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Scooby Doo meets the Snow Ghost, 28 July 2016

There are better episodes of 'Scooby Doo Where are You' than "That's Snow Ghost", but even when 'Scooby Doo Where are You' was not at its best it still delivered. That's the case with "That's Snow Ghost".

Admittedly, while it is not one of my favourites of the show and that was the case when younger as well, there is a soft spot for "That's Snow Ghost", being one of my first ("What a Knight for a Knight" was what introduced me to the show). Definite plus points to the episode go to the beautifully drawn and atmosphere-filled wintry setting and the very cool-looking and to a child quite frightening Snow Ghost.

Likewise with the vintage Scooby Doo dialogue and the gags and nice individual scenes. Especially the quite tense scene with the log, Shaggy as a ghost, the hilarious but logic-defying scene with the ice and the pursuit before it and the intriguing scene with Mr. Chi. The mystery is nicely paced and beautifully told, if not quite as atmospheric as other episodes before and after. The gang are still great characters and still gel so well together, and who cannot help resist the timelessly charming and fun relationship between Shaggy and Scooby.

Don Messick, Casey Kasem and Frank Welker stand out of the voice acting as always, Messick and Kasem are without equal as Scooby and Shaggy and one cannot believe that it's been nearly 50 years and Welker's still voicing Fred with no signs of fatigue or inconsistency. The rest of the voice acting is very good, though Hal Smith is slightly too over-the-top as Mr. Greenway, that laugh was overkill somewhat.

The animation is lively, atmospheric, lushly coloured and nicely drawn as always. The music adds to the impact the atmosphere creates, and it is very difficult to resist the classic theme song, along with the opening credits where it is so fun spotting and recognising the villains, that is one of the most iconic in animation.

Only real complaints really with "That's Snow Ghost", along with Smith's voice acting not being to my taste, was a slightly rushed and somewhat too convenient final trap and the painful over-obviousness of the perpetrator's real identity (one of about five in the show where the person in question goes right to the top of the list immediately when introduced).

Issues aside, "That's Snow Ghost" is still a winner of an episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox

Despite mostly very good production values, this 'Tarzan' lacks swing, 28 July 2016

'The Legend of Tarzan' did have a good deal going for it, with talented actors in the cast, entertaining and insightful source material that has been adapted to variable but mostly entertaining effect on film and media and with David Yates as director.

Despite not being sure what to make of the trailers/advertising, which indicated a visually beautiful but muddled film, this reviewer saw 'The Legend of Tarzan' anyway because of the above things. Sadly, 'The Legend of Tarzan' is a let down, not an awful film but one where mixed perceptions of the trailers were not improved upon in the film itself. Some very good things here, but a rather bland and dull film without much swing.

Luckily, there are some quite big merits here. Mostly, 'The Legend of Tarzan' looks great, with beautiful evocative period detail and even more stunning scenery, while not skimming over the fact that the jungle is also still a place of many dangers, complemented by the wonderful mix of the darkly brooding and sumptuous London and the lusciously colourful and appropriately earthy jungle in the cinematography. A great score was also done with the film's music score by Rupert Gregson Williams, it has energy, whimsy and a cool and again brooding atmosphere.

Of the performances, which mostly didn't do very much for me, Christoph Waltz comes off the best. Can't say that I was completely enthused, it is another typecast villain role and character-wise it is one of Waltz's least interesting, however Waltz does inject a good deal of menace and charisma without being too overt or too low-key. Alexander Skarsgaard is at times wooden and a bit too civilised for the title role, but he at least looks the part mostly, does his best with giving energy and feeling and fits within the period.

This cannot be said for Margot Robbie, who sleepwalks through her role as Jane and makes her very annoying as well, the snarky attitude really grates too much. Despite looking beautiful and having obvious sex appeal, Robbie has a look far too modern and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Samuel L. Jackson is also out of place and more obnoxious than amusing, with some not particularly funny and often ill-timed comic relief in a role that is like a badly watered-down parody of other much more interesting Jackson performances. Saddled once again with a clichéd and incredibly one-dimensional noble savage character, with a back-story every bit as simplistic and predictable, Djimon Hounsou tries but lacks the dignity and passion needed, it can be one-note at times.

