The Jungle Book (1994)

The Jungle Book Movie Review………………………………………………….

The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book is a 1994 adventure drama film directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Jason Scott Lee. It is a solid, yet such a problematic movie.

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The more I learn what is a man,

the more I want to be an animal.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review………………………………………………….

Where do I even start with this one. Now, let’s first state the positives. The film is obviously its own thing which is good. It was odd that it didn’t adapt the book faithfully at all, but I still liked that it served as an original flick that is very different from the 1967 movie as well as the newest 2016 version. This one is also done by Disney, but it doesn’t resemble the other two movies at all as it focuses more on Mowgli’s relationship with the people than on his jungle storyline.

As much as I appreciated that more different approach, I still didn’t love it. The movie succeeds quite solidly as a drama, but never as an adventure. Everything with the humans was quite solid, but the part with animals was weak. I don’t know if the live-action non-talking animal version of this story can ever really be good, but this one certainly wasn’t. Both Bagheera and Baloo were way too underutilized and I just didn’t care about either of the animals.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review………………………………………………….

Not only that, but the entire jungle part is basically trimmed and way too rushed. The part with the apes felt ridiculously abrupt and disappointing. The entire film is very oddly paced. It is well directed, but not well structured whatsoever.

I liked that these were real trained animals. That was an interesting experiment, even if it didn’t quite work out in the end. As for the human actors, very weak acting is present in this movie. Lena Headey is solid, but all of the others are weak and not great including Jason Scott Lee who gave a rather mediocre performance in a role that demanded a better actor. And it was absolutely ridiculous to me that they cast an Asian actor to play an Indian character. Such a lazy and stupid choice from the casting director.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review………………………………………………….

The Jungle Book has a solid romance at its center, if a bit too typical. The entire storyline is familiar, but mostly done well. I liked the characters even if their development isn’t the greatest. The action is very well executed and the cinematography is quite good. The film felt too much like a typical 90s film and as one of those children’s films I grew up with in the nineties. But it was still charming in its own right and genuinely endearing at times. The film also serves well as a historical drama and that was pleasant to witness. It is a solid movie for sure, but it could have been much better nevertheless.

The 1994 version of the Jungle Book is a solid, yet very troublesome experiment. I liked that it was its own thing and different than the other adaptations, it serves well as a historical drama and is quite charming at times, but it doesn’t serve well as an adventure film at all and although the use of real animals was solid, they were still underutilized and that entire subplot felt rushed and disappointing plus the acting isn’t the greatest here.

My Rating – 3.5

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Mulan (1998)

Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Mulan Movie Review

Mulan is a 1998 animated musical historical comedy film that is the 36th Disney animated feature film. It is a very strong, sometimes admirable Disney effort.

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The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

This is a historical film in the rein of ‘Pocahontas’ where she may or may not have lived and the film took liberties adapting this story which is a famous Chinese story. And I loved the change in setting. This is basically a Chinese Disney film where all of the characters are from that country and some of the animation as well as the actors are also Chinese and I just loved that authenticity about it.

The plot itself is very good. The conflict is great and I found the film to be a solid historical as well as war picture, but mostly excelling in the drama and sometimes comedy department. It is a pleasant mix of genres in a typical Disney fashion and it succeeds in most of its areas. The highlights were of course the musical numbers, the sequence where Mulan cuts her hair is just so inspired, some of the action sequences are excellent, especially that with the avalanche, and of course the entire third act is beautiful and such an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Fa Mulan is such a strong female main character and is actually one of the most, if not the most, feminist Disney princesses. She is brave and a great person who brought change, but unlike Pocahontas, she is actually very well developed as a character and is both likable and sometimes genuinely charming. Captain Li Shang is also very good and I liked him and the relationship between the two. I know that it maybe would have been better had they stayed just friends, but even though it was a bit rushed, the seeds were still solidly planted for their future romantic relationship.

Now Mushu is your typical Eddie Murphy animated character that came even before his Donkey persona in ‘Shrek’. Although a typical goofy sidekick, I mostly really liked him as he was quite funny at times with a larger than life personality and a good heart. Grandmother Fa is actually funnier than Mushu as she is one of the most underrated Disney supporting characters. She isn’t present a lot in this movie, but whenever she was on screen, she killed it with hilarious lines.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

I liked the Emperor of China in the third act and the villain Shan Yu, although disappointing in the ending, was a solid presence overall with a great menacing look and voice to him. And his animal henchman in the form of a falcon is very cool. But even though all of these characters are quite good, the problem with Mulan is that all of the other male characters as their fellow recruits were quite forgettable and not one of them stood out. That was unfortunate.

The animation in Mulan is quite good with a couple of reservations. The overall visuals are stellar and the film looks like a Disney film, but with strong Asian influences spread throughout too. I loved some of the interiors as well as the imagery, very striking. I also liked the costumes and the movements were well choreographed and the flick is well filmed. My one issue with it is the character design. Some characters such as Mulan and Mushu look really good, but others such as all of those recruits did not look that great. I don’t know why, but some of the character designs here did not personally appeal to me. And I found the fact that most of those men were either skinny or fat or entirely incompetent to be very unrealistic and frankly stupid given the historical period in question.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Now let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is another good Disney Renaissance soundtrack with a couple of absolutely terrific songs in it, but more importantly a fantastic score. Yes, the score is absolutely phenomenal and most of the scenes were fittingly dramatic in their score or fittingly Asian as well. But Mulan’s Decision stands out as one of the finest compositions that Disney has ever put out as it is just such an iconic, powerful and instantly recognizable theme perfectly incorporated into its scene and story.

