Reviews

60 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Terra Nova (2011)
9/10
Well, SOMEONE Had to Like It...
3 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've watched five or so episodes of Terra Nova thus far, and I think it is quite good, definitely not the drivel that one would believe from scrolling through the first couple of pages of reviews on IMDb. Calling something "family friendly" doesn't really offend my sensibilities- why can't families have shows that are appropriate for all members to watch? True, the gore and body-count in the series is noticeably lower than we have be trained to expect from any offering that features dinosaurs, but I never finish an episode and say, "Gee, I wish more characters had died and exposed their shredded flesh on camera to preserve my sense of realism this time!"

Obviously, the graphics and scenery are really well done, as one would expect from all the hype surrounding the large-budget production. The dinosaurs are better than anything I've seen on television, and I admire the care and planning that has been put into the futuristic trappings.

The cast and characters are generally well-done. Jason O'Mara and Shelley Conn have great chemistry and I have enjoyed watching their characters rekindle their relationship. I will agree that two of the children: the youngest daughter and the eldest son, are grating and pointless. The daughter seems to mainly have existed as a plot point in the pilot: to give the family a reason to escape to Terra Nova and ratchet up the stakes while still building sympathy for the parents. After that, she's just too cutesy-wootsy and tends to get in the way. The son is the dreaded "worst offender" of the show. I think that probably without him, a lot more people wouldn't have so much to complain about. Every single storyline for him is a mess of clichés, from "son is inexplicably always angry with father" to "son is horny and will do stupid things for a hot chick" to "son is a moron and really deserves to die, but he is a main character, so we will kill someone else to teach him a Very Important Lesson." The middle daughter is much more tolerable and her storyline is (dare I say it?) sweet. In that manner, I find it kind of refreshing to mash up family-friendliness with sci-fi stuff. How often in dinosaur flicks do you get to have "sweet" (not ooky-gooky, just tender) moments between characters? Not that often. Stephen Lang and Christine Adams as opposing leaders of Terra Nova and the Sixers are probably the strongest performers of the lot.

Overall, the stories have been pretty good, and never what I would consider to be offensively unwatchable. It's not LOST, but geeze, why should anything else try to be LOST? LOST was LOST and this is Terra Nova, and it is good at what it is. It's interesting and exciting and entertaining. The b-plots can tread on tired ground, as I have mentioned above, but the a-plots are solid.

Overall, Terra Nova does what it aims to do well. Sort of a loose contemporary spin on Lost in Space, but with dinosaurs. If you don't like those kinds of shows, guess what? You won't like this. And that's okay, but that doesn't mean that Terra Nova is badly done by any means.
53 out of 67 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Tangled (2010)
9/10
The Most Beautiful Disney Film Since Sleeping Beauty, Idiotic Title Nonwithstanding
2 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Tangled is above all else a masterpiece of animation and background. I'd never say another thing about cg again if there was a hope that even a quarter of the stuff churned out looked so stunning. It could have been a much worse film in other aspects and I would still be drooling.

Which makes it even better that it doesn't suck as much as the trailers imply. I have no explanation to offer for the crap job done on the marketing other than everyone other than the artists are a bunch of greedy bastards. Anywho, it's a charming story, not nearly as snarky and Shrek-ish as I had feared, filled with some excellent characters. Mother Gothel is an excellent villain, combining charm and evil marvelously. And as for the titularly tangled couple, both are serviceably great in a not-too-terribly-bland way. Maybe a little too quippy for their own good, but oh man, they boast some of the most attractive character design I have ever seen. There seems to be a lot of lifting from anime, with the huge saucer eyes and heart-shaped faces. The voicework was in many cases good, better than I was expecting to say the least. Donna Murphy was, of course, great and I like Zachary Levi well enough from his role as Chuck, but Mandy Moore was the sleeper hit. Frankly, all she had to do was not suck it up and I would have been floored. I still would have liked to see Kristen Chenoweth in the role, but Moore's voice definitely had a stronger note of sincerity and thankfully the nasally pop-tartness was for the most part absent in her singing.