Although it has been said that 'The Legend of Tarzan' looks great, not everything in the visual department comes over completely successfully. The editing is too often incredibly choppy and indicated that more was actually filmed but was cut out for time constraints, which accounts for the cheapness of a few scenes and the jumpy incompleteness in some of the more eventful scenes. Particularly bad was the train vine scene, a pretty risible scene in general. The special effects are variable, most are fantastic like the elephants and the gorillas (different to the gorillas one usually is acquainted with but fits the descriptions of the gorilla species from the source material), some like the lions are mostly well-rendered but are hindered by rushed editing and tighter budget constraints seemingly in busier scenes and others like the ostrich, the buffalos and to a lesser extent the crocodiles are so fake-looking and lack the finesse shown elsewhere that it took me out of the film.

Scripting was a huge issue here (Jane getting a lot of the worst of it), aside from the story it was the asset that most brought 'The Legend of Tarzan' down. There is a lot of clunky soap opera in the interactions between characters, and it never seems to know which direction to take with distracting shifts in tone, the darker and more tense scenes feel too safe and are too often fatally undermined by comedy that kills the mood, the comedy misfires badly more than it hits and there is a lack of emotional connection. The story gets off to a sluggish start and never recovers, trying too to cram in too many characters and subplots that not only are so simplistic and lacking in dimension but don't make the story as clear as it should be, which does make the film a slog to get through and makes the characters and their relationships not developed enough or as relatable as they should (that's including the one between Tarzan and Jane). Yates shows great technical competence but lacks focus when it comes to the more substance-related elements (story and pacing).

Overall, not without its good points but lacking in a lot of areas...including swing. 4/10 Bethany Cox

Not quite masterful, not a disaster either, 26 July 2016

"Masterpiece" is one of those 'Criminal Minds' episodes that seems to have garnered a mixed reception from fans. While it is not one of my favourite episodes of the show or of Season 4 (so far of the season personal favourites are "The Big Wheel" and "Conflicted"), "Masterpiece" had a lot of very well done things.

It is not a perfect episode by all means. While it is certainly difficult being a temporary replacement for JJ, the character of Jordan Todd was a pretty dull and ill-at-ease one aside from some charming chemistry with Morgan, which saw a nice mix of his tougher and more compassionate sides.

The whole stuff about the Fibonacci and golden ratio is very fascinating, nicely and tautly explored and a treat for those into science and maths. It is however somewhat too complex and implausible to start with, with a lot of information being thrown at the viewer with not always much breathing space which doesn't leave everything quite as well explained as it could, and perhaps takes too long to solve though it is never too obvious at all (was actually pretty taken aback).

Pretty much the same can be said for the twist too, clever and unexpected, but not quite as developed or as complete-feeling explanation-wise as it could have been towards the end. It's not convoluted or incoherent or anything like it, just that it felt like there were supposed to be a few bits that felt like they should have been there but weren't.

However, "Masterpiece" looks great visually (then again 'Criminal Minds' is always well-made) and is one of the more ominously atmospheric episodes, beautifully shot too as well as very well directed with the right amount of tension and eeriness. The music is also haunting and has an ominous intensity in the opening scene for example.

Smart, tight scripting also helps, and "Masterpiece" certainly has that especially in the interrogations between Rossi and Rothchild, Reid has some truly shining moments too. The story starts with one of the most frightening openings to 'Criminal Minds', and the tension, suspense and eeriness is maintained throughout with some nicely paced and written turns and one of the most masterful serial killer traps of the show.

What makes "Masterpiece" so interesting to watch is the intelligently written and nail-biting scenes, though often in a very subtle way, between Rossi and Rothchild (somewhat of a battle of the two egos), like Rothchild pointing out to Rossi about forgetting to ask about the rules and Rossi's dialogue regarding the death penalty. Prentiss and Reid shine too, and Rothchild's first scene at the lecture is chilling.

