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Here's a list of some films I've seen(note, please keep in mind that this is a list of films I've seen and not necessarily a list of films I like).
(This* marks my favorites)
*12 Angry Men
13 Going on 30
2001: A Space Odyssey
3:10 to Yuma
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
*The Adventure's of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
*The Adventure's of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Alice in Wonderland(1951, 2010)
All Dogs Go to Heaven
An American Tail
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Austin Powers(All 3)
Back to the Future(All 3)
*Bambi Meets Godzilla
Bartok the Magnificent
Batman & Robin
*Batman: Gotham Knight
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
*Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
*Batman: Under the Red Hood
Beauty and the Beast
*Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Black Cauldron
The Blind Side
The Boy in Striped Pajamas
The Brother's Grimm
A Bug's Life
*Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Captain America: The First Avenger
*Castle in the Sky
The Cat in the Hat
The Cat Returns
Cats and Dogs
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlotte's Web(1973, 2006)
Cheaper by the Dozen(2003)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
A Christmas Carol(1984, 1999)
*A Christmas Story
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Wicth and the Wardrobe
Clash of the Titans(2010)
*Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Daddy Day Care
Damien: Omen 2
The Dark Crystal
*The Dark Knight
Dennis the Menace
Dinner for Schmucks
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
*The Emperor's New Groove
Everything Is Illuminated
Father of the Bride(1991)
*Fiddler on the Roof
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Final Fantasy 7 Advent Children
The Fox and the Hound
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fun and Fancy Free
Garfield the Movie
George of the Jungle
Gnomeo & Juliet
A Goofy Movie
*Grave of the Fireflies
*The Great Mouse Detective
Grumpy Old Men
Halloween is Grinch Night
*Harry Potter(all eight)
The Haunted Mansion
High School Musical
Home on the Range
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Horton Hears A Who!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas(1966, 2000)
*How To Train Your Dragon
*Howl's Moving Castle
*The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1996)
Ice Age: The Meltdown
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
*Indiana Jones(All four)
Iron Man(Both of them)
It's a Wonderful Life
James and the Giant Peach
*Jesus Christ Superstar(1973)
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
*The Jungle Book(1967)
*Kiki's Delivery Service
King Kong(1933, 2005)
*The King's Speech
A Knight's Tale
Kung Fu Panda
Lady and the Tramp
The Land Before Time
The Last Airbender
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
*Life of Brian
Lilo and Stitch
*The Lion King(all three)
The Little Mermaid
*The Lord of the Rings(all three)
The Man With The Golden Gun
Manos: The Hands of Fate
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Meet the Spartans
Meet the Robinsons
Miracle on 34th Street(1947)
*Monty Python and the Holy Grail
*Monty Python's Meaning of Life
*Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
*The Muppet Movie
*The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppets Take Manhattan
Muppets From Space
*Muppet Treasure Island
*My Fair Lady
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
*Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Night at the Museum
*The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nutty Professor(1963, 1996)
The Odd Couple
Oliver and Company
Once Upon a Forest
One Hundred and One Dalmations(1961)
The Pebble and the Penguin
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Peter Pan(1953, 2003)
The Phantom of the Opera(2004)
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Pink Panther(2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean(all three)
*The Prince of Egypt
The Princess and the Frog
*The Princess Bride
The Princess Diaries
Quest For Camelot
A Raisin in the Sun(1961)
The Reluctant Dragon
The Rescuers(both films)
*Repo! The Genetic Opera
The Road to El Dorado
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Rock A Doodle
*The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
The Santa Clause
Scary Movie(all four)
*Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
*The Secret of Kells
*The Secret of Nimh
Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows
Shrek the Third
Shrek Forever After
*The Simpsons Movie
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
*Singin' in the Rain
The Sixth Sense
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Sound of Music
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
Spy Kids(all three)
*Star Wars(all six)
The Swan Princess
*Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street(2007)
The Sword in the Stone
The Tale of Desperaux
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The Thief and the Cobbler
The Three Caballeros
The Tigger Movie
Titanic(the animated movies)
*To Kill a Mockingbird
*Toy Story(all three)
Trick 'r Treat
A Troll in Central Park
The Trumpet of the Swan
*Wait Until Dark
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit
West Side Story
Where the Wild Things Are
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Winnie the Pooh
*The Wizard of Oz
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
*X-Men: First Class
And I know I'm forgetting a few others but i'll just add those in later.
