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4. King Kong(1933)
6.Phantom of the Opera(1925)
7.The Red Shoes
9.The Gold Rush
Mighty Joe Young (1949)
Willis O'brien Wins Oscar
This is the conclusion of what I like to call, "The Great Apes" Trilogy, which consists of King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young. The three films involve Merian C Cooper, Ernest B Shoedsack, Ruth Rose, Willis O'brien, and Robert Armstrong. For most people, including myself, King Kong is the best of these three films, while Son of Kong is the weakest. Mighty Joe Young is in between. The gorilla effects are well-done, and even eliminated the ruffling of the rabbit fur King Kong had in 1933. Joe is an amalgamation of the King himself, and his son; containing childlike qualities, as well as the fact that Joe could potentially do some damage. There is one sequence which is simply marvelous involving the nightclub that steals the show. The performances are good for a movie of this type, and ends up being a happier film than the previous installments. Also, Willis O'brien's unmatched talents were finally recognized, with an Oscar for his work on this very film. Highly recommended.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
A better Titanic, but that doesn't mean much
I hate jukebox musicals. Not my thing. I also hate James Cameron's Titanic, a film with beautiful detail, but contains the most shallow love story ever. Good god it was boring. I came into Moulin Rouge with mixed expectations, and got the viewpoints of someone who loved it, and someone who hated it. I liked the film overall but there are some issues that I have with it that I won't spoil. The film is over the top, which for some can be jarring, especially with the editing and musical numbers. It does give the film a certain energy, but it gets old really quick. The plot is also put forth to us fairly quick, especially for a film that is 2 hours. The singing is eh, but my favorite sequence in the film uses "Roxanne" as a tango, and it is shot, choreographed, and sung well. I also enjoyed the set design and costumes, but the editing sometimes prevents me from looking at it. As a whole, I'd give Moulun Rouge a rental. I liked it, but I wish I could love it. However, I can say that is is infinitely better than Titanic.
Had high hopes, and this film went even higher...
For the past few months, people have been doubting that apes could take over, and yet they would believe that a bunch of robot cars and blue cat people are plausible concepts. This is film is the unexpected hit of the summer. A few weeks ago, most people didn't think much of this film's release. But now, after exceeding box office expectations by $20 million, and gaining positive reception, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is a triumph, especially considering that it had to handle the burden of the poorly received 2001 remake.
First, allow me to address the film's problems before the praise.
The villains are one dimensional. Brian Cox and Tom Felton play slimy characters, David Oyelowo is a greedy corporate villain, and that works in the film's favor, but I cringed whenever they were on screen.
The film also has too many references to the original film. Considering that "Rise" is a great film on its own, its really glaring when a reference is made.
James Franco and Freida Pinto are good, but their characters aren't' anything special or spectacular.
My final problem: This film needs a sequel like how a human needs life to breathe.
Now, onto the positive praise.
Caesar played by Andy Serkis, is by far the best thing for this film. Andy Serkis is able to give us a character that is not only convincing but sympathetic and his character goes through a logical character arc. Like Roddy McDowal was to "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes", Andy Serkis delivers a performance atypical of a summer flick. Some people are speculating a wild card Oscar nomination. I think that this film will be like how "The Dark Knight" changed the Best Picture category.
John Lithgow is the best human character by far. His performance evokes the later stages of Alzheimer's and is the core of the human drama of the film.
Let's not forget the other apes.
Maurice is a orangutan that knows sign language and is the first ape that is kind to Caesar. Not only is the performance fantastic, but by far the most realistic ape in the film.
Rocket is the alpha male at the ape sanctuary and gives Caesar a hard time at first, but becomes almost a sidekick for Caesar.
Buck is a gorilla that is really the brute character. His action scene are awesome, and I laughed whenever he pwnd a human.
The final ape I wish to discuss is Koba. He's a chimp, but is kind of the opposite of Caesar. While Caesar only kills as a matter of last resort, Koba kills because he feels its necessary. I hope to see more conflict between Caesar and Koba in the next film. Little known fact, Koba was a nickname for Joseph Stalin.
As a whole, this film establishes a believable environment for future sequels. As an Apes fan, I can say this film can stand on its own feet against the original, and is vastly superior to the 2001 remake. As I'm writing this review, I have already seen the film twice. I intend to see it again.
Les misérables (1934)
So far, I have not read the book, and have only listened to a few bits from the musical, and I am usually not too fond of foreign films. I saw that this was on TCM not too long ago and I decided to give a watch. It took me two days, because I was doing other things, and here is my overall impression: One of the Best Films Ever! The story is about convict, Jean Valjean(played by Harry Baur, who gives an incredible performance), has a changed experience because of a bishop who took him in(Henry Krauss), and saved him from going into forced labor for life. Valjean uses silver the bishop gives him, so he could have a new start in life. Along the way, Inspector Javert(Charles Vanel) tracks him down throughout the years, and while Valjean escapes and changes his identity. The story's main themes in my opinion, are redemption, humanity, and the revaluation of good and evil. Valjean is an escaped convict, but he shows love and compassion for his fellow man, and even takes in a dying woman's child as his own. He even offers Javert to arrest him after he has found Cosette(the dying woman, Fantine's child). While Javert, a police inspector, is at the wrong side of ethics, as he lacks the compassion Valjean has. The film runs over four hours, the longest film I have ever seen, and its worth it. You need the running time to be long so you can discover the full depth of the story. The film also contains themes of revolution which are present, but it does not begin until much later on in the film. Overall, one of my 10 favorite films, and is one you should get your hands on.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Not a horror piece, but very good.
