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Rabbit Ears: Rip Van Winkle (1992)
I can't imagine there being a better version of this story!
I'll admit there are other good versions of this story, the Wishbone version for example, but this is definitely superior and is probably the best version of the story. Most people know this story, but I'll summarize anyway. Set in the 1700s, Rip Van Winkle is a lazy man who has a daughter, a son, and a wife who he's supposed to provide for but continues in his slothful behavior. One day he goes on an adventure with his dog and comes across strange men with ale who are bowling. He drinks some of their ale, which puts him into a deep sleep that lasts for 20 years. When he awakes, he discovers all he knew changed and learns important lessons about work and family.
The people who worked at Rabbit Ears were geniuses. The animation style is incredible, almost looking at drawings from a book. The music is beautiful, memorable, and a perfect for the story. Angelica Houston does a superb job narrating this story. I can't imagine anyone else's voice telling this story. This version of the story is perfect in every way! It's entertaining for children and adults. I highly recommend it! This is probably a lost gem for most people, but it is one of my favorite videos from my childhood! I guarantee you'll enjoy it if you watch it!
Bottom line: Ben Kingsley IS Gandhi! *Major spoiler in review*
My World Religions teacher showed this movie to us in class last year while we were learning about the Islamic religion. At first, I didn't think this movie would be too interesting. Boy, was I wrong! I have nothing but gratitude towards her for showing it to us. If you know absolutely nothing about Gandhi, as I did, this movie is an absolute must see for anyone who wants to know about him.
Thanks to the direction of Richard Attenborough and the incredible performance given by Kingsley in the title role, this movie paints a complete picture of who Gandhi was! It depicts who he was as a leader, as a man, and as a husband. The film paints a picture of him that is the absolute truth: He was a man who won India its independence from Britain without killing a single person. One of the most remarkable things about this film is the way it depicts Gandhi's actions when the people he loved so much fought with each other. Whenever violence started to occur, he would fast until it stopped. His people loved him so much for all he did for them that they stopped their violent behavior to save his life. This movie is so powerful in that it makes you love, admire, and respect the man that Gandhi was. You rejoice with him when he triumphs, and you grieve with him when he suffers.
This film won Attenborough an Oscar for his directing, Kingsley one for his acting, and won Best Picture. It deserved all three. If you would like to meet Gandhi, watch this film! It's a little slow at times, but it is a truly beautiful film!
The Lion King (1994)
The One True King of animated films!
This is my all-time favorite movie! This movie has been a part of my life since I was an infant. I am now 18, which has given me plenty of time to ponder why this film has been and continues to be a huge success. I think it's so popular for one reason: It appeals to both young and old film viewers, and here's why.
First, for kids, it has great music, it's funny, and has great characters, voiced by an extraordinary cast, which are qualities that make a great animated film. It's easy for an animated film to entertain children, but it's really something when adults are touched by it as well. I think one of the reasons adults like this movie so much is that it does not act like a children's film. It acts like a drama made for adults. The plot is fairly simple, but its themes, emotion, and the psychology of the characters within are things that only mature audiences will truly understand. The plot is basically about a young cub, named Simba. He loves his father, Mufasa, is eager to become king one day, and is fascinated by all he sees and hears. His life takes a very bad turn when his uncle, Scar, kills his father in order to gain the throne. He sends the cub into exile. Simba meets some new friends, Timon and Pumbaa, who raise him with a no worries lifestyle until his best friend from home, Nala, and a wise baboon, Rafiki, encourage him to return home and claim his rightful place as king. As I said, this plot is very basic. However, what is not so basic is the feelings of guilt that Simba feels for the death of his father and the psychological trauma that he has to endure for the rest of the film. Again, what is not so simple is the themes. Simba's father appears to him in the clouds and tells him "Remember who you are." This message basically states that a person cannot shirk their responsibilities, a message that a toddler cannot begin to understand. In addition to that, the film sums up what life is all about: Going through hard times, dealing with it, and coming out stronger because you endured it. I think the adults that watch this film grasp that concept and appreciate it. My own grandmother, who's in her eighties, bought her own copy of this film!
