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Ghost Busters (1984)
I just don't know... how do I put this?...
This feels awkward... how do I explain this?
Let me see if I can explain my reaction to this movie the best I can.
This movie came out when I was in my early teens. I first saw the commercial for it on television, and my obnoxious older brother was there pointing out every detail in the commercial and cackling wildly over it. I thought it looked intriguing and wanted to see it, but I couldn't figure out why my brother was going berzerk splitting a side over the commercial (he ROARED the moment they showed the now-famous Ghostbusters logo and shrilled, "Isn't that logo HILARIOUS???" I liked the logo, but I didn't think it funny).
Unfortunately, the movie came out at a time when I was expected to buy all my own stuff since I had a paper route. And that particular time period I was busy raising up money for a new stereo. So as a result, I was disappointed when the movie left town before I had gotten to see it. And I had sighed, "WOW, for a huge hit movie, THAT was sure gone fast."
For the next year or two, I was forced to endure everybody else's comments about how hilarious and wonderful this movie was. But whenever I asked what had happened in it, they never answered me. All I got was, "You've just GOT to see it, words don't do it justice, it's HILARIOUS and it's SO COOL!"
Well, during that time I had learned a few of the basics, such as the uniforms and the gadget packs their wore, but that was about it since nobody answered my questions. Fortunately, the movie was being brought back for a brief run in movie theatres before they released it to home video (back then, movies didn't get automatically released on to video a few months after theatrical release the way they are today--you had to wait a few years and then MAYBE if you were lucky it would be). I got all anxious to see it, raised a bit of money once I had gotten finished paying for everything else I had needed to take care of that month--and it was gone from the theatres again! Another groan of frustration from me. I thought, "Why can't the local movie house at LEAST keep it here for a MONTH or so???"
But then, FINALLY--around early 1987, I think--GHOSTBUSTERS was finally released to home video among a huge flurry of hype. And a friend of mine had managed to rent it one night while I was sleeping over at his house. So I finally managed to see GHOSTBUSTERS for the very first time--
--and I went "Huh?"
I just sat there with the most puzzled feeling and going, "This is it??"
I just don't know how to describe it. By the time I had finally gotten to see it, I was all prepared for that really "cool", "hilarious" movie everyone was telling me about... and I didn't get one. Instead, I sat through it bored and bewildered. I don't know, somehow I had just expected it to be... very, different. I don't know how, just different, not like the movie I ended up seeing.
I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this movie. I truly did. God knows I tried. I bought the soundtrack and everything afterward, trying to get myself to be as nuts about this movie as everybody else I knew was. But I just couldn't get into it at all.
A few months later my older brother rented GHOSTBUSTERS and my whole family sat and watched. I, along with my parents, just sat there confused. But my older brother, on the other hand... well, to give you an idea, during the one scene when you briefly see a Ghostbuster hopping along on one foot with his eyes closed, my brother was just rolling all over the floor and squealing with delight. "Isn't that just THE most HILARIOUS thing you ever SAW?????" he shrieked. The rest of us just sat there trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.
It wasn't until years later that I think I finally managed to figure out my huge disappointment with this film. I was not familiar with Hollywood names save for one or two, and I had always just taken movies at face value. It wasn't until much later that I had begun to be familiar with that one particular Ghostbuster who had been doing the foot-hopping that my brother was crowing about, an actor named Bill Murray. This was the first movie is he I had ever seen.
I hate to say this, but around 1992 or so after seeing many more of his output, I have come to the conclusion that I simply do not care for Bill Murray. I have never found him funny, on the contrary he bores me to pieces. In the future, I would end up just not enjoying a single, solitary motion picture of his--Bill Murray is apparently just not my type of performer. Only the spectacular LOST IN TRANSLATION ended up winning a huge place in my heart, not because I thought him funny but because I thought his character was genuinely touching and sublimely acted--and that was twenty years after the fact.
I find it interesting that, later on, I found the first season of the cartoon based on this film (THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, so named as to distinguish it from another "Ghostbusters"-entitled cartoon released at the same time by Filmation) much more involving and entertaining than the actual movie itself.
These days, I can watch it on occasion, but I just watch it on a whim whenever it happens to be on. I haven't actually gone out and rented it myself to this day. My personal feelings are that I probably needed to see it as soon as it was released along with everyone else as opposed to after the rest of the world and putting up with all the hype--I think in my case my expectations ended up being raised so high that I ended up suffering "Phantom Menace" syndrome for this title. That's a shame, too, as I thought this should be a movie I would automatically love. I have the feeling not getting to see it fresh simply killed it for me and I just didn't get it because I didn't get to experience it along with everyone else properly. I still sigh in disappointment whenever I watch it, as even now when I see it on I try so hard to like it...