The Evil Dead (1981)
A Brilliantly Made Gore-Fest
The Evil Dead follows five college students driving out to a secluded cabin in an even more secluded forest. At first the five young adults have a fun time with one another until they explore the cellar in the cabin and find the Necronomicon Ex- Mortis, The Book of the Dead. They play a tape recording of the previous tenant of the cabin, Professor Knowby, who recites the incantation described in the book to unleash ancient Candarian demons from their slumber. Afterwards strange things begin to happen around them until a dark force begins to possess them one by one. Will any of them survive the night?
When I first saw The Evil Dead I liked it but didn't really give it much thought afterwards. However upon reevaluation and thinking of just how much work went into making it I've come to really appreciate it for its natural horror and have recognized it as one of my favorite horror films. The brilliant use of natural effects like fake blood, stop motion, realistic props really blend together masterfully and make this a truly disturbing experience.
The cast deserves major recognition for their work. Of course the one everyone remembers is Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams who in this movie isn't the snarky, one-liner spouting walking bag of awesome he becomes in the later movies but is still a great character here as he has to gain courage through the night and take charge against the Deadites that are trying their hardest to kill him. Another stand out cast member is Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl, Ash's sister, who at first is the common scared girl we see in most horror films. But when she becomes possessed she turns into an entirely different character. She threatens them all in a dark booming voice and spouts a few lines that are almost comedic in a dark way. It's a chilling performance and without it the movie wouldn't be half as effective.
The rest of the cast do a great job too. Betsy Baker plays Linda, Ash's girlfriend, who really shines as a Deadite. Her creepy smile combined with the brilliant makeup make her one of the scariest looking characters in any horror film. And then we have Richard DeManicor as Scotty and Theresa Tilly as his girlfriend Shelly, who were both credited with different names as the Screen Actors Guild wouldn't allow them to star in such a film as this. What's interesting is that Scotty is set up to be the hero for the first half of the film but by the halfway point we switch perspectives to Ash who is forced to watch all his friends suffer and die one by one.
Where this movie shines is in its effects. This movie was made on a very little budget by people with little to no experience filming professionally and yet they managed to pull it off exceedingly well. From the cuts and bruises the characters endure to the demonically possessed students almost nothing in this film looks fake. Although there are some noticeable instances where an obvious dummy was used and the stop motion might be considered dated by this time but still in a time where CGI was barely used if at all it's amazing to see this kind of practicality in a movie made by a bunch of college kids.
The Evil Dead series gets progressively campier as each film goes on but make no mistake, this film is straight up horror. There are a few unintentional humorous moments to be found in the dialog or a few visual gags here and there but if you're expecting the same kind of humor as its sequels you certainly won't find it here. And what's great about the horror in this movie is it's constantly building you up. You know something is going to happen. You know the movie is just biding its time leading up to the next scare and just when you think you know something is going to happen it doesn't, only to happen about a second later when you've let your guard down. There's a real atmosphere to the cabin and surrounding woods and you feel just as trapped and paranoid as Ash does.
The film lives on a diet of blood and gore so if you've got a weak constitution for that kind of stuff you may want to think twice before seeing this film. The standout scene that really scared me though comes in the first half hour where Cheryl goes to investigate mysterious voices coming from the woods and starts getting attacked by tree branches that proceed to rip her clothes to shreds, spread her legs apart and for the coup de grace a tree branch launches in between her legs. This happens for a good 2 to 3 minutes and you're forced to watch the entire thing play out. She manages to escape sure but it's still a terrifying scene and probably the only one that really disturbed me afterwards.
However as I said there is a lot to appreciate in terms of how this movie was crafted. This is the first theatrically released film of Sam Raimi, who would later go on to direct the Spider-Man Trilogy and the recently released Oz: The Great and Powerful. And after seeing this movie and looking back on those I can see just how much Evil Dead still influences his style.