Prior to Lon Chaney's masterwork in "The Phantom of the Opera", Mr. Chaney used his genius in the field of make-up in this lavish production. The characters were pretty funny at times(especially Norman Kerry, he looked like Cpt. Hook). Patsy Ruth Miller did a good job with the Esmeralda character, and had a lot of beauty and charm. Chaney also delivers an excellent performance as the deformed Quasimodo. He gave the character a lot of passion and emotion, but he also showed great genius in the make-up field. Lon was also game with going through with inconveniences in this role. The best example is when Chaney is getting whipped, he is wearing what some say is a twenty pound hump! Some reports claim that may have been seventy, but lets not get too excited. In any case, not as grand as "Phantom" in my opinion, and not only not as scary, Chaney gives a sympathetic performance as Quasimodo in this 1923 "super-jewel".
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Pixar's Latest Triumph, possibly their greatest.
Like most people from my generation, I grew up with Buzz and Woody, and their small, but epic adventures. When I heard that this film was going to come into fruition, I was excited. Finally after 11 years, the long awaited sequel was going to come out! However, I did worry a little. When I walked into the theater, I was filled with high expectations. Most Pixar films fill these expectations of a great animated film(except for the depressing Incredibles and stupid Cars), but Toy Story 3 was a different case. It not only exceeded my expectations, now I am going to expect much more from Pixar. The movie is simply hilarious. Sadly, some of the characters were not in this one, but we do have the main ones, and that's the important thing. This film is not only the funniest in the trilogy, it is also the darkest. Some of the plot seemed like a rehash of the second, but done is such a way that you don't really realize it or just don't care. This is also one of the few animated films where I teared up a bit. The ending is just perfect, and that is how it should end. I would say that Toy Story is the greatest trilogy in film history.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Underrated Version of My Favorite Stage Musical
Personally, I LOVE the Phantom of the Opera, the music, the lyrics to the music itself, and its simple love triangle story are all great elements that help Phantom succeed in entertaining. However, many people give this film version negative reviews, and i do have a few complaints. It isn't as stylized as the stage version. While the Phantom and Christine are sining the title song on stage, it is just beautiful to watch the boat glide through the foggy lake. The film version gets boring. As for the Maquerade sequence, it is dull and boring on film, because of the fast pacing of the singing, and how bored everyone sounds. Red Death is cooler on stage, nuff said. The deformity is'not even really a deformity, its more like sunburn. However, there are several good things about this film. First thing is Emmy Rossum. She is in my opinion, the most beautiful Christine, because of her youthful innocence, and the sound of her voice. Gerard Butler did a good job with the Phantom character. He's no Michael Crawford, but he does a better job with the "anger scenes" like "Down Once More" or Stranger than You Dreampt it". That leads me to my next point. I love the "Point of No Return sequence in the film better than the stage or original recording. As for the singing, most of it was good except for Carlotta(and she had to get a person to dub her voice!). This film has made me forgive Schumacher for "Batman and Robin", and remains one of my favorite films.
Batman & Robin (1997)
The Satan of Film: Batman and Robin
Well, you have to give Joel Schumacher credit...FOR CREATING ONE OF THE WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME. I mean, you have to make new adjectives to describe how atrocious this film is. I would like to talk to the person who claimed that Plan 9 was the worst film ever made and show them the true horrors of how bad cinema CAN be. It is really hard for me to watch a movie and not say there is NOTHING salvageable. Well, there is always the exception to the rule. Too many one-liners, bad acting, and making it too similar to the Adam West series. For that time period, it was appropriate to have campiness at that level, but in 1997, it was unacceptable. This gives me more fuel to hate George Clooney, more reason to say that Batman is not the coolest superhero, and even though Spiderman 3 was bad, at least it made a decent attempt at film making. This "film" proves that most crimes can be forgiven, so long as they are not making Batman and Robin.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Disney at its darkest.
Sadly, the most underrated Disney film. The film has really good music,voice acting, and great animation. The film is obviously based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. Tom Hulce's performance as the sympathetic Quasimodo is great, Esmerelda is the sexiest Disney character to date, and Frollo. What can I truly say for Frollo, played by Tony Jay. He is a great voice actor and this is his best performance. In the original novel, Frollo was a priest, not a judge. However, if he was a priest, the movie would be BANNED(as a kid's movie). I love it when he sings "Hellfire", one of the best Disney songs in my opinion. Frollo is a very evil Disney villain. Npot only is he a hypocrite, he is also a very lustful man. The film explores lust, religion and deformity just to name a few. The movie is also pretty funny. This film is an Disney Renaissance Classic. Besides, how many Disney films can you name that mention eternal damnation as one of the main subject matters? All in all, great film. Check it out.
The Son of Kong (1933)
Not a bad sequel, considering it is a hard act to follow.
Son of Kong is actually a pretty good sequel. Consider this: It came out the same year as the original, giving little time of good ol' Obie to do the best he could have done and how amazing the first one was. The story is about Robert Armstrong reprising as movie director Carl Denham, who is forced to pay many debts because of King Kong. He then meets up again with Capt. Englehorn, played by Frank Reicher. They then go off to multiple islands in the pacific and meet up with Helene Peterson(Helen Mack). Her father's circus was burned down by scoundrel, Capt. Nilis Helstrom(John Marston). He is then "accepted" with the crew of the venture and they go to Skull Island again. Helstrom causes mutiny, and our heroes are forced to get off the boat. Then we meet baby Kong. The story goes on from there. We do see some Kong favorites like Noble Johnson as the native chief and Victor Wong as Charlie. There really isn't a lot of stop-motion and we feel more sympathetic for the creature than we did in the first one. Overall, a good, satisfying sequel to the grandfather of special effects.