I really, really, REALLY want to like this movie as much as everyone else does, but so far I have yet to get above "just okay". Maybe someday I'll finally love it as much as everyone else seems to, though.
Soylent Green (1973)
I *ALMOST* had the chance to experience this movie fresh...
I have never watched SNL. I don't watch a lot of television. So when I discovered this title just two nights ago at an American Family Video store, I had never heard of it. Little did I suspect that the whole rest of the world apparently did. I read the back of it, it sounded interesting and the video box promised a surprise ending. Let's check it out, I said to myself, just out of curiosity.
So imagine my anger and disgust when as soon as I've paid for it, the young clerk working there--as he was handing it to me after paying for it, no less--in one eight-word-long sentence, suddenly and completely without warning BLURBS OUT THE SECRET ENDING!
I was shocked and angry and told him I wanted my money back. I got a refund and still rented it, only this time I rented it elsewhere. But even so, I was very very angry and upset.
So as you can imagine I couldn't help feeling like the entire viewing experience of SOYLENT GREEN was tainted for me while watching it. I wish I knew what it was like to experience it for the first time without knowing the ending first. Now I'll never know.
But anyway, as I quickly describe the plot, *I* will *NOT* give anything away. I promise. I don't care how well-known this ending is, I'm not taking any chances for anyone. I'm not even going to say SPOILERS AHEAD because I refuse to even discuss the ending. I'm not going to risk accidentally giving away the ending to anyone in my position the way that clerk did.
It's the year 2022 and the world is massively overpopulated. Resources are exhausted, food is scare, and New York City alone is swarming with 40 million people--half of them out of work. Enter Thorne (Charlton Heston), a freelance detective hired to investigate the murder of a rich citizen. That's all I'll say, I promise.
The crowds scenes were pretty disappointing to me personally, as I had been lured into renting this movie from its striking cover art depicting a city of immense crowds being scooped away. We don't get to see any really huge, epic-looking scenes like that here the way we did is, say, the cheapie TV movie THE DAY AFTER. I found that to be a personal disappointment. Also, the dumptrucks weren't as massive of as threatening-looking as they are in said illustration. But even so, the idea of humans lives being so cheap and useless is still creepy and upsetting.
The movie no longer really holds the power to scare, though. Back when I was a child in the 70s, people were fearful of overpopulation. Who could have known that then that something equally as bad would appear--that legalized abortion would come to pass and that this heinous act would put a sharp DROP on the population by being used as a cruel form of birth control, showing a cheapness on human life which in its own way is every bit as creepy as what we are witnessing here in this movie? But even so, the movie still addresses important concepts and the importance of responsibility.
One of the things this film reminded me of personally is how well many of us really have it. Even when stressed with bills and debt, running water, canned food, electricity and such are a luxury compared to living conditions of other people in many areas of the world. We should be genuinely grateful and appreciative of what we have.
And I loved the friendship portrayed between Throne and his mentor Sol, which is heartbreaking and touching, especially during a grand finale scene set to music by Beethoven (familiar to fans of FANTASIA) that stung my eyes with tears.
I'm sure I would have been even more drawn into this story and its climax, IF A CERTAIN AIRHEADED VIDEO STORE CLERK HADN'T GONE AND SPOILED THE ENTIRE ENDING FOR ME. But even so, I'm glad I saw it all the same.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Well okaaaaay... it was kind of fun to watch, I guess...
This isn't exactly what I had expected.
As I believe I have stated in my review for THE MATRIX RELOADED, I'm not a huge Matrix fan. I thought the series was interesting and entertaining to toy with, though. And once you got into them, both of the first movies were really a lot of fun. And this is the only one of the three I bothered to see in theatres.
I have the feeling that MATRIX fans are going to be really annoyed with this one. Certainly the crowd I saw it with was rowdy and hyped up when they walked in and took their seats; but they all left in stiff silence.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Now don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike this movie. I'm glad I saw it, it was interesting to see how the Brothers W chose to end it. And I was really enjoying the first half of the movie during all those scenes taking place within the Matrix, which are done with both action and humour. Plus, the whole idea of programs that could love and care for others on a human level was fascinating and I was anxious to see it developed later in the film (unfortunately, it never is). I loved every bit they came up with in the Matrix world and hoped for more.
