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Dot and Keeto (1986)
Before Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, there was Dot & Keeto...
I learned a very valuable lesson today, and that is most movies from our childhood should stay in our childhood, never to be seen or heard from again no matter how strong the temptation may become! I learned this lesson the hard way by sitting down with my best friend and allow her to subject me to the horror that is Dot & Keeto.
This title is actually part of a four movie collection which includes Dot and the Koala, Dot and the Whale, and Dot and the Smugglers. But one is more than enough for my indigestion, as today's feature is just so wretched and stupid that it made me wanna run screaming from my friend's house and into the busy streets.
Dot is an Australian girl whose brother constantly terrorizes the local insect life, including a group of ants. While Dot tries to convince her wicked sibling that hurting bugs is not right, the devious little brat pays her no heed. This opening sequence was shot in live action, by the way, and it's painfully obvious that every line of dialog was dubbed in during post-production.
Then, out of nowhere, Dot starts babbling about how her friend the kangaroo told her about two magical roots. One will make you very small and the other will allow you to talk to the animals. Okay, why would Dot have to eat the root which would let her talk to animals if she heard about the roots from a KANGAROO? Hello?! Anyone? Anyway, she eats the root which makes you small and for some reason becomes a badly animated cartoon version of herself.
The rest of the movie, which drags on forever even at 75 minutes, quite literally has Dot walking around aimlessly while talking to various cartoon bugs and watching live action stock footage of those bugs. I don't think I have to point out that the mix of live action and animation is hardly seamless, when in fact it's atrocious. The worst part, however, is that there's hardly any story here! Dot meets some good bugs, gets kidnapped by ants, sings countless bad songs, then is given the magical root by her kangaroo friend so she can become her normal size again.
I can understand why my friend would have liked this movie as a young kid, since we all had movies we saw repeatedly despite the fact that they were awful, but that doesn't mean I didn't kick and scream through this movie. Avoid it at all costs, which shouldn't be hard seeing as how it's not available anywhere outside of our local video store. 0/4 stars!
Still holds up even by my present jaded standards...
I think that when all of us were kids we had one or two movies that we loved so much that we sat down and watched them dozens of times. For me one of those movies was Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night, which is definitely a lesser known animated feature but all the same still holds up today. After ordering a copy from Amazon.com and watching it again all these years later, I was pleasantly surprised that Emperor entertained me even at my usually cynical age.
Sure, you could nitpick that the animation is inconsistent, with some scenes appearing less detailed while others are excessively so, and that certain backgrounds are obviously repeated during chase scenes ala The Flintstones (it's even more pronounced here due to the visible line in the visuals), but frankly those didn't hamper my enjoyment of the film. The animation is usually quite vibrant and expressive, and the story takes the usual Pinocchio antics in a different direction by providing an actual villain in the uber-creepy Emperor (voiced by that staple of movie villains, James Earl Jones). In fact, much of the movie is downright dark, from the opening sequence where a demented carnival seems to set itself up to Pinocchio's transformation back into a puppet. I'm not saying any of this will scare kids today, as they've probably seen much worse, but it does give a good balance to the otherwise cheerful imagery.
I can't get through this review without mentioning the handful of songs which are peppered throughout Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night. I can't get enough of "Love Is The Light Inside Your Heart," which is just a beautiful little pop ballad that I can't get out of my head because it's so memorable. True, the Fairy Godmother may sound like she's doped up during her speaking lines, but the song is great. "Neon Cabaret" is more of a background song than "Love," but it still has a nice little jazz beat that goes well with its scene, a night club where children basically throw back green alcohol (come on ya know it was alcohol) and go nuts. Finally there's "Your A Star," which while not a phenomenal song once again fits with the visuals of the sequence. Like I said before, much of the visuals of the movie are extremely well done and give the movie a vintage '80s feel I couldn't help but like.
Now this is coming from a guy who's reviewed countless animated movie, but I think it's safe to say that young kids could still get a kick out of this movie. It's got everything the modern animated flicks have, but without the crass marketing. And the sidekicks aren't half as tiresome or irritating, with the only ones being a glow worm voiced by Don Knotts and a bee named Grumblebee. Some sections of the film may seem like filler, like the scene involving a toad and a city of insects which lasts a bit too long, but other than that I give Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night an enthusiastic recommendation. 3/4 stars
The Punisher (2004)
Reminded me of a hardcore episode of Becker...
