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REVIEW: Wizards

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment
WizardsDirected by: Ralph Bakshi
Produced by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Edited by: Donald W. Ernst
Music by: Andrew Belling
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers, James Connell, Susan Tyrrell, Mark Hamill
Year: 1977

 

I’ve only seen a few films of Ralph Bakshi – Cool World, Fritz the Cat, and now this movie – but there was a time when his works were always in the back of my mind whenever the subject of animation history came up. Ever since I was a kid, in fact, which is funny since almost none of his work is remotely child-friendly, except for perhaps his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. As a nerdy kid who studied almost anything that piqued my interest (but especially movies and video games), reading about Bakshi’s subversive, gritty, adult, and oftentimes controversial works always fascinated me. Revered as, if anything, noteworthy departures from the traditionally family fluff that, even today, is usually thought of as the default mode for animation in America, his stuff always stood out as almost mythical or even forbidden to my adolescent mind. I’d see references to it in stuff like The Simpsons and recognize the reference for what it was, but apart from maybe a few clips here and there, Bakshi’s animated films seemed to be spoken of in terms normally reserved for “banned” films like Song of the South and the infamous Censored Eleven – eleven Warner Bros. animated shorts that have been withheld from distribution due to their controversial, racially insensitive material. (I wasn’t far off in that regard, in retrospect, either.) Read more…

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GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old Fashioned

July 2, 2015 1 comment
Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old FashionedFIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Unrated)
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Produced by: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E.L. James
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel
Edited by: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil-Fisher
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Anthony Konechny, Emily Fonda, Rachel Skarsten
Based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Year: 2015

 

OLD FASHIONED
Directed by: Rik Swartzwelder
Produced by: Nathan Nazario, Dave DeBorde, Nini Hadjis, Rik Swartzwelder
Written by: Rik Swartzwelder
Edited by: Jonathan Olive, Phillips Sherwood, Robin Katz
Cinematography by: David George
Music by: Kazimir Boyle
Starring: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Nini Hadjis, Maryann Nagel, Lindsay Heath, Joseph Bonamico, Dorothy Silver, Ange’le Perez, Anne Marie Nestor
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers, including the movies’ endings.

 

Alright, everyone, listen up! Things are about to get ugly in here! I’m going to be fanning the flames of a culture war, and it’s bound to make some people kind of angry!

In one corner, we have the inexplicably popular, smutty to a fault movie adaptation of a book that was itself originally an online Twilight fan fiction, written by someone who didn’t seem to catch on to that franchise’s coded abstinence message: Fifty Shades of Grey! In the other corner, we have that film’s chaste, Christian-targeting, message-laden morality tale counterpart, meant to provide a more wholesome alternative for anyone who proudly proclaims that they’ve kissed dating goodbye: Old Fashioned!

… Okay, I can’t keep up that boxing announcer façade. …

Anyway, I’m reviving a very old (and once-used) feature on this blog that I really didn’t enjoy doing the first time around but recently figured would be kind of interesting to try again. (It’s something I’d been meaning to try for a while, anyway, back when I thought about doing it for the original King Kong and its remakes.) The concept behind this grudge match review works pretty much like you’d expect. There will be a series of rounds in which I compare the two movies to one another, and there will be a winner for each round based on which movie succeeds more in that area. What will make this a bit more interesting, however, is the fact these two films aren’t remakes or adaptations of the same source material, but rather polar opposites! The marketing for Old Fashioned proclaimed “Chivalry makes a comeback,” while the BDSM-themed, sex-and-nudity laden Fifty Shades demanded audiences “Lose Control.” As if its obvious opposition weren’t enough, the films were only released one week apart, with Old Fashioned beating Fifty Shades to the punch in an effort to overtake it and likely to encourage people to not give in to the smut.

I’m of the opinion, however, that too often Christian films try to take on too much of a counterculture stance, to the point where they’re not even willing to study the very thing they’re opposed to or portray it in a fair light. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I am a Christian, and yet I am more often than not finding myself at odds with the image the Christian pop culture industry and the people who consume it propagate for themselves, and flaunting it in non-Christians’ faces (and even the faces of Christians they disagree with), prideful in their willful ignorance. So, I am trying to do something different and see it from all sides in comparing the two movies. It’s actually kind of funny how they actually have some things in common! To be quite honest, though, I’m also trying to have a bit of fun at their expense, too. I mean… neither one of these movies is really any good, so I’m really not going to take this too seriously. I’m also just here to let you know which one is better than the other, too – or, in this case, which one is the least bad.