And the songs! Actually, I am afraid to admit I cannot remember a single tune from the show, which I just saw this afternoon. I remember them as pleasant enough at the time and know I liked Mother Knows Best quite well, but they just didn't stick with me. Instead I've been humming True Love's Kiss all evening, being in the spirit of the movie while infinitely more catchy.

So all in all, Tangled was a worthy placeholder in the coveted 50th feature spot. If it had any faults, which were few, they can all be forgiven by the sheer beauty of the artistry, which really is the whole point anyways. At least if you ask me.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Rescuers (1977)
6/10
Generally Uncompelling
4 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I will give credit where it's due and say The Rescuers did it's fair share of freshening things up in the ailing, but not dead, Disney studios. It's a lot nicer animation than Robin Hood and streaks ahead of the Aristocats in every aspect imaginable. It's actually pretty gloomy and dark and not what I would consider a musical (thought it has songs), making it the first straight up adventure story since 101 Dalmatians, with whom it shares a lot of similarities. However, this film stumbles where that one shone in terms of compelling characters and effective story arcs.

The animation is pretty standard fare for the period, with the bothersome scratchy xerox lines of the 60s-80s, but the swampy backgrounds are very lovely and atmospheric. Medusa is particularly well animated, a farewell performance by the great Milt Kahl. The scenes where the mice are following the alligators to the showboat lair and in the pipe organ strike me as especially dynamic sequences. I would almost think they were computer aided- they have that feel of movement. The oil paintings at the beginning were quite moody and atmospheric, but they didn't hash as well as I would have liked with the rest of the movie, plus the whole sequence was kinda creepy and put a glum cast on the film from the outset.

The characters- By far the best in the movie are Bernard and Bianca. Eva Gabor is charming and Bob Newhart makes this quirky, superstitious mouse come to life. The bayou animals served absolutely no purpose to the story- the film could have been made quite easily without their presence and been a lot more enjoyable and less juvenile for it. Penny is just too absowutewy adowable to her own good. From the sticky-sweet lispy voice to the bouncy pigtails and gap tooth, she's just an overdose of goo-goo. I much prefer Anne Marie from a certain Don Bluth's film- a name that would gain a lot more significance in just a few years. Medusa- she's probably the biggest pitfall of the film. I take it back, the entire cast of villains are to blame. Medusa seems at first pretty dangerous and loopy- very much like Cruella but a little broader. But as the movie goes on, her menace gives way to general incompetence. Once the true danger of the cave is done, she is so comically defeated, it kills any credible menace. The same goes for the crocodiles, who at first were an imposing presence of danger, but you eventually got the feeling they were incapable of harming anything even if they tried. Mr. Snoops, well as the odious comic relief, he was a waste from every angle, being neither terribly funny nor particularly villainous.

The music is quite dated, having a particularly strong 70s easy-listening flavour which helps ground the film in a solid setting, I just happen to have a distaste for that style. The songs, with the exception of the Rescue-Aid Pledge are all sung off-screen by Shelby flint as some kind of ethereal narrator. It made the film less of a musical and more devoted to the adventure aspects, which I say is a plus not to keep everything in the same old mold.

The Rescuers is a decent film, but it lacks a compelling force- one that stems mainly from characterization. The protagonists, excluding the titular mice, are too annoying to create any desire for their triumph, while the villains become so impotent they drain the movie, which is geared in all aspects towards adventure, of its suspense.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
It's not much of a tale, but I'm sort of attached to it
16 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Many Adventures is just a wonderfully sweet story- it seems odd when you look at it's place in the timeline of Disney releases, but I prefer to think of it as a package film, the first of whose parts was released all the way back in 66. Because of the unusual decade-long production, first as a series of shorts and then packaged together, it shows better than anything else the dwindling grip of the super-studio after Walt's untimely death. The third short is noticeably lesser quality than the first two. But I digress...