Of all the movies that have been based on Marvel characters these past couple of years, The Punisher is easily the worst. Sure, The Hulk was bad, too, but at least it wasn't as boring as this forgettable piece of junk. It seemed like the movie took forever and a day to actually set up the character of The Punisher, and when we finally get to hear Frank Castle refer to himself as the title character it doesn't matter because the movie is over anyway. Oh, well! Where's the exit?
The reason I said this movie reminded me of a hardcore episode of the now defunct sitcom Becker is because it actually plays out as such in a lot of scenes. Just replace Ted Danson with Frank Castle and you have the exact same gruff, antisocial fellah trying to get along with all of his wacky neighbors who want to cheer him up. Ugh, and these neighbors are so over-the-top and silly it's lamentable. Bumpo (yes, they call him Bumpo and don't ask me why because I'm not a witty Hollywood executive) is the fat guy who likes to eat a lot, while Danny's only obvious personality trait is his multiple peircings.
I hated how a lot of this movie was played for laughs, not just with the neighbors themselves but a certain fight scene between Frank and a Russian who's simply referred to as The Russian (give me a break). This guy wears a red and white striped shirt which makes him look like Bluto from the Popeye cartoon, and during the whole fight opera music is being played in Bumpo's apartment. * See, the movie is making the comparison of sophisticated opera music to the gritty, unsophisticated nature of the fight, thus causing us to laugh.
* I'm being smarmy.
And while I rarely point how a movie's score, The Punisher has such a terrible one that I simply must say something. Almost none of the music works, including the idiotic high noon theme played whenever Frank is doing something violent or is facing a new opponent. Also, who the heck approved the generic Evil Music which plays during most of John Travolta's scenes? You know the kind: Dah dah dun DAHHH! It's very dramatic and cheesy, like something you'd hear at the cliffhanger of every old Batman episode.
Speaking of Travolta, he proves once again here that he has no business playing a villain of any sort. While he's not nearly as campy as his alien role in Battlefield Earth, he certainly comes close, gnashing his teeth together and bulging his eyes out at every turn. "Remember, I've got more guns than you!" he says with utter seriousness, as if that line could ever be pulled off well. John, take my humble advice and stick to making a few dozen more Look Who's Talking movies.
And as if that weren't enough to make me blow raspberries at this movie, The Punisher has one of the worst endings of any movie I've seen, in that it's so anticlimactic no one would could feel satisfied. Frank is supposed to be up against this giant mob force which can supposedly take down anything and anyone, but all he has to do is slip past an unarmed gate and he pretty much takes down the entire syndicate. And how does Travolta get axed? Not in a cool villain way, no, but whining and wailing like a girl. Yeah, great ending movie! Now can I have my eight bucks back?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't The Punisher supposed to be this insane force of hatred who uses any means necessary to take down those who do wrong? Then why the heck does he spend his time placing fake fire hydrants next to the car of John Travolta's wife in the movie so she'll get parking tickets?! Should we call him The Prankster now??? I can't go on anymore. Just forget this movie ever existed and move on with your lives! 1/4 stars
Double Blast (1994)
Right up there with Skullduggery (YEAH!)
Double Blast and Skullduggery are two of the worst movies ever made, and they make an insanely entertaining double feature. Double Blast is definitely the more watchable of the pair, though, since it actually has some semblance of a story, no matter how lame it gets at times. I have to admit, I bought this for its low price ($3.99, which may be too much, now that I think back), and by the cover. How the heck do you just pass up a movie with a kickboxing family guarding treasure as its cover? You can't, honey baby, and that's the skinny, ya hear? And to my utter amazement and joy, two of my favorite actors are in this movie! It's bizarre how I tend to buy films that I have connections to without knowing it, but if anyone is a dedicated MST3k viewer like me, they will instantly recognize Joe Estevez and Robert Z'Dar. Robert has to be seen to be believed. The man's face looks like a potato, and believe me when I say that such a statement is NOT an exaggeration. His face is so hilariously puffed up that it sent me into hysterics. And of course Joe is a member of the prestigious Estevez dynasty of acting, which also includes Emilio, AKA Mighty Ducks 3. Both of these men were together in another film, Soultaker, and to think that they would be paired up again is just too good to be true...but it is! There is no way that I would ever sell my beloved Double Blast. It's home is with me from here on out, and I will forever threaten my friends with its awesome craptitude. Oh, and be sure to watch out for the biggest continuity error in film history during one of the outdoor scenes. Believe me, it's so obvious that no person could possibly miss it. 4/4 stars!