There are only five songs here and to me only two stood out as True to Your Heart is catchy, but a typical end-credits song that is forgettable and doesn’t have a context to it, Honor to Us All is a solid movie opener but is overall bland and not memorable and A Girl Worth Fighting For is actually quite catchy and fun, but overall not great.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

But of course Reflection and I’ll Make a Man Out of You are just superb across the board. The former is such a beautiful song accompanied with a great scene, imagery and character drama and it is a perfect vehicle for Mulan to help us connect with her emotionally. It has great lyrics, excellent singing and is catchy, but powerful and moving as well. But the latter is the standout musical number which is unlike any other Disney song and that works in its favor. It is overall such a great and important scene that is one of the best montages that I have ever seen, but the lyrics are excellent and the song even manages to incorporate otherwise boring recruits in it solidly. It is such an entertaining song that is just infectiously catchy to sing along and very original and exciting.

Mulan features some really good voice acting in it and everyone did a good job. And of course the singing is great. But it is also very solidly paced and always entertaining to watch and dramatic. It features a great message and is one of the most feminist Disney movies out there, but is done right instead of preachy. Mulan truly is a great role model for girls. The dialogue is also really strong and some of the lines here are actually quite inspired. And the film was emotionally rewarding, especially in its ending.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

But there is one problem here that prevents it from being a classic and that is why it is inferior to most of the other Renaissance films and is only better than ‘Hercules’ and ‘Pocahontas’. I am of course talking about the humor. Now the humor is okay and sometimes even quite good, don’t get me wrong. But I just did not find it necessary for this particular film at all. This is the type of film that should have been very serious and somehow Disney put a lot of the humor in it and that signature touch of theirs did not connect in this instance as good as it mostly connects. Some of the characters are too goofy and only Mushu and Grandmother Fa have their comedic moments whereas others are forgettable and some scenes were too lighthearted. But all in all, the film is mostly satisfying and was a wonderful experience.

Mulan is too comedic and goofy at times and some characters are forgettable, but Mulan herself is such a strong female role model, the animation is quite good, the score is excellent, the message is strong and the action is solid. It features a good story, a great Chinese setting and feel to it and two fantastic songs in Reflection and I’ll Make a Man Out of You.

My Rating – 4

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Fantasia 2000 (1999 )

Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Fantasia Movie Review

Fantasia 2000 is a 1999 animated musical film which is the 38th Disney animated feature film. It is a solid film that isn’t as inferior to the original as you would think.

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That age old question:

“What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos?

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now because I was never a huge fan of the original ‘Fantasia’, I do not find it to be an untouchable masterpiece. I do respect it, but it is an uneven work of art. The same goes for its sequel Fantasia 2000 which is actually one of a few Disney sequels that we’ve got so far. Yes, it seemed unnecessary, but they actually justified its existence thanks to a couple of awesome segments that rival the best from the original film. It is still a vastly uneven film, but when it succeeds, it succeeds in spades.

Because this is basically a package film in a way, I would structurally organize this review as I usually do with such films meaning that I will go through each of its eight segments one by one and I will comment upon the overall technical aspects afterwards.

So let us begin. The first segment is Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Now Fantasia 2000 follows the pattern of the original film and thus we begin with the abstract segment first. This one features colorful butterflies and besides the obviously very good animation in it and of course great music, there is nothing else in it really. I do not like abstract pieces and this one is as basic as they come.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi is really good. The only problem here is that it is too slow and actually boring at times, but other than that, this segment is actually quite impressive in terms of the animation which is absolutely gorgeous to behold and the character designs are great. Watching those whales swim was beautiful. The movements were polished and the segment is not only artistic, but sometimes even magical.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is my second favorite Fantasia 2000 segment without a doubt. It is set in New York City in the 1930s and we follow four individuals with each one of them getting their wish fulfilled at the end. I loved it not only for its of course terrific technicalities, but mostly because of its heart and charm. I love the 30s so I naturally loved its setting and time period, but the characters felt relatable, likable and I rooted for them.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich is a weak part. The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a famous fairy tale, but I just did not think that it received justice in this adaptation which was problematic. The characterization and action are weak and this animation is my least favorite of the entire movie.