Here is the single best use of xerox's stupid scratchy line- perfectly capturing the essence of pen and ink illustrations, again better in the first two shorts than in the last. My main beef with xerox is when it can only be justified by it's cheapness, because then it just looks CHEAP! If every movie released utilized the style this effectively, I would bow down to the glory of the xerox. But they don't.

The stories are so innocent and sweet, it's almost painful, but it never get the sense of itty bitty pweciousness that can threaten the enjoyment of a film for anyone over five. Sure, it's simple enough for the youngest of children, but there is a sense of wry self-awareness- not a completely separate layer like the snotty Dreamworks atrocities, but a gentle, knowing humor and a bittersweet poignancy that any adult can appreciate.

The songs- what child in America doesn't know them? Lovely, catchy, effective and enduring. The voice actors give their most memorable performances, with Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell leading the pack in their iconic roles.

Of course, being based on such well-known literary work as the stories and verses of AA Milne, it's hard not to compare the two. There's a lot missing in the films, to be sure, and some things added, but I would neither call the subtractions losses nor the additions (esp. Gopher- not in the book!) unwelcome. Perhaps the movies were adapted to resonate better the the American audience, and I, being guilty by association cannot help but find them charming. But really, I find the best adaptions take the essence of their source to create something that can stand on its own in a different media without killing the spirit of the book. And that is exactly why Many Adventures works so unbelievably well.

Quote of the Film:

-But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
As Dispirited as it is Dispiriting
2 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are days when I am convinced that the Universe knows deep down what is best for me. This was most recently evidenced when the VCR ate my copy of Aristocats and promptly died, thus taking my retrospective project hostage. Now whether it was the toxic nature of the film that killed the player or the independent actions of the player to commit such a noble act on behalf of my senses, who can really say? Nevertheless, I managed to overcome all obstacles to bare my mind one more time to the spiraling saga of the "lost years" of Disney.

Frankly, Aristocats seems a step back (if there can be one) from its predecessors. The animation is even more scratchy: pencil lines streak the characters with unprecedented gusto. Madame holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the ugliest drawn characters Disney has ever spewed out, though none of her costars are beauty queens by a long shot. The only really successful character is Georges because his scratchy, wavering persona works in harmony with the style.

The story is a shambles as well. I can't even give the film a heads up for being in Paris, for there's nothing remotely Parisian about it with the exception of the title sequence showcasing Maurice Chevallier (who by his presence makes that the best sequence of the whole film and nothing even happens during it). It's as if all the faults of the Jungle Book were given a shot of heroin and told to run with it. Jazzy music a few decades too early and enough beatnik to make me wonder if Woodstock was happening around the corner. Everybody wants to be a cat was so terribly out of context- the strobe-lights, drum kits, scatting, drug references and occasionally raunchy (for Disney) lyrics were jarring and unpleasant on the palette. We cannot even get away from cloying child characters, though thankfully, we respect the human- animal interaction boundaries this time. I have to say the only things remotely charming in this film were the odious comic relief in the form of the country dogs and, to a lesser extent, the British geese. Two things that had absolutely nothing to do with the story, but were obvious fillers since the producers saw what was essential could in no way stand on its own.

If you can't have interesting leads or music or a good plot, the least you can do is offer up an entertaining foe. However, Edgar is undeniably the worst villain in the Disney canon- not remotely clever enough to be a believable menace. Seriously- his math and reasoning aren't even junior high level, he decides to kill the cats before the benefactor even dies (therefore not only not speeding up his inheritance a minute, but also allowing her the opportunity to adopt even younger cats) and he drugs them when they would have trusted him enough to let him stuff him in a sack (as he actually DID in the last act). To top it off, he's not a serious physical threat or, especially condemning, remotely funny. Even Robin Hood managed to scrape up a villain who could do one of those!