The crown jewel in my collection!
Oh, Skullduggery, you horrible little cow patty of a film. Your actors are stiff and couldn't read the dialogue for an Ovaltine commercial with a sense of conviction, your plot is incomprehensible and filled to the brim with pompous symbolism no one buts its filmmakers could explain, and in the end, you just plain stink. But gosh darn it if I don't feel proud to have you in my collection of films. You are, without a doubt, the crown jewel in my cornucopia of crap. I threaten my friends with you and they cringe in fear. What power! And honestly, even though you still provide tons of laughs and potential riffing, one aspect of you keeps me coming back for more: your theme song! Oh, how brilliant is your theme song? I burned it onto a CD, for crying out loud! Does that not express my loyalty to you? I have no idea who was crazy enough to write the lyrics and put it to one of the worst tunes to come out of the '80s, but if I ever meet them, I will be sure to shake their hand (or tentacle) and say, "Thank you. Thank you."
Can you read what's in my mind? SKULLDUGGERY! SKULLDUGGERY! Tearing up my mind! Heavy breath, passion in your eyes SKULLDUGGERY! SKULLDUGGERY! I just found a clue, it's all gone! YEAH! I can see what's in your head SKULLDUGGERY! SKULLDUGGERY! Feeling just ahead (??) Killer's smile, now I understand SKULLDUGGERY! SKULLDUGGERY! Shattered hopes and dreams all fall down! YEAH!
Oh, good times, good times. 4/4 stars for sheer crapdom
Canadian Bacon (1995)
Just as good as his documentaries and books...
While I had heard of Canadian Bacon before purchasing it, I was not aware that one of my favorite authors and filmmakers, Michael Moore, had been at the helm as the director. Luckily I found it to be just as well-written, severely biting, and hilarious as his past works. While reading some of the older reviews for Canadian Bacon on this site, however, I noticed many had differing beliefs. One poster, for example, attacked Moore's film for criticizing the American military. I love this kind of person, the type who blindly waves a U.S. flag while never once thinking that someone in the White House may actually be thinking more about their own interests than theirs. "How dare Moore make fun of our beloved military! Where would he be without them, I ask you? If he was living in another country, he wouldn't be able to say those things!" Hey, great point, moron! Then there are those who think Moore is from Canada, which is hilarious. Statements like those just show how little the person knows about Moore and his body of work. Anyway, back to the film itself, which is still very timely in today's society. The opening sequence is a very funny parody of what's been happening in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan for many years: a huge company known as Hacker has recently closed down a plant which terminates thousands of jobs in the local community. The plant was responsible for producing weapons of destruction during the cold war, but now that the Russians have surrendered, there is no longer an enemy to fight. This troubles both the founder of Hacker and the latest White House administration, since without a foe their profits and popularity points go down. So what do they do? They try and convince the Russians to get back in the game, but they quickly realize this will never happen, as their former enemies now only want MTV and other luxuries for their people. One moment which really rang eerie in Canadian Bacon came when one of the President's men suggests going up against international terrorists, only to be denied by another staff member who claims, "...all they do is go around blowing up rental cars!" Creepy, no? A similar scene involves a joke about letting loose killer bees, which ended up being used as a phony scare years later by the media. Remember that? It's odd how prophetic Moore can be sometimes. The rest of the film, as you all know, involves a cold war with Canada. The anti-Canadian propaganda stuff in this movie is pitch perfect, from the maple syrup running down the TV screen like blood to the list of Canadian celebrities now living in the U.S. At this point I'd like to address those who claim this movie makes America/Canada look bad. Hey, it's called satire people, and all satire has to come from somewhere, right? America DOES have gun toting rednecks and conniving politicians and corporate members, and Canada IS known for being a much nicer (and cleaner!) country than ours. Get over it, already! Moore's only telling it like it is, whether you want to cover your ears and sing, "The Star Spangled Banner" while he does it or not. So as I said before, Canadian Bacon is a very funny film which targets certain elements of our country and manages to make a dead on shot. Congrats on another winner, Mike! 4/4
Los nuevos extraterrestres (1983)
Well, whaddya think? -- It stinks!