In addition to these things, the film has other elements that cannot be ignored. The first is definitely the wonderful music and songs. Hans Zimmer made the score for this film and won a much deserved Oscar for it. Elton John and Tim Rice also won Oscars for their brilliant work on this film. The songs that they created, like Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight, are so well written that you can't help but be touched by them. The African words sung by Lebo M. contribute highly to the majesty of the film. When Lebo's team first sings, you automatically know that you're in Africa. From his birth to his ascension as king, Simba's journey is wondrously captured through the music and songs that the film provides. Another thing that makes this film so wonderful is the animation. Every single tree, animal, and background that appears on the screen is a stunning work of art. People that do not like this movie will usually admit that the animation is absolutely stunning. It has to be wonderful when the animators actually went to Africa and brought lions into their studio! While all of the other things about this film are wonderful, my personal favorite is the villain, Scar. He is so wonderfully voiced, animated, and brought to life that you love him, hate him, and may even be scared by him all at once. Jeremy Irons, Andreas Deja, and everyone else who worked on this character created one of the best villains in film history. He is the only animated villain to be nominated for an MTV best villain award, and is widely considered to be one of the best Disney villains of all time. Scar is so magnificent that he is in the same category with Hannibal Lecter and Ledger's Joker. The Lion King has many wonderful things that make it spectacular, but, for me, it would not be the same without Scar. A very close second to Scar is Mufasa. He is so incredibly voiced that I cannot imagine anyone else playing him. James Earl Jones brings the qualities of a commanding leader and a wonderful, loving father at the same time to this character that you can't help but feel sad when he is killed. These two characters alone make the film worth seeing. Add everything else that is great about it, and you have one of the best films ever made.
The Lion King has been entertaining audiences for 17 years and will do so for many years more. With its great vocal talent, animation, songs, music, and themes, the Lion King has earned its spot in IMDb's top 250 films ever made. I do not thing it will be leaving the list any time soon. It's a real shame that it was not nominated for best picture. I highly recommend this film for anyone who wishes to see a children's film that goes beyond the typical feel good animated film. With the possible exception of Beauty and the Beast, this is definitely the King of all animated films! If you haven't seen it, in 2D or 3D, I strongly encourage you to do so. You won't regret it!
Tarzan Activity Center (1999)
Very fun and challenging! (Still can't beat Jungle Tumble) LOL
I used to play this years ago on my computer. I'm talking around the age of 10 if I was lucky. LOL I rented it from the library this week, and I still enjoy this game at 17 years of age! In it, you can sing karaoke in "Strangers Like Me", "Two Worlds", and "Son of Man." You can make a jungle journal with your own pictures, words, and language! You can record your own songs with the gorillas and make your own notes and music with the Trash the Camp Music Maker. However, my top 3 favorite things are Fetch the Sketch, Terk and Tantor's Power Lunch, and Tarzan's Jungle Tumble! In Fetch the Sketch, you have to match pictures of emails that the baboon stole from Jane's journal. It is challenging and fun! Also, it teaches kids about animals when they click the camera. These are facts that the general person doesn't know unless they make a habit of studying animals. So, even the adults can learn from it. In Terk and Tantor's Power Lunch, you have to use a chameleon to get all the food for animals without hitting Kerchak or Sabor. In the beginning, it's slow and boring, but you are having the hardest time by the end! LOL And, finally, my ultimate favorite: Tarzan's Jungle Tumble! In the first level, you are baby Tarzan and have to get the cases and objects into the boat without getting touched by baby leopards. You use baby bottles to avoid them. LOL Then, in level 2, you are kid Tarzan, and have to knock the elephants into the water without getting caught by Kerchak or other gorillas. You use bananas to avoid them which is appropriate. LOL Then, finally, you are adult Tarzan and Jane, and must knock the crates into the water without getting caught by Clayton or his men. It is SO HARD!!! I still can't beat it! I'm on part 5 of 6 on that level. LOL I look forward to when I can though. Even my mom enjoys that one! Overall, this can be a fun and challenging game for kids and adults! Enjoy! I highly recommend it!
Batman Begins (2005)
The first film to really nail what Batman should be!
I first saw Batman Begins in theaters, and I remember walking away from this movie blown away and thoroughly impressed! It was everything I wanted in a Batman movie! The characters were adapted very well from their comic book versions, there was minimal language, the time of the movie was not wasted with things like sex scenes or other typical things in a Hollywood film, etc.
