Goosebumps (2015)


Goosebumps Review

Goosebumps is a 2015 horror comedy film directed by Rob Letterman and starring Dylan Minnette and Jack Black. It is such a fun flick, albeit very problematic.

I really liked the story of the film. It is very intriguing at first and it has an excellent attention to detail. The highlights here are definitely the scene at the abandoned amusement park which is so charming, the scene where they are chased by a werewolf is some good action and the sequences where the monsters are unleashed are all fantastic. That whole first act is so phenomenal as it is a great build up and an excellent introduction to the plot that is very interesting when you think about it.

However, the film stumbles in its second half which is really unfortunate. It could have been a future family classic hadn’t it resorted to such a stupidly frenetic pace and an excessive use of action. I also strongly disliked the ending. It didn’t work for multiple reasons. First of all, let me just say that I loved that twist. By revealing that Hannah is imaginary herself and that her father created her, that opened a lot of great storytelling possibilities and was genuinely a nice twist, but also a somewhat expected and not too far-fetched one. But they never explored any of those possibilities whatsoever which is so unfortunate. He should have just written her name and she wouldn’t have to go away. That was a stupid and illogical moment. But the ending is even worse as they brought her back in such a ridiculous fashion. They were afraid to end this film on a sad note and resorted to a typical family-friendly safe choice that is here in particular really poor and not in line with the film’s sensibilities.

Yes, the film is mature otherwise. Despite that poor ending, Goosebumps is mostly very adult-oriented which I appreciated. And although there were no real scares here, the film still had a couple of mildly creepy moments, especially with the gnomes in a scene that reminded me so much of ‘Gremlins’. And the humor is really good and I laughed out loud many times. The sexual jokes are so funny and Zach’s aunt is just such a hilarious character.

Yes, she is such a good comic relief here. Almost everything she said was so funny and frequently hilarious. I also liked Zach a lot as he isn’t a typical protagonist and his family drama is well realized. However, I found his change in personality to be very troublesome. First, he was scared of anything and even the smallest things and later on he is suddenly a hero and isn’t afraid of the monsters. That was ridiculous. Hannah is quite likable and sweet and the relationship between the two is endearing. Zach’s mother is also a fine character who provides some laughs as well. All of the monster characters are fantastic with Slappy of course being the creepy highlight.

However, I really disliked the character of Champ as he is a stereotype and a very annoying one. And I don’t understand why he sticked with them for so long. R.L. Stine is also an annoying character that had some funny lines, but is mostly frustrating. Jack Black is one of the biggest problems here. I really disliked his performance as his delivery was quite shaky at times and his accent was all over the place. And the casting director did a poor job as he doesn’t fit this role at all. But other actors did well with Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush being surprisingly good and Jillian Bell is just phenomenal here and so funny and charismatic.

Goosebumps is technically a strong film. The cinematography could have been better as it is always too dark which annoys me and the score is also not great, but the action is so well executed here with some of the scenes being so exciting to watch. The whole movie is very interesting and engaging to watch and it just flies by. And despite its rushed and ridiculously fast-paced second half, the first half was very well paced and always entertaining and well crafted. The film is imaginative and even unique at some points with the monsters all being exceptionally well utilized. The special effects are fantastic and all of the monsters look really good and have such a great design. The dialogue is okay, but could have been better. And the film is emotional and sweet at times. It has so many problems in the second half, but is otherwise a solid film and a very entertaining watch.

Goosebumps is a very entertaining and always fun flick filled with excellent monsters, great special effects, solid characters, some great action sequences, intriguing plot and a couple of hilarious lines. The second half ruined it for me with too much action, Jack Black’s so-so performance, a cop-out ending and a ridiculous fast pace, but everything before it is really good and it’s such an engaging film to watch.

My Rating – 3.5


There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (1973)

There's No Time for Love, Charlie BrownThere’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown Review

There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown is a 1973 animated television special and the ninth entry in the Peanuts series. It is flawed, but very sophisticated.

Charlie Brown and all the kids have a school assignment. Meanwhile, Peppermint Patty is in love with Charlie. Yes, that happened. And yes, it was definitely odd to see. However, I still liked it overall as it had some fine interactions between the two and Patty has rarely been this likable. The newly introduced character of Marcy is also interesting and she and Patty are a great duo.

