Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

Porco Rosso is a 1992 animated adventure comedy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of the weaker Studio Ghibli offerings that still has a lot to offer.

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I’d rather be a big than a fascist

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The subject of aviation is naturally very dear to Miyazaki, but somehow he never really knew how to utilize all that strong love for it. ‘The Wind Rises’ was problematic and Porco Rosso is no exception. It is a film that is just solid and I’d come to expect much more than solid from this director.

So the film is about an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace who was transformed into an anthropomorphic pig. The film is interesting for being the only Miyazaki film that is very realistic and could have happened in real life, everything except the curse part of course. Its Italian location is interesting and unique for the studio and I love the 30s decade so this was pleasant for me naturally.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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But I have to agree with the director himself who stated that he made an adult movie for children. And that is exactly the major problem of Porco Rosso in a nutshell. It is realistic, it has politics and history in it and yet somehow the movie is not serious as it tries to be fun and funny. It is fun and funny at times, but this tonal inconsistency just felt off for me and ultimately the movie did not work as much as it could have had he decided on just one consistent tone.

I found its first act somewhat abrupt as it starts in a rushed way and it did not introduce me to its characters and its world properly. The third act of the film is where it is at its silliest and most childish and although amusing, it felt too silly in contrast to everything that came before it. The second act is easily the best one as it features some strong characterization, humor and wonderful drama.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco himself is very memorable and I really liked his character as he is a departure from the usual heroes from the director, or should I say heroines. His story is excellent and I loved the hint at the end that his face may be restored to human. Fio is such a wonderful, subtly feminist character and she is a lot of fun and has some great energy. The relationship between these two is the heart and soul of the film.

Donald Curtis is somewhat typical as an antagonist and again that fight at the end was silly, but Madame Gina is memorable as a love interest and I really enjoyed the love story in this movie and I even found this triangle to be pretty solid.

Porco Rosso is so well animated. It isn’t quite on par with the previous Ghibli films as it isn’t as artistic and the backgrounds are sometimes lacking, but the designs of the characters are so good, especially that of the protagonist, and the film is pleasing in color and quite endearing. The flight scenes are so well executed and I loved the attention to detail that went into the animation of airplanes. It is evident from this movie how much Hayao loves aviation.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The score is also stupendous. It isn’t as memorable as say the score from ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ or ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is very fitting to the story and feel of the movie, not to mention the locations, and I loved how fun and retro it felt.

The movie is well paced and edited in spite of that somewhat rushed first act. It otherwise flows really well and the direction is as strong as usual. I also thought that the dialogue is quite solid and I loved the conversations between Fio and Porco and his origin story is so well told. So the movie is not one of Ghibli’s strongest and it is more in line with ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. Still, it is endearing and charming enough that I can’t criticize it too much.

Porco Rosso is a problematic movie. The animation is as wonderful as usual for the studio, the characters are memorable, I loved the relationship between Fio and Porco, the locations of the film are different and interesting and the film is so well scored and charming and endearing for the most part. However, I have to agree with Miyazaki himself that this is an adult film for children and it thus felt odd both conceptually and tonally. It struggled with its tone too much, the first act is somewhat rushed and the third act is silly leading to one of Ghibli’s more humble offerings.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Lost City of Z (2017)

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

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The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z is a 2017 biographical adventure film starring Charlie Hunnam and directed by James Gray. It is a pretty good, but never great movie.

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To dream to seek the unknown.

To look for what is beautiful is its own reward.

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

or what’s a heaven for?

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The Lost City of Z Movie Review

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It follows British explorer Percy Fawcett who goes to Bolivia to find the list city in the Amazon. I just love stuff like this and surely this is a classic, old-fashioned adventure flick that they haven’t made in quite a while. Sure, it sometimes tried too hard to be that classic 30s picture and it never came close, but the effort is still much appreciated.

