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The Producers (2005)
Darn that director.
As we all are well aware, there is a decided difference between stage and film. This is the line that this film could not straddle, but I'll get to that in a moment.
The pros are, of course, the songs and performances. Broderick and Lane SLAUGHTER it and are wonderful together. Beach and Bart are funnier than ever, perhaps even more-so than they were live. They jokes are classic and the timing is wonderful. A few of the newcomers, especially Ms. Thurman, didn't quite fit in as well as might have been hoped; not terrible, just not great.
The biggest issue with this film is the directing. It might just be me, but when turning a play or musical into a film you have to treat it as though it had never been on stage; all rooms and locations should have FOUR walls, and if the blocking of the original show has to be ditched completely so be it. The musical that accomplished the transition from stage to screen best, where blocking is concerned, is probably RENT.
In this movie, it's hard to look at it as though they're not on stage. The director stuck to the limitation of having three walls and treats the fourth wall as it would be treated on stage. It feels rough and false, not natural at all. Everyone is cheating out, even though there's no audience to cheat out for.
I'm all for being true to the show, and this musical in particular works amazingly and deserves all the praise it's received and more. Perhaps if they'd actually filmed the live show it would have work, but as is it just doesn't work.
Wonderful musical, poor movie.
Once Upon a Time (2011)
If it Weren't for Rumpel...
*May contain some SPOILERS! I'm not really sure*
My eyes are far too critical for a television show like this. I'm spoiled by Doctor Who and Sherlock, all those wonderful shows on the BBC, to see what this brave little show is attempting; a laudable stab at trying to infuse a little live-action magic into our weekly American television-viewing experience, and that is something to be respected.
That being said, it's still a tough little show to sit through when you're not invested in every storybook story they've got going on. When it comes to Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) it's difficult to look past the mediocre performances. Many of the scenes are wooden and repetitive. To be fair, the script does not present these actors with much to go on. Even the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), who is perhaps the finest actress on the show, is given a boatload of repetitive and one note material. They do with it what they can, but it's a struggle.
Then there is, of course, the rather rough green screen element of the fairy tale side of the show. I know it's a television show with a budget, and it's a tall order to manage something better than Sci-Fi, but a little more effort would not go amiss. To be fair, much of it is beautiful.
The pros are that they're trying something new. It's interesting to see these well-known and beloved characters re-imagined and given a bit of a twist. Everything is all grown up and dark, and the stakes seem real. It's a lot of complex stories to keep up with, but thus far all the connections are clear and sensible. It's fun to see who might show up next and what they'll be like.
Another pro is a certain character that I adore. I don't particularly enjoy this show. In fact, I wouldn't even be watching it if it weren't for one Robert Carlyle, the brilliant actor playing Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. Sure, you can call it over the top, but in my experience that's never a bad thing (and keep in mind, this is coming from a girl who's favorite characters include The Doctor and Sherlock Holmes). His over the top performance is acceptable because it is coupled with emotional subtly and AMAZING depth. Sure, he's manic and has fun with it, but he never forgets his motives and never compromises the emotional performance. Then there's the fact that he makes everything the writers give him sound like gold. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he's not American, but if it weren't for him, I'd have given up on the show long ago. Luckily for me, they give him more and more material as the show goes on.
If you don't enjoy this show, trust me, I understand completely. Still, if you find yourself interested in a singular character, it may be enough incentive for you to sit through. I mean, I've made it to season two by focusing on one character.
Solid effort, but underwhelming. 7 outta 10
This is HALLOWEEN!
I am an enormous fan of the film. I usually do not enjoy games made based on films, so I was VERY worried about this one. Lucky for me, it was a VERY far cry from the original story. It takes place one year after the movie (despite being made more than ten years later (and in my head it also takes place after the events of Kingdom Hearts II)) and we're not "taking Christmas" this time around.
The game play is wonderfully thought out and original, perfect for the world it takes place in; there's singing, dancing, battle banter, and it's genius.
The difficulty of the game is on par as well. Even on easy there are certain levels that are decidedly frustrating and daunting. When played on hard, it becomes downright impossible (especially of mediocre players like me)
The dialogue is, like the movie, wonderfully cheesy and full of camp. It's all spoken at a heightened sense of drama, perfect for such a theatrical character as Jack Skellington. The voice work was a little patchy; Jack's speaking and singing was performed by Chris Sarandon, and though I was saddened by lack of Danny Elfman involvement, he does a wonderful job and has a more than adequate voice. Sally, Lock, Shock, and Barrel bugged me for a while, but the characters were done right and the actors owned it.
The animation is a little dodgy, but it's beautiful. Everything I loved about the look of the movie can be found in the game, and it's amazing to explore it.
There are a lot of hidden goodies in the game, and many things that make me think that this is the best Nightmare game we're going to get. Awesome game.
Dark Shadows (2012)
They were SO close this time
I've never seen the original series so I've nothing to compare this adaption to, meaning this review is based on what I witnessed in the cinema.
Whatever they were in the past, I liked the characters in this film. The family had potential to be interesting, and they WERE interesting in the first twenty minutes or so. Depp gave a great performance as a vampire this time around. The look was beautiful, the camera work lovely, the costumes flawless. The special effects were a little wonky, but it's Burton and I don't expect anything else. The music was fun (especially the end credits song). The acting was appropriately over-dramatic and I enjoyed it muchly. Then Eva Green showed up and everything fell apart.
For me, that's where they went wrong, and that's why I say they were so close. If Tim Burton and co. had taken a step back and realized that this film didn't NEED the witch character (Eva Green) to be more than a slight menace in the background it might have saved the picture. That, and removing how overly-sexualized it was. But no, perhaps half the movie was spent doting on the romantic/sexual relationship between Barnabas and the witch, and that isn't even the relationship we're supposed to be rooting for.
From the beginning this film said it was about the importance of family, and that gave me hope. I was excited to see how Barnabas was going to pull this quirky, cursed, and broken family back together AND get the girl, living happily forever after. Indeed, that's what it was at first, and the movie was interesting and fun and you cared about it. Then, like I said, Eva Green showed up, and she threw this movie in a blender. There was almost no time spent on the family, so in the end you didn't even care if all their issues were finally resolved. You didn't care that Barnabas got the girl (well, I did, but I'm a Depp-fanatic and I love when he gets ANY girl). You didn't care who lived or died or came back to life.
This movie spent time highlighting all the wrong things. The parts in it that were good were REALLY good, but sadly those were the parts involving the family, so there were far too few of them.
I desperately want Tim and Johnny to give their partnership a shot again, but this time? No dice. Better luck next time, boys. I'm rooting for ya.