This special is problematic because the first half is too slow and filled with poor editing with annoying cuts or so-called sketches. That was frustrating. Also, the humor isn’t that good this time around and that is a big problem. However, it does have its fantastic lines that are not only funny, but very observant and clever. Sally in particular is funny as she always is. Snoopy was forgettable, but all the other characters are very well realized with the screenplay also being quite solid and often interesting and smart.

There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown if a flawed entry, but what it lacks in humor, it compensates in the script which is quite good with some very clever lines and nicely used characters.

My Rating – 3.4


How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a 2014 animated fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. It is directed by Dean DeBlois and stars Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler. It is the second entry in the franchise and one of the best animated sequels ever.

Five years have passed since the first movie and now dragons and humans live together peacefully. However, Hiccup now must face Drago Bludvist who is creating a dragon army and wants to conquer the dragons. He also meets his mother Valka. The story here is quite different from the original. Whereas the first movie was slower and relied more on drama, this one has more of an epic feel to it, the scope is much bigger and the stakes are much higher. And I loved that about it because sequels are supposed to be bigger and they are supposed to delve  deeper into the mythology of the world and its characters. And this movie did just that which is why it is brilliant and a textbook example of how to do a sequel to an already great movie properly.

The character are amazing once again. And this is a perfect mix of old and new characters with familiar faces being well utilized and even more explored while the newly introduced characters are very well developed as well and they are all so memorable. Hiccup remains a fantastic main character and one of the best protagonists ever in an animated movie. He is again very realistic and also quite unique in his appearance and behavior, but still retains his heroic nature. I loved the choice to go five years into the future and this was perfect most of all for this character because he has aged now and not just in physical appearance (more on that later), but he also matured emotionally, but still his personality remains intact which is awesome. The filmmakers really know how to age the characters which is really admirable. And his conflict is very well realized.

Stoick is again so sweet and likable. The relationship between him and Hiccup remains fantastic, but the relationship between him and his wife is just so romantic and beautiful to behold. And yes, his death is just such a bold choice from the usually risk averse studio and I really appreciated it. That scene was so well crafted and instantly memorable. It is dramatic, powerful and just heartbreaking. Speaking of Valka, she is amazing and did not disappoint. Her relationship with her son is so well done and you can see that they are so alike. But she is also such a strong and unique female character and I loved how they portrayed her fascination with dragons and her backstory is so well done. Also, I really appreciated how they portrayed her as somewhat crazy and wild because that is very realistic given her dragon obsession. That whole theme of humans and animals getting along is once again very well put to use.

Gobber is so funny and everything he says is either adorable or hilarious. I loved his character once again and he remains the best sidekick of the series. However, his coming out scene is really subpar because it is hinted, but in such a subtle, awfully subtle way that not many people would get that. I appreciate that they went into that territory finally, but it was still such a weak way to do it.

Astrid is fine herself, but the relationship between the two is so strong as it continues to be understated and subdued which I love. As for the supporting characters, they are fine, but Ruffnut is the one who really surprised me as she was so funny. Her annoyance with her admirers is funny, but her infatuation with Eret and his muscles lead to so many hilarious moments and I really appreciate this franchise for being so mature. They not only have real consequences and death, but they also have gay characters and sexual humor which is impressive.

Eret is quite a good character. He is not that much used, but serves fine as the villain’s henchman. Speaking of the villain, Drago is great. His appearance is very creepy along with his voice and mannerisms, but I loved that he posed genuine threat to our heroes as he was quite capable. And he also has a fine backstory that ties well into his goal. The dragons are all amazing with Toothless being excellent. I loved that he was manipulated to kill Stoick as that created so much tension and lead to a great scene between him and Hiccup.

The acting is really good. Jay Baruchel continues to surprise me as he is so incredibly good in this role with some of the moments being very well acted on his part. Gerard Butler is very good, Djimon Hounsou did such a great job as the villain with his creepy voice and Cate Blanchett is also superb as she brought Valka wonderfully to life.