All in all The Evil Dead is a classic horror film that will leave you guessing what's going to happen every minute. It may start out slow but once it gets going with the horror it doesn't stop until the credits roll. It's a great movie for horror enthusiasts, aspiring filmmakers, and anyone else looking for a good old fashioned gore flick. I definitely recommend it.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
When Faithfulness Forgoes Enjoyability
The Great Gatsby is one of the most famous American novels ever written and my personal favorite book. The success of the book has led to several adaptions on screen such as this one made in 1974 with a screenplay by Roman Polanski and starring such great talents as Robert Redford as the titular character and Mia Farrow as Daisy Fay Buchanan. With this creative force you would think the film would be a decent if not very well done adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest work. Well...
I am one of those people who believes you should be as faithful as you can to the source material when adapting a book to screen, but there is such a thing as being too faithful. What works well in a book won't work for a film and vice versa. They are each their own language and when you try to adapt almost every word and action in a book without knowing the deeper meaning of these themes than you end up with a confused and overall boring film like this one.
At the start I was pleased with how most of the dialog was taken from the book and felt that I was in for a decent adaption while not really expecting it to be better than the book. This idea died quickly after about twenty minutes in. As the scenes from the book that you could easily read through in about twenty minutes seemed to take an hour to run their course here. The pacing and editing of this film damages it intensely. Scenes and shots seem to drag longer than they should and a good 3/4 of the film seems to overstay its welcome. They also move around the dialog that belonged in one chapter or a bit of narration and place in scenes that make it feel out of place and forced. Such as the scenes in the middle of the film when Gatsby and Daisy begin their love affair anew. The middle of the film in particular seems to be the most glaring example of how poor the films pacing is. Scenes with Gatsby and Daisy that should feel intimate happen unrealistically and brings the film to an almost stand-still. There are three scenes, one after the other, of Gatsby and Daisy talking about their relationship past and present and telling Daisy's husband Tom that she's leaving him before the film finally moves on in the plot.
The acting talent varies from actor to actor. Robert Redford was a decent enough Gatsby, but either because of bad direction or poor acting choices he never really stands out and makes the role his own. You can tell he's trying to emulate the character but he never steps out of his own skin and completely becomes Jay Gatsby. Sam Waterston is overall bland as Nick Carraway, the film's narrator. He's not bad by any means but he doesn't provide any of the character traits that the Nick from the book does and seems to fade into the background even when a scene pertains to him. Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan I found to be just awful. He either had terrible direction or had no idea about Tom's character from the book. His voice barely goes higher than a whisper and his voice seems more like he's whining than demanding. The complete opposite of Tom from the book. The supporting cast don't really stand out either or bring a lot of life to their characters. The one true positive in the entire cast I found was Mia Farrow as Daisy Fay. She seemed to understand everything Fitzgerald was going for with her character. Portraying her with some hidden depths but overall being just as conceited and frivolous as any other girl from that era. Exactly what I imagined while reading the book.
The set design overall didn't really impress me. It felt more like a 70s film trying to be in the 1920s more than anything else. The costumes, while extravagant at times, don't really stand out either as they barely seem to take advantage of the more absurd style of clothing from the Roaring 20s.
Overall this version left me wanting immensely by the end and bored me throughout. If I'm wondering how much time is left before the first hour is through then you probably haven't done the best of jobs. It's a shame because you can tell they were going for a faithful representation of Fitzgerald's work but that same faithfulness winds up being a crutch more than an asset in the end. If you're looking for a truly great adaption of The Great Gatsby, this film just isn't it.
The Last Unicorn (1982)
Plenty of Interesting Concepts But Only A Decent Execution
The Last Unicorn tells the story of a Unicorn who is unaware until recently that she is the last of her kind on earth. She learns that a Red Bull drove most of the unicorns from their respective forests and ventures from her own to find out more about what happened to them. Along the way she encounters a magician named Schmendrick who accompanies her on her quest and a careworn woman named Molly. The three travel to the castle of King Haggard who owns the Red Bull. When the Bull attacks the trio and tries to lure the unicorn into the sea Schmendrick turns her into a human in desperation. The three approach the castle and the unicorn, under the name Amalthea, and meet King Haggard himself along with his son Prince Lír. Amalthea is horrified at becoming human at first but soon becomes more used to it as she begins to fall in love with Lír. Haggard suspects that she is a unicorn and reveals that he keeps them all captive because they are the only things that make him happy. The trio must free the unicorns and find a way to turn Amalthea back into one before she remains human forever.