It was somewhat slow, but deliberately so and I didn’t mind. I was immersed in the first half, but the second half lost me a bit with its WWI typical plotting. But the ending is still quite good. I wonder what happened to him in 1925 and it is weird that they had never found his body. This truly is a very interesting story and the fact that it really happened only further strengthens the appeal of the film.

Percy Fawcett was a very interesting, complex individual and I liked that he was portrayed as such here. The characterization, especially of his, is really stellar here. His wife has some great moments and I liked the exploration of that day’s sexism and of course his son is very good and so well played by always great Tom Holland.

But Charlie Hunnam’s performance isn’t the greatest. He is okay in the role, but a better actor would have done a better job. He needed more appeal, charisma and bravado for sure. I also found James Gray’s direction to be overly standard and not all that great for this material.

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The Lost City of Z Movie Review

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But The Lost City of Z is so well made technically and seeing that it was filmed in locations outside was amazing, especially for this CGI-heavy era. It definitely led to a lot of authenticity to the picture. I loved those forests and I loved the film’s atmosphere and mystery. It is a very good film, but its obvious flaws prevent it from reaching much greater heights.

The Lost City of Z is so well shot with beautiful scenery, its real life story is so intriguing and the film succeeds as a biopic and as adventure thanks to strong characterization and a very good, classic approach to it, but the second half isn’t as immersive as the first one is thanks to some overly standard scenes and the direction and acting should have been better. It is a good film, but never as great as it could have been.

My Rating – 4

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The Outlaw and His Wife (1918)

The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

The Outlaw and His Wife is a 1918 Swedish drama film directed by Victor Sjostrom. It is one of the best films from the 1910s I’ve seen so far.

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Their only law was their love

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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It follows an outlaw and his wife who joins him in the escape from authorities. They go from Sweden to Iceland where they live constantly on the run and in the wild. This is in my opinion a precursor to ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, but done better and it also has a touch of ‘Z for Zachariah’ in it. But it came first so it is very original and of course hugely influential for its emphasis on the scenery of wilderness.

Eyvind of the Hills is one very memorable protagonist so well played by Victor Sjostrom. He not only directed this movie beautifully, but also gave a strong performance and that dual presence is felt strongly and he is the biggest reason why the film is so great. Edith Erastoff is also pretty good as Halla and they are great together. Such a wonderful romance develops between the two and the final scene is heartwarming.

The Outlaw and His Wife is a simply gorgeous film that features one of the best technical aspects of any silent film. I am not just talking about the direction, but also about editing which is deft and tight and the film moves quite smoothly. The first half wasn’t as great as the second one was and it did not introduce me to its characters all that well, but the second half fixed that and was a terrific viewing experience.

The cinematography is just stunning. Yes, it is one of the first films to use nature extensively in its narrative, but it is also a character here in and of itself and is very important in the shaping of its main characters.

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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But it is just so beautiful to look at. I loved the mountains and this one was majestic and dangerous. That spring was one of the highlights for me, but I loved every scene where we see the mountain imagery and of course the ending with its harsh winter cold is the perfect finale for this story.

I liked its story, I liked how it ended and I admired that it did not involve as much melodrama as was usual for the period. It truly is a remarkable film, refreshing for its time, even artistic and groundbreaking in narrative and in scenery. It’s one of the biggest classics of the first decade for features.

The Outlaw and His Wife is one of the best films of the 1910s thanks to Victor Sjostrom’s great dual role as a director and actor, a strong story and characterization, many memorable and striking scenes and of course fantastic cinematography with gorgeous mountain imagery.

My Rating – 4.5

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Okja (2017)

Okja Movie Review

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Okja Movie Review

Okja is a 2017 action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho and starring Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. It is a major disappointment.

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She is making us full in love with a creature

that we are already looking forward to eating

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Okja Movie Review

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Yes, this is one of the most disappointing films of the year for sure as it just left me unsatisfied and my expectations were way too high for it. I absolutely loved its premise and the film had great potential, but it squandered it all on a very uneven film that suffers from lost identity.

