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The Snow Queen (1976)
While it's nostalgic factor may not hold up, BBC's 1976 adaption of The Snow Queen is still worth watching
The 1976 BBC adaption of The Snow Queen is, from what I take it, the very first English adaption of Hans Christian Andersen's beloved fairy tale, as well as the most faithful to the original story.
As a child, I adored The Snow Queen. I'd watch it all the time until the video got jammed in the VCR. Recently, I watched the full movie on Youtube, and while, it's not as good as I used to think it was, I recommend taking a look at it.
The movie starts off with the Devil and his troll minions creating an evil mirror that reflects the ugliness in beautiful things and vice versa (you deserve a cookie if you sit through this opening without being the slightest bit scared of the demented laughter and horrific images that show up). However, as the troll minions fly the mirror up towards Heaven to mock God with it, they laugh uncontrollably, fumble the mirror and drop it, smashing it into tiny pieces which make their way into everyday objects or just floating around on Earth.
This sets in motion the rest of the story. Gerda, a young girl, and her friend, Kay, are going to stay with Gerda's grandmother during Christmas when a street lantern containing a shard of the Devil's mirror cracks and lands in Kay's eye and heart, turning him cold hearted and cruel. During the night, Kay is abducted by The Snow Queen and taken to her palace. The Snow Queen brainwashes Kay into forgetting Gerda and sets him to solve a difficult puzzle. If Kay can solve the puzzle, he will be rewarded with a pair of ice skates as well as the entire world, but he will also belong to The Snow Queen forever. While this is going on, Gerda sets of on an adventure to find Kay and discover the hidden power within her.
The overall quality of The Snow Queen is mixed. On one hand the pacing is nice and quick, yet sometimes it lingers. Namely the scene with the talking flowers in the garden, that scene is nothing more than filler. The animation, while it is dated, is lovely, especially considering how cartoons during the 1970's were cheaply produced by companies wanting to cut corners while still being lucrative (ie. Hanna-Barbera), plus the whole look of live action actors on animated backgrounds is neat. The supporting actors do a fine job, but the two lead child actors are simply awful. Yes, they may be children but if Anna Paquin can win an Oscar at the age of 11 and Abigail Breslin nominated at the age of 10, then I don't see why the leading kids can put on a decent performance. Also it would have been nice to see what Kay was like before he was corrupted; the film makers can't just expect the audience to believe that Kay was a kind and friendly boy without showing it or even having it mentioned, especially since Kay still acts the same as before when the spell on him is broken. Finally, there could have been more of The Snow Queen herself. She's the title character and the main antagonist of the movie, yet she barely makes much of an appearance throughout the movie, and she only talks in two scenes. It's a real shame, the design of the character is really unique to boot.
Overall, while it has plenty of flaws, I still recommend viewing BBC's 1976 adaption of The Snow Queen, even at least once.
Final Score: 7/10
Funny and Thoughtful
I have just finished watching "Life" and let me tell you something, it is worth watching. "Life" is easily one of Eddie Murphy's better movies outside of the "Shrek" movie line, and let's face it, outside of "Shrek", Eddie doesn't really have such a strong resume of decent films, but "Life" is an exception. Now before I really go in depth with this review, let me point out that "Life" isn't your typical straight off the assembly line buddy flick, despite what the advertising for this film suggests; this movie has a very serious undertone which at times turns to an overtone and it's armed with razor sharp teeth. With that in mind let's dive right in!
"Life" is told in flashback by an elderly prisoner talking to two younger prisoners about the fast talking pick pocket Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) and serious would-be bank teller Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence). In 1932, both Ray and Claude were in debt to a loan shark named Spanky. In order to pay off Spanky, both men agreed to travel from New York to Mississippi to pick up moonshine and take it back with them. However, while in Mississippi, Ray and Claude are wrongfully accused of murdering a man Ray previously lost out to in a card game. Both men are then sentenced to life in prison. While time passes and the decades roll by, Ray and Claude must come to terms with their life sentence and each other.
As the polar opposites of each other, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence have great chemistry as the lead roles. The supporting cast are all good too and the dialogue is crisp and sharp. The make up effects are amazing as well. Until now make up in movies something that I have never talked about in any of my reviews, but here I couldn't help but mention it. Instead of getting elderly actors for the older versions of Ray and Claude, we still have Eddie and Martin but with excellent make up effects done on them; they genuinely look like they've aged for the worse in prison!
If you ever have the chance to watch "Life", be it on TV or renting it from a friend or video store, please do so.