But the moment we all got into the real world scenes (which were inevitable after all; we did know right from the beginning that they have to face the machines in a big one-on-one eventually), certain questions started nagging at me. While a part of me was getting after myself for questioning all this stuff and thinking, "Hey, it's just a sci-fi film! Why bother puzzling over this stuff?", I nevertheless couldn't help wondering:
* Where is the rest of the fleet? All throughout THE MATRIX RELOADED, we kept getting informed about how important it was to have "every single available ship" ready for when Zion would come under attack. So where are they all?
* Why are the humans using giant mechanical robot bodies to fight back at the machines instead of a more humanized way? Well, I suppose it makes sense to give them fair-and-square abilities to pit them against the machines, and I think that's also the reason why we kept getting shots of common shells being used, but still...
* If a single shell can take out a huge guargantuan enemy machine, then why has the war lasted so long?
* Why do the mechanical robot arms the humans use have simple oversized machine guns in them when the humans also have those deadly blue-laser-firing devices we've seen in both the first movie and this one? Wouldn't it make more sense to simply have those lasers installed instead since they're obviously so effective? Or arming everybody with them? Or were there simply not enough to go around?
Well, I could go on and on, but eventually after a while I simply stopped caring and just struggled to enjoy the movie on its own level. And it is enjoyable, its plusses outweigh its minuses in my mind.
But by the time we reach the end, I had a ton of whoppers entering my mind throughout the oddly inconclusive finale! Simply put, this film ended up creating far more questions than it answered. Here are a handful of them:
* At the end of the movie we are told the "others" who "chose to" are allowed to go free. Is this in reference to the programs escaping to the Matrix? Or the humans? Or BOTH?
* Have all the humans been freed, leaving the Matrix a haven for escaping human-acting programs to escape to and live in?
* If the humans have not been freed, how are they given the choice? I mean, is someone going to bother explaining to them the whole situation so they can choose or what?
And much, much more.
You see what I mean? I think the point I'm getting at here is that this movie isn't really interested in presenting us with answers so much as it is with piling on even more questions. That would have been fine if the first two movies didn't seem so determined to promise us a definite resolution by the trilogy's end. But in this case, I see this ending as the result of only one of two possibilities: either the Brothers W had simply painted themselves into a corner until it was apparent that *NO* resolution was going to tie up all the loose ends they had introduced by now, or they were simply so determined to leave the door open for additional sequels and franchises like books, comics, etc. that they tossed their audience out the window in favour of addon (and thus more moneymaking) possibilities.
In either case, it's obvious the Brothers W apparently just do not want their series to end and are determined to keep it going because they like it too much.
I should note that the big centerpiece battle against the machines is extremely wearing on the senses. Simply put, the scene as a whole simply does not "read" properly--that's a term we in the industry use to refer to how naturally the human eye is capable of perceiving what is supposed to be happening on the screen. In this case, it's physically impossible to follow everything upon a first-time viewing simply because it's simply all too much at once. COOL WORLD was so visually overwhelming and loud that people in the audience literally felt exhausted, got headaches and starting saying aloud that they wish they had some aspirin: the big battle scene here makes COOL WORLD feel like a cakewalk. Other filmmakers such as George Lucas are not only capable of choreographing their battles much more logically in terms of being able to be followed, but they also have the good sense to cut back and forth between various battles so that one scene doesn't grow wearing from dragging on and on too long. Unfortunately, the Brothers W turn out to be lousy editors in this sense, and they allow the whole bit to be so busy, so loud, so blurry, so confusing and so flat out and out grey-black-blue-aqua that I kept squinting at the screen the way I do when driving through a bad snowstorm. It was horrendous, and it comes close to making the movie self-destruct.
Now on a more positive note, the movie does inject very human situations and elements into the previously-already-established characters that make the film feel more believable than the usual sci-fi outing. Characters dying and such are elements to be expected, but Neo's being permanently BLINDED was not! This is not usually the sort of thing you see happen in movie trilogies, a well-known character being blinded for life in something like a sci-fi romp usually just isn't done because it's all too disturbing to the audience: something like sight is a precious thing, and it violently jerks the audience back to reality as such an element not only immediately reminds them of how eyesight loss can happen to anyone, but also of those out there who are physically unable to watch movies at all. But even though I'm not so sure it was a good idea to have such an ingredient here, give the Brothers W a good strong mark here for taking a risk in trying to up the drama and challenge for our protagonist.