Yes, the fact that Okja is a South Korean-American co-production really speaks a lot as it tries to include both of the country’s sensibilities leading to a giant mess. Tonally speaking, this movie is all over the place and it was definitely too silly for me and the humor is mostly annoying.

I loved the first act and the ending had its moments, but the entire middle part ruined it for me as it focused on all the wrong elements such as the food industry and those very annoying cartoony characters.

Mija is fine and the only good character in Okja. Lucy Mirando is too cartoony, but admittedly Tilda Swinton did a good job in the role per usual. Others are all forgettable with the exception of Jake Gyllenhaal who is memorable but in a bad way. I am sorry to say this but this is the first time that I honestly really disliked Jake in a film as his performance is ridiculous as is his character.

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Okja Movie Review

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Bong Joon-ho’s direction is also problematic as he wanted to include too many things here but failed miserably. I honestly found its message admirable, but its delivery had the subtlety of an earthquake. Honestly, any kid’s flick would be like this and maybe even better. That is how on-the-nose Okja is.

I loved the imagery, especially in the first act. Korean’s forests are simply beautiful and I really admired those landscapes as well as the pig’s design and effects, very well done. The film is definitely a visual feast for the eyes and it’s a shame that it was wasted on such a problematic script.

Okja is one of the most disappointing films of the year as it let me down significantly. Its premise had potential, the film is visually magnificent and it does have a good beginning and ending, but the entire middle part is frustratingly uneven, the film’s characters are ridiculously cartoony, the tone is just all over the place and the message is delivered in the most unsubtle manner possible. Such a frustrating movie.

My Rating – 3

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 monster film starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson among others. It is a pretty solid, entertaining blockbuster.

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This planet doesn’t belong to us.

Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind.

I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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Its story is actually quite solid which I did not expect. It is a remake of the 1933 original, but the time period is changed to 1973 and it is obviously influenced in style by various Vietnam War movies. It can of course never be compared to the classic original, but I never expected it would come close and it is in the end pretty solid and fun in its own right so it is successful in my opinion.

It is fun because it is so adventurous. The plot is typical, but at least present and well executed. I loved the twist with John C. Reilly’s character and I absolutely loved his entire story, so well done and fascinating, not to mention moving. I now have to see 2014’s ‘Godzilla’ because this MonsterVerse piqued my interest to be honest. That is because its end-credits sequence is really well done and intriguing, but the movie stands on its own and isn’t too connected to other things to come which is why this is definitely the first successful movie universe to come after the MCU, at least for now.

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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What I didn’t like about Kong: Skull Island is of course the character development which is so incredibly weak that it hurt the movie so much. I don’t know what is the point of having all these great actors, and surely this ensemble cast is amazing, if you’re not going to utilize on them properly. Only Reilly’s character is well developed and I really liked him with all of the others being so weak.

It is disappointing to see that Brie Larson did not get a better role after her unforgettable performance in ‘Room’. Her character here is very disappointing and forgettable. Jackson’s character is somewhat better, but still a far cry from his other roles. Tom Hiddleston did not get much to do as well and John Goodman only got one good scene. As I said, the characterization is so weak that it was really troublesome to me personally.

That is also because Kong: Skull Island is just way too frenetic in pace and it didn’t have enough time for either of its characters because the storyline is too ambitious and it wanted to check a lot of the boxes and introduce a lot of the creatures. Certainly that made the film very exciting and hugely entertaining, but rushed and the running time should have been longer for sure.

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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I really liked the use of score as the famous songs from the early 70s were very utilized into the whole picture. The film is very well made technically and I absolutely adored its cinematography. I loved the special effects work here, certainly one of the year’s best. Kong himself looked excellent, I loved his fight with Skullcrawler whose role I did not understand as much, but the fight was great and I loved his final reigning scene. All of the creatures look magnificent and are fascinating here, but also have soul and are superbly used in action scenes. The effects here are the kind of effects I love – light and colorful and pleasing to the eye.

