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REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

March 21, 2017 2 comments
Directed by: Bill Condon
Produced by: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman
Screenplay by: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Edited by: Virginia Katz
Cinematography by: Tobias Schliessler
Music by: Alan Menken
Songs by: Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, Tim Rice
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack
Based on the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast and the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Year: 2017

 

It’s hard to take a movie like Beauty and the Beast and review it on its own terms. It would be easy to compare this film to Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, which infamously almost exactly remade the original film, save for a few stylistic choices, color cinematography, a new cast, and the fact that the film was absolute crap. I’ve heard some compare this film, however, to a new cast simply taking over what is essentially a theatrically released play, which is certainly a nice and valid sentiment. The problem with that, however, is this doesn’t excuse the fact that this 2017 edition is still ultimately inferior to the otherwise identical original. Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast (1991)

September 24, 2016 3 comments
beauty-and-the-beast-1991Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Produced by: Don Hahn
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton
Story by: Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson, Kevin Harkey, Brian Pimental, Bruce Woodside, Joe Ranft, Tom Ellery, Kelly Asbury, Robert Lence
Edited by: John Carnochan
Music by: Alan Menken, Howard Ashman
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley, Mary Kay Bergman, Kath Soucie, Tony Jay, Frank Welker
Based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Year: 1991

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs may have been Disney’s (and the world’s, for that matter) first animated feature film, but, for many people (including myself), its recognition as still being their best has long since been overthrown by Beauty and the Beast, a film that was so well regarded that it also became the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the first film, period, to have three songs simultaneously nominated for Best Original Song. When you know the production history, it’s also apparent how much of a miracle it was that the film turned out so well, too. Originally planned as a non-musical, the original concept was thrown out after the success of The Little Mermaid (the film that reignited Disney’s animated feature division and pretty much audience’s interest in animated films and musicals worldwide). This change saw both the original director depart the project and the hiring of first time directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise to take his place, and then the writing and recording of songs to fit the new format – songs written by Howard Ashman, who had also just found out that he was dying from complications caused by AIDS. Sadly, Ashman died eight months before the film’s release, but, at the very least, it was knowing the film he had worked so hard on was being well-received at early screenings, even in its incomplete state. The film would go on to become a massive success and would even become the first animated feature Disney would adapt into a Broadway production – one that was itself nominated for multiple Tonys (albeit, in spite of critical reviews at the time being somewhat apprehensive towards the unprecedented production) – and an upcoming live-action remake, which, if it’s closer to Cinderella than it is Maleficent, should be quite a decent film in its own right. Read more…

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…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Cinderella (2015)

March 25, 2015 2 comments
Cinderella (2015)Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Produced by: Simon Kinberg, David Barron, Allison Shearmur
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz
Edited by: Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Haris Zambarloukos
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård, Nonso Anozie, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Eloise Webb
Based on Cendrillon by Charles Perrault and the 1950 Walt Disney Pictures film
Year: 2015

 

I am admirer of the work put out by Disney, despite not always admiring the company itself. Their penchant for retelling the same stories time and time again admittedly gets old, and their recent attempts to remake and retell their animated films in live action, complete without songs, did not sit well with me. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this – they did the same thing back in the ‘90s when they did live action versions of The Jungle Book and the briefly franchised 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, the obviously named 102 Dalmatians, which… at least they got Glenn Close to come back? Anyway, I was not particularly looking forward to Cinderella – a retelling of a tired story which, to be quite honest, provided us with one of Disney’s lesser animated films back in the day – especially after the massive disappointment that was the atrocious Maleficent last year seemingly proved this whole thing was just one big cash grab, motivated by the money Tim Burton’s also-atrocious Alice in Wonderland made. When the trailers came out, the ones with actual actors and not just a spinning glass slipper, I didn’t even like the look of the film. So, no, I was not looking forward to the new and needless Cinderella, 2015 edition. Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – April)

January 15, 2015 1 comment

Joe - Tye Sheridan, Nicolas Cage

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. We all pretty much know this is the dumping ground for lesser films prior to the summer blockbusters and awards season after that. Still, it’s worth mentioning that this was a slog to go through, and I didn’t even see these movies; I just charged myself with reviewing why I never got around to them.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from January to April 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: My Top 15 Worst Films of the Year

February 8, 2014 1 comment
This isn't on this list, you jerks.

Surprise! This isn’t on this list, you jerks.