The Carnival of the Animals, Finale by Camille Saint-Saens is another weak segment. This is where the film really slowed down and weakened significantly which is a testament to its uneven quality. What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos? Yes, that is a basic concept here and needless to say, it was overly simplistic, cartoony and just too short and kind of pointless.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is naturally a classic, but I did not get the need to revisit it again here other than to acquaint the movie with the newer audiences. It just made the movie cheaper than it should have been and this was definitely a needless rehash and they should have just made another original segment instead.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Edwald Elgar is based on the story of Noah’s Ark. I just loved this one! It is my favorite segment from the entire movie. Every story that features Donald Duck is a winner in my book and this is no exception as I just love this guy. Daisy is also stupendous here and their romance is sweet and endearing. The ending is simply wonderful. But the reason why it succeeds lies in its beautiful animation with excellent designs of all the animals and of course the score is superb and not only my favorite composition here, but also one of my personal favorites when it comes to classical music. I love this piece and I love the entire segment.

The movie finishes off with Firebird Suite – 1919 version by Igor Stravinsky. Now this is obviously a very poetic, emotional and actually quite artistic experiment with a gorgeous, epic conclusion that brings to mind the conclusion of the original film and was a perfect ending to the entire film, but it was still disappointing to me as it was overly slow, sometimes even boring and prolonged.

Fantasia 2000 features gorgeous animation and I liked the variety of styles present here. Almost all of the segments were beautifully animated and the animation is even artistic at times. It isn’t as inspired as in the original, but still very good in its own right and frequently great. The compositions that they chose were probably even better than before and I liked the use of animals and Donald Duck in it. Donald was also hilarious in one in-between segment along with Mickey. Quite charming and endearing.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now let’s talk about those segments in-between. I strongly disliked them. And they are the worst thing about this movie. Let me elaborate. They brought in celebrities and famous actors and actresses, mostly comedians, to do the introductions to the segments and most of them did a cringe-worthy job with Steve Martin being forgettable and Penn & Teller being just so off-putting that they annoyed me immensely. Some got less to do, others got a lot more, but I disliked most of those introductions and it really hurt the movie in the long run. But it is otherwise a solid sequel in the Disney canon that still is weaker than all of the Renaissance movies prior to it which is why it counts as the first film in the Disney’s Second Dark Age.

Fantasia 2000 is a pretty solid Disney sequel with off-putting and cringe-worthy introductions to the segments and some segments are weaker as the film is quite an uneven work as a whole, but most of the segments are very good with my favorites being Rhapsody in Blue and Pomp and Circumstance which are awesome. Donald Duck is as lovable as ever and the technical aspects are impressive with excellent classical music and sometimes quite inspired animation.

My Rating – 3.5

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Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Ed Wood Movie Review

Ed Wood is a 1994 comedy drama biopic directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Martin Landau among others. It is an amazing, wonderful movie.

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Visions are worth fighting for.

Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?

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Ed Wood Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

It follows Ed Wood, an acclaimed director of trashy movies from the fifties. It follows his career while he made some of his best known works as well as his romantic relationships and his friendship with Bela Lugosi. The film is the kind of biographical picture that succeeds in almost every way and it is a rare biopic that is timeless and almost artistic in a way. It is one of the finest genre films I’ve seen for sure.

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Ed Wood Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I loved its richness. The film deals with a lot of themes and it is such a nuanced, incredibly well scripted work. Of course you get his career endeavors and his artistic struggles. That was all very well done. But even better are his relationships with women as his first relationship was doomed from the beginning and it was dramatic to follow its conclusion whereas the second one was a successful one, romantic and moving. But of course the friendship that formed between Ed and Lugosi is the highlight and that was just wonderful to witness. There truly is a lot for everyone here to enjoy.

The director is brought to life beautifully and Johnny Depp has rarely been this good in a Burton flick. It is one of his best performances I’ve seen. Very charismatic and sympathetic. Lugosi is also great and those scenes where they addressed his doomed career were just so tragic and yet absolutely hilarious at the same time. Martin Landau thoroughly deserved his Oscar as he played this role remarkably well. But Sarah Jessica Parker is pretty good herself and Patricia Arquette is very likable. All of the characters here were stupendously well written and all of the actors and actresses delivered top-notch performances. The casting in this movie also couldn’t have been better.

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Ed Wood Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Ed Wood is an incredibly funny movie and I laughed out loud more than a couple of times because some of the lines were just absolutely hysterical to hear. Of course the humor is strong when the script is so stellar and the dialogue is just terrific. Such a well written, polished work all around. It succeeds as a funny comedy and as a serious, heartfelt drama and that is such a commendable feat.

It isn’t a perfect movie honestly. Some of the parts weren’t the greatest. I found Depp’s performance to be great in the first half and in the second one it was typical. I found the entire third act to be incredibly underwhelming. It is good, but never as great as the film was before it. It was a shame as the only film I’ve seen of his is ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ and yet that is the only movie here that wasn’t particularly well utilized when all of the others were so well depicted.

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Ed Wood Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Ed Wood is also gorgeous in terms of the technical aspects. This is the kind of film that just had to be shot in black and white and its crisp, polished look brought a lot of sophistication and professionalism to the picture. Many scenes and shots here are memorable and highly exquisite. The same goes for the costumes and the score. The attention to detail is evident and the direction from Burton is incredibly strong and possibly his best directed work yet. He showcased an obvious care for this subject and person and that coupled with a great talent and style led to the movie being so amazing and one of the best that he’s ever made without any doubt.