Even though it is way too frenetic in its pace and thus the characterization is mediocre and I did not get why they assembled this great ensemble cast if they were not going to utilize them properly, Kong: Skull Island is so incredibly entertaining to watch that it ultimately succeeds as a solid remake. I loved its adventurous tone, the action was great, the creatures were fascinating, the end-credits scene was intriguing and the film looks fantastic owing to amazing special effects.

My Rating – 3.5

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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings Movie Review

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Only Angels Have Wings Movie Review

Only Angels Have Wings is a 1939 adventure drama film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. It is a good, but not a great film.

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I know, I know, you’d never ask any woman to do anything

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Only Angels Have Wings Movie Review

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I liked this film, but just not as much as I hoped I would. It had the potential for greatness, but it just never materialized and I guess Howard Hawks is to blame as his direction isn’t great and I have honestly never been a huge fan of his and this film is a testament to that.

It is adventurous, very intriguing in setting, interesting and quite charming and romantic at times, but it mostly never finds the right balance as it tries to be a romance, an adventure, a drama and even a tragedy and thus it never establishes a proper tone. I liked it the most as a romantic drama because the relationship between Arthur and Grant’s characters is so good.

Rita Hayworth is good in her first major role that jumpstarted her career, but it is Jean Arthur who is very sympathetic as usual and Cary Grant who are the standouts. Cary Grant is one of my favorite actors and here he gave one of his best performances ever as he is so good as this macho, old-fashioned, sexist man and his humor and bravado are great. The scenes between the two were priceless with the ending being particularly sweet and memorable.

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Only Angels Have Wings Movie Review

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Only Angels Have Wings has excellent cinematography and special effects and those aviation sequences were stellar and splendid, especially for its time. The film has a good atmosphere and it features a setting and subject matter rarely touched upon in Hollywood which led to a rather authentic film. The dialogue is also very good. But the supporting characters are all very forgettable and overly abundant for sure and the film is just never as engaging as it should have been leading to what is arguably a good film, but a huge waste of potential as it easily could have been one of the greats.

Only Angels Have Wings features one of the best ever performances from Cary Grant whose humor and bravado are evident here plus Jean Arthur is as likable per usual and the two share a very interesting romance. The film is also interesting in location and subject matter, but just never as engaging as it should have been with too many forgettable supporting characters and a mix of genres that doesn’t fully work.

My Rating – 4

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Brother Bear (2003)

Brother Bear Movie Review

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Brother Bear Movie Review

Brother Bear is a 2003 animated adventure film which is Disney’s 44th animated feature. It is such a shamefully underappreciated film that is the studio’s most underrated for sure.

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This year, I lost my dear husband, Edgar.

Stop tellin’ everyone I’m dead!

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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It follows a young Inuit boy Kenai who out of revenge kills a mother bear and eventually turns into a bear himself and develops a bond with her cub Koda. The story is deep and meaningful and perfect for children, but just fun and funny enough for adults to enjoy as well, not to mention very sweet and moving.

I will later talk about the cruel response the film received, but now let me state my favorite scenes here. The ending, though too happy, is immensely beautiful and highly emotional. I also loved their journey sequence which was accompanied by such a good song and every scene between the two brothers was simply wonderful.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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Kenai is such a well developed Disney protagonist who goes through a lengthy change of heart and becomes a better person at the end. Even though that is typical Disney stuff, it is so well executed here that it worked entirely as his shift was smooth and well realized. Koda is one of the standouts as this realistic, bratty and sweetly annoying kid who talks too much. He is a fun and funny character and, as I said above, the relationship between the two is one of the best ever for Disney, heartfelt for sure.

