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The Wiz (1978)
I bought this movie a few days after Michael's death, and I finally sat through the entire thing. Before I bought the DVD, I had never seen this movie in its entirety.
The Wiz is an interesting take on The Wizard of Oz, from an African-American point of view. Filled with urban soul, a memorable supporting cast, some great costumes and some incredible set designs however the movie has it flaws.
*spoilers begin here* The movie begins in a modern day New York Apartment during Thanksgiving. Dororthy is terrified of living a more fulfilling life, and fears of going too far past the neighborhood. For some reason Dorothy opens the door, possibly to take out the trash, and Toto runs out of the apartment and into the street during a snow storm. Dorothy runs after Toto, and a tornado appears out of nowhere and sends Dorothy to OZ.
That's where the film's flaws begin, a tornado that appears during a snow storm, seems unlikely and unheard of. The tornado doesn't even destroy anything. It just comes out of nowhere and appears to suck up Dorothy.
What really bothered me about Dorothy's arrival in OZ, is that there is no meeting of Glinda, instead we see her as a mother nature type, who lives amongst the stars. And also instead of Glinda, we get this weird head of the munchkins lady named Number One. Or Miss One. There's no introduction of The Wicked Witch of the West, she is just mentioned and not even seen for the majority of the film.
Michael Jackson's performance as The Scarecrow, is memorable. He portrays the lovable Scarecrow very well, his costume is a mixture of a clown and Ronald McDonald's clothes. His almost child-like innocence is a true delight.
Nipsey Russel's performance of the Tinman is a treat. His razor sharp wit does prove to be hilarious and makes his performance stronger.
The Cowardly Lion. A favorite of mine in The Wizard of Oz. Was portrayed nicely. However I didn't really like the Subway scene, it was totally stupid. It just basically showed that The Lion really did have courage and he was just pretending that he lost his courage.
The whole Poppy scene seemed like a waste of time. It would have worked better if the subway scene was re-written and the Wicked Witch was used more. In the Wizard of Oz, we find out why the poppies appear and the purpose of them. In The Wiz, the Poppies are up on a roof-top and is used very poorly. And then all of a sudden the Lion begins to talk about killing himself because of his guilt for leading them to the poppies or something like that. We get an okay number of Be A Lion. I didn't like watching The Lion lick Dorothy like a common cat. Granted a Lion is a part of the Cat family, but it wasn't necessary for the film.
The scene with The Wicked Witch was boring. It seemed to me that they put in the Wicked Witch cause they forgot to use her during the majority of the film. The Wicked Witch should have been used a lot more.
I liked Richard Pryor's performance during the first scene with The Wiz, but when they return and find that The Wiz is a phoney and just merely a lonely man who desperately seeks attention. Richard's performance is very weak. I didn't like the final scene with The Wiz, where he attempts to ask Dorothy to help him out, it appeared that he was gonna ask Dorothy to take him with her as she returns home, she gives him a very cold shoulder.
The final scene is awful. Dorothy appears back in the street of her neighborhood with Toto, and runs back into the building like nothing happened. We don't know if Aunt Em and Uncle Henry even knew Dorothy was gone. There's no finale. It just ends. The Wizard of Oz had an ending. The Wiz just ends with no final resolution.
Very good update
A lot of people seem to be missing the point of this updated remake. When Rob Zombie talked with John Carpenter about re-making Halloween, Carpenter said to Rob to make it your own, don't just make a complete remake. That's why Zombie made it different and doesn't stick to the original script. Zombie decided to add his own vision of Michael Myers psyche as a kid, the hate filled home with the exception of his mom and of course baby sis Laurie. Originally the studios had plans to make Halloween: The Missing Years which would have shown Michael's path towards his psychotic state of mind in the institute, but Zombie came along with his script and got the go ahead. This movie is as good as the original if not better.
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
The Santa Clause 2 is a decent sequel. I was very excited when I first saw a trailer for it. I can't remember it too well but I think I was going to see The Fellowship of the Ring and out in the lobby the theater has TV screens which show trailers and I believe Tim Allen was talking about the movie. Anyways I saw the movie opening weekend and loved it.
Sure the movie is not as magical as the first but its a passable sequel filled with laughs. The story is simple, after eight years of being a single Santa, Scott is informed of the single most important part in Christmas History: The Mrs. Clause. This proposes a challenge for Scott as he must find a wife by Christmas Eve or he doesn't get to be Santa anymore.
BUT he also faces an equally tough challenge, his son Charlie has landed on the naughty list. A third challenge not as tough arises, how to keep running the factory while being with Charlie. Curtis(an annoying side-kick to Bernard) has devised a plan to clone Santa. The result: A Toy Santa.