Final Score 8/10
Excellent film but very, very chilling
In 2001, South African born psychiatrist Dr. Colin Bouwer was sentenced to life in prison with thirteen years non-parole for the murder of his wife, Annette. It took the jury only three hours- including an hour for lunch and a ten minute cigarette break- to sentence Dr. Bouwer, one of the fastest verdicts in New Zealand history.
"Bloodlines" takes place in Dunedin (where the Bouwer's lived) during late 1999 and early 2000, during that time Dr. Bouwer slowly poisoned Annette by lacing her food with insulin (Annette wasn't diabetic but Dr. Bouwer was able to fake prescriptions for insulin), dangerously lowering her blood sugar levels until Dr. Bouwer gave her an injection of insulin which ended her life there and then. It was only when Annette's GP, Dr. Andrew Bowers, insisted on a last minute post-mortem, and Detective Sergeant Brett Roberts, who wasn't as stupid as Dr Bouwer thought he would be, that sealed the fate of New Zealand's own "Dr. Death".
The acting in "Bloodlines" is stellar. Mark Mitchinson is fantastic as Dr. Colin Bouwer; the way he can go from being empathetic and charming one minute to terrifyingly chilling the next is a must watch. Nathalie Boltt is great as the kind but ill fated Annette. Craig Hall is also another great performance to mention; as Dr. Andrew Bowers he puts on a genuinely sympathetic performance as the doctor and family man who's dragged into Dr. Bouwer's web of lies and getting the blame for Annette's death.
With great performances all round and a sharp, clever script, "Bloodlines" is anything but your usual portrait of a killer made for TV movie.
Balto III: Wings of Change (2004)
While it isn't as good as the first Balto movie, it's a huge improvement over Wolf Quest
Three years after that despicable abomination Balto 2: Wolf Quest, Universal released Balto 3: Wings of Change. I admit it's not right up there with the first movie, it has it's flaws, there's a lot about that I would have loved to change but it's a much better installment to the series than Wolf Quest.
Unlike Wolf Quest (how I hate that film!) the story to Wings of Change is straight forward and easy to follow: Balto's son, Kodi (voiced by Sean Astin from Lord of the Rings) is part of the Nome mail delivery service. However, Kodi's job- as well as the other dogs on the team- is in danger of losing their jobs with the arrival of new technology. That is, a bush plane has arrived in Nome and may very well be the new mail delivery service. Balto is fascinated by the plane and quickly befriends the pilot, Duke. Soon a race is organized between the dog-sled team and the plane to see who can deliver the mail to the neighbouring town and back the fastest. Along the way back to Nome, Duke's crashes and is lost in the wild. The dog-sled team wins the race, much to Kodi's delight, but Balto knows that something must of happened to Duke and sets out to find him. Meanwhile, in a subplot Boris falls in love with a she-goose, Stella. Stella wants to fly with Boris, but Boris, even though he's a bird, has a secret fear of heights and hates flying.
The good points of Balto: Wings of Change are: a straight forward story as I said before, unlike Wolf Quest which was all over the place and had too many pointless subplots which went nowhere. Balto is a better character this time around; he doesn't spend most of the movie sleeping and being a coward (here's looking at you again, Wolf Quest!). Kodi is also another highlight. Unlike that nuclear bomb of a character, Aleu, Kodi is actually likable and doesn't whine about being part wolf. Also, Sean Astin does a great job voicing Kodi; he actually sounds like a teenager (or yearling in dog years) unlike Aleu who sounds like an angry five year old on helium, despite also being a yearling.
The bad points of Balto Wings of Change are: The animation, although compared to Wolf Quest is far better, is a pretty crudely done for one thing. There's also still songs in the movie though there's three and a half, so that's not too bad. The song "Everything Flies" which plays over the opening and ending credits is actually pretty good, it's not brilliant, but it's not bad either. "Come on Up and Fly", on the other hand is just God awful; it doesn't help matters that it's sung by Stella, the absolute worst character in the movie, and that the whole sequence that goes with the song is practically a striptease with a goose. It's painful to listen to and painful to watch. Jenna's "You Don't Have to Be a Hero" isn't a bad song; it was just unfortunate that they happened to show clips and some extra film of Wolf Quest which suddenly brought back horrible flashbacks. Still if you skip past "Come on Up and Fly" and "You Don't have to be a Hero" (or just close your eyes till the song is over), you'll have a much more enjoyable experience. Another bad point to Wings of Change is that there happen to be some very random scenes which have nothing to do with anything and feel like they were tacked on to make the movie that little bit longer. Three examples of this is when Jenna and some other dogs are at the race and waiting for dog-sled team and the plane to come back; they hear a loud noise and think it's the plane but it turns out it's the saw mill they're standing next to. Example number two is when a quick fade in of the plane crash shows up on screen, but then fade out all of a sudden; it's as if the people who made this movie originally planed a scene there, but changed their minds at the last minute. Number three is when Balto, Muk, Luk and Stella find the crashed plane but are suddenly ambushed by a moose who keeps on and on saying "You talking' me?" a la Taxi Driver. The moose then suddenly gets into a fight with another conveniently placed moose. However, the absolute worst part of Balto: Wings of Change is the character Stella. I'm dead serious they gave her a wavy hair (feather?) style, a beauty mark on her face and even deep cleavage and is so sexual you would of thought she was zapped out of some furry porno.
