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.

Lean On Me (1989) review


This wasn't half bad; the performances are what lead this movie well. For Morgan Freeman's first major role, he was great.

PLOT:Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) has always been a great teacher, but was transferred some 30 years ago to teach another school. Now, however, the board is calling him back to East Side High to help the kids, rid the crime, and raise the non-passing test scores on the Basic Skills Test, for this school he once taught has gone down the drain with violence and drugs. His manners are drastic, such as expelling hundreds of students known as drug dealers and thugs, chaining the doors to keep them out, and forcing everyone to learn the school song. People are outraged at his brutal style, and try to push him out, especially parent Mrs. Bennett (Lynne Thigpen). Will he improve this poor school or be kicked out quickly? It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here are what lead the movie along. Morgan Freeman plays an excellent leading role as Joe Clark, the tough principal and teacher. This role has to be one of his best. There was a lot of emotion and drama put to his speech and yelling. The other shiners would be Lynne Thigpen as Mrs. Bennet, Robert Guillame as Dr. Napier, Jermaine Hopkins as Thomas Sams, and Karen Malina White as Kaneesha Carter.

SCORE:The score wasn't real important, but it was mainly composed of songs related to school and, as expected, many different renditions of "Lean On Me". It was cheesy, but not too bad.

OTHER CONTENT:This isn't half bad of a movie, but it does have some downfalls. This, being at the edge of the 80s and mainstream, is very cheesy and formulaic. It uses the cheesy formula of a bad school getting a miracle worker and improving because of him. So, needless to say, it's pretty predictable. It also has a bit of trouble balancing vulgar comedy with a compelling drama. You have vulgar language and suggestions on one side, then lots of meaningful arguments on the other. The tonal shifts aren't too organized. However, the performances make this movie worthwhile along with an inspiring story and a bit of fun.

OVERALL,a good drama with a good plot, excellent performances, unimportant yet cheesy score, 80s cheese, formulaic story, unbalanced tonal shifts, inspiration, and a bit of fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Passion of the Christ (2004) review


Since I'm a devoted Christian, I'll probably like this film a whole lot more than others, but I love how the real aspects of His torture are captured through great direction.

PLOT:This Biblical film takes place shortly after the last supper when Judas (Luca Lionello) betrays Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel) and turns him in to the head priests who are after him. We follow Jesus, Peter (Francesco De Vito), Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Mary Magdeline (Monica Belluci) and others as we witness the story of Jesus' crucifixion and torture from the streets to Calvary. It's a good story to make a film on executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty great. Jim Caviezel played a pretty solid job as the tortured Jesus Christ and made you feel how bad it was for Him. The other shiners would be Francesco De Vito as Peter, Maia Morgenstern as Mary, Monica Belluci as Mary Magdeline, Giovanni Capalbo as Cassus, and Rosalinda Celentano as Satan.

SCORE:The score in this film is very well done by John Debney. I really got into the touching and dramatic themes composed.

EFFECTS:The effects in here were quite realistic to say the least. The blood surprisingly flows freely for such a Christian film. The blood effects used to show Jesus' wounds before and after being formed are very gruesome and detailed. It really captures the brutality of civilization back then along with the pain He felt. The effects used for the corpses and demons were pretty impressive too.

OTHER CONTENT:This is an expertly-crafted version of Christ's torture and crucifixion as I've never seen it before. Mel Gibson does a great job of taking the source material from scripture and putting it on the screen expertly. He put his vision into the story we all know about Jesus and his death. It's a very brutal and realistic look at it. I cried for about half of the film, for no human being needs to go through this kind of torture, especially Him. The only flaws I could find in this film is that it's a bit overlong and a little distracted from the point. Gibson drags out the scene of Jesus hauling his cross to Calvary in pain to be crucified for dramatic effect, but it just starts to become dull and dreadful, as if the film wasn't enough already. Also, there are a few aspects Gibson put in there to get his vision out that distracted from the film, such as some of the Satan scenes and a lot of the brutality; the message is somewhat lost by the end of the film. However, if you're truly a hardcore Christian, you'll love this film regardless.

