Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 historical fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s weakest offerings.

………………………………………………….

You cannot change fate. However, you can rise to meet it, if you so choose

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I never really cared for this movie and now upon second viewing, I can confirm that it truly is the most overrated Studio Ghibli film ever and also one of their weakest. That puts me in the vast minority, but I have to be honest and say that this is one of a handful of highly respected animated films which I deem very overrated.

That does not mean that Princess Mononoke is a bad movie. It is a solid film which has its strengths. Technically, the film is very strong and more on that later. In terms of story, it is ambitious and its attention to detail is remarkable. It has a strong environmental message and its characters are not painted black-and-white but are rather complex and realistic.

However, I still disliked those characters personally. That is because I could just never connect with any of them. Neither of them was remotely relatable or likable to me and that was a huge hurdle for the movie which never managed to overcome it. And it has too many characters and most are highly forgettable.

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Ashitaka himself is very boring. I do not know why Miyazaki stated that he is an atypical protagonist when he couldn’t be more standard as heroes go. He’s bland and uninteresting. San is underdeveloped as is their relationship. Lady Eboshi is the only very good character in the movie as her motifs, her background and her goals are well realized and she is a complex person in the grey area of morality. But even she was not great.

As I said above, the only truly excellent thing in Princess Mononoke is its animation which is expected from such an art-driven studio. I really enjoyed the forests here and the animals are so realistically designed. The film features very polished, but still old-fashioned type of hand-drawn cell animation. The mix of traditional animation and the computer animation (present in demon flesh) is really well executed.

The film is very well animated, but even its animation is nowhere near the quality of Ghibli’s best films such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ for instance. The film succeeds as a historical piece as it has a great eye for detail and it recreated this period in Japan’s history so well.

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But even though the dialogue is strong and the script is quite good, the execution is far from great. The film is just overlong, clocking in at over two hours. I was honestly bored. It is ambitious and epic for the sake of being ambitious and epic. I am not a fan of epic fantasy and thus this did not suit my tastes.

The film also features overwhelming action. Certainly some of it was great and so well executed with the fight between San and Lady Eboshi being the highlight, but still the film favored action and spectacle over substance. The gore is also overwhelming and not really needed so every bloody scene felt like a big distraction for me. All in all, even the environmental message is done better and more subtly in some of the studio’s previous classics so this surely is one of their weakest offerings.

Princess Mononoke is one of the most overrated animated films. Certainly the animation is excellent and frequently even stunning, the script is good and the characters are realistic and quite complex, but none of them was remotely likable or relatable to me and the film bored me with its prolonged runtime, excessive gore and overwhelming action and spectacle. And even its environmental message is done better in some of the studio’s previous classic films. It truly is Studio Ghibli’s most overrated film and one of their weakest offerings.

My Rating – 3

Share

Tangled (2010)

Tangled Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Tangled Movie Review

Tangled is a 2010 animated musical fantasy film directed by Byron Howard. It is Disney’s 50th feature film and probably their finest modern effort.

………………………………………………….

Go. Live your dream.

I will.

Your dream stinks. I was talking to her

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is the story about Rapunzel, but it of course differs from the original fairy tale as is usual for Disney. The storytelling here is excellent, the film felt like a fairy tale, much more so than most modern fairy tale films, and most importantly, it was very charming and incredibly entertaining to watch. It is engaging from the first to the last moment and it just flies by how fun and wonderful it is.

Tangled is the kind of Disney film that I like and I want. This is the movie that Disney would not make anymore as they unfortunately moved to more modern flicks which are not as great as this one because they are not as warm or as timeless. Tangled mixes the old with the new even better than what ‘The Princess and the Frog’ did.

I will later talk about the diverse animation, but in terms of pure storytelling, this is classic Disney 101 and something that we did not get after this movie unfortunately. You have a fantasy and you have modern action set pieces and more modern humor, but you also got a wonderful romance at the center of it and most importantly – magic. It is an enchanting, gorgeous film above anything else.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about each of its great characters and yes, they are excellent and the characterization here is truly phenomenal. First off, Rapunzel. Wow, I adore her! Honestly, she is my favorite Disney Princess after ‘The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and I adore Ariel. What a wonderful character and a textbook example of why this movie is better than overrated ‘Frozen’ or ‘Moana’.

Rapunzel is never a feminist character who doesn’t need a man. She gets her man and she gets her romance, but she remains incredibly strong and a positive role model nonetheless. She is bright and energetic, spunky at times and immensely charismatic and charming. I love her and she is the heart and soul of this film. She represents the greatness of the concept of a Disney Princess.