'Criminal Minds' nearly always has very good to great performances, and again "Masterpiece" doesn't fall short on that either. Joe Mantegna and Matthew Gray Gubler are particularly great of the regular team (who still work really well as a team and their personalities and character moments always watchable and more), while a barely recognisable Jason Alexander is surprisingly genius casting in a rare dramatic villain role, one that Alexander plays with calculating calmness and chilling subtlety (rare for Alexander in a career that sees him more in comedy and sometimes animation).

All in all, not quite masterful, not a disaster either. Not everything completely comes off, but the atmosphere, the scenes between Rossi and Rothchild and Alexander's performance make it an episode well worth watching. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox

If you are looking for a more perfect production of 'L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges', look no further than this, 26 July 2016

There may be some bias, but Ravel's 'L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges' very quickly came very close to my heart after performing the role of La Princesse in March.

'L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges' has a perfectly executed mix of humour, tenderness and charm in one of the most imaginative librettos in opera. The characters are strange and magical, with a titular character who grows from an immature rascal to someone heart-wrenchingly remorseful. The mix of moods achieved so well in the story is also matched perfectly in Ravel's music, the Fire, Princess and Mister Arithmetic scenes especially while Dance of the Frogs is a wondrous piece of orchestration and the final pages with the reconciliation with Maman has emotion searing from every note.

It really is an opera that deserves to be performed more. That it isn't is not to do with the quality of the opera, but more to do with the large cast of characters, how difficult it is to stage (not just the balance of charm, humour and pathos but also a mix of dream-like and nightmarish that can either be bland or over-exaggerated) and the demands of the roles (especially if singing multiple roles, many of them are very physical and while the Fire and Princess roles are demanding others like Mr Arithmetic and the Grandfather Clock are written with Tessituras that are a stretch even for a tenor or baritone singing them). While it's difficult to sing and play, to the listener or to an opera goer it's actually very accessible and one of my favourite works from Ravel.

This couldn't be a more perfect production. It's different, with the utilisation of ballet, choreographed by Jiri Kylian, which is staged to the music pre-recorded, courtesy of the Lorin Maazel recording (which to me is the best 'L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges' on record, one of Maazel's best recordings and one of the best recordings of any French opera). A bold move, and one that works brilliantly, actually solving potential problems in staging and performing it, like very short costume changes.

Visually, it is an enchanting production. There is a little gloom in the back-drop and lighting, but this added to the atmosphere and was appropriate in bringing out the more nightmarish elements. Made more interesting by the heavily embroidered and highly colourful props and costumes which contrasts really well, giving a dream-like fantasy quality. Especially loved the look of the frogs, Fire and Mr Arithmetic.

The choreography matched the story exactly in sheer imagination, class, atmosphere, charm, humour and pathos. The fire scene is especially spellbinding, while that of Mr Arithmetic/the maths lesson is both hilarious and disturbing, the Princess scene is rightfully tender and intimate, the teapot and china cup scene has much wit (like the cup's tilting). The reconciliation scene at the end did make me shed a few tears, also apt, and Dance of the Frogs was charmingly done. In fact, the only questionable touch was the perplexing presence of Maman during Dance of the Frogs which didn't add anything, however with everything else so phenomenal and that it's pretty nit-picky it was ignorable.

Musically, the production is also beyond praise. The orchestra play ravishingly, bringing out every colour and emotion with so much verve (the Fire, Grandfather clock and teapot and china cup scenes), playfulness (the cats), nuance (the Princess, squirrel and final scenes) and twisted edge (Mr Arithmetic). The chorus are youthful and exceptionally well prepared, actually able to keep up with the fast and quite difficult tempo of the Mr Arithmetic scene, singing with elegant charm with Shepherd and Shepherdess and being remarkably moving in the final scene. Maazel gives some of his most inspired conducting here, no other recording of the opera gives the final pages the amount of feeling or tenderness Maazel evokes, or the disturbing hilarity of the Mr Arithmetic scene, seamless impressionist atmosphere in Dance of the Frogs or the snappy energy but warning tone of the scene with Fire.

