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Fun, thought-provoking Disney winner...
1st watched 2/28/2014 7 out of 10(Dir-Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck): Fun, thought-provoking Disney winner as they continue the tradition of entertaining animated family-oriented feature films. This is a story about two sisters who are separated from one another at an early age due to the older one's special powers accidentally harming the other. The parents are told to do this to protect the younger one, Anna, by an elder rock-troll after healing her. The parents(who are King&Queen of a town called Arondale) then die in an accident, but the separation is kept in place until the elder of the two sisters is coronated as Queen of the city. During the celebration, the elders ice-creating powers is revealed and she banishes herself up a mountain and unknowingly brings upon a frozen winter-like condition to the area. The movie is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Snow Queen", which is what she now makes herself isolated from other people. Anna, then decides to seek her out in a quest up the mountain to hopefully reverse the process.(By the way
a perfect movie for the horrible 2013-2014 winter season that doesn't want to go away
although I don't think Disney knew this was going to happen while making it) This is a song-filled(almost too much so at times) new classic that, in my opinion, doesn't deserve it's PG-rating. The movie even has a meaningful theme by the time it ends, with some added laughs primarily from a re-animated snowman named Olaf, romance, action and some mystery as we try to figure out how the happy ending is going to happen. Some of the plot twists don't make a lot of sense, but this is only a minor flaw to an otherwise well done new Disney film that I'm sure will be enjoyed by families for awhile as it's promoted to home video offerings.
The Towering Inferno (1974)
Formulaic disaster movie...
1st watched 3/2/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-John Guillermin,Irwin Allen): Formulaic disaster movie with it's only merit being some interesting photography and attempts at rescue. A star-studded cast are sent to a party at the top of a newly opened highest building in the world only to be subject to a fire started fifty stories below them in a maintenance room. Of course, initially, they figured the building could withstand this minor blaze, but we find out they cut corners on the building to lessen the cost and pad their pocketbooks making it eventually an inferno spreading wildly. You can guess how the picture is going to go, you just don't know how the flame will be burned out, and who is going to survive. This mystery didn't keep me interested, and I personally don't think it's entertainment to watch people burn up and dive thru glass windows to their death every few minutes. These type of movies were popular in the 70's so there must have been an audience for them because there was enough of them, but they are not my cup of tea. There is a common theme in a lot of my reviews about whether you "care" for the people in the movie and unfortunately very little information is given to allow for this in this one. The acting is fine, although there are some classic cliché's that are used for fodder in many latter spoofs of the genre, including a perfectly stoic Steve McQueen, as the hard working fire marshall, and the un-believing William Holden as the builder. Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, and others get their money due to their fame, but don't add much to the picture, in my opinion. O.J. Simpson is actually surprisingly good as a security person for the building despite his lack of acting chops, but no-one else stands out. There are a lot of sets that the actors have to trudge through to try and make the film interesting, with an interesting camera trick for an elevator shaft(that I swear was mimicked in the Star Wars series while Luke looks down into a death star area before dropping). Unfortunately, it was hard for me to get thru this movie not because of the intensity really, but because of the familiarity. I have never been a fan of these Irwin Allen productions, although I'm sure he made a lot of money and this one was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best picture although only won in the technical areas. Good for him, but I don't consider this film that noteworthy.
Convoluted escape movie...
1st watched 2/15/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Franklin J. Schaffner): Convoluted escape movie giving the star Steve McQueen one of the most complex roles which he does OK with, but Director Franklin J. Schaffner really never comes across like he was clear on how he wanted the movie to come across. Advertised as an action prison escape movie with star power of McQueen and Dustin Hoffman and based on a well received novel, but this epic attempt of telling the story has no real pull on the viewer to care about the outcome unless you just can't wait to see the inevitable after it's forecasted by a prisoner near the beginning that Papillon will never return home to France, and a scene where it's emphasized that the prison is in-escapable(aka. maybe expect the opposite to occur??). Papillon was accused of the murder of a pimp(which he denies), and is transported to a brutal French Guiana prison shown in the initial scene in a strange triumphal departure from the country while the French look on. It's obvious that very early on Papillon intends to attempt to escape and he knows that Hoffman's character, Daego, has a lot of money at his disposal so introduces himself and intends to use this method to make things happen. Initially Daego doesn't want to go with him, but will provide the funds if he's safely delivered to the prison. The movie is really about the friendship that eventually happens between these two characters because of each one's self sacrifice for the other, but the Director never promotes this idea to his detriment. The rest of the movie is plodding chronicle that never seems to want to end despite Hoffman and McQueens watchable performances even though the characters lack depth and development, and sometimes change from scene to scene. I'm sure the book wasn't this un-focused or it wouldn't have been so popular -- but I think the movie was popular -- so who's to know. Sadly, this is probably McQueen's finest character and performance as an actor but it's spoiled by this long winded movie about very little except portraying one man's determination against overwhelming odds.
Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938)
Russian propaganda historical film...
