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REVIEW – It (2017)

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Produced by: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Barbara Muschietti
Screenplay by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Edited by: Jason Ballantine
Cinematography by: Chung-hoon Chung
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Jackson Robert Scott
Based on the novel It by Stephen King
Year: 2017

 

I always seem to preface these types of reviews with this, but it bears remarking again: Horror remakes are rarely successful and rarely a good idea, and the trailers for this 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a transdimensional being taking on the form of a malevolent clown who terrorizes children was looking to be just one more film on the pile of crappy remakes, reboots, and reimaginings we’ve been getting since the turn of the century. The emphasis on jump scares, the hammered-into-your-brain catchphrases, creepy horror children, and the audacity to challenge the immortal Tim Curry’s portrayal from the miniseries with a gritty new take on the clown really didn’t work in the film’s favor. This was particularly worrisome, as the film with the film had been in development hell for approximately six years due to creative conflicts before finally moving forward in production in its final form, releasing two years after that. As someone who had never seen the cheesy 3-hour-long miniseries, let alone read the 1000+ page novel, however, I was at least open to the idea that this could at least provide an easy gateway into a cultural touchstone I really had little prior interest in touching myself. Turns out…I was totally right, but not in the way I thought. Read more…

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REVIEW – Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

May 31, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: John Korty
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith
Screenplay by: Bob Carrau
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: John Nutt
Cinematography by: John Korty
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Eric Walker, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Daniel Frishman, Debbie Lee Carrington, Tony Cox, Kevin Thompson, Margarita Fernández, Pam Grizz, Bobby Bell, Fionnula Flanagan, Guy Boyd, Darryl Henriques (voice), Sydney Walker (voice), Burl Ives (narration)
Originally known as: The Ewok Adventure
Year: 1984

 

What happens when you’ve seemingly brought an end to one of the most profitable film sagas, and yet you still want to make money off of the property in a similar medium? Why, you make a spin-off, of course! Return of the Jedi had brought the original film trilogy to a close on its release on May 25, 1983, but George Lucas was obviously far from finished with the series, despite this. (And who can complain, really?) Even before the concept of the prequel trilogy was thought up, and well before Disney’s acquisition and foray into the sequels and their own spinoffs, there were already plans to expand the series beyond the core films and even into the realm of television – just, you know, not in the form of a variety show. The Star Wars Holiday Special was considered to be an embarrassment by almost all involved, including George Lucas. So when this project began to move forward, Lucas ensured he had full creative control. Read more…

REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Swiss Army Man

July 8, 2016 1 comment
Swiss Army ManDirected by: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan – as “Daniels”
Produced by: Eval Rimmon, Lauren Mann, Lawrence Inglee, Jonathan Wang, Miranda Bailey, Amanda Marshall
Written by: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Edited by: Matthew Hannam
Cinematography by: Larkin Seiple
Music by: Andy Hull, Robert McDowell
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Year: 2016

 

I’ve never been so moved by a movie with this many farts since… well, probably ever…. Read more…

REVIEW: Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

October 28, 2015 3 comments
Let the Right One InDirected by: Tomas Alfredson
Produced by: Carl Molinder, John Nordling
Screenplay by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Edited by: Tomas Alfredson, Daniel Jonsäter
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Johan Söderqvist
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg, Karin Bergquist, Mikael Rahm, Henrik Dahl, Patrik Rydmark, Rasmus Luthander, Mikael Erhardsson, Johan Sömnes, Elif Ceylan (voice)
Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Year: 2008

 

Movies about troubled youths and movies about vampires are pretty easy to come by, but mix the two together, and you’re more often than not going to end up with something that draws more comparisons to Twilight than an actual horror film. Back in 2008, however, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson partnered up with author John Ajvide Lindqvist to adapt Lindqvist’s acclaimed novel Låt den rätte komma in into a film that managed to shed any pretenses of sexy romanticism and juicy interpersonal drama and maintained a level of maturity and somber, dreadful sorrow that’s far more appropriate to both subgenres of storytelling – this, despite the fact that the film’s protagonists were far younger than either one of Twilight’s glittering nitwits. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

August 13, 2014 3 comments
Guardians of the GalaxyDirected by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Edited by: Craig Wood, Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Honsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Peter Serafinowicz, Laura Haddock
Based on the comic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Year: 2014

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no stopping the superhero hype train, and, to be honest, I’m quite happy with what’s come about ever since the X-Men and Blade franchises revived the concept and The Dark Knight Trilogy raised the bar and made these movies into this prestige thing (no pun intended) that seemingly everyone from B-list has-beens to A-list Oscar winners were hyped to be a part of, these types of films have really come along way, and despite some embarrassing lows (Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), most of what has come out has been mightily enjoyable – particularly from Marvel Studios, who has managed to turn several B-list superheroes into some of the most engaging and entertaining action heroes of all time. Now, apparently, it’s time for the C-listers to have their chance in the spotlight, as Marvel has gone deep for their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy. Read more…

REVIEW: Love Actually

December 7, 2013 4 comments
Love ActuallyDirected by: Richard Curtis
Produced by: Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Written by: Richard Curtis
Edited by: Nick Moore
Cinematography by: Michael Coulter
Music by: Craig Armstrong
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Colin Firth, Lúcia Moniz, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Heike Makatsch, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kris Marshall, Abdul Salis, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Olivia Olson, Claudia Schiffer, Rowan Atkinson
Year: 2003

 

It wasn’t too long ago that director Garry Marshall was trying to suffocate us with an onslaught of celebrity-packed rom-coms that crammed in as many storylines and cameos as possible. I managed to avoid these movies up until the lead up to New Year’s Eve 2012, when I promised my stepsister I would review Marshall’s film named after the holiday. It was as bad as I was expecting, but my expectations were even lower at that time because I had also realized that the movie was an unabashed knock off of Love Actually, a British film that pretty much follows the same concept as Marshall’s later films, including the concept of centering it around a major holiday (Christmas) – only, in this case, the movie actually does some justice to the fluffy, audience-ensnaring concept. Read more…

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