Now, let’s talk about the animation. How to Train Your Dragon 2 looks fantastic, that’s for sure. The animation here improved a lot from the last time and it’s always so polished and beautiful to look at. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous with the dragons and ice in particular being incredibly animated. The flying sequences are exquisite and so moving, but the character design is so strong. As I said before, Hiccup and everyone else aged and they did that wonderfully and in such a believable and realistic manner. The attention to detail is overwhelming from the clothes to the dragons to the landscapes all being superb and filled with realism.

The movie has its flaws which are small. One is that the movie is a but uneven because of all the subplots and action on screen. I would have liked to have seen more of the slower moments. And the action is a bit overwhelming later on. That is why the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ remains a better movie.

However, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is more entertaining of the two and definitely the more mature and more dangerous one. Also, that action is always phenomenally executed and so incredibly fun to watch, immensely intense and dramatic. And as for the slower moments, there are those present here with the mother-son reunion being a perfect scene, slow and poignant. The death of Stoick also lead to a wonderful funeral which is one of the most emotional moments here. The beginning is also really good. That sport looks too much like Quidditch from the Harry Potter series, but it is still fun.

The scene where Astrid mocks Hiccup by imitating his voice and arm movements is just brilliant and hilarious. The humor is really good and I laughed a lot during the movie. The fights are fantastic and so epic as is the whole movie. I loved how they incorporated the different dragons with the alphas being so cool and the different properties of Toothless being just awesome and well revealed. The movie is solidly paced and structured. The score is once again terrific! It was so beautiful at times and wonderfully accompanied those heartbreaking as well as dramatic moments. The ending in particular is superb. And I loved how the music is Celtic as it perfectly accompanies the time period. The dialogue is strong, the emotion is definitely there, the screenplay is sophisticated, it is unpredictable and bold and the action is very well executed. The movie is also epic, imaginative and ambitious and it wonderfully raised the stakes for the finale which I am anticipating a lot and I hope it is going to be as good as the first two. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the finest film from DreamWorks Animation after the original’ How to Train Your Dragon‘ and this franchise is undoubtedly going to be one of the very best trilogies of all time.

With simply breathtaking animation, amazing score, wonderfully executed action sequences, mature dialogue, phenomenal script, excellent pacing and intriguingly dark approach, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is epic, smart, funny, devastatingly sad, exciting and heartwarming all at the same time thanks to fascinating characters and some refreshingly adult, dark and heartbreaking scenes. It does what a sequel should do – it gives us new and interesting characters while improving the original ones, it improves the technical aspects and it builds on its mythology and explains a lot of the things we wanted to know, while also laying the groundwork for the finale. It is a one of the very best films of the year and one of the best CGI animated films. It is an almost perfect sequel in a trilogy that is going to be one of the best of all time.

My Rating – 5


You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown

You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown is a 1972 animated television special and the eighth one in the Peanuts series. It is a flawed, but frequently funny special.

Linus is up for Student Body President Election, but eventually learns that he has no power at all after his win. I really liked that realization at the end as it is smart and the whole special is like that. Also, I really liked the speeches as they lead to a lot of the humorous moments. However, I still found this episode to be very flawed as it is never hilarious and never particularly engaging. It is also very uneven and too slow at first with the first five minutes or so being forgettable.

But Sally gets better later on with some fun lines and Lucy is of course excellent along with Snoopy. But it is Linus who is the most likable of the bunch here and this is one of his better episodes. And I really loved a nod to ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown‘. The whole presidential campaign premise could have been better explored, but it still provided us with some funny lines and many good character interactions.

You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown is uneven and slow, but also frequently funny and very sophisticated as well.

My Rating – 3.5


Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

Penguins of Madagascar

Penguins of Madagascar Review

Penguins of Madagascar is a 2014 DreamWorks animated action comedy film directed by Eric Darnell. It is one of the worst films from the studio and one of their most uninspired.

It is a spin-off of the Madagascar franchise and stars just the penguins who were sidekicks in that franchise. You shouldn’t take the funniest supporting characters from the film and give them an entire film for themselves. The characters that are supposed to be there occasionally and always be funny end up being annoying. This is one of the best examples of that and I hate when they continue to do it with these stupid spin-offs.