Rutt and Tuke are a mixed bag. I am in the minority when I say that they are the worst part of the film and certainly not the best. They have some funny lines and it is interesting that they are Canadian, but they interrupted the flow way too often, they felt like regular Disney sidekicks that were thrown onto the movie for no apparent reason and mostly they were more annoying than funny.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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Denahi and Sitka were solid for the little screen time that they got and Tanana is also a memorable presence who reminded me of Mother Willow from ‘Pocahontas’. But apart from her, I do not get why some say that Brother Bear is a rip-off of ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘The Lion King’ as I just don’t see those connections. And as for those bears in the third act, they were so incredibly funny that they made me laugh quite a lot.

Brother Bear is criticized for having very weak animation but once again I strongly disagree. Its animation is certainly far from great and nowhere near as artistic as you would want from Disney, but it is still in the line of other Disney flicks from the 2000s and certainly not weaker than many of those so I do not see why they chose to trash just this one movie and not the rest. I admired the change in its frame and animation from realistic to cartoony when he turns into a bear, that was very inventive. Although sometimes a bit too colorful, I mostly really liked the look of the film and some of the scenery was lovely. The characters also look good and Koda is very cute. The spirits scenes were the best animated and most visually dazzling parts for sure.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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Brother Bear has quite a solid soundtrack which was again needlessly trashed by the critics (see the pattern here). Great Spirits sounds a bit too contemporary, but is a good, catchy opening for the movie. Welcome is somewhat forgettable and No Way Out is a fine song, but it describes the emotions that we see for ourselves on the screen rendering it totally useless.

Look Through My Eyes is wonderful, catchy and filled with fine lyrics and such a great chorus. And of course the standout here has to be On My Way which is definitely one of the finest songs from Disney’s Second Dark Age. It is a lot of fun, immensely catchy and certainly accompanied by a wonderful, important and charming scene. I personally really like Phil Collins and although his work here is of course very inferior to his work on ‘Tarzan’, it was still solid and I wouldn’t mind if we got more of his involvement in Disney productions.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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Brother Bear has very good voice acting and it is mostly very well made. Its problems are twofold. One is the ending which was sweet, but a bit too happy and I wish that it was more tragic as somehow the film would have felt better that way. The second problem is the pacing which is all over the place as the first act is a bit extended, though definitely important in terms of storytelling, and the third act is certainly quite rushed. The running time here needed to have been longer.

I thought the action scenes were very well executed and pleasantly reminded me of those dark scenes from ‘The Fox and the Hound’. The film is very dark actually as it features two deaths in its first act and I liked that diverse tone here. The humor is fantastic. That old lady bear talking about his “dead” husband and him telling her to stop was absolutely hilarious and one of the funniest scenes ever in a Disney film. And that other bear suddenly talking in Serbian language was just such an unexpectedly hilarious moment which I just loved. The film was sometimes too simplistic in dialogue, but so incredibly emotional in many of its scenes that it honestly touched me quite a bit.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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So, why is it hated so much? I honestly have no idea. I usually do, but this time around, the critics seem to be hating it for no apparent reason whatsoever. Koda’s character obviously influenced Russell from ‘Up’ and the entire bear setup here obviously influenced ‘Brave’ to the point that you can call it a rip-off. So Pixar stole two of its ideas and nobody ever talks about that which is so frustrating. But the film has 38% on Rotten Tomatoes which is just horrible leading to what is in my opinion the most underrated Disney film ever that is along with ‘Lilo and Stitch’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ the only legitimately good film from their Second Dark Age.

Brother Bear is weakly paced and the ending is a bit too happy, but the entire story is sweet and wonderful and it is filled with very likable characters with the relationship between Kenai and Koda being heartwarming. The film is frequently very touching, but it is also very funny with at times hilarious lines and also often quite dark. The animation and soundtrack are also quite solid. So the film is one of the best and rare legitimately good films from Disney’s Second Dark Age and in my opinion it is, out of all Disney movies, their most unjustifiably trashed upon and shamefully underrated.

My Rating – 4

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Castle in the Sky (1986)

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review

Castle in the Sky is a 1986 animated adventure film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is the first Studio Ghibli feature and one of their best in my opinion.

