Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hugo (2011) review


It's good seeing something new from Scorsese, especially this quirky, inspiring fairy tale on cinema, but it isn't the best he's ever done.

PLOT:Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a young orphan who lives in a Parisan train station's clock tower because his father died in a fire. The only thing his father left him was an old automaton which needed fixing. Hugo has been stealing parts from a toy merchant to use, but this time the merchant (Ben Kingsley) finally catches him and steals his book of automaton design. Hugo follows him home, begging the merchant not to burn it, and meets his "granddaugher", Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), who teams up with him to save his book and fix the automaton. What they don't know, however, is that they're about to get into a mysterious adventure. It's a great plot executed wonderfully.

ACTING:The acting in this was pretty good overall. Asa Butterfield played a suprisingly good part as the lead child, Hugo. Chloe Moretz also played off of him rather well as Isabelle. The best role was probably Ben Kingsley as Georges, the merchant. The other shiners were Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector, Jude Law as Hugo's father, and Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse.

SCORE:The score was very intense and inspiring by Howard Shore. It really went with the film.

EFFECTS:The effects in here for the most part weren't the best to me. The CG effects looked rather cheap and too fake to me. The effects used for the clock and the old films showed in this were pretty great though.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was a pretty fantastic addition to Scorsese's resume, but it did have some problems. Aside from the British accents in the Parisan town, this film didn't have a real solid plotline and didn't show as much honor to the director as his other works. The plotline can't settle on exactly what it's trying to convey, but its execution more than somewhat makes up for that. However, it still remains a tad to quirky. Also, Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director, but this film just doesn't seem to match up to what he's done in the past. Aside from these minor flaws, this film was very fun, interesting, and a great honor to the magic of film in its pure form.

OVERALL,a great film with a wonderful plot, pretty good acting, inspiring score, cheap CG effects but good other effects, and a great honor to pure film, but the plotline seems a bit messy and it doesn't seem to add up to what Scorsese can do.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mixed Nuts (1994) review


The reason I didn't hate this as much as I should've was probably because I was watching it with a friend, but it still wasn't too bad. There were a good bit of parts it was very funny.

PLOT:It's Christmastime and things are going screwy in this California setting. Philip (Steve Martin) is the manager of a company named Lifesavers, which is a dedicated suicide hotline. Working with Philip is Blanche Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and Catherine (Rita Wilson). Things are running pretty smooth around Lifesavers until the landlord (Gary Shandling) gives Philip the eviction notice of their company. Philip must keep it a secret from his co-workers while still dealing with his many calls, including the pregnant and stressed-out Gracie Barzini (Juliette Lewis) and the cross-dressing Mr. Lobel (Robert Klein). It's an ok plot executed almost decently.

ACTING:The performances in here were okay. Steve Martin played a pretty good part as the stressed and depressed Philip. Rita Wilson played a pretty decent part as Catherine and Madeline Kahn played a good part as Mrs. Munchnik until the near-end of the movie. Adam Sandler played in this as the delivery boy, Louie, but he actually isn't as bad as most of his roles. Maybe it's because this one isn't a leading role. The other shiners, so to speak, were Juliette Lewis as Gracie Barzini, Robert Klein as Mr. Lobel, Anthony LaPagilia as Felix, Gary Shandling as Stanley Tannenbaum, Rob Reiner as Dr. Kinsky, and Jon Stewart as one of the tree carriers. However, none of the roles except for the first three were really good at all.

SCORE:The score was made up of mainly Christmas music, so it wasn't too bad.

OTHER CONTENT:I didn't hate this as much as I expected to because I had a friend pointing and laughing at certain things, plus it did have some hilarious parts. Overall, though, most of the jokes and plot twists fell flat.

OVERALL,an ok movie with a near-decent plot, okay acting, Chrsitmas score, and some hilarious parts, but most of it just fell flat.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) review


This return to Middle-Earth was not only refreshing, but also spectacular overall as a movie. However, it's pacing and tonal shifts steal the majesty away from it.

PLOT:Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a hobbit that lives in a small house and usually keeps to himself. However, the great wizard, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), knocks on his door and invites him to go on a great adventure. He, being himself, turns it down. However, Bilbo is bombarded that night by dwarves needing a hand in their journey of recapturing their old kingdom lost years ago to a dragon. After much consideration, Bilbo accepts and they set on to travel to the kingdom. There are many evils that face them along the way though, so it'll be a rough journey. It's a great plot executed brilliantly for the most part.

ACTING:The perfromances in here are fantastic. Martin Freeman plays a great part as the young and wary Bilbo Baggins, as does Ian McKellen as a fantastic Gandalf. The best performances aside from them would be Richard Armitage as the powerful Thorin, Andy Serkis as the mysterious Gollum, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast, Barry Humphries as the Goblin King, and all of the other dwarves with a cool cameo by Elijah Wood as Frodo. There really wasn't a bad performance in the bunch. Everyone did a great job.