This film has a lot going for it. The animation is pretty good, especially on the unicorn and Red Bull. And the all star voice cast seem to fit perfectly with their respective roles. This cast includes Mia Farrow as the titular unicorn, Alan Arkin as Schmendrick, and Tammy Grimes as Molly. In supporting roles are Jeff Bridges as Prince Lír, Angela Lansbury as Mommy Fortuna, Christopher Lee as King Haggard and many famous voice actors like Paul Frees, Don Messick, Brother Theodore and more. These talents really give the characters a sense of weight and relateability.
One thing more that I liked is that there is no real villain in the story. There are plenty of people who act on selfish notions but none of them are deemed as outright evil. Even the Red Bull is only doing its job herding the unicorns and isn't classified as just an evil being on its own.
However there are certain parts of the film that seem to drag on a bit long. Like when they arrive at Haggard's castle it seems like it takes awhile before the plot becomes interesting again. It more or less sidetracks into a love subplot between Amalthea and Lír which is fine but it seems more like a forced romance because it happens so fast.
The parts that are most interesting to me is just seeing the Unicorn wandering down the road. Those parts really fill you with the right atmosphere that the world is ancient and vast and the Unicorn is really alone.
So while I did like this movie I will admit it's a movie that you may or may not end up liking. It has a great cast, animation and atmosphere but it lags a lot in timing and even with all the fantastical elements like magic, and mythical creatures some of those elements aren't really built upon or explored further. The Last Unicorn is a different kind of fantasy film. It relies more on characterization then action scenes involving evil creatures and a driven good vs. evil plot. If that sounds like your sort of film, I recommend this one to you. If not, give it a miss.
The Lorax (2012)
Not the Best Dr. Seuss Adaptation, But It Is An Enjoyable One
The Lorax was released as a tribute to the legacy of Dr. Seuss on his birthday, March 2nd. With that said you would be forgiven for assuming this film would be something really thoughtful, really moving and really creative. Well... it's really creative.
First things first; the story takes place in the city of Thneedville run by a rather short man named O'Hare. O'Hare has made a successful industry by selling air to people because the air outside the city is too polluted. Our hero is a boy named Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) who has a major crush on a girl named Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). One day Audrey shares her aspirations that the one thing she wants more than anything is to see a real Truffula Tree which barely anyone remembers grew around the area. Ted gets advice from his Granny Norma (voiced by Betty White) to go see The Once-ler and ask him what happened to the trees. The Once-ler begins his story of how he came to the land to make a revolutionary product called a Thneed which could morph into anything you desired. The only thing is he need the fur of the Truffula Trees in order to make it, which required chopping them down. This awakens the legendary Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) who speaks for the trees and warns the Once-ler that chopping down too many trees will lead to unforeseen consequences. Once-ler is reluctant to chop down any more trees but when his overbearing family arrive to help production The Once-ler gives into the pressure and begins chopping down trees until they're all gone. When he has finished his story he gives the very last Truffula seed to Ted and asks him to plant it in the town for all to see. But will greedy executive O'Hara allow this tree to be planted?
This movie has a lot of creative and funny talent behind it. However there are a few noticeable holes in the plot. For one thing, if the air outside the town is too polluted for inhabiting, then where does O'Hare get the clean air? Does he filter it? And is Thneedville the only inhabited area on the earth? The Once-ler and his family clearly came from another part of the world so what happened to everyone else? These nitpicks may not upset children or even those viewing it a first time but they are confusing to say the least.
However I will say that the parts with The Lorax and The Once-ler are the best parts of the film. Their relationship is fleshed out a little more from The Lorax being a preachy, well Lorax into something of a best friend to The Once-ler who in turn has been changed into a well-meaning inventor who initially promises not to cut down any more trees after the first one. Their relationship makes the scene where the last tree is cut down and The Lorax leaves a little more dramatic which was a good choice on their part.