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There’s nothing worse than having your pigtails shot off!

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

The plot is so good here. The film is a fantasy, but above all one grand adventure film and rarely have I seen this spectacular an adventure before. Such an amazing experience this movie provides. As is the case with most Miyazaki films, this one features a strong ecological theme and message to it which was great. The film is admirable for being very long, clocking in at two hours which is quite a lot for an animated film, but here it was worth it as the story is so majestic and big that it needed this much time to be told.

The beginning is intriguing and I liked how it started briskly and with an action sequence. Then the rest of the first act was a bit slow, but that was essential for providing character development, atmosphere and build-up. The second act is very good and that is where we get some of the best moments from the pirates. And of course the third act is the highlight as we finally see Laputa. It was fascinating to see the entire island and city on the sky. The details are remarkable, but more on that later. I loved the ending with the spell of destruction being used. It was dark, tragic and yet necessary.

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

The character development in Castle in the Sky is solid, but not the greatest. To me Sheeta is a typical protagonist, but an interesting case of a strong female character and sort of a Studio Ghibli princess. Pazu is a bit boring and too good, but he serves his purpose. The two are too heroic and sometimes bland, but the relationship between the two is sweet and they got some charming moments together.

As for Colonel Muska, he is a typical over-the-top and power-hungry villain. However, the fact why I liked him quite a bit lies in the twist in his background which was well executed and in his actions which were capable and he actually was a very competent, strong villain who posed some serious danger for the protagonists.

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

But Captain Dola is easily the highlight. Her entire pirate team is a lot of fun and I love her dynamic with her sons and husband. But she is so interesting and unforgettable not only in her looks – pink pigtails is a refreshing look for an old woman – but also in her character as she is good, but still treasure-hungry and she ended up taking a lot of treasure from Laputa in the end. She is simply hilarious and all of the film’s humor comes from her and her many funny lines. She is certainly one of Ghibli’s best and most endearing creations.

The animation in Castle in the Sky is something extraordinary. As I said before, the world building here is simply amazing and the attention to detail is unprecedented. But the animation is so great that it managed to give us all of this world in the best way possible – through old-fashioned hand-drawn style. The character designs are good, the use of color is great and Laputa is breathtaking to witness. I loved its original look, those robots also have an authentic look to them, the nature is beautiful here and the city and its magical properties are so well explored. Everything looks gorgeous in the titular castle, but Pazu’s village is also beautiful to witness and very cozy. This film honestly has one of the best animations ever, that’s how powerful it is. Not only wonderful and detailed, but also stylistic and even artistic. It’s certainly miles above anything Disney produced during this time.

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky sometimes has overwhelming action for sure, but still that action is surprisingly well executed and it is in fact one of the best action oriented animated films. A lot of the set pieces such as the train scene and the final confrontation on Laputa are instantly recognizable and so well done. The movements are polished and the action is as exciting as the story is engaging.

And the score, oh how wonderful the score in this movie is. It is honestly breathtaking and timeless in quality as it lifts the material and animation to even greater heights and having in mind that both were excellent to begin with, the end result is nothing sort of astonishing. A perfect, well rounded package this film is. The entire score is great and I loved the song in the end, but naturally its theme is the standout here – simply gorgeous and unforgettable. Whenever it appeared in the movie, I was mesmerized.

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Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

So it has its problems such as the protagonists and the dialogue should have been stronger as the script demanded it, but the message is great and this is an ecological movie done right. To me this is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s finest movies and a proof of how strong his direction could be. It is also one of Studio Ghibli’s best and such a phenomenal first feature for this amazing studio.

Castle in the Sky has weaker main characters, but the villain is solid and Captain Dola is one of Ghibli’s funniest and most endearing characters. The story here is excellent, so well told and with a great ecological message. The score is simply beautiful, the world building is extraordinary and the animation is artistic, meticulous in detail and simply mesmerizing leading to one of the best animated films ever in my opinion. It is such an epic, grand adventure that is one of Miyazaki’s best and such a terrific first feature for wonderful Studio Ghibli.