SCORE:The score was amazing. The themes were epic and very well-composed by Howard Shore with a haunting song by Richard Armitage and the other dwarves. I really liked it.

EFFECTS:I'd say at least over half of this film was done with special effects. The computerized effects for the trolls, goblins, Gollum, animals, spiders, orcs, and all the rest were dazzling and pleasing to the eye. The make-up effects were pretty awesome too, for Bilbo, the wizards, and the dwarves.

OTHER CONTENT:This trip back to Middle-Earth was definitely pleasing to fans of the franchise, whether of the book or the films. Everything was executed to the best degree and done with epic movie magic that would make you want to see the next installment. However, Peter Jackson has a knack for stretching a film out way longer than it needs to be. The slow pacing in this film takes away from a lot of the majesty it earns as being a great film. What runs through his mind to stretch it out so much, I can't tell, but it makes him money. Also, it was a little uneven to me in some parts. One minute it's epic and dramatic and the next it's easy-going and funny. I felt a great unevenness in some parts and it also stole from the film's greatness. Overall, though, it's still an epic addition to the LOTR franchise.

OVERALL,a great film with a brilliantly-executed plot, fantastic performances, amazing score, dazzling effects, and a great bit of movie magic, but the pacing was too slow and in some parts I found it to be uneven.

Remember the Titans (2000) review


Though I'm not the biggest fan of football movies, this one was pretty well done. It was inspirational, true to the time, and even.

PLOT:In 1971 Virginia, three high schools are forced to integrate with one being black and the other two being white. The football coaches of two of the schools, long-time favorite, Coach Yoats (Will Patton), and new-comer, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) agree to try and combine their teams and integrate their players to form the almighty Titans. It's not easy, however; the players constantly fight each other and the town's racist mind's often interfere. However, they can pull through with a loving heart and a strong mind. It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here were great. Denzel Washington played the best of them as the wise and forceful Coach Boone. Will Patton also played a pretty decent part as Coach Yoates. In some places, I could see where he could've done better, but he did well overall. The other shiners were Ryan Hurst as Gerry Bertier, Craig Kirkwood as The Rev, Kip Pardue as Sunshine, Donald Faison as Petey, Wood Harris as Julius, and Hayden Pentierre as Sheryl Yoast.

SCORE:The score was mainly songs from the time period mixed withe some inspirational themes. It wasn't too bad.

OTHER CONTENT:I thought this was just going to be another cheesy inspirational movie, but I was proved wrong. This was a little cheesy and inspirational, but it did everything right. It balanced the humor and drama with the performances evenly to tell the story true to the time period. I appreciate how accurate (from what I've studied) they depicted the time. Though this still was cheesy in places as well as predictable, it played its cards right and remained fairly even throughout.

OVERALL,a good movie with a good plot, great acting, alright score, even tonal balances, accuracy to the time, and lots of inspiration, but it was still a bit cheesy and predictable.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everybody's Fine (2009) review


Besides the performance by Robert De Niro, there's nothing really memorable about this movie. It's not bad, but there's just nothing significant about it.

PLOT:Frank (Robert De Niro) is the father of four kids: Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Rosie (Drew Barrymore), Robert (Sam Rockwell), and David. Each one has grown up, moved on, and seemingly hit it big somewhere. When the mother of the family dies, Frank tries to bring everybody together this holiday season like it used to be, but everybody seems busy. However, Frank decides to see them anyway by packing up on a cross-country trip to see each one, but it's not all peaceful among them. Each has their set of problems, especially David, who's apparently vanished off the face of the Earth. Will his kids reunite with him truthfully and reveal their secrets? It's a great plot executed pretty blandly.

ACTING:Robert De Niro was almost the saving grace of this movie. He played a nice, calm, heartfelt role as the old father, Frank. He played the role the best that he could based on what he was given. The other shiners were Drew Barrymore as Rosie, Kate Beckinsale as Amy, and Sam Rockwell as Robert. They went with the flow of the movie, but they weren't horrible.

SCORE:The score was mainly composed of some random, mood-fitting songs of alternative and classic pop. It was pretty cool.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie could have been so much better than it really was, but it just fell flat. The writers of the story and script didn't add enough moments of interest so it felt as if nothing happened for most of the movie. The humor and dramatic moments also felt out-of-place since they only came around a few times; it seemed uneven. They could have taken this idea and skyrocketed it with a more eventful and even plot, but they lived on a careful performance by De Niro and didn't try to make this one break the formula. However, it's not terrible. There isn't a lot of bad aspects to it; it's just bland.

OVERALL,a mediocre movie with a blandly-executed plot, decent acting, cool soundtrack, uneventfulness, uneven plot twists, and a bland formula, but it's not a terrible movie.

