps artistic expression, more often than not. And that’s how you end up with things like The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. These movies are at least technical marvels, when sufficient effort is put into them, and the environments in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are really quite incredible and well realized. The makeup effects are also mostly impressive, too. That being said, I’ve only once ever seen a live action adaptation or extension of a property that I ended up liking more than the original, and that was this year’s live action Cinderella. Still, that’s one exception, and none of this can overshadow the fact that Dr. Seuss’ book was already perfectly adapted decades ago by Chuck Jones in the 26-minute-long, 1967 animated TV special, complete with the perfect look and tone, and, best of all, with absolutely zero filler to pad out the original book. The same cannot be said about Ron Howard’s admirable but misguided adaptation. Read more…

REVIEW: The Brady Bunch in the White House

Brady Bunch in the White HouseDirected by: Neal Israel
Produced by: Armand Leo, Lloyd J. Schwartz
Written by: Lloyd J. Schwartz, Hope Juber
Edited by: Terry Stokes
Cinematography by: Robert Seaman
Music by: Laurence Juber
Starring: Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Chad Doreck, Autumn Reeser, Blake Foster, Ashley Eckstein, Max Morrow, Sofia Vassilieva, Tannis Burnett, Saul Rubinek, Reagan Pasternak, Dave Nichols, Joshua Peace, Noah Danby, Jef Mallory
Based on the TV series The Brady Bunch
Year: 2002

 

The following review was originally conceived as an impromptu Facebook rant after I decided to watch this movie out of boredom while browsing Netflix, so if this review seems kind of random, it was. It wasn’t long before I realized, however, that I’d essentially written an impromptu movie review instead, so I took it and punched it up a bit and decided to publish it officially instead.

I think I just watched one of the most bafflingly horrendous movies I’ve ever seen – The Brady Bunch in the White House. The first two movies that took the characters and placed them in the 90s weren’t exactly comedy masterpieces, but they were pretty witty and smartly put together satires of the original show’s absurdity by mostly having the wholesome characters be unchanged and defiantly unfazed by the explicit realities of the then-modern world (save for Alice, who, as an honorary Brady, was given a bit more of an edge). It was a fairly clever concept, dodging the pitfalls that most other TV-to-movie adaptations succumb to, and even on an artistic level, those movies got everything just right: a near perfect cast, the musical cues, the sitcom style camera angles, the kitschy costumes and sets, and just enough heightened reality to let you know the people making it were doing it all in good fun while making it tolerable and enjoyable for all people, regardless of whether or not they actually liked the original show. (I hated it.) This third film, though… Read more…

REVIEW: The Nativity Story

December 23, 2013 3 comments
The Nativity StoryDirected by: Catherine Hardwicke
Produced by: Toby Emmerich, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Cale Boyter, Catherine Hardwicke, Mike Rich, Tim Van Rellim
Written by: Mike Rich
Edited by: Robert K. Lambert, Stuart Levy
Cinematography by: Elliot Davis
Music by: Mychael Danna
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac, Stanley Townsend, Clarán Hinds, Shaun Toub
Year: 2006

 

“Jesus is the reason for the season.” That’s what you always hear this time of year, isn’t it? And yet it seems like it’s pretty hard to find many movies exclusively based on the story of the birth of Christ, as opposed to His entire life or crucifixion. The Nativity Story is undoubtedly one of the few that does focus on this one aspect. I had actually meant to review this film long ago, when I first started this blog, but the movie’s always been checked out indefinitely this time of year on Netflix and Blockbuster (back when they, you know, actually did the whole physical movie renting). This was the first year I actually managed to be proactive and get a copy, and so I guess it’s only appropriate that I actually make good on that and finally review the film, right? Read more…

Independence Day Review: “Live Free or Die Hard”

Live Free or Die HardDirected by: Len Wiseman
Produced by: Michael Fottrel
Written by: Mark Bomback (screenplay and story), David Marconi (story)
Edited by: Nicolas De Toth
Cinematography by: Simon Duggan
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jonathan Sadowski, Kevin Smith
Based on the Wired article “A Farewell to Arms” by John Carlin
Year: 2007

 

People understandably lament the quick devolution that John McClane has undergone over the course of the four movies that have followed the original. The quick-witted everyman cop trying to win back his wife has become more known for performing ridiculous stunts and frequently being in the wrong place at the wrong time and yet just the right man for the job. The issue was already apparent in the incredibly dull Die Hard 2, and by the third film, the coincidences of his involvement become too glaring to ignore unless you suspend your disbelief and pretend like this is something that regular cops have to deal with every now and then in the Die Hard world. (Considering the ties that were later made to the TV series Chuck, I wouldn’t put it past them on that point, though.)
Read more…

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