In the end, I had had a good time watching the movie. But I felt empty and disappointed due to all of the previously-mentioned points. It had felt like you were listening to a teenager reading aloud a "Choose Your Own Adventure Book" you already knew by heart--and you knew that they had just managed to choose the most thoroughly blah ending in the entire "ending" selection when you knew there were so many cooler ones out there they could have picked instead.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
It's not easy being green!
I didn't exactly rush out to see this one because I had been hearing a ton of bad things about it. The fact that I learned that it was being done as two sequels in a row during the same year BACK TO THE FUTURE style--complete with a trailer at the end of the second sequel for the upcoming third one--didn't exactly boost my confidence. So I waited for it to come out on home video. I was an admirer of the first MATRIX movie without being a fan, so the speak, and hoped that the second one wouldn't be just some lousy tack-on.
Fortunately, THE MATRIX RELOADED isn't the disaster I feared it would be. Instead of feeling like a "second movie", it simply feels like a continuation of the same one the way THE LORD OF THE RINGS does, and that's precisely the way I like it. Sure it's absolutely preposterous at points and has even more unintentionally hysterical lines than the first one (remember the following line from THE MATRIX? "Never send a man to do a machine's job"? LOL!), but that doesn't mean it's not fun.
MATRIX fans would scream foul if I gave away even a smattering of what goes on here away. And I really don't need to; if you've seen the first movie you know the sort of thing to expect. So I'll focus on the stuff I liked and didn't like instead.
I wasn't surprised when I learned that the brothers who created THE MATRIX were previously comic book creators--the MATRIX movies are all directed and written like moving comic books, right down to the in-the-air studies and goofy dialogue. The only thing missing during the actions scenes are the "POW!" "BAM!" action words appearing on screen which I keep expecting to see. These movies are quite possibly the most pure comic-book-feel films out there on the market, as near as I can tell. The direction and feel of them is fascinating to watch, and the frequent slow-motion stops actually *help* you follow the action better that you otherwise might--they add more power and emphasis. THE MATRIX RELOADED, if it's at all possible, is even more enthusiastic than the first one was--and it has the right to be since it's gotten all the story setup out of the way with the first film and now can simply relax and add on from there with this one.
The dialogue, as I mentioned, can be downright ridiculous. Morpheus gives what's supposed to be an inspirational speech to a huge crowd that ends up being hilarious as opposed to dramatic, and I can't help but wonder how that poor actor managed to recite that twaddle in that pitch of voice without breaking down in hysterics. And consider the following actual lines from this movie:
"You!" "Me. Me, me, me." "Me, too!"
Now honestly; can you imagine someone actually being PAID to write those lines?! :)
The action sequences are all superbly staged. I'm not one to go ga-ga over special effects action sequences and it takes a lot to impress me in this day and age when computers and effects can give us anything at all effectwise, but the breathtaking freeway bit *really* impressed me! I also have the sneaky suspicion that the MATRIX creators may be fans of the Disney/Squaresoft PS2 title KINGDOM HEARTS, as THE MATRIX RELOADED even features a battle with a staircased entryway that looks like it's straight out of the Hollow Bastion area where you first fight Riku, only the room is a yellowish-green tint as opposed to royal blue.
And speaking of the tint, there's one visual choice here that drives me nuts about this movie. The original movie kept the virtual "real" world realistic. In this one, everything in the "real" world is shot through a green lens. And I do mean EVERYTHING: even the black on the cop cars is greenish-tinted! Now I know it's an artistic visual choice to remind us that this is supposed to be just all computer graphics and all since the trademark "glyph graphics" are bright green, but I personally find that, being an artist, it distracts me from the "real" world parts and makes them a lot less convincing and involving than they were in THE MATRIX. I keep thinking I'm looking at the Emerald City out of THE WIZ as opposed to a "real" virtual world the way I did in the first movie. It's all so green. Everything green. So green as to almost look plastic-ish, the major guiding art directing rule in those portions is... just... all... GREEN. It's an artistic choice! It's an obsessive compulsive disorder! It's a movie for St. Patrick's Day! It's ALL OF THE ABOVE! ;)
Certain questions do come to mind though, even during the action scenes. Such as the twins who are able to suddenly move through substances, which is both an advantage and a hinderance to them (which is ingenious on behalf of the script). One of them appears within a cop car and duing a fight has his arm tied down by a seat belt by Morpheus, which of course begs the question, why didn't the twin simply "morph" his way out of the seat belt? Same with the twin who gets his arm caught in the door. That part doesn't make much sense to me. Other than that though, incidentally, the twins do everything but hiss: they're amusing to watch.