Read more…

REVIEW: Under the Skin (2013)

July 25, 2014 4 comments
Under the SkinDirected by: Jonathan Glazer
Produced by: James Wilson, Nick Wechsler
Written by: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer (screenplay)
Edited by: Paul Watts
Cinematography by: Daniel Landin
Music by: Mica Levi
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson, Joe Szula, Kryštof Hádek, Paul Brannigan, Michael Moreland, Dave Acton, Jessica Mance
Based on the novel by Michel Faber
Year: 2013

 

Under the Skin is one of those weird art films that apparently will perplex most, bore many, and leave only some at varying levels of admiration for the film. I don’t mean for that to sound snooty or anything, but it’s kind of true – this is a bizarre but arresting film that’s told through lots of strange and/or confusingly beautiful images and as little dialogue as possible without being a silent film, and the matter of fact way in which the film presents is unique premise will leave some put off if they’re not prepared or willing to accept what is happening and still let the film take them deeper into the world of “Laura,” an alien in a beautiful human woman’s body who patrols the streets of Scotland ensnaring men to take back to her lair. Yeah, I told you – it sounds pretty weird. Read more…

REVIEW: Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

October 9, 2013 4 comments
Perfect BlueDirected by: Satoshi Kon
Produced by: Hiroaki Inoue
Written by: Sadayuki Murai (screenplay)
Edited by: Harutoshi Ogata
Cinematography by: Hisao Shirai
Music by: Masahiro Ikumi
Starring (Manga Entertainment English voice cast): Bridget Hoffman, Wendee Lee, Barry Stigler, Lia Sargent, Steve Bulen, Jamieson Price, Frank Buck, Steven Blum
Based on the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Year: 1997

 

Review contains moderate plot points which may be considered spoilers, but are included for the sake of analysis. No plot twists or revelations are exposed, however.

Yes, I’m reviewing another anime film, this time a scary movie for Halloween! As previously noted in my review of Macross II, I was never really a fan of anime outside of the mainstream Studio Ghibli fare, but, thanks to the suggestion of my friend, Matt, I ended up going outside my comfort zone and wound up mostly enjoying what I saw with that quasi-film (assembled from a TV miniseries). I’m really going to have to start trusting my friend a bit more with his suggestions, though, ‘cause his latest suggestion (he clarified that this was not necessarily a recommendation, due to the contents of the film he suggested, so I guess I’ll honor his wording) was actually his best one yet. Yes, far better than K-PAX. Read more…

Review: “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”

April 12, 2013 3 comments
The Lost World - Jurassic ParkDirected by: Steven Spielberg
Produced by: Gerald R. Molen, Colin Wilson
Written by: David Koepp (screenplay)
Edited by: Michael Kahn
Cinematography by: Janusz Kamiński
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Vince Vaughn, Richard Schiff, Peter Stormare, Vanessa Lee Chester, Arliss Howard, Harvey Jason, Thomas F. Duffy, Don S. Davis
Based on the novel The Lost World by Michael Crichton
Year: 1997

 

This review contains spoilers…

You know when I said in my last review, the one for the original Jurassic Park, that the characters didn’t matter so much, and how the big highlight was the collection of dinosaur sequences? Yeah… I didn’t entirely mean it. Case in point: The Lost World, the sequel to one of the most groundbreaking blockbusters ever. You might think that, given a few years and a bigger budget, the film would be even more magical — better effects, more dinosaurs, larger cast of characters. As is the way with these things, however, the film suffers from diminishing returns. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: May – August

January 19, 2013 3 comments

Men in Black 3 - Josh Brolin and Will Smith

Ah, summer — the time of tentpole blockbuster films that are meant to pad out the studios’ budgets for the next few months. I believe I saw most of the major films released during this period, at least at some point in the year, if not the theatre: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-ManMen in Black 3, Battleship… Overall, it was a more than satisfying year for quality summer blockbusters that pleased both audiences and critics. … Well, probably not Battleship. That movie was awful.

Battleship - Alien ship. Yeah, I remember that from the boardgame.

With so many films that release in theatres that are best seen actually on the big screen, though, it was only inevitable that smaller and/or less interesting films fell by the wayside of my attention span. Critically acclaimed features like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oslo, August 31st would get unfortunately lumped in with similarly ignored-by-me crap like Step Up Revolution and That’s My Boy this past summer, which isn’t a commentary on their quality as much as it is a reflection of my time and budgetary restrictions. (I subscribe to a number of rental services and still buy and go see movies in theatres, but I can only do so much and thus prioritize quality spectacle films usually over the quality comedies and dramas.)

So while I do believe I got the most out of my summertime viewings that I possibly could, let’s go over the films that I somehow managed to not see as of the time of this writing, for better or for worse. Read more…

Review: Hobo with a Shotgun

February 7, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Jason Eisener
Produced by: Rob Cotterill, Niv Fichman, Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa, et al.
Written by: John Davies (and story), Jason Eisener & Rob Cotteril (story)
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman
Music by: Adam Burke, Darius Holbert, Russ Howard III
Year: 2011

 

You really get what you expect with this movie. If you’re coming into a film with a title like Hobo with a Shotgun and aren’t expecting graphic violence, cheese, and camp then, seriously, stop watching movies, because you’re clearly not very good at it. Hobo with a Shotgun delivers what its title promises, and then some. Read more…

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