I ended up seeing a lot of movies in 2013 – more than I had expected. So many, in fact, that when I was attempting to assemble a list of the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, I managed to assemble a list of 15 candidates that I honestly felt were all very worthy of being placed here on the list. And so I saw fit to revise my previous plans and expand the list from 10… to 15!

Below are some of the worst things that Hollywood produced and released in the year 2013. Obviously, I didn’t see every movie in 2013, and so I couldn’t include some very likely candidates, like The Smurfs 2 or Battle of the Year, or the two rival horror movie spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie V. I can only take so much, so that’s why I call this list MY list.

Some of these are almost lengthy enough to be reviews, I admit. I got fairly passionate about the awfulness of some of the movies more than others. Some of the material, I admit, may find itself into an official, separate, and expanded review, as well, just so I can avoid the need to talk about it that much more if I do ever get around to reviewing the actual film. For a couple of them I already did review, and so you’ll see links attached to the titles.

For now, however, these are just considered summaries, ranking from least worst to worst worst. These represent the most boring, lazy, stupid, inept, and awful movies I saw this past year, and so all I can say is that I’m happy I made it out alive to warn you against seeing them. There were too many fun, enjoyable, and awesome movies released in 2013 for too many of us to spend our hard earned money on these films without at least wanting to see a bad movie. So… yeah. You’re welcome. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – April)

January 11, 2014 3 comments

Iron Man 3 - Robert Downey, Jr.

With a few exceptions, this is the time of year when studios tend to dump lesser films and films not expected to do well during the blockbuster and Oscar seasons — stuff like low budget horror films, foreign imports, romcoms cashing in on Valentine’s Day, and films held off because the studios would rather market them at a time when nothing else is really out, and they might be able to get a few bucks out of those who crave a blockbuster but don’t want to wait a few months. Naturally, being the thrifty, frugal person I am, there were quite a few films I didn’t see during this time period, though with the summer blockbuster season creeping earlier and earlier into the year, such as with the high profile March release of Oz the Great and Powerful and the April release of Iron Man 3, it certainly seems like studios are catching on to the idea that, hey, there’s room to spread them all out. One can only hope that if that trend continues, filmmakers would be more likely to try harder and make films that standout in quality for your dollar… but that’s probably unrealistic.

Anyway, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from January – April 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 2, 2013 3 comments

This same section of my 2011 in Review had 17 films listed on what I, at the time, called “The Films I Liked.” 2012 being the first full year that I was blogging, I made a concerted effort to see as many films released in the year as I could afford. And, wouldn’t you know it? This list has 31 films on it — films that I realized I didn’t always entirely like, too, but were not necessarily worthy of being put on any kind of definitive “Worst of…” list that I could come up with. I could have been a pessimist and just put all the bad movies on the naughty list or something, but I’m feeling especially upbeat right now, and so I’ve decided to rename this list as a list of the films that were “Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw.”

Dredd - Karl Urban as Judge Dredd

As the name would imply, these are a mix of films that range from bad to good, but never awful nor excellent. Some of these films are possibly even films that I may not even feel much of anything towards, so I just put them here because I saw them and they met the criteria for making this year in review — that is, they were released (at least widely) in 2012, and I saw them at some point before writing this, either theatrically or on DVD.

There is one exception I made for this list, and I will be making it again for another film in a future list, and that is for the film that is marked with an asterisk (that’s the little star symbol that looks like this: *). It featured previously on my 2012 IN REVIEW: Films I Didn’t See list, and yet I finally saw it now that it’s on video, and I felt that it was good enough to comment on here. I won’t be making that exception for every film I’ve since seen from 2012 since starting this year in review, but I’m making some exceptions and marking them as such.

Anyway, without further delay, here are the films that were neither great nor awful, the good films on down to the bland ones that I saw from 2012: Read more…

Review: “Enchanted”

November 14, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Kevin Lima
Produced by: Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Bill Kelly
Cinematography by: Don Burgess
Editing by: Gregory Perler, Stephen A. Rotter
Music by: Alen Menken, Stephen Schwartz (lyrics)
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon, Julie Andrews (narration)
Year: 2007

 

Every now and then, you just want to escape the cynical world around you and delve into a little bit of celebratory saccharine sweetness to make you a bit happier to be alive. Enchanted is a great film to unwind with, as I quickly found out tonight after this movie arrived in the mail and I decided to put it on in the background of my household cleaning, only to find myself laying down on the couch and absorbing the infectiously fun fish-out-of-water fairy tale about a naive princess who is transported into our world after being pushed down a magical well by an evil queen, only to find out that true love isn’t always at first sight. Read more…

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