The characterization is quite weak. The penguins themselves are fine, but don’t get much depth. However, I liked what they did with Private. They showed us his hatching from the egg and then his adapting to the team. First being ignored, he later on becomes a valuable member of the team and that storyline is the most satisfying one here. I didn’t care much for the North Wind characters as they are all pretty forgettable and underused, although interesting when species are concerned. Classified is good and the sequence between him and the penguin on the plane is hilarious. Short Fuse and Eva are both underdeveloped and Corporal is better, but still fails to leave a bigger mark. As for Dave, his persona is typical, but at least they gave him a backstory which is somewhat satisfying.

The acting is excellent. All of the voice actors for the penguins did a great job, but John Malkovich is superb as Dave and Benedict Cumberbatch is really good as Classified. He fits this character wonderfully not only with his voice, but also with his British accent.

The story is weak. I liked the first scenes with Private being born and added to the team, but the whole second half is filled with too much action that was frustrating to follow. Yes, some of it was interesting, but most of the action was uninspired and dull. The film is awfully frenetic and that is its biggest detractor. But I liked the scenes with the villain and the final scene was emotionally satisfying.

The animation is pretty good. The character design is typical, but great for the newly introduced characters with the North Wind crew being interesting and Dave being very well realized. It looks good do watch and is polished, but is hardly inspired at all and isn’t one of DreamWorks Animation’s better animated works.

The humor is the best reason to see Penguins of Madagascar. Yes, they were funnier in the Madagascar franchise, especially in the original film, but they were still pretty good here and some moments were hilarious. The first scenes are pretty funny with the reporter moment being hysterical. But the best sequence has to be the one where Dave calls them on Skype and starts having his villain speech only to realize that the sound is not on. That was so incredibly funny and such a nice parody of action films and villains. And there were enough of these clever and funny scenes to warrant a viewing, but I still wished for more as most of the humor was forced.

Penguins of Madagascar is technically troublesome. The pacing is ridiculously fast and so annoying and the directing should have been better. The acting is great and the imagery is pleasant to watch with some scenes being gorgeous, but the animation is overall not that great or interesting. And the whole movie is like that – uninspired and forgettable. It isn’t DreamWorks’ worst movie, but is one of the worst as only ‘Shrek the Third’ is to me certainly inferior whereas others are debatable. The tone is okay as it does have its heart. It is mostly forced and typical, but it was heartwarming from time to time. The script is unoriginal and predictable, but the dialogue is mostly okay. The score is flat and the action is weak, but at least the humor is pretty good. I overall did not find this film bad, but it isn’t good either and is just mediocre and a forgettable diversion.

Penguins of Madagascar does have its hilarious scenes, the characters are fine and the animation is okay, but the action is uninspired and boring, the pacing is too frenetic and the story is bland and boring. It is an uninspired spin-off that has its moments, but is overall forgettable.

My Rating – 2.5


The Little Orphan (1949)

The Little OrphanThe Little Orphan Review

The Little Orphan is a 1949 animated short that is the 40th of Tom and Jerry shorts. It is a flawed, but quite good cartoon.

This short is such a disappointing one. The plot is basically repeated from ‘The Milky Waif‘, especially in the first half. And that first half is very slow and uneventful and just so uninspired. It has its moments mainly the finale which is endearing and cute and some of the action moments were interesting. Also, Tom was the highlight and he steals every scene he is in. He is the only character here who is utilized solidly.

The film received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and once again I am baffled at that choice. The Academy in the forties for the most part rewarded Tom and Jerry shorts that were of the weakest of the time which is just ridiculous as there were so many better choices in this series alone. This isn’t a bad film, it is solid for sure, but when compared to others in the series, it is uninspired.

The Little Orphan is an undeserved Oscar winner with a bland story and mostly lacking in humor and action.

My Rating – 3.5


The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight is a 2015 western mystery film directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins. It isn’t one of the director’s best works, but it definitely is a very good movie.

