Reviews written by registered user
|23 reviews in total|
I recall seeing this as a child in the 60s and early 70s in black and
and was a bit surprised to discover that it was actually a color series.
only had a black and white TV at the time, as it happens...) This was
the resources of the production company, (which had earlier brought us
Gigantor and Astroboy) so they partnered with NBC in the US for both
financing and expertise in color animation. NBC also had considerable
into the direction of the story, some of it contrary to what the Japanese
write wanted to do. The result was highly successful in both the US and
Japan. A sequel, "Jungle Emperor Leo", which featured an adult Kimba
(renamed Leo) with a less upbeat tone and more realistic violence, was
declined by NBC and was not as popular in Japan as the
I bought the series on DVD a little while ago, so I was able to refresh my memory of this delightful series. Kimba is a white lion cub, son of great Caesar the white lion, king of the jungle. He has a goal, that all the jungle animals should live in peace. Inspired by human civilization, he convinces all the carnivores to adopt vegetarian ways and strives to single-handedly (pawedly?) bring about an agricultural revolution and cooperative living among the animals. Although he encounters significant animal resistance, his greatest challenges come from encounters with humans.
This works well, despite some awkwardness in the initial episodes, including a visit to Paris that's glaringly out of place. It helps that Kimba's the cutest little thing that ever beat up an adult rhinoceros. The theme music is addictive and unforgettable.
Significantly, some characters, general themes, and specific scenes were heavily "borrowed" by Disney for "The Lion King". This is discussed in the DVD interview with Fred Ladd, the NBC executive responsible for bringing Kimba to the US. The wise old baboon advisor, the enemy adult lion with the scar across one eye and the comic relief hyena henchmen, and the excitable avian companion are all present. Individual scenes include Kimba looking at his reflection in a pool and wondering how he compares to his father, visions of Kimba's parents in the clouds and stars, and a difficult trek across a desert. The moment in Mufasa's death scene where Simba comforts himself by snuggling next to the body is an echo of Kimba habit of curling up upon his father's pelt (recovered from the hunter who shot him) for comfort in moments of distress or self-doubt. "Simba", the Swahili word for lion, was a name considered for Kimba but rejected during series development. The theme of the exiled lion cub returning to regain the kingship from a vicious usurper was no doubt also inspired by Kimba. This is not to say that "The Lion King" isn't a fine piece of storytelling or excellent animation. It is, and needless to say the animation is far superior to that in Kimba. But the source of many of the ideas for "The Lion King" ought to be of interest to anyone who enjoyed that movie. This is rarely brought mentioned outside a fairly limited anime fan community.
Oh, for crying out loud. This was a fun little movie with lots of good action in it that never takes itself too seriously. For what it was intended to be, it can't possibly rate this low. Was it honestly worse than "Highlander 2", with its big budget and big-name stars? Or "Glen or Glenda", a shining example of deep cinematic ineptitude? I don't think so!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many spoilers herein, but I'm intending this more as a parents' guide
than a review as such.
It's never said explicitly that I noticed, but "King George and the Ducky" is loosely based on 2 Samuel 11:1-12:13. The remainder of the Biblical account, 2 Samuel 12:14-25, is excluded since, unlike King David, George suffers no lasting consequences for his sin. As Bible adaptations go in VeggieTales, this one's far more subtle than the earlier "Rack, Shack and Benny", "Dave and the Giant Pickle", or "Josh and the Big Wall" as one may well expect: The nature of David's sin is not really suitable for a children's video and is not immediately applicable to their own situations. Here, it's handled in the context of selfishness.
King George is played by Larry the Cucumber. Uriah the Hittite is transformed into Junior Asparagus' "Thomas"; David's general Joab becomes "Cedric", played by Scallion #1; Nathan the Prophet becomes Pa Grape as "Melvin"; and the eponymous ducky, a tub toy, is the stand-in for Bathsheba. Bob the Tomato returns after a hiatus as "Louis", King George's prime minister, who has no Biblical equivalent but makes a useful foil for King George.
This is a lighthearted story rather than one that's outright funny. It's not actually bad: it's well written enough, the graphics represent a quantum leap over earlier efforts, and the songs are entertaining and catchy. I won't bother to detail which elements from the Bible story are presented more or less intact; anyone familiar with it can pick them out easily enough. Some things are altered so as to be not so disturbing to children. For example, wars in this story are fought with pies rather than more lethal weapons, and Thomas therefore suffers nothing worse than a temporary -- and easily cured -- loss of sanity.