With beautiful and fitting black and white photography, possibly the best direction from Tim Burton yet and great performances from Johnny Depp and Martin Landau, Ed Wood benefited from obviously being made with a lot care and it has such phenomenal dialogue and that along with such a stellar script led to a great humor with a lot of the lines being absolutely hilarious. But it also succeeds as a drama as some scenes are poignant and dramatic. It is a wonderful, truly great film that is one of the director’s best and also one of the finest biopics that I have ever seen.

My Rating – 4.5

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Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan Movie Review

Tarzan is a 1999 animated adventure film that is the 37th Disney animated feature film. It is a bit underrated film that is one of my personal favorite Disney flicks.

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What am I doing? Captain!

Tell them you never found us!

After all, people get lost in the jungle all the time!

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

This famous story got a great treatment in the Disney form and truly it just might be the best ever adaptation of the novel. It is such a fun, joyous and charming adventure flick with a couple of genuinely dramatic and heartbreaking moments as well. It flowed mostly really well and it is a well crafted film, albeit a bit too rushed at times.

The ending is most certainly overly happy, but still satisfying. As for the highlights, all of those emotional scenes were the best. For example, the beginning is just breathtakingly beautiful and it just might be Disney’s finest opening, possibly inferior just to the one in The Lion King of course. I loved the sequence in which Tarzan and Jane first met. Beautifully shot, tremendously well scored and filled with an excellent silent and even poetic approach to it, it is one standout scene from beginning to end. The scenes between Tarzan and Kala were naturally some of the best as well.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the characters. Tarzan himself is really good. Too serious, but he has such a great, genuinely moving and powerful arc. He grew up a bit too fast, but his adult part is great. Jane is fantastic. I don’t know why she’s so underrated, but when it comes to Disney’s female characters, she is one of the most endearing and likable. I liked that she was a stereotype at first, but that she eventually changed. The romance between the two is very sweet.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Kala is such a sweet soul and a wonderful mother. Kerchak is superb and the relationship between him and Tarzan is possibly the strongest one in the film and that says a lot. He proved his worth near the end and watching Kerchak die and utter that line of acceptance to his adoptive son was just heartbreaking and wonderful to witness.

Terk is definitely funny and it is great that we got a female comedic sidekick who is also a tomboy. She is genuinely funny with a couple of great lines and succeeds as a comic relief as well as being a great friend. Tantor is nowhere near as good as her, but he still has his moments and is better than most secondary sidekicks. Professor Porter is absolutely phenomenal. I just loved him as he is such a sweet, at times funny and always immensely likable person who brought a smile to my face. Clayton, on the other hand, is one of the film’s major weaknesses. I get that he was important to the story, but he was still a typical villain who didn’t really pose serious threat. He is well designed and definitely not bad, but still not great and his death is typically foolish and even ridiculous in a way.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan has excellent animation. Now there isn’t anything truly artistic here and some of the earlier Disney renaissance films were more inspired for sure, but it still looks terrific. The character designs I loved. I wasn’t crazy about Tarzan’s look, but the gorillas looked terrific and all of the other humans were great. But the highlights are the action which is stupendously well realized in movements and the natural scenery which is simply gorgeous. Some scenes here truly are breathtaking to witness.

Now the soundtrack is splendid. I get why some may find it cheesy, but I like Phil Collins and what he did here was great. All of the songs here are either moving or catchy and I liked that for once the characters do not sing, but the songs serve as a background. All of them serve as great plot drivers or character moments and thus they are successful.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Trashin’ the Camp is naturally the weakest of the five, but watching it and listening to it the second time, I do not dislike it as much as I did the first time around. It is still basically a non-song with silly singing, but the tune itself is catchy and the sequence is actually a lot of fun, although definitely a detour and even filler in terms of storytelling.

Strangers Like Me I don’t love as it is a bit boring to me when compared to the next three songs, but it is still solid and actually great in its lyrics and very fitting to the story. The entire scene is one of the film’s best, so well done and animated. I have a soft spot for Two Worlds. Not a lot of people love it as much as I do, but not only does it accompany a master class opening, but it is genuinely good in its own right with moving lyrics and a great, dramatic and inspirational change in rhythm near the end.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

You’ll Be in My Heart is a deserved Oscar winner, a song that is emotional, even heartbreaking and is pleasantly reminiscent to Baby Mine from ‘Dumbo’. So well sung by both the mother and Phil Collins in the official version. But it is actually Son of Man that is the highlight of this great soundtrack. I just adore this song! It was a great, fun way to have Tarzan transition from child to adult without it being boring, the lyrics are good, the rhythm is so entertaining and it is just such an infectious, immensely catchy tune that is in my opinion one of Disney’s catchiest songs ever.