1st watched 1/26/2014 -- 4 out of 10 (Dir-Sergei Eisenstein & Dimitri Vasiliev) Russian propaganda historical film about the people defending their homeland(the mother Russia) in the 13th century with Prince Alexander Nevsky leading the battles. It starts with the main character fishing despite his recent victory over the Swedes, and is a reluctant leader unless called upon by his people. This is probably the kind of film that the Russian people want to hold onto as a good look at their heritage with Sergei Prokofiev(a Russian) providing the soundtrack, but that doesn't mean it makes for a good movie. The fighting scenes are somewhat realistic, for the time, but not necessarily entertaining or groundbreaking visually. If you learn something from a movie this is definitely a plus but unfortunately all I learned is who the Russians were fighting against(the Germans strangely coupled with the Roman church). There is an attempt to add an extra story with romantic possibilities as two of the men early want to marry the same girl, but then fight together and become best buddies before the end of the movie who don't care as much about the girl. What was missing for me from the movie was information about the man, Alexander Nevsky. What the movie really chronicles is the history of the country despite being titled by the conqueror's name. We learn very little about the man and not a whole lot about the people in general. This is definitely a stylistic movie that tries to blend Prokofiev's music with the visuals and action in the film, but unfortunately is too bland and straight forward not allowing the viewer to understand the motivations behind the characters. This may be kind of a sign of the times in this country unfortunately it filters into the movie. This was definitely Stalin's child(the state OK'd anything put out at this time), and he may have liked the movie but I did not.
Devil's Due (2014)
Eerie story about a wife's possession by the Devil...
1st watched 1/18/2014 4 out of 10(Dir:Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillet): Eerie story about a wife's possession by the Devil to attempt to produce one of his own thru her. The movie is filmed entirely in first person similar to the Blair Witch Project but more like Cloverfield --- but unfortunately the point of view changes which makes it kind of confusing. It starts as a newlywed couple vacation on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. Nothing is really revealed abnormal about the couple except that the wife is a foster child with a supposed past hard life. They are having a typical good time, but then decide to take a detour to an underground party after being coaxed by a local taxi driver. After they get a little too toasted we see a brief glimpse of some footage at a strange religious ceremony, but then are taken back to footage of them arriving from their vacation back into their new home. We find out later that ceremony has much to do about what happens next. The wife becomes pregnant despite being on the pill, and immediately starts suspecting that there are problems with the baby. She then starts doing strange things like eating raw meat at a grocery store(despite being a vegetarian), causing preachers to cough up blood, and taking night walks into the wild to kill deer and munch of their innards
so naturally the husband starts questioning something awry is going on
.you think?? The movie is scary at times but because it is so predictable you just wait for the eerie things to happen(and they do). There is eventually a story told here that makes some sense as to why things happened but there are a lot of holes to it as well. I will leave out a lot of the specifics just in case you want to watch this movie about an antichrist possession
.i'm not sure why I wanted to watch it myself
I think I was just challenging myself
but overall this is just not that great of a movie, and the creepy feeling only lasted for a short while after the movie was over.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Eerie, atmospheric horror movie that mesmerizes you...
1st watched 1/2/2014 -- 7 out of 10(Dir-Herk Harvey) :screen title=Corridors of Evil(viewed 75 min re-issue): Eerie, atmospheric horror movie that mesmerizes you despite not a whole lot happening the first half of the movie. The movie uses lots of organ music, isolated sounds providing creepy anticipation to the viewer causing the willies before anything really happens. The story begins as a group of teenagers crash off a bridge during a car race into a river. The car sinks, disappears, then a woman emerges from the water appearing to be the only survivor. The woman, played by Candace Hilligoss, is recognized by the locals but begins being very un-approchable then decides to move away for an organist job in a church. When she arrives in the new town, she begins encountering visions and is drawn to an old abandoned carnival. Her boss, the preacher, warns her about entering the facility, but she does anyway and views many other visions and fades out into another realm during different parts of the movie where no-one can see or hear her. The viewer is entrenched in trying to figure out what's going on as the locals are in a similar funk about the new woman in town. This movie scares you without blood or gore and keeps you guessing up until the very end. It abruptly ends and you still have questions about what really happened. This is definitely not the best acted or edited movie with parts with obvious dubbing early in the movie that must have been done because of the lack of funds, but it does what it is supposed to do. It's kind of a psychedelic twilight zone-like movie that just lasts long enough to be a movie instead of a TV show. It is a unique find that you should watch if you are able due to the unique way that it creeps you out and scares you.
The Bat (1959)
Corny whodunit disguised as a horror movie...