THE MATRIX RELOADED is like a videogame, but it's sure a fun rollercoaster to watch--certainly better than other "rollercoaster" movies like JURASSIC PARK and the like. It has a fascinating backstory to it, and I think that accounts for its success; it works beautifully as an oddly-comforting metaphor for the world we live in, a world where people feel trapped in a reality they are constantly striving to perfect, correct or even ignore.
I've seen several press statements proclaiming this movie to be in the same league as TRON. Nonsense. TRON was a very special movie, the type that only gets made once in a lifetime and approached the idea of a computer world with a staggering poetry, beauty and wistful depth to it that moved the heart and soul as well as the eye. You walked out of the theatre feeling shaken and somehow transformed. That film was groundbreaking, original and a spectacular experience... it still is. THE MATRIX will leave your mind spinning with its weird idea of the real world not really being real and its overall strangeness to toy with, and yes that is a lot of fun, but even that doesn't compare to the loveliness that is TRON. The two are simply not in the same league. TRON is the deeper movie and far more successful in using computers to express the humanity within us all. THE MATRIX is most definitely an action flick designed to provide thrills and gasps as opposed to revelations and emotions.
As a story, THE MATRIX does a good job of reminding us of various things important to existance, especially as it grabs at Biblical references left and right, but even so it still only offers so much. So don't go in expecting anything but a fun mindbending videogame and you'll enjoy yourself. Like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, it's a film that's fun to mentally toy with, a Rubik's cube for the senses. And it's certainly nowhere near the disaster that I've read a lot of press statements to find it to be. I enjoyed it, and I think you might too.
Ack! It was HIDEOUS! It was a NIGHTMARE! It was INHUMANE! It was TORTURE!
Well okay, maybe it wasn't THAT bad, but it sure was terrible. I never thought that any motion picture out there taking a "cartoonist traveling into another world to meet his own creation" concept could screw it up worse than COOL WORLD.
MONKEYBONE is so thoroughly wretched and messy that it makes COOL WORLD look like Shakespeare. It makes the flawed-but-still-delightful WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT look like The Bible!
How bad was it? I couldn't finish it! There are only a few movies that made me want to wretch and scream, "AUGH! TURN IT OFF!!!" This was one of them. After thirty minutes or so, I just couldn't take it anymore. I mean seriously, it's ***that*** bad!
But there is *one* interesting little inclusion here; in one scene, we see one of our protagonist's "actual paintings" before he went to cartoons. This is in actuality a painting by surrealist painter Mark Ryden, who's also known for having painted various album covers including Michael Jackson's DANGEROUS as well as doing the conceptual art design for the PC videogame 9: THE LAST RESORT, among many other things. The featured painting here is Ryden at his most nightmarish and exaggerated along those lines. Unfortunately, it was also the only thing in the movie I was finding interesting.
Avoid, avoid, avoid!
WARNING: Spoilers ahead. And possibly uncontrollable laughter as well. No, I'm not being sarcastic, just wanted to warn everybody. I'm serious.
I'm only just now checking out the James Bond flicks for the first time, and so far find them to be a mixed bag ranging from the fun to the spectacular to the boring to the incredibly stupid. But there was a moment while watching MOONRAKER when I realized that not only was I watching the stupidest of the Bond films, but that I was watching one of the most incredibly stupid scenes ever filmed in movie history I've encountered to date! (And as I am someone who loves to watch a ***lot*** of bad and stupid movies from PLAN 9 all the way through the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000 collection and way, way beyond, that's saying something!)
In that one moment which had me laughing hysterically so hard that I swear I fell OUT of my chair and was rolling about on my living room floor clutches my sides because I could have sworn they had just split wide open while I was gasping for air as much as I could manage for fear I would suffocate on the hilarity of it all, the following happens within approximately two or three minutes of screen time:
While on a gondola through Venice, James Bond suddenly presses a hidden button on it, causing a steering wheel to pop out and a motor to drop down into the water and suddenly the gondola thinks its a speedboat zooming through the canals at top speed, at one point plowing through another gondola consisting of a pair of lovers romantically smooching it up, causing the second struck gondola to be sliced neatly in two separating its passengers from the gondolier, and the gondolier is all frustrated and annoyed as he struggles to keep from sinking while the lovers drift away in their own still-afloat half of the ruined gondola still smooching it up and completely oblivious to everything that has just occurred, and suddenly as it approaches St. Mark's Square James's gondola grows a hovercraft device on the bottom of it and zooms through a crowd of people, and we see everyone around doing double takes and having cartoonish reactions to this ridiculous sight including a pigeon (!!!) doing a double-take and a dog narrowing his eyes in bewilderment...