Tarzan is technically quite polished. The action is stupendous, so well done and exhilarating at times. It had a lot of action, but the kind of action that is adventurous and fun instead of dull. The humor is mostly charming and satisfying, the dialogue is solid and the movie’s admirable emotional approach is evident from the beginning (the way they explored family was beautiful to behold). The voice acting is top-notch, the direction is excellent and both the animation and the effects are fantastic. The pacing is one of my problems. It was just too rushed which is something I’ve only noticed watching it for the third or so time, but it was definitely noticeable. Some scenes were way too abrupt and the entire movie had such an epic, long story that needed to be told in at least 100 instead of 88 minutes.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

That is the only flaw here, that along with the villain and a somewhat too happy, if still heartwarming ending. It felt way too convenient and to me unrealistic that Jane chose to live with him in the wild, but still watching her make that decision, jump into the water and kiss him at the shore was wonderful and watching the Professor join them with that very funny line made my day. The film has a couple of flaws for sure, but it is still one of Disney’s best films in my opinion. Not in the top five, but certainly near the top of the list and probably in my top ten.

With absolutely terrific animation, memorable and very well developed characters, greatly established relationships between each and every one of them, stupendously well executed action sequences and some great tunes with Son of Man being so catchy and a lot of fun, Tarzan is such an underrated Disney film that is one of my favorites from the studio, a film that is rushed in pacing and with a typical villain, but is simultaneously emotional, dramatic, romantic and adventurous and well crafted on almost every level. It was a great film to end the Disney Renaissance.

My Rating – 4.5

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Underground (1995)

Underground Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Underground Movie Review

Underground is a 1995 comedy drama film directed by Emir Kusturica and starring Miki Manojlovic, Lazar Ristovski and Mirjana Jokovic. It is a pretty solid, yet overrated movie.

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Once upon a time… there was a country…

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Underground Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Underground (or Podzemlje in Serbian) follows an epic story between two friends and it follows Yugoslav history from the beginning of World War II until the beginning of Yugoslav Wars. With this movie, my opinion of Kusturica continues to be the same – he is an incredibly talented filmmaker and even an artist, but he just couldn’t quite make a movie work as a whole. Underground is impressive in its ambition, but that also proved to be its downfall as he just couldn’t realize the whole movie in the best way. The result is a film that is sometimes quite inspired and even artistic, but sometimes quite excessive and ridiculous.

I liked the characters and although they were too crazy, at least they were memorable. Ivan is too goofy, yet very likable. Natalija is unlikable, but well developed. And Petar and Marko are over-the-top, but certainly memorable. The performances here are very good with Lazar Ristovski and Miki Manojlovic delivering the best ones.

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Underground Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Now, as I said before, Underground is just overly excessive in its ridiculousness. That is why its success as a black comedy is questionable and it succeeds much more as an epic war drama. Some of its over-the-top craziness was fun and some scenes definitely made me laugh and were one of the kind, but most were too silly and just too much.

But the film is worth seeing and experiencing for a couple of sequences that are just jaw-dropping in their beauty and authenticity. For one, the character’s realization when out of the bunker that Yugoslavia is no more was just heartbreaking to witness as you could see the sadness in his eyes. That scene was beyond tragic and unforgettable. I loved the first scenes of the movie at the zoo as they perfectly hooked me in the story. I really liked those crazy sex scenes. And of course I loved its imaginative ending which was just beautiful to behold. Watching all of the friends and family, both living and dead, on some sort of separated island celebrate a wedding was emotional and actually a very original, fittingly surreal way to end the film.

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Underground Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Underground is more style over substance, but what style this is. Of course the pacing isn’t great as the film is very long and it is difficult to edit plus his first cut was even longer, but his direction is very good and sometimes quite inspired plus the acting is excellent. I loved the cinematography here as some shots were brilliant and some of the imagery was unforgettable and very authentic. There are actually a lot of the scenes that are memorable here and that is why the film succeeds. It is very diverse, different and crazy that it stays with you. The emotion is strong and although I would have strengthened the relationships between the characters more, they were still fine and the film is very ambitious in presenting the history of the country through decades using quite memorable historical footage. I also found its dialogue to be very good, excessive once again, but memorable and sometimes very realistic with a couple of hilarious lines. All in all, it is overrated and not the director’s best, but still a solid and ambitious, if not entirely successful experiment.

Underground is style over substance and Kusturica was too much influenced by Fellini. The direction is strong, the acting is also very good, some of the scenery and shots are unforgettable and the film is admirably ambitious, but its ambition was also its downfall as it is a very uneven work with some inspired and even artistic scenes, but many too ridiculous and over-the-top moments. Because the film is so epic, ambitious and sometimes unforgettable in a couple of very authentic sequences, it succeeds, but it is still uneven, flawed, too excessive and frankly overrated.

My Rating – 3.5

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review……………………………………………………

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a 1999 animated musical comedy film directed by Trey Parker. It is such a great film to accompany the series.

The boys see a controversial film and their parents pressure the country to go into war with Canada for allegedly corrupting their children. Now obviously this story is excellent and it is thematically rich and so clever as usually for this team. It smartly satirizes how the Americans are more appalled at cursing or nudity than much bigger issues such as war. It is a great message film about censorship and freedom of speech. But it also has a lot of other things going for it such as the parody of musicals and most especially the Disney renaissance and it touches upon racism and religion too.

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I’m sorry, Wendy,

but I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review……………………………………………………

I loved every character here as everyone was superbly realized which is one of the reasons why this film is even better than the seasons that aired at the time that it was made. It is so good which is actually commendable as usually films based on TV shows fail miserably, but this one succeeds tremendously.