Monday, December 10, 2012

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) review


This timeless family classic has lived in the hearts of many movie-goers over the years with its touching sentimentality and iconic film moments.

PLOT:Young Elliot (Henry Thomas) lives in a normal neighborhood with a mean older brother named Michael (Robert McNaughton), an adorable little sister named Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and his mother Mary (Dee Wallace). They have just been through a separation and have been recovering when Elliot discovers something in his backyard: an alien. Elliot finds a short, chubby, brown, homesick alien in his backyard and decides to take it in to raise it, letting only his siblings know. However, E.T. misses his home and has to make contact soon or die. It's a good plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The acting was pretty good overall, but iffy in some places. Henry Thomas played a decent part as the lead, Elliot. He had his moments of good and bad. Drew Barrymore played a cute part as the little Gertie, but served no more a purpose than a charm of the film. The other shiners would be Robert McNaughton as Michael, Dee Wallace as Mary, Peter Coyote as Keys, and Debra Winger as the voice of E.T.

SCORE:The score is one of the best and most memorable parts about the film. John Williams does a great job composing a symphony of soundtrack for the film. The theme here is curious, triumphant, and just memorable all over. I loved it.

EFFECTS:The effects were pretty good for its time. E.T. was animated for the most part with puppetry and some computer graphics. They did a good job of making his movements fun and simple. The effects of the spaceship was pretty well done in computers, but nothing too spectacular.

OTHER CONTENT:I used to hate this film for the longest time because I thought it was just boring and cheesy, but I eventually gave it a re-watch and rethought my opinion. The film is touchingly simple with enough overwhelming charm to win over a high score. However, this film still does maintain a few of the same flaws it did with me. It's very cheesy and has a few slow moments, even for the '80s. However, it's still overall a very touching film for everyone to enjoy.

OVERALL,a great '80s sci-fi with a pretty good plot, decent acting, memorable score, good effects for the time being, simplicity, and lots of charm, but it was kind of cheesy and slow at times.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970) review


This has always been my very favorite of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials for its sentimentality and entertaining story.

PLOT:It's Christmastime again, and the children have started sending their letters to Santa. The local mailman (Fred Astaire) sees these letters every year and decides to tell the story of Santa Claus. Discovered by toy-making elves, Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney) is raised with a determination to take the toys over the dangerous mountain, guarded by the evil Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn), to deliver to the children of Sombertown. However, mayor Burgermeister (Paul H. Frees) has banned toys from the town due to an injury induced by one. Kris comes to town and learns that he has to distribute the toys in secret. This tale eventually develops into the complete backstory of Santa Claus. It's a good plot executed charmingly.

VOICES:The voices in here are decent for the most part. Mickey Rooney plays an awesome Santa Claus/Kris Kringle. Fred Astaire played a charming part as the narrator as well. The other shiners would be Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, Paul H. Frees as Burgermeister Meisterburger, and Joan Gardener as Miss Jessica. The minor character voicing was the pretty sucky part of the voicing.

SCORE:The soundtrack of songs are pretty dated, but very fun to hear. Such original songs like "The First Toymakers to the King" and "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" are just catchy and fun altogether.

ANIMATION:In today's times, the animation would be pretty bad, but for the time it was made, the animation was pretty good. Even now it's still very nostalgic and unique. Everyone remembers it for how it is.

OTHER CONTENT:This Christmas special runs mainly off charm and cuteness, but it's also nostalgic, heart-warming, and full of good storytelling. This has the power to warm the heart of every Christmas-loving family that has seen it. However, the fact that it makes its base off of cuteness and charm doesn't make up for the missing holiday substance.

OVERALL,it's a great Christmas special with a good plot, decent voice acting, fun soundtrack, nostalgic animation, cuteness, charm, the power to warm a family's heart, and good storytelling, but the minor character voices are pretty bad and the fuel of the special can't make up for what it's missing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Arthur Christmas (2011) review


I didn't expect this to amount to as much as the critics made it out to be, but this really surprised me. I felt a certain sense of holiday joy I haven't sensed in a while.

PLOT:At the North Pole, things aren't all exactly as the media have made it out to me. In today's Christmas, the elves do most of the work, they use a big camoflauged spaceship, and it's all a steady-run computer operation. The current Santa (Jim Broadbent) and his elves run this year's mission practically flawless under the supervision of his son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), who is vying for the next Santa. However, the klutzy other son of Santa, Arthur (James McAvoy), stumbles upon a present forgotten and insists on taking it to this little girl. Santa and Steve both ignore the idea, but kind-hearted Arthur teams up with his Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), hitches up the reindeer to the old slay, and dashes into the night to deliver the missed present before the sun comes up. It's a good plot executed very greatly.