Even though it's swimming in all sorts of flaws (but not a disaster from start to end like you know who!), I would honestly have to say that Balto: Wings of Change is pretty damn good for a straight to video sequel and a good installment to the series.
Final score: 7/10
A very good episode with a heart and a soul
While it can be agreed that The Simpsons have gone downhill in terms of quality and entertainment value in the last decade or so, there has always been a handful of very good episodes in some of the more recent seasons. The Squirt and the Whale is one of these episodes. The episode is not only fresh and genuinely hilarious but it also is one of the more heartfelt episodes of The Simpsons.
The episode begins when Homer is fed up with his high electricity bills and so puts a windmill in the backyard and has the house taken off the power company's power grid, making the family completely dependent on the windmill with dismal results when there is no wind. Ironically however, a violent windstorm hits Springfield giving the Simpsons so much electricity that it has an X-ray effect on them until the windmill is destroyed by the storm, along with the rest of Springfield. The next morning, Bart and Lisa check out the damage from the storm and discover a beached blue whale who Lisa dubs Bluella. Lisa befriends and cares deeply for Bluella and tries to get the whole town to help get the whale back in the water without success. Marge, who knows how deeply sensitive Lisa is about death, tries to convince Homer to not let Lisa get her hopes up about saving Bluella because the outcome of trying to save beached whales is more often than not poor.
The heart and soul of this episode is within Lisa's bonding and care of Bluella. It's so touching when Lisa sits beside Bluella and read poetry to the whale and, unless if you're a heartless monster, it's impossible not to feel sad when Lisa wakes up to find that Bluella has died.
The Squirt and the Whale is definitely the best episode of The Simpsons Season 21 so far.
Final score: 9/10
The Opposite of Sex (1998)
An Acquired Taste
The Opposite of Sex is a black comedy. Black comedy is an acquired taste; you either hate it or love it, there's no in between. With that said, I love this movie. Granted that I can see why many people don't like this movie, I would still recommend The Opposite of Sex as well worth taking a look.
The Opposite of Sex is about Dedee Truitt (an exquisite performance by the ever-talented Christina Ricci) a precocious, cynical, sharp-tongued, foul-mouthed and manipulative teen temptress who, after flicking her cigarette and smashing her chair onto her stepfather's coffin at his funeral, runs away from home to move in with her gay half-brother, Bill (Martin Donovan) and his sexy young lover, Matt (Ivan Sergei). Dedee seduces Matt and only after she has sex with him does Dedee reveal that she is pregnant. Things get very complicated very quickly as Dedee convinces Matt to run away with her yet again along with Bill's money and the ashes of his dead lover, only to dump Matt for Randy Cates (William Lee Scott), Dedee's psychotic ex-boyfriend, all the while Jason Bock (Johnny Galecki), a former high school student and Matt's other boyfriend, accuses Bill of a crime he didn't do after Bill doesn't tell him where Matt has gone to.
There's are reasons why I would recommend this movie to others and reasons why I wouldn't. The reasons why I would recommend The Opposite of Sex is the following: a fresh, cliché-free plot, the clever dialogue and, most of all, the performance by Christina Ricci. The little girl who started out in Mermaids, the two Addams Family movies and Casper truly has gone far in her career. The Ice Storm may have been her first non-kid friendly adult role, but I would honestly have to say that The Opposite of Sex is what firmly cemented her as a mature actress all the while saying that the little girl who played Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, The Addams Family Values and Kat Harvey in Casper has grown up is moving on with her career, something that many other child stars (here's looking at you, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Lindsay Lohan!) can't seem to do. In addition with that, her performance as Dedee Truitt is something that has to be seen to be believed; Christina makes us, the audience hate and love Dedee at the same time. How she never got that Golden Globe she was nominated for or an Oscar for that matter is beyond me.