Stan here is obsessed with Wendy and we get his signature throwing up. The conflict between him and Gregory is solid. Kyle’s relationship with Sheila is well explored, but she bothered me as she was too over-the-top and there could have been better ways to start this whole war than this way with her basically becoming a villain.

Mr. Garrison is here in just a couple of scenes, but he steals the show whenever he is on screen with a couple of absolutely hilarious lines. I loved the Canadians and that ambassador was so funny in one of the funniest scenes. Terrance and Phillip are also surprisingly good here. Juvenile, but they work really well in the context of the story.

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review……………………………………………………

Big Gay Al also has his moments, Chef is excellent and that whole human shield subplot is absolutely hysterical and possibly the funniest thing in the entire film. Cartman’s mom also had her funny moments and of course Cartman is excellent. He is here still not fully Cartman as he would become in the later years, but he comes close and this is one of his best and funniest roles in the earlier history of South Park.

Kenny is naturally terrific. That death scene with the doctors is so funny in its craziness, but I loved that this character is finally utilized a lot. His relationship with Satan is excellent and his road from hell to heaven is superbly executed with his final scene being a great conclusion for the film plus we finally saw him without a hood on.

Satan is amazing! Here he is probably the best that he’s ever been and is the main character in his own right. Saddam is funny and villainous and their relationship is as ridiculous and as hilarious as always, but we also get the closure from it and Satan’s progression from a coward to a person who respects himself and finally ends things with Saddam. A terrific and extremely funny subplot.

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review……………………………………………………

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is as hilarious as you would come to expect from Parker and Stone and is actually laugh-out-loud funny with joke after joke coming at you from beginning to end. However, the film is not only a comedy, but also strongly a musical which I also enjoyed. Yes having twelve songs in it is definitely too much, but the songs are short enough that it doesn’t come at the expense of storytelling. Quite the contrary as they use it to further the plot progression and highlight the characters which is what songs in musical films are supposed to do. They are truly musically talented which is something that they do not get nearly enough credit for.

Mountain Town is excellent and a great way to open the movie innocently while immediately afterwards going into full R-rated territory. Uncle Fucka is the signature song from the Canadian duo, ridiculous but fun. Wendy’s song is so-so and It’s Easy, MMMkay is a good showcase of Mr. Mackey’s signature line, but is otherwise dull and repetitive.

Hell Isn’t Good I wasn’t a fan of at all because of its genre and I have to say that Blame Canada is a very overrated song that was nominated for an Oscar when in reality it is boring and other songs here were much more deserving of the nomination. Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch is one of Cartman’s greatest moments here. Absolutely hilarious, so catchy and with a great part with the children singing it in other languages.

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Review……………………………………………………

What Would Brian Boitano Do? is a very underrated song which is one of my favorites here. I guess that it comes as a bit of a filler in terms of the sequence itself as it isn’t all that necessary, but it is very entertaining with a catchy tune and an amazing, grand finale with memorable imagery. La Resistance is okay, but forgettable, but I Can Change is fun and crazy and again important for the story. I’m Super isn’t all that great, but is funny and very amusing in its imagery and is a good usage of Big Gay Al’s character.

And without any doubt the best song from the movie has to be Up There which is just an admirable achievement. It is such a perfect parody of Part of That World from ‘The Little Mermaid’ and serves as a great Disney-like song in its own right as it is funny in imagery, but so stupendously well sung and with such a catchy, yet grand quality to it. It is one of Satan’s finest moments.

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South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Movie Reviews……………………………………………………

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut isn’t perfect as some of that action near the end wasn’t all that great in comparison to the rest of the movie plus the editing is really problematic as the film felt rushed all the time and way too fast. It should have been much longer in my opinion. But still it is endlessly entertaining and funny from beginning to end, sometimes even hilarious. It is very well made and directed and even the animation is brought up a notch for the theatrical release. It is mostly an extremely satisfying South Park experience and a very underrated film in my opinion.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a glorious achievement as the film that never disappointed as is mostly the case with TV-to-film adaptations. The characters are all memorable and superbly utilized here and the story is very well crafted and naturally thematically rich and sophisticated, but the humor is fantastic as it is funny from start to finish with a great joke after joke and many instantly recognizable lines and moments. It also succeeds as a musical with many great songs with the highlight being Up There which is a great parody of Disney music. Whether as a musical or as a comedy, you can’t deny its greatness.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hercules (1997)

Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules is a 1997 animated musical fantasy comedy film that is the 35th Disney animated feature film. It is such a minor, but very entertaining Disney entry.

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I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this.

Have a nice day.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

It is based on the titular legendary hero who is the son of Zeus. And this of course all comes from the wonderful Greek mythology. And that makes it the second Disney film to be based on the myth or legend after ‘Pocahontas’ released two years prior to this one. Here the change in pace was quite welcome as we have never before seen a film from this studio tackle such a subject matter and they mostly did a good job with it, if admittedly far from a great one.

