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
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…
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsushi Okui
Music by: Joe Hisaishi
Starring: (Japanese) Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steve Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, Nomura Mansai; (English Disney dub) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Darren Criss, Mae Whitman, Mandy Patinkin, Jennifer Grey, Stanley Tucci, Elijah Wood, Ronan Farrow, Zach Callison
Based on the manga Kaze Tachinu by Hayao Miyazaki, the novel The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori, and inspired by a true story
Year: 2013, 2014 (US)
Review is based on the Disney/Touchstone English dub.
Touted as the last film to be directed by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises understandably will carry a lot of weight with fans of the director, Studio Ghibli, and animation in general, with the film even being nominated recently in the Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature category. The director has, since the 70s, made a name for himself as a whimsical filmmaker with a fine attention to detail, both visually in the work his crew puts out and within the worlds and personalities of the characters he portrays in his films, which rarely feel anything like the stereotypical animé Western audiences are more familiar with, and yet also so distinctly different from Western animation from any era. Understandably, he’s going to be missed, and while Studio Ghibli has plenty of talent to build off of and directors who have proven to be more than capable of creating films in the same mold as the elder Miyazaki, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing the like of his work ever again (so long as he’s actually serious about staying retired). Read more…
Now we come to a portion of the list that, by pure coincidence, I am dubbing the nerdiest portion of my list. Three comic book films and a semi-obscure sci-fi film from a director who did an even more obscure sci-fi film with Sam Rockwell a few years ago.
This was the final year in which we got pre-Avengers films for the last two superheroes who would be getting them (with Hawkeye and Black Widow likely to be given their own post-Avengers films after that is an undoubtable success), and it was also the year that superhero films began to experiment with formulas, styles, and audience taste.
The three comic book films here largely exemplify what studios need to strive for in order to keep this genre alive and interesting, while the other film, the more obscure film, is itself a great example of using a familiar genre and its tropes to catapult a film into a touching and yet still intriguing human story.
7. Thor (May 6)
When The Avengers were slated to get their film debut sometime in the future, I doubt anyone could have thought that this film would be any good, let alone be better than either of the Hulk’s two major film adaptations (though I did still pretty much like 2008’s take). While nobody really balked at the thought of adapting the story of a radioactive scientist who, you know, hulks out when he gets angry into an entertaining film (likely thanks to that character’s familiarity to audiences through various smaller mediums, especially the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno 70s TV series), somehow the story of the tortured dichotomy of Bruce Banner and the Hulk comes off as far more believable and, more importantly, relatable on a metaphorical level than Thor — a being who, depending on what version you go with, is either from a parallel dimension who inspired the Norse god of thunder or, more classically, actually is the god of thunder himself. Read more…