So help me, I SWEAR to you people, I am not making this up. I have a powerful reputation with all those who know and befriend me for being painfully honest about absolutely everything you might care to discuss with me. I would never dream of making this weirdness up. I'm a professional cartoonist, for pete's sake, and even *I* would never dream of creating a sequence like this, certainly not in a 007 flick! I've seen silliness in Bond movies before, but I have never, EVER seen anything THIS ridiculous! And it's all the more funny in that you are actually laughing AT the film as opposed to WITH it as was obviously intended.
Well, so much for being the secretive, inconscpictuous, professional top spy.
MOONRAKER is a movie in deep, deep trouble. This has, of course, become a notorious addition to the Bond franchise, an embarrassing mass of dunceness that raked in the cash for some weird reason while also simultaneously causing Bond fans everywhere to run gagging from the theatres. Don't ask me why it made as much as I hear it did; your guess is as good as mine. It is so goofy in so many different ways that I'm surprised it didn't kill the franchise off in one fair swoop upon its release! Its acting is terrible, its overall finale plot and effects manage to remind me just a tad too much of THE BLACK HOLE, only worse (and again, that's saying something!), to the point where I was checking the ending credits to see if Maximillian Shell was also playing this villainous character as well as the other one because both villains struck me as being too much the same for their own good. If you thought the black strings on the "floating" robots in THE BLACK HOLE were sloppy, wait until you see the effects done here in the space scenes! Or heck, even some of the earthbound ones like the rubber snake!
Now we all know that James Bond movies on a usual basis have all the believability and depth of your average superhero comic book, but this movie goes beyond comic book level into the realm of the flat out cartoonish. Specifically, Warner Bros. territory. And while Jaws was previously terrifying in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, here he's just completely daft both in conception and convincingness. By the time you see Jaws survive the cable car crash you'll realize that all those reviews you've read of MOONRAKER comparing him here to Wile E. Coyote were right on target. And any pretense of the movie's having one foot in reality at all, or even just one toe, goes flying madly out the window. The characters persistently do stupid things; the more-intelligent audience thinks of doing obvious alternatives way before anyone in the movie constantly ignores them. For example, at one point while Bond and Miss Goodhead (yes, it's another one of those entendre female monikers for a Bond girl) are in a cable car Jaws bites one of the cables which somehow causes Bond to topple. Which of course poses the obvious question: if Jaws thought of biting the cables, why not simply bite a-l-l of them and send the entire cable car with Bond plummeting to its doom as opposed to jumping into another car and racing down after him? The movie is full of stupid things like this. I can't begin to tell you how little sense it makes.
One other things I wish to note: after seeing him in action against all the other Bonds, I have come to the conclusion with this movie that I simply do not like Roger Moore. I think the guy is simply too old-looking for the role and doesn't have either the personality or pizazz to play Bond. Connery and Bosnan are both so much better that they put this guy to shame.
Another interesting note: careful examination of the ending credits for THE SPY WHO LOVED ME will prove just how quickly rushed MOONRAKER really is. The announcement for the next movie doesn't say "MOONRAKER"--instead, it announces "FOR YOUR EYES ONLY"! Of course, I later learned that FYEO was the originally-planned next installment but that it was decided at the last minute to make MOONRAKER to cash in on the STAR WARS/SCI-FI craze that had just appeared. This explains the sloppy script and effects. I personally would have enjoyed seeing what would have happened if this movie was carefully planned out and had a better Bond actor instead of what we got.
All of this and much more has been pointed out by critics, rabid fans and pretty much everybody else who sees it, but that somehow didn't affect MOONRAKER's performance at the box office. But these days, I have to admit it has one interstellar virtue: it's sure fun to put on during a party! With the right audience, MOONRAKER is one campy hoot.
Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979)
It's nowhere near the masterpiece Xanadu is, but it's still campy fun nevertheless.
I never did understand why most audiences didn't go for XANADU. That movie had a huge cult following upon its theatrical release; while being considered a box office dud, it had the sort of presence that granted it an instant cult classic among musicals. I know tons and tons of people who love both the movie and the soundtrack dearly, and I've noticed that they are all the same personality I am--namely, folks who are starry-eyed by nature, have a strong sense of poetic beauty and grew up with before-Eisner Walt Disney movies.