VOICES:The voice acting is pretty good. James McAvoy's voice could get annoying as Arthur's awkward British voice, but it actually fit his character rather well. Jim Broadbent did a brilliant job as Santa, and so did Bill Nighy as Grandsanta. The other shiners would be Hugh Laurie as Steve, Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Santa, and Ashley Jensen as Bryony, even though her voice acting is kind of like McAvoy's with Arthur.

SCORE:The score was mainly played for dramatic effect, but it was pretty good.

ANIMATION:This definitely wasn't the best animation I've seen, especially for being one of Aardman's production. It was computer animated instead of clay-animated, but it still held a certain precision and cleanliness.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie blew me away in some parts. This movie was wild, creative, and very emotional. This movie contained some very wild parts where it became funny and quirky, and it was also very creative with its thought process. The greatest high this has, however, is the emotional impact. This enhances the holiday emotion of getting up on Christmas morning as a child and feeling the magic of what you once believed to be Santa's joy. It will make you, if you have a warm enough heart, feel Christmas nostalgia toward your childhood. It was a really surprising outcome; I didn't expect it to be this much in-depth. However, this does have a noticeable shortcoming. The wackiness the humor in the story gives makes it a little unstable, like it's a children's movie that doesn't know what it wants. It's still a great, emotional holiday film either way.

OVERALL,an awesome Christmas movie with a great plot, good voice acting, good score, precision animation, wild humor, creative ideas, and a great holiday emotional impact, but it is a bit unstable for its own self

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr. Suess' The Lorax (2012) review


I actually anticipated seeing this when it was first announced. It wasn't that bad! It's cute and very upbeat, but it does lose a lot.

PLOT:In the modern utopia of Thneedville, everything is fake and ruled by a greedy business man named Mr. O'Hare (Rob Riggle) who made big bucks selling fresh air due to lack of trees. Young Ted (Zac Efron) hears about these trees through his love interest, Audrey (Taylor Swift), and sets out to get one from her. His grandmother (Betty White) tells him to go to the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who knows everything about trees. Ted sneaks out of town to the barren wasteland outside and finds the Once-ler; this mysterious figure tells him the story of how the trees disappeard and the guardian of the forest that tried to help, The Lorax (Danny DeVito). It's a pretty good plot executed quite fairly.


VOICES:The voice acting was pretty great I'd say. Zac Efron actually did a pretty good job as Ted, but the true stars were Ed Helms as the Once-ler and Danny DeVito as The Lorax. Those two played pretty spectacular voicing parts and just played rather well of each other. The other shiners would be Betty White as Grammy Norma, Rob Riggle as Mr. O'Hare, and Jenny Slate as Ted's mom. Taylor Swift wasn't really bad as Audrey, but she just wasn't really special.

SCORE:The soundtrack in here is made up of many fun and catchy songs mainly made to get the kids going with some nice background score.

ANIMATION:The animation in here is the usual fun and colorful animation you see in any other of Suess' animated movies (Horton Hears a Who). It isn't extremely detailed, but pretty whimsical.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie wasn't as bad as others make it out to be. It's fun, cute, and has a good meaning around it. If nothing else wins you over, the overwhelming cuteness of it will. It does have a handful of flaws though. The Hollywood movie adaptation kind of took away the true emotion and lesson of it. Adding flash and pizazz to what's already meaningful doesn't add any new flavor to it. I also think it was kind of silly to make an entire movie centered around planting a tree; this doesn't mean I dislike the movie. I just think it worked better as a children's book. After all, at heart, this is just really another cute little kid's film.  It's not a bad one though.

OVERALL,a good children's movie with a good plot, great voice acting, fun and catchy score, colorfully whimsical animation, a lot of cuteness, and a good meaning, but the Hollywood flash took away most of the emotion and it seems a bit silly to make a whole movie on the subject of planting a tree.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stephen King's The Shining (1997) review


This version may not be as scary, psychological, or popular as Kubrick's, but it stays to the book more accurately than Kubrick's ever did. However, it's still a typical TV miniseries.

PLOT:Jack Torrance (Steven Weber) is a former drinker with a wife named Wendy (Rebecca De Mornay) and a son named Danny (Courtland Mead). He's referred by his friend Al to a job as winter caretaker of the rich Overlook Hotel. Because he's in need of the money, he takes the job and his family up to the Hotel closing day. While there, they meet the cook, Dick Hallorran (Melvin van Peebles), who discovers that Danny has a certain power, known as the "shine", which can help him see the possible future and things his parents can't. Things start out fine for the Torrances until Danny senses via his imaginary friend, Tony (Wil Horneff), that the hotel has a mind of its own and wants Jack to be its permanent caretaker. Danny must avoid the hotel's tricks and keep his daddy from succumbing into the hotel's whims. It's a great plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty good overall. Steven Weber played an excellent job as Jack Torrance. He wasn't as good as Nicholson in Kubrick's version, but he played a pretty accurate Jack. Rebecca De Mornay also played a pretty great part as Wendy Torrance, playing right off of Weber's lines. Wil Hornef played a supple role as Tony and the older Danny, but his lines and the execution kind of ruined it for him. Melvin van Peebles played an accurate part as the shining cook, Dick Hallorran, but he wasn't anything spectacular. The rest of the roles were hit-or-miss, but the worst performance in the whole miniseries was Courtland Mead as Danny Torrance. His childlike acting got annoying and unrealistic, which nearly ruined it all.