Now the reasons why I wouldn't recommend this movie. As I said in my title black comedy isn't something for everyone. Combined with the fact that this movie is also VERY unpolitcally correct as well as that half the characters in this movie are gay (yes, I know it's a stupid reason to hate a movie because it has gay characters, but a lot of idiots on IMDb practically throw a fit over this movie for that reason). The tagline of the movie "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be offended!" isn't lying. If you love black comedy you'll laugh, if you don't you'll just end up crying and being offended. I personally think that's why there's so many negative comments about this movie both in other reviews and on the message boards: people sat down watching this movie thinking that it going to be harmless entertainment, only go get a slap in face from darkness and the context of the movie.
So to conclude, I'll just say again that I love The Opposite of Sex and again say who will enjoy this movie and who won't.
People who will like/love The Opposite of Sex: fans of dark/black comedy, fans of Christina Ricci and people who want to watch a movie that is bold, daring and original.
People who will dislike/hate The Opposite of Sex: the easily offended, Politcaly Correct Nazis, homophobes and people who don't like and/or don't understand dark/black comedy.
Personal rating: 9/10
Bimbo's Initiation (1931)
Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member?
"Bimbo's Initiation" is a hilariously surreal cartoon about Betty Boop's boyfriend, Bimbo the Dog. While the cartoon may not be suitable for children (but then again Betty Boop was- and still is- an adult cartoon, really), "Bimbo's Initiation" is one of those old crazy cartoons you just gotta watch.
OK, the synopsis for "Bimbo's Initiation": The cartoon opens with Bimbo walking down the street, harmlessly enough walking over a series of manholes, when an evil Micky Mouse traps him in an open sewer! Bimbo slides down a tunnel and lands in front of a secret society of candle-headed weirdos. The leader asks Bimbo "Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member?". Bimbo of course replies "No!". The secret society weirdos then send Bimbo on his way (or so he thinks), but he really ends up in a sadistic fun house, with the secret society popping up every now and then asking Bimbo "Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member?"
What I find as one of the strangest things about "Bimbo's Initiation" is Betty Boops design. In this cartoon she has floppy dog ears, but is still human (apparently Betty Boop was originally meant to be a sexy anthro dog. Anyway, the surrealness of "Bimbo's Initiation" is very well done, combining comedy with some scary elements, ultimately creating a beautiful nightmare very well worth watching.
In short, watch "Bimbo's Initiation".
"Syberia" is one of a kind: an adventure/logic game with a clever script, original characters, stunningly beautiful graphics, great music and some effective comedy every now and then.
The main character of the game is Kate Walker, a spirited American lawyer who is sent to the fictional small village of Valadilene in France to secure the take-over of an automaton toy factory, owned by the revered Voralberg family. When Kate arrives, the seemingly last Voralberg, Anna, dies. However, when Kate visits the village notary to finalize the deal, it is revealed in Anna's will that her younger brother, Hans, who is declared dead and supposedly buried in the town cemetery, is still alive, and therefor is now the heir to the company as Anna had no children. Kate then has a new objective: travel across France to find Hans and get his permission to sell off the factory.
"Syberia" is not like most other logic games; you don't need to be a mastermind to solve the puzzles. However, the game requires some thinking and memory skills, but the puzzles are not too complex.
Another great thing about "Syberia" is that you can never die and get a game over or get stuck in any part of the game; you can completely immerse yourself in the game without the fear of screwing up or the need to constantly save all the time.
"Syberia" is a great game that is highly recommended and has a high replay value.
Ben & Arthur (2002)
Oh man, what was Sam Mraovich thinking? What was anyone who was involved in this "film" thinking? Mraovich is the head of nearly everything of "Ben and Arthur": Director, writer, producer (also EXECUTIVE producer!), caster, lead star- you name it, he did it. And he (Mraovich) sucks more than anyone has ever sucked in every department of film making.
So what is wrong with this film? Everything. The film is about two gay lovers, Ben (Jamie Brett Gabel) and Arthur (Mraovich- *groan*). Ben and Arthur want to get married in a world where everyone basically hates gay people. To make things worse, Ben's crazy "ex-wife" (they don't exactly divorce), Tammy (Julie Belknap) is steaming mad that Ben's left her for another man and demands Ben that they get back together (saying that she can be gay, too!) and Arthur's Christian devoted, excessively hypocritical, equally batty as Tammy brother, Victor, is hell bent on making Arthur turn straight and then try to kill him after he gets kicked out of his church.