King George is enamored of his bathtub and, in particular, his rubber ducky to the point of neglecting state affairs and the progress of the ongoing Pie Wars. But one day he sees Thomas taking a bath on his balcony, and is overcome with desire for *his* ducky despite the fact that he has a whole cabinet full of very nice duckies available to him. Over Louis' objections he drafts Thomas and orders Cedric to place him alone on the front lines. While he's gone, George and Louis stage a nighttime raid on Thomas' house and make off with his ducky. That very night Thomas returns. Cedric reports that he single-handedly held off the enemy's advance, but the trauma has shattered his mind. As George privately rejoices over not having to account for the missing ducky, Melvin arrives to bring him to face his sin. King George repents, cures Thomas with a soak in his royal bathtub, and asks everyone's forgiveness.
The ending's a little pat, but I suppose that's more suitable for the target audience. The lasting consequences suffered by King David and his house would have lent a far more serious tone to the video; it would not have been possible to present this material lightly. Although there are few out-and-out laughs to be had here, there's a lot of subtle humor that's easy to miss if you're not paying close attention. The ending number where King George celebrates the lesson he learned is much less impressive than the song King David actually composed on this occasion, but that's not too surprising: Psalm 51 is perhaps the most beautiful expression of repentance to ever have been written. All in all, this is an enjoyable and effective presentation on the 10th Commandment.
There's an opening short by Jimmy and Jerry Gourd on the same subject, and I have to wonder if this is a bit of self-parody of some of the earlier, more ham-handed VeggieTales such as "God Wants Me to Forgive *Them*?" The Silly Song, "Endangered Love", is absolutely hilarious, but may go over the heads of younger viewers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The summary above relates to Lord of the Rings, The (1978) which I
Peter Jackson did a superb job bringing Tolkien's Middle-earth to the
screen. However, I think it's current high rating is seriously premature.
This movie cannot stand on its own. Like the book, it's a single
narrative split into three parts for reasons of length. Any ending such as
it has will not be seen until Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,
(2003) arrives in theaters. Right now it's a work-in-progress. Evaluating
should wait until the entire story is finished.
No one who has been a devotee of the book as long as I have can resist comparing the movie against it even though that's not really a valid thing to do across media. So here it goes below. There are POSSIBLE SPOILERS, although they're so highly contextual you probably won't understand them unless you've already seen the movie, so they shouldn't give away much. I don't think I give away any major plot points.
What was done right:
- Rivendell was beatuiful. I used to want a castle someday; now I want the "Last Homely House" as Jackson showed it to me.
- Bree was very well done. Many probably disagree with me about this, but if there wasn't enough time to develop Butterbur as a character, Bree is best shown as a rough-and-tumble waymeet along a road traveled by a large number of highly questionable characters. This is very much like any place so situated would be.
- Hobbiton. Gorgeous.
- Casting, for the most part. An exception is noted below. Frodo really should have had brown eyes, but Elijah Wood did a *far* better job than I had anticipated, so it didn't matter.
- The Council of Elrond. Impossible to shoot as the book has it, but it provided a stark demonstration of the Ring's true power. A highly skillful adaptation.
- The Mirror of Galadriel. Perhaps the sfx were overdone at a crucial moment, but at least the deep moral import of her choice was preserved and that was the important thing. Hollywood usually glosses over moral issues, or at least the kind of moral issues important to someone like Tolkien.
- The Balrog. Very frightening and demonic of course, but there's something else. There's a running debate in Tolkien-related newsgroups and BBS as to whether or not it had wings, as Tolkien's own description is very ambiguous. Jackson succeeded in being just as ambiguous visually, thus pleasing (or displeasing) both camps equally. I nearly laughed out loud in the theater when I realized what he'd done.
- Having cut out all the other supporting characters to simplify the script, the method of Gandalf's rescue was perfectly in character.
- We see a brief shot of Minas Tirith. Beautiful.
And anything else not mentioned below.
What was done wrong:
- The time compression at the beginning. Seventeen years were supposed to have passed between the Party and Gandalf's revelation of the true nature of the Ring. Instead it looked like a year or two at most, and this introduces a plothole. Bilbo's sudden aging was attributed to his putting the Ring aside, but why wasn't Gollum, who'd possessed the Ring for centuries, similarly affected?