SCORE:The score didn't matter all that much, but it was spooky and intense. It set the mood rather well for this horror miniseries/movie.

EFFECTS:Aside from Mead's acting, this was the worst part of the miniseries. The computer-generated effects used to animate the ghosts appearing and the hedge animals moving was pretty bad and looked cheap and unrealistic. However, the make-up and blood effects weren't all that bad and actually worked pretty well.

OTHER CONTENT:This wasn't actually as bad as you'd expect it to be. It stayed reliable to the book, still was pretty scary, and had a decent emotional impact. This stayed way more reliable to the events in the book than Kubrick's star-studded version ever did. It captured nearly everything that his version missed. This one wasn't as scary as Kubrick's, however. It was still pretty spooky, I'd say, for a TV miniseries. This also had a pretty decent emotional impact toward the couple's marriage, the parental relationship, and the afterwards of the event. The con to this is that it's a TV miniseries; that in itself isn't a bad thing, but it has the feeling of one. The effects are cheap, the actors probably haven't had much work after this, the script was a bit flawed, and the execution had some major problems, especially with Tony's scenes. I believe this was a great attempt at rekindling the relationship between King and his book, but it is still just another TV miniseries/movie.

OVERALL,an ok TV movie with a fairly well-executed plot, pretty good acting, mood-fitting score, working make-up effects, reliability to the book, kept some scare, and had a decent emotional impact, but the lead child actor was annoying, the computer effects were bad, the script was flawed, and it had some major problems with execution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scrooged (1988) review


This wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was fairly funny, freaky, and very modernized, but it's also shallow, bleak, and tacky.

PLOT:Frank Cross (Bill Murray) has been the manager of the IBC TV station for a while, and he's trying to make this year's Christmas special as can't-miss as possible. However, Frank is a shallow businessman who cares only about money and ratings for his Christmas. As he's preparing for the next night, Frank is visited by the dead apparition of his former boss, Lew Hayward (John Forsythe). He tells Frank that he will be visited by three ghosts starting at noon the next day. These ghosts are determined to change Frank's cold, greedy heart into a light, nice one in this modernized adaptation of the Dickens' story. It's a good plot executed fairly.

ACTING:The acting in here was alright for the most part. There were some bad performances and some good ones. Bill Murray mainly stole the role as Frank Cross, the Scrooge of this movie. He did a fine job. The other shiners would be John Forsythe as Lew Hayward, Karen Allen as Claire Phillips, John Glover as Brice Cummings, and David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past. The rest were pretty sucky, I'd say.

SCORE:The score was mainly for dramatics, but it sounded pretty good. It wasn't anything special though.

EFFECTS:The effects in here are pretty good, I'd say. The effects used for make-up are pretty gruesome for each of the ghosts, and the effects used for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come are pretty scary. The effects are used pretty well.

OTHER CONTENT:This wasn't too bad. It had a few good funny moments thanks to Murray's acting, it was pretty freaky, and it was a very modernized take for the time. I liked how they made everything scarier to make a better effect. It actually works in here thanks to the more mature audience and modernized society. However, this also brings on a few cons. This edition is much more bleak and depressing as compared to the others. The presence of the Christmas spirit is really hard to find until the end scenes. It just comes off as dry and overused. It also gets dreadfully chinsy and tacky near the end. I wouldn't use cheesy, because it's worse than that. It's not the best Christmas Carol, but it isn't horrible either.

OVERALL,an ok Christmas movie with a good plot, ok acting, unimportant score, good effects, a few funny moments, added scares that actually work, and more modern ideas, but it's more bleak and shallow from other Christmas Carols, and it gets pretty tacky near the end.

Prep and Landing (2009) review


ABC Family usually puts out some pretty crappy stuff, especially for Christmas, but this one isn't half bad.

PLOT:Everybody knows the story of Santa and how he gets to other kids' houses on Christmas Eve, but what we don't know is how he knows exactly whether it's  safe or not. This is the job of Santa's prep and landing crew. They test the waters and give the stats of the child's house the big guy's about to visit and put out the landing gear for him to hit each house. The lead elf of this division is Wayne (Dave Foley), who has been working it for over 200 years. When his partner gets a promotion instead of him and a new partner (Derek Richardson) gets placed in his midst, he falls into carelessness because he didn't get promoted. Because of him, the fate of everybody's happy Chistmas might be at stake. It is a very unique and modernized twist on Santa's flight story executed rather well.