The parts with Ted and his family and Audrey aren't terrible but they're considerably less interesting than the parts with The Lorax and Once- ler. And the villain O'Hare seemed like a real waste. He doesn't want any trees growing because they produce clean air and that will ruin his business. Which honestly makes him out to be nothing more than a Captain Planet villain. This sort of film didn't really need an antagonist in order to get its message across.
The film also boasts a few music numbers. And while they're not Oscar worthy by any means they're all incredibly catchy and fit the mood of the story. However there is one that I think is just perfect. Near the middle of the film the scene from the book where The Once-ler begins to recklessly chop down all the trees in order to increase his business is portrayed through the song "How Bad Can I Be." This scene is awesome. I mean it; the song is catchy, the visuals are akin to the book, and it sums up the scene in the book amazingly. It's the best scene in the whole movie and is worth waiting the first hour for.
So while the movie has problems does that mean it's terrible? No. I actually really enjoyed this film. The all star voice cast was cleverly chosen (even if Taylor Swift and Zac Efron surprisingly didn't take part in the musical numbers) the animation seems like it came right out of the pages of Dr. Seuss, and while the story isn't perfect it at least keeps you invested. This movie is at least worth one chance. Ignoring all the plot holes it's a decent tribute to Dr. Seuss and a decent movie to spend an hour and a half watching.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Fast-Paced, Witty and Just Plain Fun
Hotel Transylvania is basically a love letter to the classic horror movies and clichés that surround them. Dracula is the owner of a huge castle in Transylvania where he invites other monsters to come and spend their time without fear of being judged or hunted by humans. Aptly calling it "Hotel Transylvania." The plot kicks off the night before his daughter Maven's 118th birthday. She wants nothing more than to go outside and explore the world but Dracula is reluctant about this because he thinks that humans would kill her without a second thought due to her being a vampire. Things are shaken up though when a human named Johnathan unexpectedly arrives in Hotel Transylvania. Now Dracula has to keep Johnathan's humanity a secret from his fellow monsters and try to stop Maven from developing any feelings for him.
Hotel Transylvania is a very fast-paced movie. The humor often flies in your face a mile a minute and each joke will last just long enough for it to resonate in your mind before moving on to the next one. And most of the jokes are actually pretty funny. Granted there's a few obvious puns in there but they're handled pretty well. And the film knows when to slow down in order to let the plot tell itself. Like the scenes with Dracula and Maven. You can tell that Dracula has a deep love for his daughter and only wants to protect her, and that she loves him too but also wants a little independence. Their relationship is actually handled a lot differently than the stereotypical relationship a father and daughter have in animated movies. They hardly ever fight, except for a scene near the middle, and obviously have a mutual respect and love for one another. That was a heartwarming touch that's a real refresher when compared to other animated films like The Little Mermaid.
The animation itself has a nice blend of CGI and Cartoon physics. The characters move very flexibly and often make faces straight out of a Tex Avery cartoon which is a style not often seen in CGI. Each of the characters stand out, there's a Frankenstein (complete with wife), a Wolfman, a Mummy even the Invisible Man shows up. There's also one shot gags and side characters that manage to leave an impression even if they only show up on screen for a few seconds, like a hydra, a fish-man, or even Bigfoot. No character seems to overstay their welcome.
Granted having the movie in such a fast-pace is gonna damage a few things. While the parts that are meant to make you feel for the characters are handled pretty well they often move too fast to really leave that much of an effect on you. Without giving anything away there's a scene in the end which plays with how humans react to actual monsters that felt a little too rushed and too forced.
But overall this film has a lot to keep you invested. Funny jokes, good looking animation and a lot of likable and hilarious characters. The voice acting is pretty good too with an all star cast like Adam Sandler, Andy Sandburg, Selena Gomez and more. I'm glad I saw this movie and it just put me in a good mood by the time the credits rolled. I say give it a chance. Kids are definitely gonna enjoy it's cartoon humor while adults can appreciate the relationship Dracula has with his daughter, friends and even Johnathan. All in all there's something everyone can enjoy in it and that's a real rarity nowadays.