My Rating – 4.5

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Dinosaur (2000)

Dinosaur Movie Review

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Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur is a 2000 animated adventure film which is the 39th official Disney animated feature. It is unfortunately one of Disney’s weakest offerings.

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Some things start out big,

and some things start out small,

very small.

But sometimes the smallest thing

can make the biggest changes of all

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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It follows an orphaned Iguanodon who along with his family of lemurs moves in search of a new home after the asteroid hit. Now, the plot is fairly simple and very ordinary. Of course the setting and the creatures are great. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? I myself like them a lot as most people do and I especially love everything ancient and prehistoric which is why this movie was intriguing to me and why that asteroid sequence was the highlight, so well done.

Another major highlight has to be the beginning which is just incredible! It is one of Disney’s better openings and although a bit too much inspired by ‘Tarzan’, it was still great. Watching the egg go from predator to predator and then end up at the lemurs’ place was a phenomenal way to open the movie, it instantly hooks you in the story. But it is then such a shame that the rest of the film is a failure. It is so slow and so typical in its conflict and very uninvolving in its overly standard journey story that it was just one giant snoozefest to witness.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Well, they are not the greatest to put it mildly. The character development is so weak and uninspired that not a single character leaves a bigger impression after you watch the movie and all just fade away. Aladar is as boring of a hero as you could possibly be. Typically selfless and heroic, but without any other attributes to him. As for the lemurs, all of them are forgettable and the mother is basically Kala as the similarities to ‘Tarzan’ continue to pile up. And that womanizing lemur was cringe-worthy with his humor. As for the other dinosaurs, Neera is as basic and forgettable of a love interest as they go and Kron is just so over-the-top and typical. Such a clichéd and dull brute. The conflict between him and Aladar was so boring.

The voice acting is atrocious and possibly the biggest blow to the quality of the entire film. I don’t know what went wrong here as Disney’s films usually have great acting in them, but this one features such terrible or bland at best voices and whenever the actors and actresses had to sell those more emotional sequences, they failed miserably time and again. They definitely hurt the movie the most in the long run.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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Dinosaur had groundbreaking animation for its time and it is worth noting that it is the first ever Disney movie to feature CGI and again Disney won’t use computer animation more prominently until 2005. But here lies the big problem – the film is dated. Yes, obviously it must have been absolutely incredible to watch when it came out, but nowadays, the animation is telling of its age. And that is the problem with computer animation, it is just never as timeless or as artistic as hand-drawn animation is which again goes to show that all of today’s animated films are going to be very dated in just a couple of decades. Such a problematic medium to use. Another problem here is that the use of live-action scenery also felt dated and to me not pleasant at all as it created a jarring look to it. Very frustrating.

Where Dinosaur excels is in the score which is amazing. I just loved its theme which was gorgeous, majestic and epic in the style of Disney’s best scored movies. It certainly helped to elevate many of its scenes to greater and more epic heights. It doesn’t have any songs in it, but the score is so good and it accompanies the scenes so beautifully and fittingly that it is the most memorable aspect of the entire film.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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It isn’t well paced and it isn’t particularly well directed. The dialogue is as ordinary as these types of films usually have. And I have to say that the humor was also lacking and the film was overly serious and whenever it tried to be funny, it mostly failed miserably. Also the emotional investment isn’t the greatest. Yes, some of it was moving, but most wasn’t. I appreciated its realistic approach to the character designs no matter how dated they look now and I liked its apocalyptic and adventurous overtones, but the film was ultimately too ambitious for its own sake and it is one of Disney’s weakest films for sure. It was evident by now that they have entered their darkest period yet.

