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

December 17, 2015 2 comments
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…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 31, 2015 2 comments

The Skeleton Twins - Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this third and final part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the prestige Oscar-baiting season. You know — hammy acting, controversial subjects, beautiful cinematography, politics… It’s often a mixed bag, and for every stunning masterpiece, there’s often a lot of films that misstep and come off like a cheap cheeseburger dressed up to look like prime rib. … I’m hungry.

This is by far the biggest portion of films I didn’t see, largely due to a lot of them coming out so much more recently and not being available to rent, if I missed them in theatres.

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 September to December 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…

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2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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The Ultimate Evolving Superhero Movie List – Part 2

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

It can be hard to discern which films are worth your time. Now, I’m no expert on comic books, having primarily grown up getting to know most of these characters from films, TV shows, and video games, but I do have a love for superheroes just the same, and I do consider these mediums to be a part of the ever expanding reach of these characters beyond their comic book origins. As I write this, I also admit I’m running on a superhero high these days, as I just came off a string of reviews for The Dark Knight Trilogy. Also of note is that The Viewer’s Commentary not only reached its 100th post with the first portion of this list, but it is also coming upon its first anniversary, and I figured that I would do something grand to celebrate!

Initially, I was thinking, “Why not do an updated Top 10 Superhero Films list?” but that just came off as being not grand enough, and doubling that number still didn’t feel ambitious enough. So I set myself on a much grander mission: To make an ever-evolving list of not just the best or worst superhero films, but of ALL the superhero films I had ever seen, leading to the creation of this list you see before you.

Currently, I am limiting this list to just theatrically-released films, as that still provides me with a lot of ground to cover, though it will definitely begin to include exceptions for non-theatrical features such as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Furthermore, I am abstaining from listing films that I have yet to see or have not seen in quite some time and, thus, do not feel comfortable passing judgment on. As such, there will be omissions, some of them obvious, some of them not so much, but that’s the beauty of the idea behind this project: It’s an evolving list.

So, as I see newer movies, re-watch forgotten ones, and also discover the ones that have somehow gone unseen by me, I will continue to add them to this list, which is also being given its own all-encompassing page here on The Viewers Commentary. Films will be neatly separated into the five easy categories – The Awful, The Bad, The Average, The Good, and The Excellent – and each film within each category ranked from least to greatest in quality (all my opinion of course). Do not consider this list or the commentary to be definitive reviews, but if I do have a review for the movie, rest assured that it will be linked to.

In part two of the initial form of this list, I present to you the current films in the Average section and the first half of the Good section. (Look out for the rest of the Good films to be included with the Excellent films in the last third of this list!) Read more…

Awful Movie Review: “Batman Forever”

April 13, 2012 9 comments
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Produced by: Tim Burton, Peter MacGregor-Scott, Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Written by: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler, Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler (story)
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Year: 1995

 

You know what? This movie gets too much of a free pass. I get that, compared to its sequel, it’s almost competently plotted out, but this in no way implies that this is a good movie. Make no mistake about this: Batman Forever is one of the worst superhero films out there, and it even lacks much of the so-bad-it’s-good qualities that its more ridiculous sequel possesses, making this almost more unbearable  than that infamous stain of a film. To say that Batman Forever fails where its predecessors succeeded is to undermine the severity of the film’s existence. To put it simply, Batman Forever not only undid much of the goodwill gained by critics and audiences with the releases of Batman and Batman Returns, it very nearly laid the groundwork for the death of the genre as we know it. Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, May – September 2011

January 7, 2012 15 comments

<< Part 1: January – April 2011

Ah, summer. A time of blockbusters. The time of year that everyone looks forward to, even people who don’t necessarily like seeing a whole lot of films. 2011’s summer season for me was weird. I quit my job at an ice skating rink in Scottsdale sometime in June and began working full time at the warehouse I had also been working at, where I got a promotion from being a warehouse clerk to, of all things, a bookkeeper — a position my boss really took a chance with me on since the last time I did anything math-related was the easiest math class I could sign up for and still get the required credits to graduate on time with two years prior.