Performances from the quite young cast are uniformly very good and often outstanding. Francoise Ogeas is a hugely engaging L'Enfant, there is a real growth to the character and Ogeas sings with natural warmth and still manages to fully convince as a child. Jeannine Collard is authoritative as Maman and a delightfully witty teacup and enticing Dragonfly. Jane Berbié fares very well in the armchairs duet with the sonorously voiced Heinz Rehfuss (who is also very good as the tree), and fares even better as a charming Shepherd, playful and seductive female cat and a touching squirrel.

Camille Maurane brings plenty of character to the Grandfather Clock, though the role of the male cat sits more comfortably in his voice, blending very well with Berbié. Sylvaine Gilma, with her light, vibrant and very flexible tone sings with poignancy as the Princess without having too much of a woe-is-me quality, and sparkles as the nightingale with a particularly entrancing starting trill, but she is particularly excellent as Fire, the Colouratura sharply and thrillingly attacked and she brings a fiery threatening edge. Michel Sénéchal brings great humour to the teapot and frog, but is hilarious as Mr Arithmetic, coupled with his vocals and the dancing in the production this is not a maths teacher you want to mess with. Colette Herzog charms as both the Shepherdess and the bat.

The production looks great on DVD, with the video directing being expansive and intricate (considering that the Mr Arithmetic scene is not as cluttered as it has been staged more reliance of close-ups actually wasn't a problem, it would have been if there were more people on stage), the picture clear and the sound resonant, so the visual and aural impact of the production can be enjoyed fully throughout.

Overall, couldn't have asked for a better production of this great opera. 10/10 Bethany Cox

For a mid-60s Looney Tunes cartoon, it could have been much worse- that still doesn't mean it's particularly good, 23 July 2016

The Looney Tunes cartoons suffered a significant decline in quality in the mid-late-60s especially. There were some poor ones before then, but too many of the cartoons from this particular period are so heavily problematic.

'Supressed Duck', as far as the cartoons from this period go, is not as bad as the worst of the Daffy/Speedy series or the worst of the Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons. That still doesn't mean it's any good.

While not brilliant as such, for 1965, the animation was surprisingly not that awful. Was expecting much worse, considering this is the mid-60s we're talking about. It's certainly not perfect, there is a lack of fluidity, the bear's character design does look weird and the background art in the cliff gag sticks out like a sore thumb and just doesn't belong, actually looking like it was recycled out of a scrappily drawn Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon. However, there are some nice vibrant colours rather than flat ones, some good detail in the backgrounds (not as limited, sparse or as hasty-looking as feared) and Daffy looks reasonable, especially when compared to how he looked in his outings with Speedy.

Of the three characters, faring best was the bear, again surprisingly good for a late-output one-off character. He is pretty amusing and is pretty likable, there are a couple of mild smile-worthy moments, all of which coming from him. Mel Blanc as always provides stellar vocals.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the music of Bill Lava. Lava's scores very rarely fitted with the cartoons he scored for, and often sounded discordant and cheap, distracting from the rest of the cartoon than being dynamic or enhancing. That's the case in 'Supressed Duck'. Apart from the bear, 'Supressed Duck' just isn't that great in terms of humour, the dialogue lacks its usual sharpness and wit and replaced with increasing dumbness and pace-killing interjections, even though brief the pacing grinds to a halt in these parts, from the ranger. The gags are tired in timing and while faring alright visuals-wise suffer from having ridiculousness and stupidity taken to extremes. And just how predictable and out of place was that cliff gag?

Daffy is one of the best, funniest and most interesting in personality characters in animation, and, while not ruined as much as when with Speedy, the more emphasis on the greed rather than the manic and the weird mix of Elmer and Coyote makes him out of character and very difficult to root for let alone by entertained by. The ranger just slows the cartoon down whenever he appears (always partially seen), is hugely unfunny and serves no real point to the cartoon. Daffy and the bear's chemistry really doesn't gel, not helped by that it doesn't ever make sense and is never explained, almost as wrong as with Daffy and Speedy.