OVERALL,a great Christian film with a brilliant plot, great acting, touching score, realistic effects, realstic brutality, and a good vision to the classic story, but it's a little overlong and distracts in some parts.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) review


The National Lampoon's series has had its flops and rises; this one is a small rise. This has become a huge tradition in my household to watch this movie at least once every holiday season.

PLOT:In this third installment of the National Lampoon's vacation, the Griswolds decide to stay at home for this year's Christmas vacation, but the hassles of the family fighting and getting Christmas perfect are getting in the way. Clark (Chevy Chase) just wants a happy family Christmas, but the family's fighting, the lights aren't working, the trees too big, the neighbors are prudes, and the bonus check Clark's been hoping for is getting further and further delayed. Will this crazy, mixed-up Christmas work out right? It's a simple plot executed very well.

ACTING:The acting's not spectacular, but it's still pretty great. Chevy Chase plays a pretty funny part as the dysfunctional family-man, Clark Griswold. The whole family played mainly off of his actions, especially Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Griswold, the wife. Besides these two, the shiners are Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold, Johnny Galecki as Rusty Griswold, Randy Quaid as Cousine Eddie, Dianne Ladd as Nora Griswold (Clark's mother), John Randolph as Clark Griswold, Sr., E.G. Marshall as Art (Ellen's father), Doris Roberts as Francis (Ellen's mother), Julia Lewis-Dreyfuss as Margo Chester, Mae Questel as Aunt Bethany, William Hickey as Uncle Lewis, and Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Frank Shirley. Every performance in the family worked, as well as the wacky-er roles.

SCORE:The score wasn't anything too special, but it was used pretty well. The soundtrack has lived in my family since we started the tradition, from the title song to "The Spirit of Christmas".

EFFECTS:There weren't a whole lot of effects, but of the few there, they were pretty realistic.

OTHER CONTENT:This Christmas movie has lived in my family as long as I can remember as one of the traditional Christmas movies we watch every year. It stays true to the crazier aspects of Christmas and how timeless it really is. The jokes can sometimes flop as well as rise, as it is a National Lampoons movie. Either way, it's still a near-hilarious and timeless Christmas movie tradition.

OVERALL,a good Christmas movie with a very well-executed plot, great acting, well-fitted score and traditional soundtrack, realistic effects, timeless jokes, Christmas realism, and some good jokes, but a lot of the movie can get old and fall as well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987) review


This has been a big part of my childhood since I first saw it, and it was run all the way though to now. I still love the beautiful song renditions and colorful animation.

PLOT:Rex (Johnny Counterfit) and Herb (Tim Conner) are in London's Christmas Square, going over their favorite Christmas songs in various renditions, from a goosebump-inducing "We Three Kings" to a soulful "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", all told in unique, silly, and meaningful ways. It's a good plot idea executed wonderfully.

VOICES:The voice acting doesn't matter all that much in here, but there were some good peformances anyhow. The voices fit their characters well. Johnny Counterfit and Tim Conner as Rex and Herb are a pair of two loveable hosts and played off each other well.

SCORE:The soundtrack is the second most important part of this special. The different renditions of famous Christmas songs sound great. From beautiful to soulful to played for kicks, the score was all good.

ANIMATION:This is the most important part of the special. The animation is under the control of the great Will Vinton, and it's great as well. It's very detailed, colorful, and well done overall. Only Vinton could have pulled it off like he did.

OTHER CONTENT:This special has held a special place in my heart ever since I first saw it in my childhood. The loveable soundtrack, beautiful animation, and childlike execution all put this special at the top of my Christmas list.

OVERALL,an epic Christmas special with a wonderful plot, fitting voice acting, beautiful soundtrack, detailed and colorful animation, and a special place in my childhood heart.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) review


I've read the book in the past, and this is a pretty decent film adaptation. It misses some of the story's best moments and points and has some editing problems though.

PLOT:In the future dystopia of Panem, a competition is held each year with two teens from each of the twelve districts. These randomly-chosen teens must compete in a battle to the death known as the Hunger Games. This year, young hunter Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), volunteers herself to take her sister, Prim's, place. Along with her, the baker's son, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). They go through training with the help of the previous winner, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), the uptight Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), and the fashion stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Katniss must win over sponsors and keep herself alive in the games all while looking out for Peeta. It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances are mainly what carried this movie along. Jennifer Lawrence played a great part as Katniss. Her performance carried the movie, along with Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I'd say he's improved from his past works. The cast is all-star, so there are a lot of great performances. The other shiners would be Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabth Banks as Effie Trinket, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Stanely Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Wes Bentley as Seneca, Amandla Stenberg as Rue, and Isabelle Fuhrman as Clove.