Not to say that there are no redeeming qualities. Though Everybody Wants to Be a Cat bugs me in context, it is not entirely offensive to the ears and is quite catchy. Eva Gabor and Phil Harris are great, though they were both better in other Disney roles- him as Baloo and her as Miss Bianca. Maurice Chevallier coats the opening with his characteristic lovable frenchiness- the one place that takes advantage of the Parisian setting. Speaking of settings, though the character animation was quite hideous, the backgrounds were lovely- especially at times where they became almost soggy and washed out. It is, after all, still Disney.

Everybody, even manic Disneylovers, has a certain film they unleash all their scorn and frustration on. Aristocats is mine, partly because its ugly and lackluster in the long line of progressively uglier and lacklust(ier) films, but mostly because by this point it seemed like they just didn't care. Previous efforts has been misguided and faltered in some way or another, but never had there been such an obvious abandonment before, though I'll reserve my judgement on the after a while yet.

Quote of the film: Uncle Waldo- "Prime Country Goose A la Provencale, stuffed with chestnuts"...? "And basted in white wine." Hic!

O'Malley- Basted? He's been marinated in it!
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Thumbelina (1994)
3/10
Theez eez ze Story erf un Eempossible Lerrrrv
27 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If there was ever proof that the "it doesn't matter cause the kid's won't notice" philosophy has any reason to exist, Thumbelina just might be it. I distinctly remember liking this movie, if not exactly loving it, when it was first released. But oh, how time changes things.

Not everything about Thumbelina is entirely terrible. Jodi Benson still has a lovely voice and the "I want" song and love ballad, though moderately bland, remain largely unoffensive to the ear. Even Charo's performance had me cracking a smile. But beyond that...

Characterwise, everyone is a nutcase, with the exception of the Mother, who gets the least screen time of anyone. Thumbelina is frankly dumb as a post, lacking anything that resembles a mind of her own. The other villains and protagonists alike garner no prizes in the brain category, but they make up for it with either general maliciousness or extra-large doe eyes. Jacquiamo does have the distinction of being the animated world's Jar-Jar Binks with his overblown french faerieness.

Visually, the film isn't much of a stunner either. The leads, while not precisely ugly, have the absolute most ridiculous hairstyles I have seen outside of an indie space flick. The computer scenes, like the opening sequence and the frog boat are so jarringly CGI that the simply jerk you out of the experience of the movie to goggle at the disjunct.

Don Bluth is well loved for his distinct visual style that at one point appeared to rival the Disney Empire. Part of what I love about films like All Dogs Go To Heaven is that they are so entirely unlike Disney fare, unlike most anything else out there at all. Thumbelina represents a different Bluth, one who began to doubt that he could overtake the big bad corporation, and scrambled together a bad imitation. It just doesn't take to his style, plus no one can ever out-Disney Disney.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
The Least Offensive of the Brat Pack
27 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
On the surface, SKoW is just another teen angst movie of the 80s. Lots of parents who are squares and teenagers who are misunderstood and, my personal favorite, brooding. Where would the 80s be without the brooding, I ask ya?

But what saves this movie from spiraling into a heap of self-loathing is the trio of truly likable leads. What sunk films like Breakfast Club or St Elmo's was entire ensembles of unsympathetic characters that offered no foothold to build kinship with. Mary Sue Masterson as Watts was the undeniable show-stopper. She fit her character to a tee- lovely, but covered with rough edges and a tough demeanor. Even her rival, Lea Thompson as Amanda, garnered sympathy without coming off as whiny and "poor little popular girl." The weak link may have been Keith, played by Eric Stolz, who was borderline emo at times. Plus it annoyed me that as soon as he got the girl he spent an entire movie chasing, he no longer wanted her. But maybe that's just my own frustration at high school boys. Styupid boyz >_<

Overall, a very sweet film with enjoyable characters you want to see succeed, not just get a punch in the kisser. Speaking of kissers, the last scene is worth the whole film, truly some kind of wonderful.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
No, it REALLY is as bad as they say...
25 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film caught my interest in a worst 10 of the new millennium poll, and since I've never had any particular fondness for the 1997 mega- snooze, I welcomed the possibility of a good laugh. Which I had. While watching a representation of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.

