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Loose Adaptation, Good Burton.
I enjoyed this as a Burton film, although it was very loosely based on the novels. I know that Riggs has approved the changes, so I was prepared to have an open mind. Characters have been altered and this will definitely disappoint some viewers. In the series, Emma has a fiercer personality and uses fire. Olive is younger and is simply light. She does not control air. While initially annoyed by this switching/enhancing, I accepted this choice at the cinema. I thought the Peculiars were well acted and I still cared about them. Unfortunately the villain is too goofy, compared with how the Wights are portrayed in the original. The darker scenes have been left out or toned down for family audiences. While the novel ends on a cliffhanger, the film has an embarrassing fight sequence and a happy conclusion. I enjoyed the visuals, some of which are stop motion or non CGI. The house and grounds are perfect. It's good Halloween viewing.
Charlotte's Web (1973)
Adorable weepy with great voice cast.
This is the very first film given to me on VHS as a child. I adored it then and now. There are cute characters, memorable songs and absolute heartbreak. (For all ages.) It is a good adaptation of the book which I also recommend. Paul Lynde easily steals as Templeton the rat. Debbie Reynolds (Charlotte), Agnes Moorehead (Goose) and Henry Gibson (Wilbur) are also perfectly cast. A gosling who wants to be just like Wilbur always makes me smile. There are tears at the start, tears in the middle and a great flood at the end so parental supervision for young or sensitive children is essential. However there are many comical moments too and the songs by the Sherman Brothers are mostly jolly. "Mother Earth and Father Time" is a haunting lullaby. One of the best animated musicals out there. Just have tissues ready.
Oliver & Company (1988)
This is my favourite Disney film of all time. It still holds up to my childhood enthusiasm. The characters are extra lovable, courageous and funny. The soundtrack is incredible - score and songs. You just can't help singing along. There are famous singers/actors in the voice cast, including Billy Joel and Bette Midler. They bring great energy to their roles. Oliver is the cutest, but is also feisty and is well able to fit in with his new pack. Georgette is a scene stealer with her vanity and jealousy. The gang are devoted to Fagin, Oliver and each other. They are all enjoyable to watch as they demonstrate their "street savoir faire." Sykes and the dobermans appear infrequently, but deliver pure menace. The 2D, hand-drawn animation is marvellous and also features some early computer work. Their decision to shut down this department in favour of full CGI is a real shame. The poster still has pride of place on my wall (and I have toys, books, the CD and an intact mug.) I regret that this film has been over-shadowed by the 90's super successes. The opening is breathtaking and heartbreaking. The whole is a delightful journey that never fails to cheer me up. Just purrfect.
A Welcome (If Surprising) Return
I was certain that the combined efforts of Film 13 "The Wisdom of Friends" & The TV Series had made Littlefoot & his friends extinct. The arrival of this sequel both pleased and worried me. (But when you hit rock bottom, you have to go up in theory.) Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This acts as a sequel to Film X - "The Great Longneck Migration" and has a brief recap. As usual the gang face various dangers outside of The Great Valley and make new friends. I liked the pterodactyl, but the feathery one was annoying. (Seemed to be a relative of Guido from Film 12 "The Great Day of the Flyers.") I wasn't pleased to see Chomper & Ruby of the TV Series included, making that canon, but they're kept to a minimum. The animation is thankfully still in 2d and is a fair standard. The songs are forgettable. I briefly wondered where Shorty was, an obvious flaw in continuity; then forgot him again. It was fine with the focus on the main five. Less involvement from the adults worked in favour. It's an enjoyable adventure and I'll be curious to see if any more follow.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
This is my favourite of the current three films. Po is as lovable as ever as he goes on a journey of self-discovery. He is excited to meet his real Dad and a whole Panda clan; but his devotion to his Goose Father and friends at home is never in doubt. The cutest moments belong to Tigress though. She gains a special devotee. While Po hopes to become a Chi Master in time to defeat a returning evil, The Five fight without him. They aren't in that many scenes though, compared to 1 & 2. This is a Panda Adventure. There is plenty of humour and a great deal of heart. The animation is beautiful. The ending is spectacular. There are strong messages about helping people to discover their strengths and that failure is a learning tool. Success comes from trying again and accepting support from others. The important thing is to be you.