VOICES:The voices chosen are very cartoonish and fit each personality perfectly. David Foley plays a pretty good leading role as Wayne, and Derek Richardson plays off of him rather well as Lanny. The other shiners would be Sarah Chalke as Magee and William Morgan Shepherd as the Big Guy.

SCORE:The score is mainly made up of random Christmas songs from the likes of Nat King Cole and others, with some dramatic score. It wasn't too important, but still pretty good.

ANIMATION:Since this is an ABC Family Christmas special, I expected the animation to be lazily done, but the animation was actual pretty intricate and detailed in a cartoonish way. The characters by themselves are no big deal, but the facial expressions made by the characters and their actions both expressed their emotions in a quite whimsical way. Then again, John Lasseter was in charge of some of it.

OTHER CONTENT:This is just a TV special, but it's really not half bad. Aside from the animation, it holds up a great Christmas spirit and some clever twists. The conflict that comes up in the middle puts an unexpected feeling of Christmas spirit and nostalgic feeling of childhood memories. The holiday humor in here is also pretty clever and funny, especially the holiday lingo used among the elves. Phrases such as "Totally Tinsel" and "Figgy Pudding" all make those aware of the references smile. However, this does have a few cons, as it is just a TV special. It's way too short, I believe. Clocking in at only 22 minutes, everything feels rushed and the attempted character development almost fails. Thanks to proper storytelling, everything is safe. I've noticed in rewatching this however, that it's quite cheesy with its dialogue as it is clever. It was purely for entertainment, but it did hold a supple amount of emotion, I'd say.

OVERALL,a good Christmas special with a unique plot, cartoonish voices, good holiday soundtrack, detailed animation, nostlagic Christmas feeling, and clever holiday humor, but it is just a really short TV special with rushed character development and a bit of cheese.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Better Off Dead (1985) review


This is really just another 80s teen movie with a basic plot and cheesy laughs, but this one does it oh-so-well with some surreality to it.

PLOT:Lane Myer (John Cusack) has been dating Beth (Amanda Wyss) for six months now, and things are looking great for his life. However, all spirals out of control when Beth dumps him for popular jerk, Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier). Lane is hearbroken and attempts suicide at every chance he can get, but never ends up doing it, which is suprising due to his wacky family's obliviousness. If it weren't for his best friend, Charles (Curtis Armstrong), he'd be dead by now. He tries every possible thing from asking another girl to trying to impress by skiing the deadly K-12 slope. However, he doesn't know that the new French exchange student across the street, Monique Junet (Diane Franklin), may have caught a liking to him. It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here are nothing really special aside from the lead actor. John Cusack plays a rather entertaining role as Lane Myer, and the beautiful Diane Franklin plays off of him very well as Monique Junet. The other shiners would be Curtis Armstrong as Charles, David Ogden Stiers as Mr. Myer, Laura Waterbury as Mrs. Smith, Dan Shneider as Ricky Smith, and Yuji Okomato as Yee Sook Ree.

SCORE:The score was composed mainly of cool 80s themes. The soundtrack included a few nice pop and rock songs from Van Halen to Elizabeth Daily.

ANIMATION:The animation in here is great, and ranges from drawn animatics to claymation. Both the animatics and the claymation are imaginative and fairly detailed. These random moments are what make the movie somewhat more interesting.

OTHER CONTENT:This is pretty much another 80s teen movie, but it has a few things that stand out: the animation sequences and heartbreak seen in Lane's character. His suicide state of mind brings a strange surreality to the movie based on emotion of teens who go through heartbreak: how they feel and overreact. Plus, this 80s film does everything right and borrows material from all of the right places as well as including its own jokes. However, it's still just another cheesy 80s movie at heart.

OVERALL,a great 80s movie with a good plot, average performances, cool score and soundtrack, imaginative and detailed animation, a certain surreality from the suicidal heartbreak, and everything an 80s teen movie needs, but it's just another cheesy and formulaic 80s flick.

Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009) review


This adaptation of the popular isn't as bad as some may think, and it does make itself different from the others in many ways. However, all of the Hollywood jazz and added scares deter from the meaning.

PLOT:Seven Christmas Eves after his business partner, Jacob Marley, dies, Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is still as cheap as he's ever been, turning away charities and shunning his nephew, Fred (Colin Firth). He gives his assistant, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman), the day off Christmas and heads on home. However, when he gets home, he's visited by the tormented spirit of his former partner, Marley (Gary Oldman), who tells him that he shall be visited by three ghosts to help him change his miserly ways. It's the same great plot executed very differently this time around; however, it's still a good adaptation.