1st watched 12/25/2013 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Crane Wilbur): Corny whodunit disguised as a horror movie with the king of the genre, Vincent Price, with the star billing. The movie is based on a play and the movie has that kind of feel to it in it's presentation. It starts as a mystery writer, played by Agnes Moorehead, rents out a house with a storied past as a vacation spot. It seems that a criminal called "the bat" has just murdered a couple of women there the last winter, and the being still seems to have some kind of control over it. The writer visits her bank and they discover there is a million dollars in securities missing while the president and his doctor is on a hunting trip. The doctor is the Vincent Price character and he decides to take things into his own hands when he discovers the president did the embezzling. This is where the plot and story gets very confusing as "the bat" starts showing up at the house all over again. Price's character just happens to study bats and he is thrown at the audience pretty blatantly trying to get us to believe he is 'the bat.' I will not reveal the true identity of the character(although I figured it out about 1/2 hour left in the movie) but I will just say that you probably won't care by the end of the movie. There were plenty of twists to the movie, but the real problem other than the bland acting was that it manipulates the audience and it's get boring very quickly. This is definitely an attempt at a different kind of horror/murder mystery but it falls pretty short of anything worthwhile.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Well done martial arts film that shows everyone...
1st watched 12/21/2013 -- 7 out of 10(Dir-Robert Clouse): Well done martial arts film that shows everyone why Bruce Lee was such an icon in this genre. The movie starts at a distinguished martial arts school where Bruce's character is a student and is made aware by a teacher about a former other student named Hann who is disgracing their reputation and should be stopped. Hann now inhabits an island where he trains his own group and has a tournament every three years. A government official wants Bruce to participate in the tournament with the intent of uncovering any wrongdoing by Hann so they can bring him before the authorities. Lee has dual motives for taking Hann and his group down because his sister was being tormented by some of Hann's group and killed herself instead of being disgraced by them. Although Lee's teaching is not to be aggressive he forgoes this because of all his issues with the group --- asking forgiveness at his dead sisters' graveside. The fighting scenes are extremely well done with a truly unique mirrored-room scene near the end of the movie. Bruce's character adds some humor and a lot of facial expressions that are his trademark almost showing the viewer what is going on without seeing the impacts. The movie is spoken primarily in English and does show a little of Bruce's roughness with the language but he primarily acts with his body almost like a silent movie star. There are scenes that are downright hilarious primarily because of what he does. The philosophy of the school is kind of lost in the movie in this last film of Bruce's but that was intended. The movie somewhat comes across more like an American-revenge movie, but Bruce pulls it off much better than some of the retread types that I've seen in this genre. Overall this is a very well done movie and made me want to see more of this master's films.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Bland Hollywood-like interpretation of the Robin Hood legend...
1st watched 12/5/2013 -- 4 out of 10(Dir-Michael Curtiz & William Keighley): Bland Hollywood-like interpretation of the Robin Hood legend just didn't do much for me. This was a very popular movie when it was released in 1938 and with it's re-release 10 years later, but I didn't feel like the production or the actors brought much to the familiar story. The character, Robin of Luxley --- played by Error Flynn -- starts the movie already in the Hood character as a rebel against Prince John and always for the Saxons, whom John is exploiting. Robin boldly waltzes into the court of Prince John in an early scene carrying an illegally killed deer and ends up sitting down with them in their feast. Before the scene is over he escapes in a typical swashbuckling Flynn scene keeping his charm intact and escaping the gallows. This kind of sets up the rest of the movie as far as Flynn's interpretation of Robin Hood. There is very little bite or toughness despite the obvious rough situation, but the movie looks great throughout with this early technicolor film. The fighting scenes are numerous with some interesting shadowing done, but the scenes seem obviously sped up like a silent movie which lessons their impact. Olivia deHaviland as Maid Marian is probably the best portrayal -- she is captured by Robin's heart and transforms to a follower of his band before the end to eventually become his partner. American movie-making in this era is sometimes corny and sanitized and this is an example of this -- which loses current moviegoers and this one will do that. Overall I just feel if this story is going to be told straight it needs to have other elements that make it watchable -- we either need to understand the core of the issue or it needs to have good humor and this version has neither.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Technically superb Thor sequel that is missing a heart...
1st watched 12/4/2013 5 out of 10(Dir-Alan Taylor): Technically superb Thor sequel that is missing a heart or a reason to care. Visually this movie has a lot to offer, but about halfway thru a realization comes that the fluff isn't enough to sustain a seasoned movie-goer. I had a similar reaction to the Harrison Ford epic "Blade Runner" and other movies that have a lot of style, but very little heart. The story revolves around a matter hidden deep beneath the Earth called "Ether" that can change compositions quickly and is sought after by an evil elf-like creature from a world before there was light, Aka. The Dark World. He believes this Ether has the power to bring back his world. Natalie Portman, plays Jane Foster, a companion of Thor and a scientist who comes upon this substance during an investigation and it possesses her. The evil creature is then after her and Thor(played by Chris Hemsworth), and he, of course, wants to protect her. The settings in the movie consist of Asgard ruled by Thor's father Odin(played by Anthony Hopkins), London, and the dark elves' world
.the movie jumps back and forth between these worlds partially because of a weird warp found during the investigation that transfers items across these worlds
but Thor seems to be able to go in and out no matter what. There is plenty of action to be had, decent acting, and a little humor but other than the expected battle between good vs. evil there is no real reason or emotion to stay with the movie to the very end. The movie should probably win some visual effects awards, but I'm looking for a complete experience and in my opinion this isn't one. It is a good try but not quite good enough for my approval.