- Arwen's expanded role and Aragorn's mangled motivation. I thought Liv Ullman was just not up to this part. It was expanded at the expense of Aragorn's, Elrond's, and Gandalf's, and she would had to have been extraordinary to satisfy offended book fans. She wasn't. A line was given to Elrond that inexplicably removes a strong motivation for Aragorn to fulfill his heritage, whereas in the book it was a condition that he himself imposed before he would consent to their relationship. Since it would have enhanced both the romance and the adventure, why not leave it as it was?
- Moria. The entire complex was supposed to have been a thriving city in the past, so what's with the impossibly steep staircases and the unrailed bridges over yawning abysses? It couldn't possibly have functioned. Even populated by Dwarves they would have lost a dozen or so pedestrians a day, and it dilutes the effect of the *one* unrailed bridge over a yawning abyss (part of Moria's defenses) near the exit.
- Gimli. John Rhys-Davies has a wonderfully mobile face and a marvellous voice. Both were buried under so much latex and fake hair as to be useless. The actor was completely wasted here to the detriment of the character.
- Blond elves? Who says?
- Saruman's expanded role during the mountain crossing. The Fellowship was defeated by a malevolent nature spirit responding to Sauron's growing will, *not* a cranky wizard several hundred miles away acting at that moment for no reason we can perceive.
Mostly, this is just the kind of nitpicky stuff a geek like me would pick up on. If you've never read the book, it won't bother you at all. No one who has not read the book who saw this movie that I asked even noticed, and all enjoyed it immensely. Go see it.
This is a comment on the theatrical release and not the more recent
"director's cut" which I haven't seen. But I don't see how this could have
been turned into a watchable movie without major surgery, and even then the
scars would show.
I was addicted to the original series (in reruns) as a kid, and went to see this in its initial release full of anticipation. So the movie opens, there are establishing shots of San Francisco and Starfleet Headquarters, and we follow a single ground transport into said Headquarters. The camera focuses dramatically on the doors. They slide open, and there, for the first time in almost ten years is Captain -- no, *Admiral* -- James T. Kirk!
-- With a hideous new toupee that looks as if a tribble has taken up permanent residence on his head.
-- Wearing what looks for all the world like a glorified dental assistant's uniform
-- And I'll swear to this day he had a girdle on underneath.
Well, that set the tone just perfectly, didn't it?
The rest of the movie similarly disappointed. Sure the new ship model looked great, but after the first hour or so (well, that's what it felt like anyway) of loving closeups I really wanted to get started with the story, which at that point in the story had yet to materialize in any real way. On board, you find the entire crew has taken up careers as dental assistants, with '70s hairstyles even more disturbing than the modified '60s hairstyles of the series. I include Persis Khambatta's shaved head among the frights. When the story finally does get going, it turns out to be a rehash of the second-season episode "Changeling" but with a much larger budget. This explains the glacial pacing I suppose; they had to stretch out one hour's worth of story into a two hour movie. (The extraordinarily lengthy establishing shots of the Enterprise must have been a highly convenient way to burn off some minutes.)
I was left with the sick feeling that the quality of the original series was largely due to its budget limitations, and that what I had just seen was the sort of boring tripe that would have been routine if only they'd had the money for it. If that's the case, then thank goodness for penny-pinching networks and impecunious studios. The rest of the movies frankly appear to confirm this. Only every other one seems to approach the original in quality, and number 5 sank into such an abyss of mewling idiocy as to put me off the movie series entirely.
All in all, an inauspicious start to a mediocre oeuvre. I haven't seen it again in over 20 years, and I don't intend to.
This is easily the best of the Deathstalker movies. John Terlesky isn't the
musclebound hulk that Rick Hill was, and certainly not the musclebound hulk
in the Boris Vallejo painting they used for the poster, but he doesn't have
to be. This is a Deathstalker who knows perfectly well that he's in a campy,
B-grade sword-and-sorcery flick, and is determined to have as much fun with
it as he can. He takes nothing seriously, and almost everything is done with
a wink at the audience. He wonders aloud at one point where the cliche
Spikey Trap O'Death is, and when the spikes immediately pop out of the walls
he just rolls his eyes, says, "Son of a bitch!", and deals with
John Lazar as the villain Jarek knows it too. He's gleefully, manaically evil, but when he learns his adversary's moniker he can barely suppress the giggle as he repeats, incredulously, "Deathstalker?!"