VOICES:The performances in here are pretty good I'd say. Jim Carrey played a great part as Ebenezer Scrooge, even though every bit of dialogue he spoke as him was over-enunciated. Jim Carrey also plays the voices of all of the ghosts: Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come (though he barely spoke). A good bit of the actors voiced multiple roles as well. The shiners besides Carrey would be Gary Oldman as Bob Cratchit/Jacob Marley, Colin Firth as Fred, Bob Hoskins as Fezziwig, Robin Wright as Belle/Fan, Cary Elwes as many multiple roles, and Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Dilber.

SCORE:The score is mainly made up of popular Christmas songs and some dramatic score. It was a pretty good soundtrack, though it doesn't really matter as much as other aspects of the movie.

ANIMATION:The animation in here is very great. It's like that of The Polar Express, but better. Every character's main role is animated as if they were acting that role visually on-screen. The animation fit the characters' faces to the last wrinkle, minus what they added on for effect. The animation is dazzling, to say the least.

OTHER CONTENT:This adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel isn't as bad as some make it out to be. It follows the book's dialogue to the letter, adds the emotion needed, and dazzles with its animation and performances. However, some things Hollywood adds take the Christmas spirit out of the movie. The scares they added into the story are the main culprit. The director added a few unnecessary scares to make it worthy to Hollywood and the general public and to try to enhance the lesson in it. However, it does the exact opposite and covers up most of the warm feeling with dread and horror, from things such as a deteriorating Marley in the spirit world, to personifications of Ignorance and Want, and even demon horses led by Yet to Come. They put a little too much Hollywood sparkle and scare in here for it to be that great of an adaptation. Even I, as a horror fan, admit it's too much for a family holiday film.

OVERALL,a good Christmas movie with a differently-adapted plot, good performances, pretty good score and soundtrack, very great animation, and accuracy to the book, but the added Hollywood pizazz and scares take away some of the warm feeling and the lesson it's supposed to give.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) review


I've been waiting to see this film for what I've heard about it, though I haven't seen any of Wes Anderson's work. However, I believe this was a good introduction to his direction style, because I almost immediately fell in love with it.

PLOT:Sam (Jared Gilman) is a boy scout who is an orphan that nobody really likes. Suzy (Kara Haywood) is a weird girl with several brothers and is known to her parents as the problem child. These two meet curiously one night at a play and fall in love at first sight. They start to write to each other and about a year later, they devise a secret plan to meet up and run away with each other. Sam resigns from his troop and sneaks away, and Suzy packs her stuff and runs away from her home. After they meet up and run away, a search party is formed between policeman Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), Suzy's dad, Mr. Bishop (Bill Murray), Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), Mrs. Bishop (Frances McDormand), and the other scouts. Will the two twelve-year-olds get away with their loving escape in this September of 1965? I'll leave you there. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting in here was excellent. Each performance was unique and carefully staged. Jared Gilman and Kara Haywood as Sam and Suzy had to be a couple of the best child actors I've seen lately. They performed very well. The film revolves more around them than the talented adult actors. The other shiners would be Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp, Bill Murray as Mr. Bishop, Frances McDormand as Mrs. Bishop, Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward, Tilda Swinton as Social Services, Harvey Keitel as Commander Pierce, Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben, Bob Balaban as the narrator, and  Gabriel Rush as Skotak. There really wasn't a bad performance in this film.

SCORE:The score was fun and quirky and really helped the film flow better with its overall feeling.

CAMERAWORK:I can see the direction of Wes Anderson has a lot in store just due to the camerawork in this film. The camerawork in this film is clean cut and unique both at the same time, giving Anderson the better hand as a director.

EFFECTS:There weren't that many effects, but they were fairly realistic of what I saw. They were realistic and vivid, from the blood to the fire to the lightning.

OTHER CONTENT:This film evoked so many feelings and emotional stirs in me that I didn't expect it to find. The film is quirky, fun, sad, and romantic. The feeling of teenage adolescense between the two main characters, their dream of being able to run away, and the love they had for each other in the few hours they had all found my sense of passion and hit a hidden emotion of wanting a simple relationship as they had. You will too, if you have the right mindset. The adventure, romance, and wacky quirks of the film all draw together to make a truly compelling teenage dream of a simple relationship.

OVERALL,an epic film with a brilliant plot, excellent performance, quirky score, clean cut camerawork, realistic effects, romance, a passion for a simple relationship, and a sense of quirky adventure.

Cars (2006) review


This is known as Pixar's least-favored movie that isn't rotten, but I really like it. The animation is solid, the story's pretty cool, and it captures a good bit of emotion.