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Welcome back, Buck! Fun, heartwarming adventure.
This series is a firm favourite, due to its lovable characters, great animation and sense of fun. Simon Pegg makes a welcome return as the swashbuckling Buck, stealing every scene he's in. Scrat has new misadventures in space; while the Herd race against time to save the Earth. There are new villains and love interests introduced, plus other creatures, but the film never feels overcrowded. (Unlike in The Pirate Adventure.) Diego is left on the sidelines, but will hopefully have a bigger role if they make a 6th instalment. I love the humour and the heartwarming moments. Perhaps the next step is to re-introduce Roshan (the baby from the original).
Innocent, original & fun.
This is undeniably silly. It's meant to be. I giggled through every episode. Matt Lucas is already a favourite actor of mine from previous TV shows & films. Hove and the dog interact brilliantly with him. While this series has been billed as "silent"; in actual fact all the characters speak. It's just in their own special "gibb-lish." The plots are easy to follow and full of comic visuals. Some of these are surreal. There is no crudity in the humour. Pompidou is an innocent who inadvertently causes trouble for everyone around him, especially Hove. He endears himself to the audience, occasionally breaking the 4th wall. This is evidently a project that Matt put his whole heart into and I hope he can make more. There's nothing wrong with SILLY, providing that's what you're looking for. And there's a special surprise for Little Britain fans. (Ep 5.)
Not now, Silent Singer! (A dark delirium of delight.)
I discovered this after enjoying Inside No 9. (Not a fan of The League.) Psychoville has twisted and memorable characters. The plot is gripping and successfully combines horror with humour. Also, Reece and Steve constantly homage their favourite films. One episode is set entirely in one location, reminding me of how No 9 works. Their commentaries on the DVDs are entertaining and informative. It is a shame Series 3 didn't go ahead, but there aren't any loose ends. I especially loved Reece's characters which include a bitter clown and an obsessive librarian. Dawn French is fabulous. Steve's best character is the man-child, David. There are no weak performances. The music adds to the atmosphere perfectly. Nothing is predictable. The Halloween Special is certainly the best I've seen. For the whole, Psychoville is a delicious treat at any time of the year!
Mumfie's Quest: The Movie (2014)
Cheerful adventure with catchy songs. Shame about cuts.
I'm delighted to discover my favourite animated TV series has re-surfaced. Mumfie possesses optimism and bravery. He meets lovable characters, each with a unique characteristic, and helps to re-inspire them. In return, they give him the friendship he's been looking for. There is plenty of adventure, mystery, danger and especially, hope. The songs are catchy and I love the quirky dialogue/narration. It's also in refreshing 2d. I enjoyed the story as much as ever. It's just a shame that for reasons of length and flow, certain songs/scenes were cut. This will only be jarring for the biggest fans though. I strongly recommend the movie to everyone of any age. It's full of absolute charm and heart.
Jolie perfect for re-imagined tale. Some flaws.
While there are nods to the original classic, the story and characters have been re-imagined. The narrator explains this at the beginning. This leads to various strengths and weaknesses.
Angelina Jolie is excellent as Maleficent, who is given greater motivation for her actions. The costume is perfect.
My favourite character is Diaval (Sam Riley), the raven-familiar. He shape-shifts as required.
Aurora (Elle Fanning) a.k.a. "Beastie" has a sweet relationship with both of them.
Maleficent's magical forest subjects are delightful also.
Exciting action scenes are well balanced by tenderer sequences.
This was my first 3D experience. No cheesy FX or discomfort.
The 3 Good Fairies have thankfully been re-named. They are of no use whatsoever and are simply annoying. They are insults to the originals.
Prince Philip is not developed at all and is barely seen.
King Stefan has more to do, but he is no longer gentle.
Both the animation and live-action versions have their faults, but they are both equally entertaining. Maleficent is always a treat.