It follows eight strangers who seek refuge in a stagecoach lodge. This film has a very interesting structure. First of all, it is very episodic and is divided by chapters, but that works wonderfully. It also has an intermission and is overall filmed in an old-fashioned way which I appreciated a lot and was such a great nod to the classics. The running time is around three hours and it is never at all boring which is an incredible achievement having in mind its length.

But I loved how in the first half not much happens and it is all just a build-up to the action-filled second half. But it works as it is never tedious, but strengthens the character development and relationships between the characters and it has such a great attention to detail which is one of the film’s strongest points. I loved the beginning and I loved how it ended, but that whole first half to me was the finest as it is so incredible and so involving whereas the second half has its many problems, but more on that later.

I loved the characters in The Hateful Eight as all of them have their moments and all are very well realized. Major Warren has to be the highlight as he is such a fun, likable character. He’s a great Tarantino protagonist – heroic, but also realistic. Chris Mannix is also superb and is one of the funniest of the bunch. The relationship between the two is absolutely fantastic with the film’s last moments being really good. John Ruth is also excellent and the most realistic character here. Daisy is such a crazy woman and a very unique and interesting character, especially for a western. Bob is somewhat underused as this mysterious Mexican man, but he’s still pretty good and at times quite creepy. Oswaldo Mobray is too theatrical, but still fun and at times funny. Joe Gage is the weakest link whereas General Sanford is quite good and the scenes between him and Warren are so good. And others are not that important for the story.

The acting is magnificent and one of the movie’s biggest selling points. Kurt Russell is very good, but it is Walton Goggins who is the most underappreciated actor here as he gave such a stupendous performance and was always believable. Jennifer Jason Leigh is of course fantastic as she steals every scene she is in and is believable in this difficult role of a crazy and wild murderous woman. And her facial expressions are excellent. But to me, she isn’t the highlight. Samuel L. Jackson is the best one here and is so underrated as an actor and especially in this role which just might be his best yet. He is the protagonist here and has the most screen time and delivers with a fantastic, all-around satisfying performance with a contagious laughter and many great moments.

Now for the flaws. Unfortunately, the second half ruined this movie for me. Quentin Tarantino is a fantastic director and here he shows his great style and superb storytelling, but he needs some restraint as his annoying tendency to go into overly disgusting territory hurts his movies a lot. The action here is very entertaining and satisfying, but there was no need for that much blood and gore. It was excessive, inappropriate and just weird and tonally different from the rest of the movie. This is quite possibly his darkest and most brutal film to date and I appreciate that when characters are concerned, but the imagery was too gruesome and just unnecessary and way over-the-top. The whole movie felt like a beautiful mix of western and mystery until it just went into this stupid horror territory which greatly diminished its impact.

The Hateful Eight is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The cinematography is superb and the scenery is so good. I wish that more westerns were set in winter as that period is just phenomenal for the genre. The attention to detail here is overwhelming which greatly helps its mystery which is really well crafted. And although I predicted a lot of the twists and turns here, they were still so well realized and the build-up is terrific. The set design is also splendid and Minnie’s Haberdashery just might be one of the best interior in a film ever as it is so incredible, very realistically depicted and with great detail and style. The whole flick is very polished and stylish with a superb direction and acting and excellent screenplay. It is also very well edited with the chapter times and flashbacks being extremely well handled.

Of course, the dialogue is absolutely fantastic as is always the case with Tarantino’s films. It is so grounded in reality and meticulous in its delivery and accents while also being very playful and humorous. The humor is expectedly terrific and I laughed out loud a lot during the movie as most of the characters have their funny lines and the racist remarks in particular are so funny. The score disappointed me a lot. It is definitely good and even great at times, but it is incorporated poorly into the picture with often ridiculously accompanied and jarring in tone sequences. The tone is well handled and professional, the film is visually stunning and it is memorable and always entertaining with never a dull moment. It is inferior to the director’s previous works as both ‘Django Unchained‘ and ‘Inglourious Basterds’ are better, but it is still very good and despite having some big issues, it is mostly great to watch. Quentin Tarantino knows how to make a western and I hope he will continue to do so.