PLOT:Lightning McQeen (Owen Wilson) is a famous rookie racecar racing to win the Piston Cup in his final race against rival Chick Hicks (Michael Keaten) and nearly-retired The King among other racers. McQeen is in the lead until his ignorance causes him to blow a tire and come in tied with the other two. Now he must beat them to the tie-breaking race in L.A. so he can win over Dinoco as his new sponsor; he convinces his trailer driver, Mack (John Ratzenberger) to drive through the night. Due to an accident, McQueen is dropped in the middle of nowhere and brought in by a Sheriff and taken to court. He finds himself in the small town of Radiator Springs where he's held against his will and forced to fix the road he damaged. McQueen's always been an arrogant, self-loving snob with no friends but himself, but this "vacation" could warm his heart as he befriends the redneck pick-up, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the smart chick Porsche, Sally (Bonnie Hunt), the bitter leader, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), and many others. It's a good plot executed pretty greatly.

VOICES:The voice acting wasn't half bad. This had to have been one of Owen Wilson's best roles as the arrogant Lightning McQueen. This may have also been Larry the Cable Guy's best role as Mater, considering his others are pretty stupid; he actually made Mater a loveable character. The other shiners would be Bonnie Hunt as Sally, Paul Newman as Doc Hudson, Michael Keaten as Chick Hicks, Cheech Marin as Ramone, Tony Shalhoub as Luigi, Paul Dooley as Sarge, George Carlin as Filmore, Joe Ranft as Red, John Ratzenberger as Mack, and Mario Andretti as himself.

SCORE:The score is pretty good. It's done well by Randy Newman, with also a kickin' soundtrack. The soundtrack includes the likes of Sheryl Crow, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisely, James Taylor, and more.

ANIMATION:The animation in here is excellent. The cars all look shiny and realistic, as you could really touch them. This has to be some of the most realistic animation Pixar has done, and it's what leads the movie mainly along.

OTHER CONTENT:This is known as one of the weakest of the Pixar films, and I really don't know why. The story is actually pretty story, the humor is light, and it has a great emotional impact. The way the shots are caught with the scenery and action all put together actually incorporates a high emotional impact. However, the formula present in many other family films is seen in here, and that is probably what brings it down for most. The formula of a jerk taking a change of heart is seen here, and because of that, it makes McQueen a mainly unlikeable character. That's not too good for the main character, and that can also ruin the film.

OVERALL,a great Pixar film with a great plot, good voice acting, well done score with a kickin' soundtrack, realistic animation, and a high emotional impact, but there is a family formula present and the main character comes off as a tad unlikeable because of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985) review


This is one of my favorite underrated, animated films of all-time. I love Mark Twain, Will Vinton, and the whole melancholy story.

PLOT:Mark Twain (James Whitmore) was born the same day Halley's Comet passed earth. Now, 75 years later, the comet has come around again and Twain plans to go out with it. For the occasion, he has built an airship containing all of his works and belongings. Before he leaves, young and mischevious kids, Tom Sawyer (Chris Ritchie), Huck Finn (Gary Krug), and Becky Thatcher (Michele Mariana), stow away in the belly of the ship with fame and adventure in their eyes. On the journey there, however, they learn way more about Mark Twain and run through his works as if they were living them. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

VOICES:The voice acting was pretty good. James Whitmore did a brilliant job of voicing the philosophical Mark Twain and showed honor to the real Twain's legacy. The child actors weren't actually that bad either, though a couple of them got on my nerves. The shiners aside from Whitmore would be Gary Krug as Huck Finn, Michele Mariana as Becky Thatcher, John Morrison as Adam, Carol Edelman as Eve, Tim Conner as the Three-Headed Alien, Billy Victor as God, Dal McKennon as Jim Smiley, and Wilbur Vincent as the Mysterious Stranger. Even the minor characters had good voice acting!

SCORE:The score was curious and cool 80s score with a good organ song and cheesy ending song accompanying it. I'd say it was pretty cool overall.

ANIMATION:The animation in this film is wonderful and astounding. I've always loved Will Vinton's claymation, and it's at its finest in this film. Every little thing is done with expert detail to make it look imaginative and visionistic. Vinton truly uses his animation for art here.

OTHER CONTENT:This film really got me into Mark Twain and his life; it includes works such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn", "The Famous Jumping Frog of Caleveras County", "The Mysterious Stranger", "The Diary of Adam and Eve", and more. This film truly captures both sides of Twain's imagination from light love to dark hate. This is not a film just for kids, for it deals with such topics as religion, love, the human race, and the line between good and evil, all animated in fun ways. This film has a whole lot of substance for for an animation. The only problem the film has it that it starts to lag off into cheesiness near the end of the film. I would go as far as to call it a cheesy 80s film, but the end tries to be that way. Thankfully, this film has to much dire emotion to be considered a film of cheese.

OVERALL,an awesome animated film with a brilliant plot, good voice acting with Whitmore leading, cool score, astounding and detailed Vinton animation, honor to Mark Twain's legacy, lots of philosophical substance, and overwhelming dire emotion, but it lags off into cheese near the end.