On the whole, for mid-late-60s Looney Tunes there's worse, but this is a long way from Golden Age Looney Tunes (doesn't qualify for anywhere near Bronze Age, know that doesn't exist but hope you get the drift of what is trying to be said here). 4/10 Bethany Cox

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Both frightening and delightful, 23 July 2016

Definitely one of the classic episodes of 'Scooby Doo Where are You', which still holds up as the best Scooby Doo incarnation as well as being historically significant for being the one that started it all.

What is so great about "A Night of Fright is No Delight" is the ingenious mix of comedy and atmosphere. There is not a more suspenseful scene in the history of Scooby Doo than the one with the piano and walls, which is enough to bite the nails and make the heart go in one's mouth. The introduction of the phantom shadow is one of the show's scariest moments too, one feels awful for poor Scooby who looks so petrified one worries he'll die of fright and the viewer is every bit as terrified as a result.

The episode is rich in atmosphere, with a great house setting, an atmosphere reminiscent of 'House on Haunted Hill' and Agatha Christie somewhat and a high level of suspense and creepiness. The phantoms are very believable villains, with a cool look and unforgettably nightmare-haunting laughs. They are undermined a little by the true identity of those responsible and the motive being so easily predicted five minutes in, but there is honestly far worse in the series with villains that don't make anywhere near as much impact as the phantoms here did.

"A Night of Fright is No Delight" has some genuinely funny, and even hilarious moments, the metal drain pipe, Shaggy and Scooby's disguises and the whole scene in the underground cave with Shaggy, Scooby and Velma stand out in particular, as well as the final trap which is one of the most entertaining and most inventive. The story is never confusing and always easy to follow while also never being intelligence-insultingly obvious. The dialogue and jokes are endearingly silly and basically vintage Scooby Doo, as has been said in my previous reviews for the show's episodes.

Shaggy and Scooby never fail to bring a smile to my face, likewise with their ceaselessly charming chemistry, and Fred, Velma and Daphne are no less enjoyable either. Also loved, agreed, the smarter and more intuitive Shaggy, which was such a refreshing change of pace. As always, Don Messick, Casey Kasem and Frank Welker stand out of the voice acting, Messick and Kasem are without equal as Scooby and Shaggy and one cannot believe that it's been nearly 50 years and Welker's still voicing Fred with no signs of fatigue or inconsistency.

The animation is lively, atmospheric, lushly coloured and nicely drawn as always. The music adds to the impact the atmosphere creates, and it is very difficult to resist the classic theme song, along with the opening credits where it is so fun spotting and recognising the villains, that is one of the most iconic in animation.

In summary, always was one of my favourite episodes when younger and still frights and delights as a young adult. Definitely in the top 10 best 'Scooby Doo Where are You' episodes. 10/10 Bethany Cox

37 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
Every bit as awful as the terrible advertising suggested, 23 July 2016

The original 'Ghostbusters' is still enormously enjoyable entertainment, that fares even better from an adult perspective. The sequel was a step-down and not as good, but it has enough to make it watchable.

'Ghostbusters' (2016), coming from somebody who has seen the film and saw it with an open mind, was a complete and utter mess. To be honest, expectations were extremely low, it was a terrible idea from the start, it had some of the most terrible advertising of any film in recent memory, the practical war-zone online from both sides but especially defenders was reason alone to put me off seeing it and hearing the theme song was enough to make one squirm.

However, there are plenty of films out there that are badly advertised but actually turn out to be good to great films (for example, was expecting to dislike 'Lilo and Stitch' and 'Galaxy Quest', for examples, but ended up really liking and loving them respectively). Plus Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Chris Hemsworth have given good to great performances in the past. So this reviewer gave it the benefit of the doubt and made a real effort to judge it as its own entity.

It turned out to be every bit as awful as the advertising made it look. It's a disgrace to the original film but is a truly bad film on its own as well. Other than the spirited and reasonably entertaining performance of Cecily Strong, there is next to nothing about 'Ghostbusters'.