SCORE:The score was pretty good as well. It was dramatic and kept the feeling of intensity going throughout the movie. The soundtrack was also pretty good, for it had at least one good song on it.

EFFECTS:The effects in this weren't actually that bad. The effects had their good and bad moments, but it was pretty great for the most part. The bloody moments didn't happen to much on screen, but what was there looked pretty realistic. The effects used on the tracker jackers didn't looke extravagant, but also realistic. The stand-out effects would have to be the monster dogs near the end of the movie; they were very well animated. I expected them to look more wicked, but they still looked pretty cool. I liked the fire effects too.

CAMERAWORK:This is what I was referring to in "editing problems". The camera in here is so shaky that you can barely see the action go down. That bugs me for the most of the movie, so I hope the second one has better.

OTHER CONTENT:For the most part, this followed the book pretty well among main plot twists. From the arrow-in-the-apple, to the tracker jackers, and even to the dog monsters, it stayed pretty reliable. However, it had a few backstory and character development problems. It tried to make up for lost time in minor flashbacks throughout the movie, but everything just ends up getting jumbled up. For this reason, the movie loses some of its meaning of why this is happening and what is being symbolized. It's really pretty sad. Otherwise, the movie was action-packed, reliable, and well-acted.

OVERALL,a great movie with a good plot, great acting, intense score and a good soundtrack, great effects, main reliability to the book,and lots of action, but it lost some of its meaning and backstory in the screen production.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) review


I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, for I love classic video games and catching references to them. It's a complete nerdgasm for all of those game-freaks out there.

PLOT:Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a video game bad guy in the arcade game, Fix-It Felix, Jr. with Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) being the hero. After 30 years of being thrown off buildings, sleeping in the dump, and getting no respect, Ralph decides to go game-jumping to find a medal and prove his video game comrades wrong. He jumps from games like Hero's Duty, led by femme fatale, Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), to games like Sugar Rush, where he meets and befriends young outcast, Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). While Ralph is trying to find his medal, his game-friends are trying to save him, and a nasty plot is going down in Sugar Rush involving Vanellope. Ralph must either learn to accept himself or have his game shut down, while cleaning up his mess and solving the Sugar mystery. It's a great plot executed greatly.

VOICES:The voice acting in here is very well done. John C. Reilly does a very good job as distressed Ralph, and his performance doubles in laughs in dramatics. Sarah Silverman also played a very convincing part of the child racer, Vanellope von Schweetz. The other shiners would be Jane Lynch as Sgt. Calhoun, Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix, Alan Tudyk as King Candy, Rich Moore as Sour Bill, and Roger Craig Smith as Sonic the Hedgehog among many others.

SCORE:The score was pretty good. It was mainly made up of fun video game themes with some dramatic score to enhance the mood. It was a nice blend with a cool original song at the end.

ANIMATION:The animation in here wasn't anything unique, but it was very clean-cut and done with lifelike precision, next to the 8-bit effects used in some of the video games. The movie's animation was pretty much like one, big, blended video game.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie was so much better than I thought it would be. The humor was clever, the plot was very intricate, and there was great meaning behind it. The video game humor and references were very funny, among some clever jokes. There are cameos of several video game characters, including Sonic, Bowser, Ryu, Pac-Man, Dr. Eggman, Quibo, and several others. Not to mention, the jokes alone could have kept the movie going well. The plot was also very well thought-out too, especially for a kid's movie; the twists and dramatics introduced through out the movie are just glorious and could have compelled the movie further as a drama than just a kid's movie. Also, there's a great meaning behind the movie about accepting yourself no matter who you are and about appreciating every part of your life. The only bad thing about this movie is that you can sense a bit of the formula used in most good family films these days being used. They embraced the formula better than most modern family films have been doing, but it still is, in a sense, formulaic.

OVERALL,an awesome family movie with a great plot, very well done voice acting, fun score, clean animation, clever humor and references, intricate plot twists, and great meaning, but it had a sense of formula in it.