I think I'll have to watch the MST3k episode of Pod People a few more times before I can officially decide on its worth. While definitely not as unwatchable as other subjects like Red Zone Cuba (a film which can only be sat through by the most sturdy of individuals), it didn't seem like Joel and his robot friends were up to snuff with the commentary. Then again, I was doing other things when I first played the tape, so I'll repeat how this needs to be seen again in order to make a firm decision. Pod People definitely has its moments, though; I loved the ridiculously stupid song the pop group sang, along with the lead singer's reaction to what they sound like (see my One line Summary). The other classic scene has to be Trumpy's "magical" manipulation of the objects in the annoying little child's room, set to wacky music while the alien's eyes glow like demonic diamonds. And what was up with the cast of about 100 characters? There were so many different plots, most of which never even came close to merging, I literally had no idea where the film was going. Thankfully Joel and the 'bots point out this big flaw, along with the many scenes of characters shouting out one another's names.
Character: Shane? Shane??? Shane! Joel/Bots: Fox? John Boy? McCloud!
Other points in the film really dragged, however, including the many scenes where the characters just sat around talking about doing stuff but never actually getting off their foreign butts and doing something. Aside from that I'm not really sure if Pod People is either a great episode or simply an average entry. Only time will tell I suppose!
Tell Your Children (1936)
The madness...the madness!
Believe it or not, but I just bought this a couple of days ago on DVD for a little over six bucks! And trust me, Reefer Madness is worth the money, since it is one of the funnier propaganda films to come out of the 1930s. While the DVD doesn't contain a lot of extras, you do get a short biography on the star of the film, along with a look at the original poster for Reefer Madness and trivia questions! If you want to check this movie out some time, I would advise waiting until the Special Edition comes out in April. Why? Because MST3k host Mike Nelson will provide audio commentary for the film! I'll definitely have to get the new DVD if Nelson himself is involved. And really, this film is rife for commentary. Right from the start we got a pre-Star Wars crawl which basically states while the film's characters and plot are entirely fictional, they are based on a true story which could happen to you...or you...or YOU! It is here where I laughed the hardest, as later on things get pretty grim in a Days of Our Lives sort of way. I especially liked how the word "marijuana" was spelled "marihuana" in the film. I have no idea when or why the spelling of this word changed, but it was still amusing. Also, the DVD's scene index lists one of the scenes as "principle's office." They couldn't even spell the word "principal" right! I mean, you can't actually go to the office of a principle, can you? Darn right ya can't! Anyway, back to the movie. As I said, it's a very enthusiastic propaganda film which lies back and forth about the effects of "marihuana" so as to scare parents into discussing the drug with their children (hence the original title, Tell Your Children...think of them, please!!!). What are some of the effects of the deadly, demonic, and just plain EVIL marihuana? Well, first you laugh (gasp!), then hallucinate (double gasp!), and then you begin committing acts of random violence (triple gasp!). The teens are all portrayed by men and women with receding hairlines and wrinkles, making me quite confused. I literally sat there wondering, "Why would adults be hanging out with these younger kids? Oh...they're all supposed to be kids? Um, okay, sure. What the heck." The principal (principle?) in the movie is equally funny, as during the murder trial of a kid who smoked dope and supposedly shot his girlfriend he lists many instances when he thought the kid was high. His testimony: Bill started laughing during a very serious discussion on Shakespeare (blasphemy!), and also missed the ball by a good 3-4 feet during a tennis match (good holy gravy!). How would this kind of testimony hold up in court? Maybe the kid just remembered a good joke during class and isn't any good at tennis? Did anyone think of that, huh? Huh? As for the murder itself, it's also completely moronic and unbelievable. First off, the gun is aimed at the floor but somehow manages to shoot the girl in the back. Then when we see the wound it's about the size of a mosquito bite with no blood whatsoever. Ah, the wonders of 1930s Hollywood makeup! Much more awaits the viewer of Reefer Madness, including a crazed piano player who's "hot" on the "dope" and about to "crack" (these kids with their drug lingo!) and an odd scene where the main character's little brother pines about his model airplane for what seems like an eternity. Seeing as how this story is supposedly being related to us by the principal, why would he have bothered to include the aforementioned scene? And how did he know about it in the first place? Did he interrogate the little brother? Hoo boy, so many questions about continuity. Oh well, I guess I'll leave them to be answered by you good folks. Enjoy! 1/4 stars
Good, but does it deserve the insane amount of hype?