Wanda to kyozô (2005)
One of the Best Games I've Ever Played
From the moment the game begins you can tell Shadow of the Colossus isn't going to be like most games you've played. A sweeping orchestra playing a beautiful theme as a lonely figure of a young man carrying something on a horse through a stormy mountainside serves as the prologue. When he finally reaches his destination, a large stone gate, you get to see the area where the game takes place. A large open space; filled with deserts, forests, hillsides and many other strange and wonderful landscapes and ruins. In the middle lies a large temple, stretching higher than the tallest building you can think of. And that's just the opening cutscene.
The story of Shadow of the Colossus is shrouded in mystery. A young man named Wander has come to this area that has been described as a holy place by his elders and thus forbidden. The reason he enters this sacred land is because he has heard rumors that a God lives there that can revive the dead. The person in question is a young woman around Wander's age named Mono. Upon entering the temple he meets the God Dormin who has been sealed in the temple as a shapeless spirit. He tells Wander that while he cannot bring the girl back there is a way it could be done. But it requires slaying 16 giants called Colossi, and at a terrible price to Wander himself.
The rest of the story is simple from there. You merely seek out each of the Colossi one by one and eliminate them. However, this seemingly simple task gets progressively harder as the game goes on and Wander himself goes through a noticeable physical change for the worse as each fight concludes.
The gameplay is fairly simple. Shadow of the Colossus is equal parts an exploration and puzzle game. The exploration comes between battles with the Colossi, where you are free to explore the vast open world before you track down a Colossus. You can do this by riding on your horse named Agro. Agro is the fastest way to get around the map and is critical in some of the battles with the Colossi. When you encounter the Colossus itself it merely comes down to finding out how to climb it and find its weakspot. You are armed with a bow and arrow (which cannot kill the Colossi and is mainly used as a tool to gain there attention and gather fruit from the trees in the land) and an ancient sword which is the only thing that can kill the Colossi.
Each of the Colossi themselves are all different from each other in terms of how to defeat them. They can range from aggressive to peaceful and they all take quick thinking and action to defeat them. They are also the only enemies you encounter in the game, leaving the rest of the world largely uninhabited save for lizards scattered around the area. This makes the traveling to the Colossi all the more intimidating and foreboding for the battle to come.
The soundtrack in the game is one of the best soundtracks ever composed. It perfectly accompanies every part and emotion of the game. For peaceful moments, gentle harps or flutes are played and gives you a sense of wonder for the world created around you. For the battles of the Colossi you have large sounding drums and fast paced instruments that give you a sense of intensity as you fight the Colossi. However for each end of the battle, what you would normally expect as triumphant music is replaced by soft violins and a choir. Bringing up the question if killing these creatures is really the right thing to do. The music used for the final Colossus stands as the most memorable final boss music I've ever heard and I won't dare spoil it here. Neither will I spoil the appearance of the final Colossi itself, which is arguably the most frightening of them all.
Shortly put, this game is amazing. Every little detail in this game is just gorgeous. The graphics are spectacular from the characters to the setting to even the little creatures that inhabit the world. This game is just too good for words. It's really a game that must be experienced rather than told about. If you haven't played this game or have just found out about its existence I strongly recommend you purchasing it (it's available along with its predecessor Ico on the PS3 as a collection). It not only stands as one of the best games ever made but also one of the greatest stories ever told. This game is a magnificent piece of art that should never be forgotten.
The Polar Express (2004)
Some Parts Work While Others Don't
The Polar Express has the difficult task of trying to take a book that's no longer than about twenty pages and turning it into a feature length film. For the most part some of the stuff they added, like the extra characters and settings, work but there are still some things that feel unnecessary.
The story is on Christmas Eve a young boy hears a noise outside his house and goes outside to see a train named "The Polar Express" has just rolled up to his house. He's invited by its strange yet friendly conductor to come with them to the North Pole where Santa will choose a kid to give the first gift of Christmas to. On the trip the boy befriends a girl who has trouble leading others and a younger boy who is incredibly shy. He also encounters a strange Hobo who lives atop the train who turns out to be a ghost. The boy, who remains nameless throughout the film, must learn to believe in things that seem impossible while their journey takes place and even gets a special gift because of it.