Dinosaur definitely is realistic and ambitious, it has a couple of awesome sequences with the beginning being the highlight plus the score is the major standout being uplifting and majestic, but the CGI animation here is dated by now, the characters are beyond forgettable, the story is dull and the voice acting is bland leading to one of Disney’s more lackluster efforts.

My Rating – 3

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 animated science fiction adventure film which is Disney’s 41st animated feature. It is one of their weakest outings.

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“You are a scholar, are you not?

Judging from your diminished physique

and large forehead,

you are suited for nothing else?”

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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I don’t know how they could have screwed a premise like this – A crew in 1914 goes to search for Atlantis, the lost civilization. They find it, but the trouble arises when their captain wants to use its resources. It definitely had a lot of potential, but the execution is so muddled that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest films ever. Now I changed my mind upon second viewing and now I do not think it is bad but rather passable. But still that is very weak for Disney’s standards.

It is crazy to think about, but James Cameron basically ripped this movie off when making ‘Avatar’ which is just too similar to this storyline. That is because this is a good story that deals with important issues and themes. I liked its adventurous tone and it is also the first science fiction film to come out from Disney. But the storytelling isn’t the greatest and the film ended up being too simplistic and way too fast paced for it to work.

Let’s talk about the characters. They are unfortunate as the character development is Atlantis’ biggest flaw. The voice actors admittedly did a very good job plus it is a very interesting cast of characters as it is so diverse. There is a Black/Native American character than a Puerto Rican one and also an Italian and French guy. The movie is surprisingly ethnically and gender diverse for a Disney flick.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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But that ultimately did not matter as the film is overstuffed with too many characters and neither of them ever get properly developed and they are all thin as a tissue paper and very forgettable. Milo James Thatch is such a boring central character who is actually more annoying than sympathetic. Rourke is such a typical villain who did pose some threat near the end, but is mostly forgettable.

Kida is a typical native love interest who is weakly developed and overly sexualized. Vinny is the most forgettable of the bunch and his jokes did not work. Sweet is highly likable, but also underdeveloped. Helga is interesting and has some great scenes, Ramirez is also interesting albeit not particularly likable and Mole is just too ridiculous of a comic relief and never really funny. But Packard was funny as this elderly bored lady and she is the only character who made me chuckle here.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire is gorgeously animated. This is the first movie from the studio to be heavily influenced by anime as they really wanted to employ that Japanese style here. And they definitely could employ it successfully so it’s a shame that character and plotwise, all three Disney anime films are very weak (‘Treasure Planet’ and ‘Big Hero 6’ are better than this one, but still so problematic).

I loved its hand-drawn animation, the character designs are very good and particularly the scenery is gorgeous. Some scenes such as that last sequence were stunningly beautiful and that was probably the highlight of the movie. I loved the city, I loved the water and everything looked awesome. The attention to detail that went into this production is staggering as the Atlantean buildings are very unique and they even created an entire language for them. That was very fascinating to witness.

Even though Atlantis is not a musical and doesn’t have any songs whatsoever, it still features a stellar score. The sound is great, but the score is excellent from beginning to end and very atmospheric and grand. It pleasantly reminded me of those old adventure flicks and in that area, it managed to recreate that adventurous feel. That theme near the end is stunning.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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So in the end it is a three-star movie and one of Disney’s weakest for sure. It is awfully fast in pacing and that is why it was a bit dull at times as I dislike excessive action and the third act here suffered from that. But the first act is very rushed too. I just wanted fewer characters in its cast and more time to breathe with more quality dialogue and emotion. This movie is so cold emotionally that it infuriated me. Disney movies are supposed to be heartwarming. So it is an okay film and intriguing, but ultimately frustratingly weak.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of Disney’s most intriguing experiments with a gorgeous anime-influenced animation, excellent score, an impressive attention to detail and a winning premise, but it ultimately failed to become a great sci-fi adventure as it is too fast paced, too emotionally cold and filled with way too many characters who are all very weakly developed. It is a film that had great potential, but is so frustratingly misguided that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest efforts.

My Rating – 3

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