The Hateful Eight is such an entertaining and visually pleasing film. The characters are so well developed and they have great interactions, the performances are superb with Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh being the highlights and it is such a great mix of western and mystery with a great attention to detail, scenery and editing. The second half ruined it for me as it was too gory and over-the-top plus the score is poorly incorporated into the film, but this is still such a funny, playful and always involving film and a great showcase for Quentin Tarantino’s talents as a director.

My Rating – 4


The “Hyp-Nut-Tist” (1935)

The "Hyp-Nut-Tist" ReviewThe “Hyp-Nut-Tist” Review

 The “Hyp-Nut-Tist” is a 1935 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is one of the very best that Popeye has ever been.

Popeye and Olive go to a magician’s show. The magician happens to be Bluto and he ridicules the two before Popeye beats him in the end. This series is the best when it deals with Popeye-Olive romance or when it has a scenario where Bluto has something special going for him and he humiliates the two. The latter is the case here and the plot here wonderfully makes use of that potential. And although it could have been even more imaginative and well crafted, this is still such an enormously entertaining and fun flick that benefits from absolutely amazing action.

The humor is splendid. When Bluto turns Olive into a chicken, it becomes hilarious in its brutality and psychical embarrassment of Olive. Another great moment is when Popeye is turned into a jackass. But the finale is so good, the music here is well utilized and all three characters are so wonderfully put to use with each of them getting some great moments. This short isn’t perfect, but it comes the closest thus far and it is the finest Popeye cartoon up to this point in my honest opinion.

The “Hyp-Nut-Tist” is the best Popeye short thus far thanks to wonderfully used characters, superb action and scenarios and many hilarious parts.

 My Rating – 4.7


The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)


The Man Who Fell to Earth Review

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 science fiction drama film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring David Bowie. It is an intriguing, but very uneven sci-fi movie.

It is about an alien who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to send water to his desert planet to help his family. But he gets involved with a woman and starts to lead a hedonistic life on Earth. I did like the story here. The plot itself is very good and thematically rich to some degree, but the execution is problematic. I liked the ending which is pretty unconventional, I also liked the opening very much and I really enjoyed the incorporation of both drama and science fiction elements. Those elements do work and are interesting, but this is mostly a drama and the one that is quite interesting to follow.

The characters are solid, but could have been better. Newton is really good and his alienation is so well established and definitely felt. Mary-Lou is also pretty good and I liked their relationship a lot as it has its warmer and later more bitter moments. It worked and the filmmakers dealt with it in a pretty good way. But the rest of the characters are pretty boring to be honest.

The acting is very good. David Bowie is excellent and although this was basically him being himself due to his problems at the time, it is still a performance and it benefits the picture a lot. He is quite good and this is his best performance, even better than his memorable role in ‘Labyrinth‘. Candy Clark is also pretty good and the two are great in their scenes together.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is very uneven. It is well directed by Nicolas Roeg and well acted, but it is very weirdly paced with some very slow scenes. The movie is certainly slow and moves at a sluggish pace. However, that was a good choice at times as I liked its laid-back approach with some scenes that felt more real in the process. The film is grounded in reality, but still not as detailed as I would have liked it. The dialogue is also pretty good, but it also should have been more sophisticated given the film’s nature.

It is unpredictable and very engaging at times and although the movie is slow, I still never found it boring. It is somewhat clever and the tone is well established as it has both dramatic as well as romantic moments. I liked the alien design and I loved the imagery in this movie. It is definitely too psychedelic, but the scenery on the desert planet in particular is very memorable and those sequences are present throughout the whole movie at just the right moments. It is well shot and made with the score being unexpectedly good and helping the film a lot as it contributes to its weird and even creepy feel. I wish that the whole film was more like that, but it focuses too much on drama instead of science fiction. The effects are excellent and the film is pretty imaginative and even original in some areas. I really disliked its tendency to go into drug and sexual territory, but that is unfortunately expected given the time period in which it was released. But I still found that annoying.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is very uneven, too sexual and at times slow, but it is still very original and imaginative with some intriguing imagery, a good performance from David Bowie, some very memorable scenes and a good, well crafted story.

My Rating – 4


The Docks of New York (1928)

The Docks of New York

The Docks of New York Review

The Docks of New York is a 1928 silent romance film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring George Bancroft and Betty Compson. It is one of the classics of its time and it surely is a masterpiece.