Some of the things that work for Polar Express are the characters which are all pretty fun and the settings which are gorgeous. However the film isn't without its problems. One major complaint some might have is the animation itself. A common criticism is that the characters all have blank emotionless eyes which personally I never thought. I will say the way they animated the Elves is pretty uncanny though. There's also the strange choice of having Tom Hanks perform and voice several characters, like the Conductor, the Hobo and even Santa himself. They look a little different from each other but you can tell it's the same person even with slight voice difference. There's also the sometimes jarring adding of some scenarios to lengthen the film. There's a scene where they have to move caribou from the train tracks that seems to add nothing and a scene which explores Santa's workshop which is creative but after they rejoin the crowd it's never really brought up again and there's nothing really new that we haven't seen from other films that have portrayed the workshop.
But the film is enjoyable nevertheless. It's not the best Christmas film but it gives you a warm feeling by the end that every good holiday flick should provide. And that song at the end credits to me is one of the best representations of Christmas in any film.
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
An Interesting Anthology
Trick 'r Treat is four stories woven together one Halloween night. It follows a murdering principal, a group of young women going to a party, some kids visiting the site of a terrible accident, and an old shut in who hates Halloween and has a dark secret. The tales are not told chronologically and are connected by a small boy in a strange pumpkin costume with a burlap sack for a mask.
The first tale is that of principal Steven, who murders as a hobby. His most recent one is incredibly difficult to hide as he must keep his son quiet and avoid suspicion from his neighbor, Mr. Kreeg. But when his son finally gets on his last nerve, will he be his father's next victim?
The second tale follows a group of kids supposedly collecting pumpkins for Unicef. Their real intent is to visit the site where a school bus containing special needs children crashed into a rock quarry. A slightly different girl named Rhonda joins them and when they arrive the ringleader of the gang, Macy, retells the tale of how the bus crashed there. The bus driver was payed by the children's parents to get rid of them by driving the bus into the quarry. They are warned not to disturb the water in the quarry as it might unleash the spirits of the dead children. As it turns out this might be more true than they hoped.
The third tale is of a group of young women from out of town who are going to a party. They coax several local boys to be their dates for the evening. The youngest of the group, Laurie, is a self conscience virgin who awkwardly tries to find a date around town but has no luck. She is unaware that someone has already taken a shine to her, and is now following her waiting for the right moment.
The last story is that of Mr. Kreeg. A grumpy old man who despises Halloween. He scares children from his house and refuses to give out any of the candy he has. But when he gets a surprise visit from a boy in a strange costume and burlap sack he learns what happens when you don't obey the rules of All Hallow's Eve.
Each of the stories are told in a brilliant fashion. They mislead you cleverly with how the story will end and present an entirely different, and sometimes terrifying, conclusion. The film is rife with plenty of scares, dark humor, and suspense that makes the film a fun watch for the Halloween spirit.
Probably Makes More Sense If You're High
Coming after such great movies like The Secret of Nimh, American Tail and The Land Before Time it's baffling how Don Bluth could make something like Rock-A-Doodle. The film has things going for it, like some of the voice cast is pretty good, and the animation is nice but the story... most of the songs...
Well the story is there's a rooster named Chanticleer (voiced and sung by country singer Glen Campbell) who's job is to crow every morning to bring the sun up. One morning he gets involved in a fight with some other bird sent by his nemesis The Grand Duke (voiced by the great Christopher Plummer) and he forgets to crow. He's cast out as a charlatan by his fellow farm animals and leaves for the nearby city.
It turns out this was a story that was being read to a small boy named Edmund. He lives on a farm that is currently undergoing a terrible storm. Since he just read about Chanticleer leaving he assumes that's the reason the storm is happening and calls out for him. Okay but what about the rest of the day? Was it just raining all day or something? Anyway, The Grand Duke shows up and turns Edmund into an animated cat with his magic breath (don't ask) and tries to eat him. One of Chanticleer's old friends, Patou the dog (voiced by the late Phil Harris) saves Edmund and is joined by other animals from the farm. They resolve to go to the city and bring Chanticleer back so he can crow and bring back the sun.