Story has it that SKATETOWN, U.S.A. was deliberately pushed back a couple of years or so the moment word got out that XANADU was in the works, for apparently the makers of this flick didn't want to chance XANADU's destroying it. They needn't have worried. This thing didn't have a chance to begin with. SKATETOWN is far, far, FAR inferior to the wonderful and delightful XANADU. It doesn't begin to even hold a candle to XANADU, which lives up to its title.
And yet, SKATETOWN, U.S.A. is campy fun in its own way, a time capsule from the disco era that brings back memories despite obvious flaws in direction, choppy editing that insists on slashing the footage of some genuinely spectacular skating stunts before you can fully enjoy them, and a story that is nonexistant at best.
The music makes this movie, hands down. It has a wonderful theme song and original songs as well as a whole slew of disco staples that are now truly timeless classics. And of course all the skating is a blast. And gotta love that goofball D.J. with his sparkle afro!
There's one thing that seriously ruins my enjoyment of this film though. An annoying overweight worker at the snack bar who has a thing for hot dogs. This guy is just... seriously, he's disgusting! He's so gross and lacking in personal hygiene and basic cleanliness that... well, would *YOU* buy food from this guy? I swear, I lose all appetite (especially for hot dogs) upon seeing this guy in action. I'll be sitting there enjoying a wonderful skate dance set to gorgeous music, only to have the camera suddenly cut away to this jerk's gross antics. Edit him OUT entirely and this film would be much, much better and more carefree.
Oh, and you haven't lived until you hear this flick's answer to the question "You saved my life... Why?"
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Ahhh, what a heartbreakingly beautiful touchstone in my life...
This movie means so much to me.
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was an extremely important event in my personal lifetime.
I was one of those who had seen in-development clips of the original ROGER RABBIT movie on The Disney Channel back in 1984 (which looked totally different in many ways), and I had thought for the longest time that it had been left for dead until it was rescued by Robert "Back The The Future" Zemeckis (I deliberately write his name that way because that is exactly how the press printed his name every time they mentioned him during this movie's run, so much so that I was making jokes with friends about how Zemeckis must have recently made "Back To The Future" his legal middle names. But I digress).
This movie came out just before I was ready to turn twenty years old that September. And as I watch it now, I still love it every bit as much as I did back then, only now it also brings tears to my eyes due to its representation to me at the time.
1988. We cartoonists growing up were all being mocked and told we had no futures ahead of us. I was being called by my peers an "animation hippie". I had grown up studying to enter the animation industry and had dreams of joining Disney to use the power of the animated cartoon to spread positive vibes and happiness around the world just as Walt used to do, and maybe even save lives. And I had spent all my youth and later my teen years feverishly studying animation and teaching myself technique, preparing myself for the big moment. I had been talking my entire life about how one day there would be a revolution in the animation industry; Hollywood's marketing eggheads would finally be overthrown, animation would one day once again belong to the people. We in the animation industry would finally have the freedom and respect as everyone else did throughout the world in our same field; we would overcome and make animation ours again, unshackling it from the hands of the greedy bosses and worms of Hollywood.
I genuinely and honestly believed that.
And for me, ROGER RABBIT made 1988 my 1968 animation-wise. I sat there with my long-haired, tye-dyed idealism clutching my projects and beloved cartoon icons of the past to my heart as I had cheered ROGER RABBIT on and watched it steamroll Hollywood into being forced to take animation seriously as all-ages entertainment. I saw it countless times in the theatres. Again and again and again. This was it, I had been telling friends. This was the beginning of The Revolution! WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was my Woodstock, the huge party promising the turning point of historical culture forever and the official beginning of hoped-for dreams for change and happiness.
I was so naive and innocent back then.
Well, as we all know and as I discovered when I finally made my first sojourn to Hollywood, ROGER RABBIT did make it officially cool to love animation again in this country with all ages, but Hollywood... characteristically... refused to relinquish control to the animators as I had predicted. Instead, they allowed a "carefully marketed" version of "hip" new cartoons to merely cash in on the new craze. And they ran it into the ground. Now they are doing the same thing with computer animation, stupidly believing that it's the technology making hit films and not the scripts. Same old, same old. And I ended up learning a hard lesson about how Hollywood leeches art for profit, how only individuals like Walt can truly cause revolutions. And to add insult to injury, we would later get our own knock-to-reality disaster as another attempt at a "Roger Rabbit" move hideously trashed and ended up accidentally mocking that hope in the way that The Rolling Stones' Altamont attempt had with Woodstock, in the form of Ralph Bakshi's COOL WORLD.