Visually, it's not pleasing at all, with the incomplete-looking editing and very artificially cartoonish special effects particularly standing out in a bad way. The music is generic and over-bearing, the theme song also has to be down there as one of the worst theme songs in film history.

Whereas the original 'Ghostbusters' has a great blend of comedy, horror and action, the reboot completely fails at all three. The horror is practically non-existent, there's too little and it's severely diluted by heavy overload of unintentional comedy, increasing predictability and lack of suspense and such. Action, if any, is barely noticeable.

Especially pitiful is the comedy, which suffers from being continually forced and contrived jokes-wise and a severe lack of wit in the script. The references to the original could have been affectionate, but felt thrown-in and forced. It's not for the easily offended either, the backlash against the film has veered on misogynistic admittedly but with its subtlety-of-an-axe, obnoxious and racist and sexist stereotypes (especially Leslie Jones' offensive, irritating and out of date character and the depiction of men) the film is every bit as guilty.

Story is paper thin, and when there is any it feels so rushed and incomplete that sense is next to zero, charm, heart and fun are all in the minus figures and the incomprehensibility factor is high. The direction is lethargic at best and inept at worst, chemistry between the actors is barely there, you couldn't have asked for a more pathetic or lamer villain and apart from Strong the acting is poor all round. Hemsworth has been described by some as a bright spot, but to me his scenes do slow down the film and the character is so much of a dumb dope with no likability that Hemsworth's easy-going charm, comic timing and swaggering charisma do not come through and he just grates. What a shameful waste of talent.

The four leads either phone in (especially a bored-looking McCarthy) or over-act, particularly Kate McKinnon. The less said about obnoxious Leslie Jones the better. Wiig fares best, but isn't enough to save it. Don't rely on the cameos or the supporting roles to give an entertainment or nostalgia factor, they are just an excuse to cram as many as possible and nearly all of them consist of wasted talent actually looking as if they were bribed into taking part, while they are placed very clumsily most of the time too. The return of some of the actors in the original 'Ghostbusters' add nothing, they have screen times too short and look miserable.

Overall, a pointless and awful reboot that improves nothing on the idea, that screamed of disaster from the get go, or the terrible advertising. 1/10 Bethany Cox

Could have been more, but has a lot to like, 23 July 2016

For me, "Birthright" is one of the lesser Season 3 episodes of 'Criminal Minds', and there are more powerful (emotionally and atmospherically), more layered and more complex episodes. It could have been more, but there is also a lot to like.

"Birthright" has been criticised for inaccurate depiction of Fredericksburg and not being believable in how the unsub knew so much about the old killings with so little information released. The first criticism this reviewer cannot verify, not being from the area but will not dismiss the criticism as it is not the first time that 'Criminal Minds' has been criticised for inaccurate representations. Admittedly some of the accents to me didn't seem that great, a couple exaggerated.

The second criticism is understandable. It is explained in the episode, but it definitely could have been elaborated upon more because it was done in a way that seemed underdeveloped and could easily have been missed. However, generally the story in "Birthright" is great, with great suspense, a chilling modus operandi intelligent use of profiling, some nice diverting twists and turns and a very surprising true identity for the unsub, it is made clear early on that it had to be somebody local and closely related but such a great job was done making another character seem the guilty one that the real identity was a shock. If there is a criticism though, it would have been somewhat more believable if it was that person responsible.

'Criminal Minds' has always been great for little character moments, and "Birthright" does not disappoint in this regard. The standout is the story between Rossi (who is settling in within the BAU very nicely after a naturally shaky first impression) and the sheriff, with the significance of the piece of jewellery Rossi carries round explained. One really feels sorry for Hotch in this episode at the end and what was done with JJ was very touching. The light-hearted humour is somewhat missed, but one can understand why it was not used in such a darkly harrowing and tragic story as it may have felt out of place if badly done.

Production values are slick and atmospheric with lovely use of locations, while the music is appropriately haunting without being over-bearing. Tautly and smartly scripted and solidly directed, "Birthright" also benefits from the great dynamic between the team, a suitably tragic ending and strong acting from particularly Joe Mantegna and Thomas Gibson.