The film is absolutely chock a block with so many goofs (ie. Ben and Arthur fly to Vermont to get married- they go there on Alaska Airlines and Vermont has palm trees; they fly back on a FedEx cargo plane- hope they were comfy in a wooden crate, plus many, many more) and plot holes to boot (Victor calls killing Arthur "The Final Plan" which later changes to "The Final Deed"; Arthur and the private (intern) detective drive the same car, blah, blah, blah). The "actors" are all very bad and are way, way over the top; the script is laughably horrible(one such example is "I don't make sense? You don't make sense! I make sense, that's who makes sense!") and there so much more wrong with the "movie" that I can't write them all down.
However, the most laughable yet unbelievable thing about "Ben and Arthur" is that Sam Mraovich thinks that he has created something that is truly fantastic (see his fake reviews for "Ben & Arthur" and obvious comments by him on YouTube.). Mraovich is narcissistic and his arrogance blinds him from seeing how awful anything with his name on it really is.
So, to conclude, forget every bad film that you claim is the worst movie ever- "Ben and Arthur" will knock them right off that title, even Paris Hilton movies look like "The Dark Knight" compared to the monstrosity known as "Ben and Arthur".
"Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex" is a rather underrated title. While it's not in the same rank as the far superior Naughty Dog "Crash Bandicoot" games (that is, the first "Crash Bandicoot", "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back", "Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped" and the non-linear "Crash Team Racing"), "Wrath of Cortex" is a good, fun and enjoyable game that is far better than the newer "Crash Bandicoot" titles, and, to boot, introduced one of the most popular characters in the series: the muscle bound Crunch Bandicot.
Taking place after the events of "Crash Bandicoot 3", "Wrath of Cortex" starts off with Uka Uka ranting at Dr. Neo Cortex and his minions at a bad guy convention in outer space. Uka Uka is steaming mad at the attendees (Cortex, Dingodile, N. Tropy, Tiny and N. Gin) because evil's productivity is significantly down and that Crash Bandicoot is constantly defeating them. However, both N. Tropy and N. Gin imply that Cortex has a trick up his sleeve and the mad doctor confesses- over the past few years, Cortex has been working day and night on a new secret weapon: a perfectly tuned super-bandicoot named Crunch, whose only objective is to destroy all that is before him and, most importantly, eliminate Crash Bandicoot. However, Crunch is lacking in power, but Uka Uka gets an idea: awaken the dormant Elementals- a group of renegade masks of immense power over the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air-who ravaged the planet thousands of years ago. Using the Elementals, Rok-Ko (element of Earth), Wa-Wa (element of Water), Lo-Lo (element of Air) and Py-Ro (element of Fire) to power Crunch, Crash, his little sister, Coco, and their guardian witch doctor mask, Aku Aku set out stop Cortex, Crunch and Uka Uka by traveling the planet (and outer space) via Coco's Virtual Reality Hub System to seek the Elemental Crystals.
Basically, the objective of the game is to collect the crystals, putting the Elementals back into hibernation (each Elemental can be defeated and put back to rest by getting a total of 5 crystals for each Elemental and battling Crunch in that Element) and, ultimately, bring Crunch and Cortex to their knees.
While "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex" is fun game, it has two major downfalls that marked it with a mediocre-bordering-negative image. Downfall Number 1: The game and warp room in particular is an obvious copy of the Naughty Dog "Crash Bandicoot" games- especially "Warped"; the warp rooms are very much the same (there's even a secret warp room a la "Warped", only it's at the top of the main warp room than under it). Downfall Number 2: the graphics. While rather somewhat good, "Wrath of Cortex"'s biggest criticism is it's bulky, funny looking graphics. Also, Crash and Coco move pretty slow in the game, even while running faster with Crash Dash. The character's slow movement is especially slow when Crash is dangling from over head mesh or wood panels. Ironically, on the back of the case, it boasts about having "The most dazzling special effects ever seen in a Crash game".
While "Wrath of Cortex" is caught between its mediocre image, one of the good things that came from it was the introduction of Crunch Bandicoot, who is now one of the series most popular characters- so much in fact that Tara Cross created the amazing "Outcast Bandicoot" series with Crunch as the main character of it all. On the other hand, "Wrath of Cortex" was also a sign of things to come. That is, the even worse deterioration of the "Crash Bandicoot" series- "Crash of the Titans" being the final nail in Crash's coffin.
To conclude while it's far from the best in the series, "Crash Bandicoot" The Wrath of Cortex" is an enjoyable and recommended game to play, "Crash Bandicoot" fan or not.