But even so, despite its being a disappointment as a now-shattered idealism in my life and it's now representing what *could* have been (and now just to me either, I must add!), I still love this film to pieces. The technology is beautiful and it's so enjoyable that it actually breaks my heart even further to admit what I'm about to say. And that is that while it's such a wonderful film to me both personally and artistically, it is technically also a very lousy one.
Even since I saw it for the first time, several things nagged at me right from the beginning. Fortunately, the movie was still so fun that I was able to overlook them. But here are the things which bothered me:
First of all, I'm afraid that Richard Williams just isn't one of my favourite directors and I honestly wish they had gotten someone else to do it. His draftsmanship is simply too elastic and too undisciplined for the animation to read properly or have genuine physical appeal on screen. As a result the characters all have an unlikeable "rubbery" look that I find unattractive.
Second, I'm still irked at the decision to try to design the characters "painstakingly" to appear the way they did draft-wise back during the era where this film takes place (especially when they aren't consistent about it with all the characters, or sometimes even the same character in different scenes!). I personally would have picked a more modern-era like the 60s or 70s (the book itself took place in modern times) so as to assure better character design appeal, but the marketers were so desperate to make the film timeless that they didn't want to take chances.
Third, the draftsmanship of many of the classic characters is simply awful. As a review of a "Roger Rabbit" catalogue book once sold at that time put it, Williams couldn't draw a lot of these characters "to save his soul". How true. Many look passable enough, but they are ultimately undone by the director's own personal drawing style.
And fourth--and this is probably my biggest complaint--the story. It shows lots of interaction with cartoon characters physically, but there is barely *ANY* emotional or personal interaction with them! The true ideas of humans encountering cartoon characters are blunted as a result as Zemeckis simply waters it all down to a simple piece of "laughter is so important to us all!" tripe, and I have yet to see anyone make a serious attempt to have genuinely deep, personal emotional interaction between toons and people (something I've worked at with all my own stories and ideas throughout my life... am I the only artist out there who sees possibilities in this concept? I used to think everyone else did too, but now I seriously wonder). I keep hoping that someday someone besides myself will be able to make the attempt on the big screen and do it convincingly.
But those four things aside, I still love this movie. How can I not? It's not just a spectacular piece of work, it also meant something huge to me personally. And now these days it will forever after serve as a huge touchstone in my own personal life regarding a specific moment in time which... interestingly enough, just like the original Woodstock festival itself... was lost two years or so after "the big victorious hurrah"and sold out. And in the end, again like Woodstock, nothing was changed except for the worse. And it literally brings tears to my eyes to watch it today on a ***BEAUTIFULLY***-restored DVD double set in widescreen and re-feel that one special time in my life when animation in this country had finally reached the summit of victory... and we who were just on the brink of taking the nosedive into the animation industry were all celebrating while walking home after watching ROGER RABBIT for the first time with our hearts high in the sunset... and the future belonged to us...
Captain EO (1986)
BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!
It is truly some sort of horrendous cultural crime that this ultracool Michael Jackson film was yanked out of the Magic Eye theatres from Disney Parks around the world and replaced with the completely stupid "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience"!
The music is HOT! Michael Jackson is GREAT in it! The characters are fun, it has a great message AND its effects are gorgeous! Heck, MY COUSIN DEBBIE LEE CARRINGTON IS IN IT!!!
But Disney yanked it out of the parks due to the infamous and ridiculous accusations against Michael which I will not go into here (and of which I still strongly believe him to be completely innocent of) due to cowardice.
It deserves a re-release, and its fantastic theme song--one of the best things Michael ever wrote and performed--remains unreleased as well. COME ON, DISNEY!!! Have a little GUTS, RELEASE IT! (But what am I saying?! They're still too cowardly to re-release Song Of The South...!!!)
Runaway Brain (1995)
When I actually had the chance to see this bizarre cartoon, I had one immediate reaction:
It's difficult to describe my reaction to this one apart from that one word. It's usually easy to comment on things I've seen, especially since I have a rep for stating my most precise, honest feelings on any subject you'd care to hand me and making myself perfectly clear. But this is one of the rare things I've ever seen which has put me at a complete loss for words.
The cartoon is easily the weirdest Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made, and it made me feel strange for the longest time after seeing it with my reaction of, "What on earth was THAT?!!"
There's one thing about it which I *can* state, however; my peers in the animation industry and I have loved making jokes about this short featuring the "real" Walt Disney Mickey Mouse being turned into the Michael Eisner Mickey Mouse!