I watched both the uncut and the severely cut versions of this, ahem, film (I hesitate to even use the word), so I'll hash the differences in a bit. What possessed the filmmakers to create an animated feature for kids based on an event where in most universes the majority of the participants died is beyond me, but rest assured parents, nobody's gonna die on this animator's watch! We'll just have to find tragedy in other venues. Let's see... awwwkwardly poor animation lifted off of Disney, imitators of Disney, and imitators of imitators of Disney: check. Recycling sound bytes and animation like we just don't care?: chec-chec-check. Ripping off a South-Korean rip-off of the 1997 version: check with a gold badge of shame. And then there's the rapping dog. Yes, you read it right. And yes it must be seen to be believed. Give thanks that youtube is ever-obliging on that score.

So you still can't imagine a movie really being that bad and need to confirm this with your own eyes? Here's how you know which version is the one for you. The Uncut version has a slight advantage of coherence, and a different soundtrack, definitely synthesized. None of that to say that there aren't still gaping plot holes and completely unresolved story lines. The shortened version eschews a lot of the repetition and keeps the pace at a grateful clip, but things lose a lot of sense and get ridiculously choppy and slapped together. Plus, it starts with the end, which ruins the surprise *spoiler* that the most famous ship in history sinks!

If you can watch this without paying for it (in a monetary sense, of course, 'cause you will be paying dearly in brain cells), go ahead if you want a laugh. The mind-blowing inanity is always good to put your own failures into perspective. Just don't blame me if your eye sockets begin to boil in protest.
5 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Clue (1985)
10/10
One Plus Two Plus One Plus One...
17 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Honestly, this is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I laugh throughout the whole film whenever I watch it, which is at least a few times a year. Excuse me while I gush.

The cast is wonderful beyond words- every person tailored seamlessly to their respective characters. The writing is extremely quoteable and all delivered in a beautiful deadpan.

When a film amuses me so well, I don't go around searching for tiny plot holes and story lines to nitpick at. I don't care if there are some inconsistencies (that you really have to focus on to find), the multiple endings more than make up for it. Speaking of which, I really love the idea to match the chance of boardgames with random endings- I wish they could have made one for each character!
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
As Saccharinely Sappy as Tears Made of Dimetapp
17 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are days when I wonder why I punish myself by going out for these gushy, romantic films when I know deep inside that I rarely will like them. I blame it on the trailers who keep insisting THIS ONE is different! THIS ONE will be mildly insightful! And while I do find PS better than the other recentish dead-husband film, Catch & Release, the amount of tears being poured out in the theater by actors and audience members alike was enough to give me a headache, and I didn't even shed any.

Now admittedly, I guess I really wasn't in the target of this film, namely, women who like crying a lot because it gives life meaning. I was feeling pretty good about life in general up to the point of watching this film, and had no real need to make public displays of tissue-blowing. If you, however, are one of those fortunate folk, this movie is for you! Put it at the top of your Netflix cache and settle in for a good 2 hours of boohooing!

If you are anything that does not fit into this category, well, you might find the pickings on the slim side. I do like Gerard Butler, but he's not in the film a whole ton. Hilary Swank isn't really my favourite actress, which is compounded by 2 hours of her moping on screen. And yes, I get that grieving is traumatic and ugly and emotionally stunting- so why exactly do I want to watch a film entirely devoted to that one aspect of a person's life? What do I really gain from watching an emotionally stunted person painfully grovel in the grieving process for a year? The knowledge that death happens and life goes on? Pretty sure the audience had grasped the concept before they entered the theatre. So basically I sat through a grueling, uncomfortable film that brought nothing new to the table and rung true to no universal truths other than if your spouse dies, life will go on. Bummer. At least the film had impact: namely leaving me in a funk for a couple hours after it ended.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.