A ship stoker saves a prostitute from drowning and the two start a romantic relationship. This is a very simplistic plot, but in a good way. I am a big fan of this kind of approach where story is minimal and has not too many subplots, but is propelled by a strong visual artistry, strong dialogue and splendid characterization. And this movie is a great example of that. The plot itself is minimal, but still quite professionally done with a wonderfully simplistic and yet still sophisticated screenplay.

The characters are phenomenal. Bill Roberts may be a familiar character, but he’s still so well developed and inherently likable. He’s also realistic and troublesome, but still sweet and caring. Mae is excellent as well and I really loved her character and you root for her because she is such a wonderful person. The relationship between the two is remarkable and that is the biggest reason why this movie works. A romance has to have a fantastic relationship at its core and this one has that in spades. The supporting characters, although not having too much screen time in an already very short movie, still manage to become memorable because of some strong characterization at display here. Sugar is really good and is great as Bill’s friend and Lou is absolutely magnificent as this strong and capable woman. She is such a progressive character for the period.

The acting propels this movie to some amazing heights. George Bancroft is very good as Bill and he gave such a good performance. Olga Baclanova is quite good as well. But this is Betty Compson’s vehicle as she steals every scene she is in and that I did not expect as I wasn’t even aware of her before watching this movie, but I really admire her work here. She gave such a naturalistic, beautiful performance that is so thankfully devoid of any theatrical aspects that plagued the movies of the time. She gave a grounded performance that made her character all the more real and her facial expressions in particular are beautifully expressive and speak volumes in the more emotional and flirtatious scenes. This is one of the finest performances of the era in my opinion.

The Docks of New York is a visual treat and I would even go so far to call this movie art. Silent films when done with care, attention to detail and vision can be better than any sound film out there and this movie is the best example of that. The language here is magnificent. Having such brilliant performances from its cast with superb facial expressions and being such a visual marvel, the film becomes a work of art that is very poetic at some scenes, most of the time actually. The cinematography here is absolutely gorgeous with some shots being marvelous to behold and some imagery being quite unforgettable. This has to be one of the best looking films of the twenties as it’s always wonderful to look at. The attention to detail is evident and the care that went into this production is also quite evident from beginning to end.

The direction from Josef von Sternberg is extraordinary and this is his best film in my opinion. He has such a strong voice here, but the cinematography is also the key aspect here along with the pacing and the score. The picture is really well paced and although it should have been longer, I still found its running time really well used with not a single wasted scene to be had. The flaw I’ve found here is that the beginning of their relationship is a bit rushed and should have been longer, but that is an expected and small flaw in an otherwise amazing film.

The score’s indescribably beautiful, at least in the one version I’ve seen. It lifts those more dramatic and heartwarming moments to greater heights and is just always so satisfying and wonderfully accompanying the action on screen. I’ve read that some found the ending to be preposterous, but I wholeheartedly disagree as I found the finale to be the most satisfying sequence in the entire movie. When he tells her to wait for him and the camera moves to her face and she smiles in such an innocent, sweet way, my heart just melted how evidently beautiful that was. It’s a subtle, wonderful finale for a subtle, beautiful movie.

The Docks of New York has such a big heart, but is never too maudlin or emotionally manipulative which is great. The emotion here is real and genuine which is so rare and so admirable. The dialogue is also wonderful and the humor is so good with some really funny, charming moments. And the movie is very energetic and playful which I adored. The tone is so well handled as the dramatic elements are never too melodramatic and the humorous moments are never ridiculous. This is overall such a well crafted, immensely enjoyable movie that is also very engaging and just beautiful to watch. It is one of the best silent films I’ve seen and one of the most romantic films period.

With an artistic and poetic approach to it, a wonderful romance, such lovable characters, terrific performances from its talented cast, deft editing, just beautiful score, playful dialogue, brilliant cinematography and a big heart at its core, The Docks of New York is a beautiful movie that is always charming and enjoyable to watch, while also being a work of art. It is an undisputed masterpiece that is one of the best silent films as well as one of the most romantic movies ever made.

My Rating – 5