Flynn Rider isn’t as great, I have to say. He reminded me too much of Aladdin. However, he is still very funny, very charismatic and ultimately a very memorable, competent Disney Prince. His change in heart is typical, but done really well. The romance between the two is honestly probably my favorite Disney romance ever, they are quite possibly the best couple out of them all. They dislike each other at first, but eventually become friends and then partners. This all sounds familiar, but the execution is so good that it doesn’t matter. The interactions between them are top-notch and very modern. Again the mix between modern and old-fashioned is put to great use in their relationship.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This film doesn’t have that too many characters which is great as those that we do get are so well developed. The entire Snuggly Duckling pub bunch was a lot of fun and they were very endearing. As for Maximus, he is honestly a bit overrated and your typical over-the-top Disney sidekick that was meant to bring in the vast audiences. He is still good and at times quite hilarious with his humor, but he behaved too much and too obviously like a dog. Pascal was honestly the better of the two as this wonderful chameleon pet of Rapunzel’s. His facial expressions were priceless and I like that both of them are mute.

Now, Mother Gothel. Oh, where do I even start with her. She is one incredibly manipulative and extremely intelligent woman. How she tricked Rapunzel was brilliant and every plan she orchestrated fully worked and she never, ever made a single mistake. She is a big presence in the movie and a force to be reckoned with. The exploration of domestic abuse is actually quite strong here and brave to do for Disney. Without any doubt, she is one of the best Disney villains of all time and one of the most underrated ones.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Tangled features such a unique, different and ultimately refreshing type of animation. Yes, this is computer animation and the characters are your typical CGI characters. However, the film also includes hand-drawn animation into its mix and the results are more than stellar. Probably because it is too difficult to do and thus they did not do this again, but this proved how potent the mix of these two mediums could be as they complimented each other so well with both of their strengths. The backgrounds were particularly effective in recreating the fairy tale, historical feel to it with the influence being the wonderful paintings from Jean-Honore Fragonard. The film is rich in detail, fluid in execution and enchanting and unique in its style.

Tangled is a fantasy romance, but also a musical. It has only five songs, but I have to say that this soundtrack is very underrated and actually better than ‘Frozen’s soundtrack as it doesn’t rely on just one musical number. So let me comment upon each of the numbers.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Healing Incantation is short, but enchanting and it works in the context of the story so well. I loved that for once Disney utilized singing actually as a power which was interesting and smartly convenient. I loved all of the hair’s properties and how it looked. I forgot to mention above, but her hair was so difficult to pull off that they employed a new program for it and thus the film became the biggest budgeted animated film in history which is quite interesting.

When Will My Life Begin? is easily the weakest song in this soundtrack, I have to say. It does work as the “I wonder” princess song, but it is still too forgettable, too much like a modern pop song and although the sequence showcases her hobbies and talents extensively, the song itself is bland.

Mother Knows Best is a Broadway number in style, the one that uses that style the most here. It isn’t catchy and it isn’t great, but it works for Mother Gothel and is a very good vehicle for her manipulations and her deceiving character. It is in the end one of the better Disney villain songs.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I’ve Got a Dream is so entertaining! It is the kind of song that we haven’t seen a long time from the studio, the one in which sidekicks sing and it is meant to be one giant, fun, endearing affair. It showcases the heart and quirks of each of its characters and is one of the most purely enjoyable and lovable scenes in the flick. The lyrics are excellent and the song is funny and catchy.

I See the Light is naturally the standout song here. It is too modern, yes. But it does have very good, fitting lyrics for the characters and story. It is beautifully song, it is a grand romantic duet the likes of which we haven’t seen since ‘Aladdin’ and it is both catchy and sweet. It was accompanied by the movie’s most romantic and visually gorgeous sequence which just transfixed me in the state of awe just like some of the company’s best movies have a tendency to do.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Some of the problems of the movie include an overreliance on humor and sometimes a tendency to replicate ‘Shrek’ a bit too much in its style. Actually the humor is frequently excellent and sometimes laugh out loud funny (“Oh look, you’re here too” and “Your Dream stinks. I was talking to her” instantly come to mind), but the movie was the best when it was less funny and less contemporary. And its beginning and ending offered a somewhat annoying voice over narration.

So I stated that the lanterns sequence is one of the best as is the pub one. My other favorites include the cave scene and that action set piece in the canyon. The film has too much action at times, but this one set piece was absolutely magnificent and so well thought out. And of course I loved the ending which was beautifully made and incredibly touching and timeless in its silent approach. Watching her reunite with her parents was heartfelt.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The voice acting is very good with both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi being excellent while Donna Murphy was suitably menacing and dark. The pacing and direction are both pretty good as is the dialogue with a lot of funny lines. All in all, it is the best Disney Revival film for me.