One of the most impressive things to me was how they nailed Batman's and the other character's personalities. People have pointed out to me that the Burton and Schumacher films did not focus enough on Batman and focused too much on the villains. They are absolutely right! Batman is just as interesting, sometimes more interesting, than his villains, and Christopher Nolan, being the brilliant director that he is, shows us why in this film. We see how the tragedy of losing his parents changes Bruce Wayne's life and how his fears motivate him to make Gotham a better place. Another important aspect of Batman that this film got right: He DOES NOT kill! I remember him saying to Joker in the 89 film that he would kill him: Not a part of Batman's personality. Although Batman does not save Ra's at the end of the film, he did not kill him. I think this was a logical thing to do since no prison would have been able to hold him. He is as skilled as Bruce, and he leads a major organization of terrorists. Definition: He would escape and do it all over again.
On that note, I must say that the depiction of the villains in this film is almost as impressive as the depiction of Batman. Even though they changed Ra's from trying to preserve nature, I think making him someone trying to stop the evil in the world is a logical step for him as well. Another aspect of Ra's they changed was that he was not Ducard in the comics. However, it's a good way of introducing him since he wanted Bruce to be his heir to his empire in the comics and since this is a more realistic version of the character. His skill in combat is another great aspect! A thing that die hard comic book fans might not like about this film is that it does show or mention the Lazarus Pit in any way. Ra's Al Ghul's immortality is something that is not touched upon very much. However, keeping in mind that this is a more realistic telling of the Batman story, I think that the film is true enough to the character that he's just as interesting, if not more interesting, a character than he is in the comics.
The portrayal of Scarecrow is also well done! He is not as impressive in this as he is in the comics, but he is still good enough that the character gets due justice. Cilian Murphy did an excellent job bringing his intelligence and insanity to the screen. I think it would be cool to see a film where Scarecrow is the main villain, but his role in the film is enough to show you how dangerous he can be and why he is a formidable foe for Batman.
Speaking of Cilian Murphy, another impressive thing about this film was the casting: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cilian Murphy, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson, and the rest of the cast all did great jobs in playing their respective characters. Christian Bale is the perfect Bruce Wayne. I that Keaton made a better Batman but not the better Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is definitely all Bale's. Bale's Batman is still good enough that you enjoy and care about the character though. Of course, no one's better than Kevin Conroy! LOL Being a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series, I cannot think of anyone else who can do as wonderful of a job for Ra's Al Ghul as David Warner did except for Liam Neeson. His voice matches the same quality that Warner's had for the character. I did not think I would love Michael Caine at first, but I did! He was absolutely perfect for Alfred! I think Caine's portrayal is the best version of this character yet! Also, Gary Oldman makes the perfect Jim Gordon, and the relationship between him and Batman is portrayed perfectly in this film, another mistake of the previous films. I think Katie Holmes did better than Kim Basinger as well. I think Basinger did a good job, but Holmes has more to do than scream! She is an interesting character and is a great blend of tough and sweet.
Now, for the action, the fighting style that Batman uses is absolutely incredible! From fighting regular thugs to fighting Ra's, it is breathtaking! Seeing Batman come out of nowhere was truly amazing! The chase scene with the police was great too!
The music was also very impressive! I've been a huge fan of Hans Zimmer's music for a long time, from Lion King to Gladiator, and this is no exception! He and James Newton Howard did excellent work!
Batman was a good film, but I feel that this one was so much better. My only complaints about this movie is that I feel there is a bit of unnecessary language and that Bale's Batman voice is sometimes annoying, but that does not stop this from being a terrific film! With this film, Christopher Nolan started a trilogy that has come to define the way that Batman should be! It seems almost impossible for anyone to do a better job with this character than Nolan has!
All the King's Men (2006)
Was OK but would have been better with a stronger script
I saw this on DVD, and I still am not 100% sure of what happened! LOL There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the acting. Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, Mark Ruffalo, and all the others did a fine job, but I do not know how they understood what they were doing! Much of the plot is very ambiguous. At the end of the movie, SPOILER ALERT, Judge Irwin commits suicide. After that, Jack's mother blames him for killing his FATHER. This seems to imply that the judge was his father, but what does that mean for Anne? Are they siblings? Was the Judge only looking out for her? In addition to that, I do not know if Willie Stark was cheating on his wife with Sadie Burke or not. Someone please explain it to me because I have no clue. I am about to try to find a plot synopsis and, hopefully, that will help. If this movie had won for best screenplay, I would have been appalled. So, due to its terrible ability at explanation of storyline, I give this movie a 7 out of 10.