Now of course the film follows the very familiar trope of an underdog/superhero origin story and that is certainly typical, but definitely well done here as the film is entertaining from start to finish. It marks a major departure from the other films released during the Renaissance as it is rarely serious and is much more comedic in tone. In fact, it is definitely a comedy at its core and there is nothing wrong with that as it’s a fun romp that also has a big heart and some genuinely memorable characters.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Speaking of the characters, the protagonist is definitely a typical heroic type you’ve seen countless times before. He is charming for sure, but definitely forgettable. But Megara charges this movie and is easily the most memorable and best character of the bunch. First of all, she is animated and presented differently and is for once a more realistic in looks female character which is great. Another great thing about her is her backstory which is dark and I loved the explanation for why she’s working for Hades and it all ties well into the overall arc and her relationship with Herc. She is such a funny, realistic and extremely likable personality and it’s a shame that she’s not regarded as one of the best Disney female characters when she most certainly is.

These two are fantastic to watch together. In fact, their romance is one of my favorites from the studio as they are just so charming together and those romantic sequences are pleasantly playful and charming. It is at its core a traditional love story, but it’s presented in a more modern way which makes it more relatable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Phil is solid and I liked his character quite a bit here. He wasn’t as funny as he ought to have been, but he is such a good soul and some of his moments brought a smile to my face. Another great relationship is between him and Herc too. Hades is definitely a joke of a villain in the vein of Captain Hook from ‘Peter Pan’. He is too easily defeated and is never menacing. But he is still good for this type of movie as he is very funny at times and such a delightfully memorable presence on screen. Zeus is great and I liked how the Gods were depicted and animated quite a bit, Pegasus is of course endearing and Pain and Panic are such amusing, at times hilarious henchmen for the villain that they are quite underrated characters in their own right. The voice acting here is fantastic with Susan Egan, Danny DeVito and James Woods all knocking it out of the park.

Hercules is never animated as artistically as most of the other Renaissance flicks which makes it inferior in comparison. But it is still good when viewed in its own context and honestly the designs here are simply phenomenal. The character designs in this movie are some of the most original in the animation history as they look like their representations on those vases and they look like they actually came from this particular time period. That is something that ‘The Prince of Egypt‘ would repeat a year later, but this movie came before which makes it quite unique in that matter. The film is also pleasantly colorful and its color palette also fits well into this world. The animation here is another testament to how great Disney once was at adapting its songs and animation within the time period.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

However, the songs in Hercules are quite the opposite. They never fit in with the period as they are way too modern. But that wasn’t a problem to me as these songs are just so good. And of course incredibly underrated, at least some of them are. The only song here that I honestly really dislike is One Last Hope. Danny DeVito is good in this role, but his voice is too distinctive and here that shows a lot along with his lack of a greater musical talent. But the song is above everything else very boring and the scene too should have been better.

The Gospel Truth is inferior too, but a solid opening and I liked its backup sinking quite a bit. A Star is Born is another similar song, but very well sung and very catchy. I liked these female voices a lot actually. Go the Distance is a typical Disney song in its entirety, both in imagery, plot and tone. It is a regular “I wish/I can do it” song and it sets up the rest of the movie just fine and is admittedly very well sung, but the melody itself is boring and the lyrics aren’t the greatest.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

The two best songs from Hercules are of course Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love. The first one is just so incredibly catchy and one of the fastest and most purely entertaining Disney songs ever with fun lyrics and such a phenomenal melody. I loved that it also has two parts and both are absolutely terrific.

And of course I Won’t Say I’m in Love is the highlight both in terms of music and in terms of storytelling. The sequence that came before it is so wonderfully romantic, but this scene is phenomenal, so well filmed and with great imagery. It is such a perfect vehicle for Meg and it wonderfully propelled her character forward, but it is as a song just awesome. It is a Disney ballad turned upside down with an added feminist twist of sorts as the girl doesn’t want to fall in love this time around, but can’t help it. Its lyrics are so good and the song is so catchy and instantly memorable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

I liked the action sequences here, but they still could have been a bit more majestic. The pacing is totally off and the entire third act just felt rushed which is weird as the material there is so good and it had the potential to be much better executed and much grander. The ending is so wonderful, but those scenes that came before it were admittedly rushed. The film is moving at times and always charming and the humor and dialogue are definitely strong, but it is never ambitious or particularly memorable in any way which is its main problem. It is fun and funny, but never great and always just good. And even though it wouldn’t stack up pretty high on the Disney list, it is still a very fun ride when watched singularly.

Hercules definitely lacks ambition, the pacing is totally off as the third act is rushed and even abrupt plus some of the songs and scenes were subpar, but the film is a fun and funny ride with solid humor and such phenomenal, memorable characters with Meg being one of Disney’s finest heroines. It also has an interesting animation style to it, it is moving at times, very charming and it has a very good soundtrack with Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love being the highlights.

My Rating – 4

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Happy Together (1997)

Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together Movie Review

Happy Together is a 1997 Chinese romance film directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung. It is a very good, poignant film.

It follows a Hong Kong couple who visit Argentina hoping to renew their ailing relationship. The two share a very tumultuous relationship full of abuse and breakups. Now frankly this plot is nothing remarkable nor is it original. And we’ve seen relationships and characters like this before in a number of movies. But the film is still very good as it makes the most use of its situations and characters and, thanks to Wong Kar-wai’s direction, it becomes an understated, elegant work.