Monique Gabrielle takes her parts seriously, and it's just as well. She's the one who's always in need of a rescue, and I suppose that *someone* has to put up a show of genuine peril. She also fills out admirably the part that's absolutely essential in films of this quality: she supplies the main set of on-screen boobs. It wouldn't be a proper B-grade sword-and-sorcery flick without them.
Sit back, have a beer or 5, and enjoy Deathstalker II. Laugh; you're supposed to. And stick around through the end credits for the outtakes. Those are funny too.
Despite capturing the look and atmosphere of Victorian England almost
perfectly, there were a few changes put in to make the story more relevant
to a modern audience. No one is afraid of moneylenders anymore, so Scrooge
is made into a commodities trader instead, one who corners the market in
grain, exacts a fearful price for it, and will not ship "until I have the
cash in hand!" This is a modern financial villain. And of course the arrival
of the ghosts is made more strictly sequential; as it's done in the story
it's just plain confusing in a dramatic presentation.
I loved the performances. George C. Scott is the most wicked Scrooge at the beginning, and the most sincerely repentant at the end, that I have seen. The gradual wearing down of his resistance is more subtle than most portrayals of Scrooge, as if a dike is developing hairline cracks that are barely noticeable, but which weaken it sufficiently so that the final blow from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears to knock it all down at once and the water comes rushing in. He enjoys his moment of euphoric giddiness when he awakens Christmas morning, but it doesn't last, and is instead replaced with a deeper, more thoughtful happiness. We can well believe that this is a man determined to turn his life around and not just giving in to the moment.
The other performers were just as good. David Warner as Bob Cratchit was absolutely perfect. His sorrow over Tiny Tim is heartwrenching. Tiny Tim himself, played by Anthony Walters, is so consumptive-looking you expect him to keel over at any moment. He really does look, and act, like a small boy in seriously declining health. The ghosts are perfect. Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present is particularly memorable. He towers over Scrooge, his voice booms full of mirth, and sometimes judgment.
Of all the movie versions of this film that are available, this is the only one of which I own a copy. It's good.
If you're the sort who likes to do a roll-your-own kind of MST3K movie
-- and let's be honest, it's *much* more fun to come up with your own
wiseass comments anyway -- then this film is on your must-see list.
so much wrong with it that I hardly know where to begin. It'll help to
-- The acting. Yoikes! There's some genuine skill involved in the portrayal of two or three of the characters, and there's some fun chemistry between Bernard Bresslaw as Gort the giant and Peter O'Farrell as Baldin the dwarf, but other than that this is all Golden Turkey material. John Terry in the title role could have been outacted by a dead cat, and Jack Palance as the villain is so over-the-top that he's ridiculous instead of menacing. (He's also supposed to be John Terry's brother despite being about 40 years too old to pull it off.) Everyone who tries to sound mysterious or wise comes off as stoned instead. Maybe they were.
-- The script. There's not so much a plot as a series of contrivances that serve as an excuse for the actors to deliver their lines and the fight scenes. I think they used up their studio's entire Plot Contrivance Quota for both 1979 *and* 1980, which must have been a real hardship because it would have left them unable to film any of the teenage sex comedies that were so popular back then.
-- The special effects. AAAAAGH! The Giant Executive Desk Toy that's supposed to be a magical teleporter! The cheesy glowing rocks! The hyperactive fog machines! The film loops! The... the... AIEEEEEEEEE! The horror!
Bottom line is if you take this film as seriously as it presents itself, you'll hate it. But for a rollicking fun evening of derisive mockery, you'll have trouble finding a better. Unless you go out and get an Ator movie or something.
A moving depiction of the life of genius Alan Turing, the mathematician
broke Nazi Germany's Enigma code during WWII and who provided much of the
theoretical foundation of modern computer science. Jacobi masterfully
portrays Turing in all phases of his life, from his troubled days as a
student to his career as codebreaker at Bletchley Park, and to his later
suicide after having been hounded to the point of despair by an ungrateful
and mistrustful government over his homosexuality.
If this film has a flaw at all, it's that Jacobi is physically unlike Turing in every way; there's absolutely no point of resemblance. But his performance is so absorbing that you don't really notice until it's all over with.
I'd like to refer you to Paul Emmons' excellent comment as definitive. For the series in general I have nothing to add to it. I'm only posting to point up the most brilliant technical performance I've ever seen: Brian Blessed as the dying Augustus. I'll not go into too much detail so as to avoid spoiling it, but for me that scene is an absolute tour de force. I was drawn in completely.
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