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REVIEW – Gremlins

December 25, 2016 1 comment
gremlinsDirected by: Joe Dante
Produced by: Michael Finnell
Written by: Chris Columbus
Edited by: Tina Hirsch
Cinematography by: John Hora
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francess Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Judge Reinhold, Glynn Turman, Polly Holliday, Keye Luke, Frank Welker, Howie Mandel
Year: 1984

 

Don’t expose them to bright lights. Do not get them wet. And never, ever feed them after midnight. The three rules about owning a mogwai are pretty well-known, even to people like me, who went a couple decades of their lives before seeing either of the Gremlins films – one of the most often cited Christmas films for people who don’t want a traditional Christmas film – much like Die Hard or even last year’s Krampus, itself kind of an adult Gremlins. I wasn’t allowed to see this movie growing up – the combination of monsters, magic, and the fact that it was a horror film were pretty critical factors in that. And probably in a lot of other kids’ lives, too, since it was a major reason why the PG-13 rating was created. Alongside Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, due to their scarier and more violent content than the usual PG-rated film, Steven Spielberg collaborated with the MPAA and created a rating between PG and R due to the films he was producing. I only ever got around to seeing it as an adult – not, mind you, because my mom told me I couldn’t all my life (that had long since passed, even as a kid). I just never got around to it until then! Luckily, I think I’ve held on to my inner child… Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

December 22, 2016 4 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…

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: Super Mario Bros.

September 6, 2014 Leave a comment
Super Mario Bros.Directed by: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
Produced by: Jake Eberts, Roland Joffé
Written by: Parker Benett, Terry Runté, Ed Solomon
Edited by: Mark Goldblatt
Cinematography by: Dean Semler
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Richard Edson, Fiona Shaw, Mojo Nixon, Dana Kaminski, Francesca Roberts, Don Lake, Gianni Russo, Frank Welker, Dan Castellaneta, Lance Henriksen
Based on the Nintendo video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto
Year: 1993

You know, there was a lot of controversy in the 1990s, mostly spurred by the 1992 and 1993 release of the first two Mortal Kombat games. Regardless of your feelings on that particular series, however, it did lead to some good: the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and the industry wide adoption of its ratings system, which has successfully given parents absolutely no excuse for blaming games for their children acting out… or, at least, that was the idea in theory, but you get the idea. However, perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the early 90s in regards to video games was the sudden proliferation of movie adaptations of video games – bad ones. REALLY bad ones. Double Dragon, Street Fighter, a toned down PG-13 film based on Mortal Kombat and its even worse sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation… It’s a trend that has continued to this day throughout the Resident Evil films, the tax write-offs directed by German anti-auteur Uwe Boll, up to today, with the recent Need for Speed garnering a whopping 22% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Read more…

REVIEW: A Goofy Movie

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment
A Goofy MovieDirected by: Kevin Lima
Produced by: Dan Rounds
Written by: Jymn Magon, Brian Pimental, Chris Matheson (screenplay), Jymn Magon (story)
Edited by: Gregory Perler
Art Direction by: Larry Leker, Wendell Luebbe
Production Design by: Fred Warter
Music by: Carter Burwell, Don Davis
Starring: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin, Pauly Shore, Pat Buttram, Wallace Shawn, Ray Liotta, Jenna von Oÿ, Tevin Campbell, Jo Anne Worley, Joey Lawrence, Frank Welker
Based on the TV series Goof Troop
Year: 1995

 

Goofy was always one of the most enjoyable characters in Mickey’s group of friends. Anyone who’s seen pretty much any of the “How To” series shorts featuring the clumsy anthropomorphic dog-like creature knows that unquestionable fact. Arguably, he’s second only to Donald – who really stood more on the manic end of the comedy spectrum from Goofy. It’s only fitting that they each got their own domestic family sitcoms – Donald in Quack Pack and Goofy in the earlier Goof Troop, which introduced us to Goofy’s son, Max – while straightman and, honestly, comparatively bland Mickey was stuck playing emcee to all of his own shows. Quack Pack never seemed to resonate with kids from that era, and it didn’t seem to be half as fondly or frequently remembered compared to Goof Troop. (For me, personally, it came a little too late, as its entire one season came out when I lived overseas.) However, Disney seemed to recognize the fondness kids had for Goofy and Max’s domestic lives, so it was only logical that the corporation that would become well known for releasing unnecessary sequels to its classic films over the next decade would capitalize on its success with a theatrical film. Read more…

REVIEW: Space Jam

April 2, 2014 1 comment
Space JamDirected by: Joe Pytka
Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck, Daniel Goldberg
Written by: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Edited by: Sheldon Kahn
Cinematography by: Michael Chapman
Music by: James Newton Howard; Soundtrack produced by R. Kelly
Starring: Michael Jordan, Billy West, Dee Bradley Baker, Danny Devito, Wayne Knight, Bill Murray, Kath Soucie, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, Theresa Randle, Bob Bergen, Bill Farmer, June Foray, Maurice LaMarche, Colleen Wainwright, Frank Welker
Year: 1996

 

Space Jam, that wonderful marketing ploy that fooled audiences into handing over $230 million to a studio for an overlong concoction of advertisements and which made us all love R. Kelly in an innocent time where that was still an acceptable thing to do. Seriously, the film is a commercial for itself – the marketing synergy between the two entities who merged two completely unrelated but massively successful franchises together to resemble something like a movie, and yet that is honestly also the film’s main draw. It asked us a question nobody outside of a corporate think tank would have ever asked in their right mind – “Who doesn’t want to see Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan play basketball together?” – and convinced us that this was, come to think of it, actually something that would be pretty entertaining to watch! Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Frankenweenie”

October 22, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Tim Burton
Produced by: Tim Burton, Allison Abbate
Written by: John August
Cinematography by: Peter Sorg
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Charlie Tahan, Frank Welker, Winona Ryder, Cathernie O’Hara, Martin Short, martin Landau, Robert Capron, Atticus Shaffer
Based on the short Frankenweenie by Tim Burton

 

I’m going to say it, something that everyone’s been thinking and even saying for a while, but it bears mentioning again: Tim Burton has really lost his touch since the late 90s. Though he’s still since released some decent-to-genuinely-good films since then, none of them have been entirely original. His take on Alice in Wonderland was a garish bore, and while I truly enjoyed both Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they weren’t entirely his own material, now, were they? I think that the best thing that we can say about Frankenweenie at this point in Burton’s career is that it falls somewhere in this latter category of truly enjoyable though not entirely original material. Read more…

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