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Turns out that lonely people are all the same.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

If I have to be honest, ‘In the Mood for Love’ is to me a much better crafted movie. I know this is the first movie to be released, but the aforementioned movie has a much more memorable ending which is very similar here, but never as epic. The score is the reason why this movie is inferior as it is never as beautiful as it was there.

But that ending is still strong and this is the first time we see the director tackle with his signature style of mixing romance and moving human drama with powerful landscapes, good music and an otherworldly atmosphere. And he did once again mostly a great job here and did elevate this familiar material in the process. In the hands of a different director, this would have been a standard romance. But in the hands of Wong Kar-wai, it becomes something much more than that.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I loved Happy Together’s theme of loneliness. It beautifully showcases romantic yearning, but also a yearning for home country and both are the strongest forms of loneliness, both very well utilized here. As for the characters, both are typical, yet very well developed and you really feel like you met them. The relationship between the two is so strong and I like that it ended on a sad note as a happy ending here would have been out of place.

The subplot with Chang definitely feels like it is tacked on suddenly as that literally happened because the director had to fill in space because Leslie Cheung was away and couldn’t film during that time. But even though it does feel far from obligatory, it is still very beautiful and this character is so tragic and I just loved the scenes with him and Lai.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together is exceptionally well filmed and well paced as well. It is another slow, but deliberately slow paced movie from the director, but it is still very involving and never boring to watch which I admired. But even though the cinematography is strong and I loved its use of black and white and found it to be polished and esthetically pleasing, I still had trouble with its presentation of Argentina as it was portrayed as too poor and dirty. The acting is one of the strongest aspects here with everyone doing a great job, but of course Tony Leung steals the show and delivers another great performance. He truly is a great actor. And I liked that the film was very erotic, but never too much and it was more sensual in quality. It isn’t a great movie, but it most certainly is very good and quite respectable at times.

Happy Together does have a familiar story and characters, but Wong Kar-wai lifted this material with an expectedly terrific direction, the film is emotional and very sensual, I really liked its subplot, the ending was satisfying and it deals with tumultuous relationships and loneliness in a very realistic and heartfelt manner. 

My Rating – 4

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Ghost (1990)

Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost Movie Review

Ghost is a 1990 romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It is a pleasant, authentic blockbuster film.

It follows the woman in jeopardy, the ghost of her murdered lover and a reluctant psychic who assists him in saving her. The plot here is incredibly original and never have I seen something like this in a movie before. Basically it is a romance, it has a chick flick gene to it, but it is also a thriller in most of its parts while being a fantasy and even a comedy and horror in the process. Needless to say, the film’s very diverse genre mix makes it very unique.

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I love you. I really love you.

Ditto.

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Ghost Movie Reviews…………………………………………………………

Now of course it doesn’t always work and it is stronger in some genres than in others. For example, not every fantasy element here worked and truly the object moving could have been better utilized with the Subway Ghost becoming ridiculous whereas he was before pleasantly creepy in the only horror scene in the movie. As for its thriller elements, they are solid and are definitely well executed, but that is the element that reveals its age the most.

The romance here is strong, not as strong as it needed to be because they couldn’t quite develop their relationship with the little time they got. But it was still pretty moving and epic. What I didn’t like was its ending, the previous scenes leading to it were pleasant and romantic, but the ending itself I found to be overly emotional in a typical romantic comedy manner.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost surprisingly enough succeeds as a laugh riot the most as it is just so funny and so inherently amusing in many of its scenes. Whoopi Goldberg and her Oda Mae Brown are the reason why this movie is so good and so incredibly entertaining. She is absolutely fantastic and deservedly got an Oscar for this wonderful role. She is much better than both Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and much more memorable. The relationship between her and Sam Wheat is excellent and I just loved their scenes and her character who is so funny while still being caring.

Ghost has solid effects for its time, but now some of them are admittedly cheesy. The mythology here is solid. It is never as explained as I wished them to have been, but still for a blockbuster like this, the plot is actually really well crafted. The editing I found to be exceptional as the movie is never rushed and never boring. It is actually the most purely entertaining film I have seen in a long time. Its screenplay isn’t as sophisticated and some of the physical humor and action was over-the-top, but most of it was fun and charming instead of obnoxious.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

The characters are strong. The villain reveal was expected, but he was still a solid villain. And I found the tone to be really good as the film is definitely very lightweight and humorous, but never too much and it knows when to be serious and sad. The score is absolutely fantastic and that theme that was repeated throughout was really beautiful. The dialogue is solid, but in the romance department, it can be too maudlin. And the romance between the two is definitely solid, but never as great as the script demanded it to be. But the film is so good in so many areas that I’ve had a great time watching it.

Ghost is overly emotional in its ending and sometimes a bit silly, but the film is such a terrific, one of a kind, hugely entertaining experience with such an intriguing mix of thriller, fantasy and romance, but its humor is also very strong and that is actually the best part here with Whoopi Goldberg being amazing and she easily steals every scene she’s in. 

My Rating – 4

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