As such, I lost my movie-discussion buddy at the ice skating rink, which would then lead to my ignorance of several major releases in 2011. The friendships I forged there, particularly with my friend Lesley, continue to resonate with me but have also become a sort of symbol of my relationship with movies over the past year, as well, as I have grown to have fewer and fewer new encounters with both, much to my dismay.

I’m grateful for my current job, of course, as it is the first major promotion I’ve ever received, and I’ve gone on to also help in customer service, but without someone I am able to chat with and have meaningful, deep conversations about film with on a regular basis, the more disconnected I’ve grown from what is being released these days, including films I would have otherwise never heard about. Ultimately, this disconnect from what was happening would become so intolerable that I would force myself to start this blog, an aspiration that had been gestating in my heart for well over a year by the time I actually published my first article.

As with part one of this 2011 retrospective of films I didn’t see in theatres or at home, this is not intended to be my final say on these films, but rather a reflection upon what my impression of them was and why, if for any reason, I did not or chose not to see them.

Also, before I move forward, I want to to also thank everyone for the great response I’ve gotten over the past couple days. I never could have imagined  that I would get 3,333 views in one day, and the amount of comments I received on the first part by the first time I saw these figures was more than double the amount of people passing through on a daily basis without even leaving comments at all. To think that this has largely continued into the second day, as well, as I continued to be “Freshly Pressed” just floors me, and I’m more than touched and thrilled to have you all reading my site! Welcome to The Viewer’s Commentary, and I hope you’re enjoying your stay!

Now then, on to the article! Read more…

Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 6 – 10

December 29, 2011 5 comments

<< Part I
Round 6: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Robert Hammond (uncredited), Robert Tygner (performer), and, yes, Jim Carrey as The Ghost of Christmas Future

Easily the ghost most people remember, and also the one where almost nobody seems to deviate from the tradition — not even Scrooged. The cloaked figure known as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (alternately, of Christmas Future) is often seen as the most dramatic of the spirits, revealing to Scrooge how the future could turn out if he doesn’t change his ways. There are differences in how each movie portrays the spirit, of course, but ultimately, the horrific aspect is the same, and it’s only a matter of how horrific and in what way.

Scrooged, for instance, keeps with the thematics, with the ghost having a heavy, ghoulish cloak with blue streaks and a TV screen for a face that flashes static and images from Frank’s life. Inside his cloak are hellish ghouls, moaning in agony. The visions of the future he shows Frank are abstract and look completely unlike anything else in the film, showing a bleak and sterile future, free from passion and compassion.

The Muppets keep it grim and faithful, but they are sure to make sure that families who show this to their children will not have tears by the end of the film. And, ultimately, that’s okay. It doesn’t break out into song, it doesn’t speak, and it certainly isn’t the most joyful spirit in the world, but we do need a Christmas Carol adaptation that is faithful without being both syrupy sweet and cheaply made. This spirit didn’t make that much of an impact on me as a viewer, but I get that I’m not necessarily the intended audience here.

Of course, it’s remarkably clear that Disney and Zemeckis were aiming for a much older audience with their collaboration on A Christmas Carol, as the ghost maintains his scary nature, multiplied by ten, with only Jim Carrey’s performance to keep things a bit lighter. Not nearly concerned with being grim and more concentrated with being terrifying, this ghost is seemingly the byproduct of merging the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Headless Horseman, with a hint of shrink ray. It seems as though the filmmakers were concerned that they didn’t have a big finale for the talky climax, and so the final spirit, who first appears as a living shadow, gains a red-eyed horse and a chariot of nightmares, shrinking Scrooge and chasing him the horrors of Christmas Yet to Come — and also the horrors of sewers and being the size of a rat. I guess that’s symbolism? Read more…

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