There's already a lot of holes in the story from the first ten or so minutes. Like if Chanticleer was really responsible for raising the sun, why did it come up that one time? Or why does Edmund assume the sun just isn't coming up, I mean he's a kid but he's not stupid. When they get to the city it gets a little more confusing when all the inhabitants are animals. Did they just show up when all the humans evacuated the city? Did the humans evacuate the city, are they all dead?
Anyway, it turns out Chanticleer is now making a living as an Elvis impersonator named 'The King.' He's incredibly depressed and only feels good when he's on stage singing. His manager, Pinky, is in contact with The Grand Duke and is told to keep Chanticleer from meeting his old friends by distracting him with a chorus girl named Goldie. The two fall in love and Pinky manages to capture Edmund and the gang. Goldie tells Chanticleer his friends are here and they save them and after a lengthy chase return to the farm. While this is going on, The Duke sends his nephew, Hunch to try and kill Edmund but he keeps failing miserably.
This all comes to a head when Chanticleer can't crow and The Duke hurts Edmund. This causes the animals to try and boost Chanticleer's confidence until he finally crows and brings up the sun, sending the owls flying and turning the Duke into a midget for whatever reason. Edmund turns back into a boy and then it turns out the whole thing was a dream, Wizard of Oz style. Or maybe it wasn't cause Chanticleer pops out of the book, and Edmund is now on their farm and... what?
I'm not ashamed to admit I watched this movie a lot as a kid, but watching it now... what's going on? The animation is nice and some of the songs are decent but there's too much going on. I didn't mention the other two animals who accompany Edmund, a magpie named Snipes (voiced by Eddie Deezen of Dexter's Lab fame) and a mouse named Peepers. None of the characters get a lot of development and most of the story is told through narration from Phil Harris. Narration is good sometimes, but not to tell the audience everything that's going on at the moment. We're not stupid we can figure this out by ourselves.
The songs also range from OK to just plain unnecessary. The Duke and his cronies don't get any good songs which is a shame since Christopher Plummer is a talented singer. Some toad bouncers get a song about bouncing people, make of that what you will, and most of Chanticleer's songs are talked over. Wasn't the whole purpose of getting someone like Glen Campbell to sing for the character to use his voice to attract an audience? Why talk over most of his numbers?
This film is a mess, through and through. Is there anything here offensive for kids? Not entirely, I remember liking it when I was young but there isn't really much to offer them in return. Apart from some good animation and a decent cast this film isn't really for those looking for the high quality of Don Bluth's other movies.
Dr. No (1962)
Good Ol' Fashioned Spy Thriller Fun
Being the first James Bond film, Dr. No has several aspects that are dated or cliché in comparison to the other movies. But ignoring all that it is still a fun experience and a good introduction to 007.
After a fellow agent is killed, British Intelligence agency MI6, sends one of its top agents, James Bond to investigate his disappearance. Upon landing he is immediately tailed by two men and avoids being photographed by a mysterious journalist. With help from the Jamaican government he learns that the CIA were involved with the fallen agent and they too are searching for clues on his disappearance.
With help from a native boatman named Quarrel, Bond learns that a man named Dr. No might be involved with the disappearance and tries to gather information on him. But James is being hounded by several of No's henchmen and each try to kill him before he learns too much. It doesn't stop Bond from investigating No's island, Crab Key, where he meets the beautiful Honey Ryder. But Dr. No is not a man to be trifled with as Bond learns of a higher source of power than even the Soviet Union. Bond has to stop Dr. No's plans and save the girl while he's at it.
This film is a great introduction to the classic 007 character and the rest of the film series. Sean Connery is the ideal Bond, mixing morbid one liners and a charming disposition. Of course his constant womanizing might be off-putting to some but his charm might make up for it. Might.
The rest of the cast provide excellent performances even for those characters that are killed off or only show up once. Dr. No himself is a good start of the Bond Villain list but his character left me wanting a little more. He only showed up for a few scenes and is killed off in a semi-unspectacular fashion, at least to me. But Joseph Wiseman's performance is a perfect fit to the character.
The film isn't perfect but it's a fun film to start off the series and worth the rental or buy.