In summary, could have been more but there is a lot to like here. 7/10 Bethany Cox

Abendempfindung (2007) (TV)
Frustrating production from Salzburg, 23 July 2016

This reviewer was not familiar at all with 'Abendempfindung' before seeing this production, and while it doesn't contain some of the best music I've heard it still makes for pleasant listening with an interesting stage-play-like story.

Dating from 2006 as part of the "Mozart 22" series, an interesting milestone series with some gems like 'Apollo and Hyacinthus', 'Idomeneo', 'Mitridate', 'Il Re Pastore' and 'La Finta Giardiniera' this Salzburg production of 'Abendempfindung' is frustratingly disappointing.

While not as dull as, 'Lo Sposo Deluso', and 'L'Oca del Cairo' (also directed by Joachim Schloemer), and not quite terrible enough to be one of the worst of the series like 'Ascanio in Alba' and 'Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail', this has good things but also some really big debits that just ruin the experience.

Are there good things? Yes actually. Marianne Hammre proves to be a great actress, as well as beautiful, and delivers her dialogue with great command and confidence. The music is beautifully performed by the chamber orchestra and conducted with good style and sensitivity.

The tree artists on stage are also very good. Graham Smith dances with great flexibility and with grace, you just wish he had better choreography to work with, technically accomplished but rather routine for my tastes.

On the other hand, Ann Murray this reviewer has heard and seen better from. Here she sounds worn and tired a lot of the time. There are times when the visuals are appealing, but others when it looks rather static, with the dancing in underwear getting old after a while.

But Schloemer's stage direction turned out to be the weakest aspect. Most of the time it just doesn't engage, concentrating mainly on personal experiences and his personality, it does the unacceptable and not only doesn't do anything for the music but forgets about it also, if not as badly it did with his 'Lo Sposo Deluso' and 'L'Oca del Cairo'. Only the image of Murray perched on a staircase really evoked any kind of emotion from me.

So overall, not irredeemable but rather frustrating. 4/10 Bethany Cox

Elmer deserved a far better last penultimate cartoon/last major role than this, 23 July 2016

Elmer Fudd has always been a lovable and funny character, who particularly shines in his legendary partnerships with Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny (especially the latter). He's not the brightest bulb on the block, but that's part of his charm.

A vast majority of his cartoons range from very good to classic. Unfortunately every Looney Tunes character has had at least one misstep, and 'What's My Lion' is one such example for Elmer, along with 'Yankee Dood It' 'Good Night Elmer' and especially 'Pre-Hysterical Hare' (down there with the worst of Looney Tunes in general), didn't care for 'Heir-Conditioned' much either.

There are a few things that save it. The best thing about it is Milt Franklyn's music, he's done better and there has always been a personal preference to Carl Stalling but Franklyn's music is still vibrant, dynamic and energetic. The ending while predictable is amusing, and Rocky the Mountain Lion is fun enough and very well characterised by Mel Blanc.

However, Elmer disappoints here. Not helped by him being side-lined in favour of Rocky and a pretty dull chemistry between the two, Elmer is bland here and even for a dim-witted character he's more a dope (he's never been this dopey since 'Good Night Elmer' perhaps) than usual and it's annoying rather than endearing. He's also stiffly animated, and although it is hard to come close to Arthur Q. Bryan, who was unbeatable as Elmer, a very ill-sounding Hal Smith is a very poor replacement, it did agreed sound like he had had something drastic done to his throat or something.

Animation-wise, Elmer's stiff character animation is not the only thing that looks bad. Everything looks ugly and cheap, with flat colours and the drawing looking scratchy, rushed-looking and stiff. Aside from the ending, 'What's My Lion' feels tired rather than energised and is lacking in wit and more importantly in effective laughs, which are too few in the first place.

In conclusion, a lacklustre at best effort, Elmer deserved better than this. Has some historical interest, but apart from a few redeeming merits there is not much to recommend with 'What's My Lion'. 4/10 Bethany Cox

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