Santa goes to be with Charlie and to find a wife, he is given a limited amount of magic to use and has the funny Comet to fly with. Neil Miller is still wearing those obnoxious sweaters. Anyways with time and magic running out Scott does his best to win the heart of Carol Newman, Charlie's school principal, and trying to figure out what caused Charlie to become naughty.
The end result a funny family film with a sweet taste of magic even though it lacked the sweetness of the first, it still manages to pass as a decent enjoyable sequel. I love the part at the end during the credits where you see what became of the toy Santa, one of the funniest moments in the movie.
The Santa Clause 3: The Hype
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a rushed film. Viewing the trailer you find the hype to be built up, especially with that tag-line on the posters "Twas the fight before Christmas" Well I just saw the movie and all that hype is gone.
The movie takes way too long for the "Escape Clause" to happen, we hear about it repetitively but it takes quite a while to make it happen. The story is simple Jack Frost is tired of being the opening act while Santa is the big hit. So he tries to upstage Santa by putting cardboard cut-outs of himself all across the country with a sash saying "Merry Frostmas", then Jack learns of the Escape Clause in which if the current Santa holds onto his snow globe and say that he wishes he was never Santa, its open season on filling Santa's shoes. So begins the hype. But its let down.
The build-up to the "Escape Clause" happening is way too long. You find yourself nodding off like The Sandman. The movie has been dumbed down. Its understandable that it is a family movie but it has been made to be too kiddie. I'm not sure that kids will quite understand the adult humor that is mixed in to the film.
Personally I would have done things differently. I would have brought back the original writers from The Santa Clause and brought in John Pasquin(the first film's director) to direct the film. The movie is good but boring. I hope there is NOT going to be a fourth, there is no need and if there were to be, the story would be a bit repetitive and the outcome would be too predictable.
I had the displeasure of watching this movie with my girlfriend, who, like me, is a fan of the first. This movie down right sucked! It lacked the magic of the first. You could actually understand every word the mice said, the animation is crappy, the palace is much much different from the first movie, there's new characters that were never mentioned before and were terrible, luckily the Prince didn't have many lines which kept him from sounding stupid. Basically its like The Lion King 1 1/2 except its different stories all told by the mice. The reason I'm giving this a 2 out of 10 is because the songs not sung by the characters were the most enjoyable.
Ice Age (2002)
Hey Lord of the Flame, your tail's on fire
Ice Age is a very funny film. The story revolves around three different animals during the migration because of an Ice Age, who find a baby human and begin a quest to reunite the baby with his tribe. An interesting take on the John Wayne film "3 Godfathers", which revolved around three outlaws who find a dying woman that gives birth to a baby and requests the men take the baby back to town to give the baby a chance at life. Similar indeed. The difference is that "3 Godfathers" was more a drama and "Ice Age" is a family comedy. I'd recommend watching both films, then compare and contrast the two of them. You'll see the similarities.
The Sandlot (1993)
Great Baseball Film
The Sandlot is a great baseball film, even though throughout the film the games take place at a Sandlot and not any major league stadiums *spoiler* until the end of the film with the adult Benny playing for the LA Dodgers.
This is a great family film showing the love for America's past time game of Baseball. The film is about a new kid, Scotty Smalls, who moves to a new town where he knows nobody. He follows Benny to the Sandlot, looking to fit in, of course his hopes of fitting in are quickly shattered after an embarrassing attempt to throw the ball back to the infield.
However despite the team's disliking of Scotty, Benny decides to convince Scotty to come back and be apart of the team since they are a player short of having a complete team. The result, Scotty becomes more liked by the team as Benny helps him learn how to play.
The rest of the film is entertainment and fun from Squints infamous drowning act to the boys first experience with Chewing Tobacco to the final showdown with "The Beast".
The side story of "the beast" is good, a very interesting way of showing why the boys cannot retrieve their baseballs after each is hit into Mr.Mertle's yard. Its something that most kids face, hitting their baseballs into someone else's yard, hearing bad stories about the person that lives in that house and fearing that person. But as Mr.Mertle says in the movie "Why didn't you just knock on the door? I'da gotten it for ya." Which shows that not all people won't be mean and release "the beast" on you, some could be a jolly fun spirited person like Mr.Mertle.
Oh, and you gotta have that other team that thinks they are better than your team. A showdown of a real team and the Sandlot kids ensues at one point in the movie, just to prove that the Sandlot kids can kick butt even if they are not a real team.
The movie was well done, very enjoyable for people of all ages. There should never have been a sequel however fans of this movie are let down. I'd recommend watching this one only and pretend the sequel does not exist cause the sequel is pretty much a remake of this one.