Before I begin I would like to ask what the heck "tedg" was talking about in his posting for this film. He/She spent their entire review talking about camera positions and then had the odd idea of putting the phrase "Spoilers herein" at the start of the message. What exactly did you ruin, tedg, the camera angles? And why did you compare this film to 12 Monkeys and Panic Room? How are those movies similar in any way in which you could compare and contrast them? And how exactly does one "steal" another person's camera trick? That's like someone doing a donut in their car and then being accused of stealing the maneuver from the original creator, Daryll Dwebster Donut. News flash: you can't get a patent on a camera trick. Maybe a camera, yes, but not a trick! If you feel like explaining yourself, e-mail me . Title the e-mail, "tedg's reasoning on his/her PotC:CotBP review."
Sorry, just felt like rambling there for a second. Now, on to the review! While I enjoy this film quite a lot, I have to question why everyone went stark raving mad over its arrival. Sure, I have no problem saying that Pirates is a very entertaining swashbuckler, but does it really need to be on a critic's Top 10 list this year? The film may be of good quality, but there are other, better movies out there which may need the acclaim. I'm not saying my opinion is definite, mind you, but just putting it out there for debate reasons.
Johnny Depp's performance is excellent, I'll give him that, what with his flamboyant interpretation of the character giving the film a big spark, but everyone on the planet has discussed him to the point where anything I say will be moot. So as for the rest of the film, I give it a definite thumbs up. The plot is well developed, the characters are appealing and believable, and I liked the gradual progression to the film's big climactic ending. However, I felt at times like it was almost too long. The recent Lord of the Rings flew by pretty quickly for me, but for some reason this film seemed to drag at certain points, as in where Jack Sparrow and the female main character get stuck on an island together. This isn't a major complaint, however, and I guess it shows how Disney was allowing the film room to grow.
All in all I think it's a very refreshing change for Disney to release a film like this. With a PG-13 rating which comes with boatloads of action and mild-violence, Pirates gives the usually squeaky clean image of Disney a nice dark side. Hopefully the sequel won't disappoint, and Disney won't force the filmmakers to dilute the action so that more kids will come to watch. I would hate to watch a dumbed down pirate movie with a PG rating, as it would just feel wrong.
Cutthroat Island this ain't; a great pirate film which champions the genre back to respectability after many major flops. 3/4 stars
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)
Gee, do ya think this was possibly a foreign film?
According to the page for this swords-and-sorcery disaster, Warriors of the Lost Kingdom was originally made in Argentina. That comes as no real surprise to me, since half of the dialogue doesn't even try to match up with the actors' lip movements. So what else can be said about a movie that everyone else in the world has already mentioned? Well, I guess I'll start off by explaining how I came about this movie. In all fairness, I would have never recognized the title if it had not been for the hilarious review on the Jabootu bad movie Web site. So while scowering the Family section of my local Star Trax video (a B-movie fan's paradise, as I quickly found out), I immediately knew the movie by its title and pictures on the back. Of course, the video cover tries in vain to make this look much more interesting than it actually is, so I weep for the poor kids who rented this wanting a good time. Sorry boys and girls, but this is one stinky Argentinian film that no one could enjoy outside of the camp value. And believe me, this thing has tons of camp. As my friend and I threw comments at the screen, there were numerous moments where our jaws just dropped. That sequed into out and out laughter, as certain elements are simply ridiculous. For example, the "big name actor" here is BO SVENSON. Who, you may ask? Who indeed! He's the only one whose voice isn't dubbed, and he has a thick country accent in a medeival time setting! Of course, nobody else here knows what period of history they're in, either. The villain looks like a pharoah, his minions are Skittle-colored midgets, ninjas, and Arabian nights, and his woman is half mermaid/swamp thing! I'm not going to go into anymore specifics, because this is honestly something you have to experience fresh. So if you're like me and happen to stumble upon this turd, be sure to pick it up if you're in the mood for some insanely bad fun. Truth be told, if Mike and the bots were still around, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom would be a great subject for them to study. 0/4 stars