With gorgeous and very unique animation that mixes traditional and computer animation with the style of Jean-Honore Fragonard’s paintings, a very good soundtrack with a couple of terrific songs such as I See the Light and I’ve Got a Dream and many memorable, heartfelt moments, Tangled truly is a modern Disney classic. It is touching, it is also very funny and highly romantic and enchanting. But the reason why it works so well lies in its characters: Rapunzel is so wonderful and one of my favorite Disney Princesses, Flynn Rider is a lot of fun and Mother Gothel is so menacing, manipulative and smart that she’s one of Disney’s finest villains. It is ultimately the best Disney movie of the 21st century so far and so much better than either ‘Zootopia’ or ‘Frozen’.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 animated musical film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It is Disney’s 49th animated feature and one of their most pleasant outings.

………………………………………………….

Like I told y’all, kissing a princess breaks the spell.

Once you became my wife, that made you…

A princess. You just kissed yourself a princess.

And… I’m about to do it again

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is it. This is the movie that signaled the arrival of the Disney Revival era. From here on, the films were much better in quality and major improvements over Disney Second Dark Age flicks. The Princess and the Frog ushered in this new era which is interesting as it contains both the modern and the old-fashioned elements to it and that mix did not hold it back, but it actually strengthened the movie and made it incredibly appealing.

So the modern is the princess herself who is the only Disney princess who works as she has a dream to open her own restaurant. That was great and important. Of course you have African Americans for the first time ever prominently in a Disney movie as the prince, princess and villain are all black. But you also have a very strong relationship at the center of the movie, the setting of New Orleans, the 1920s era and those are all unique things present just in this movie. And the greatest thing about it is that these things are just presented to us and the movie never gets preachy with them which was excellent.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

As for the traditional aspects to it, there are a lot of those as well honestly. So firstly, the technical aspects from the animation to the action to the humor are all very much done in that wonderful classic Disney style of yesteryear. The film looks and sounds like a Disney classic and the fact that we got it this late in the game, 2009, was just awesome. And the most important thing is that this is a princess movie and a musical. Disney went back to their roots here and created a wondrous film in the process.

So yes, The Princess and the Frog is historically very important on multiple fronts, but let’s talk about the story itself. I honestly found the first act a bit rushed for my taste and the movie has way too many characters in it. It is a testament to how strong the character development here is that most of them are memorable and great, but still I could have done with less characters. Those are some of the problems of the movie and why it is not great, but still very good.

The movie has a lot of the elements from other Disney films such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Cinderella‘ and especially ‘Snow White’ in its mix of dangerous and lightweight. It doesn’t do that shift as greatly as that classic does, but still I loved how innocent and carefree the movie felt and still it gave us one major death and a funeral which was great. The film has a very good plot overall, very detailed and filled with a lot of plot points which I really liked and it honestly flies by how engaging and lovable it is. And that prolonged ending is beautiful with its two weddings.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Tiana is truly a phenomenal Disney princess, probably one of my favorites after seeing the movie for the second time and so incredibly underrated. I loved her dream of owning a restaurant, but I liked how she had to learn how to live her life and be fun as well. She is very sweet and charming, so beautiful and just a wonderful princess overall.

Prince Naveen is an excellent Disney prince as well. He is spoiled and rich, but gets better and learns the benefits of work in the end. The clashes of their personalities and how each had to complement each other was a really clever choice that paid off tremendously as their relationship was truly terrific and so well established. They are a wonderful couple.

The movie has some charming sidekicks in it. Louis the alligator plays a trumpet and is just such a fun, lovable dude. I really liked him and he was sweet and caring. But of course Ray the firefly is probably the standout supporting character as he is the most heartwarming creature here. His death was tragic, but also simply beautiful and the entire Evangeline the star subplot was honestly poetic in quality. Some really moving stuff to be had here.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Mama Odie is a hilarious take on a Fairy Godmother persona. This old woman is blind and lives in a boat on a cottage with her pet snake. How fun is that?! Lawrence is the forgettable henchman, but Dr. Facilier is solid. His design, his song and his voodoo shtick are all great and unique. However, he was too silly, he rarely posed real threat and was disposed of pretty quickly by Tiana. He had the potential for greatness, but was ultimately a missed opportunity.

And the final character I want to talk about is Charlotte. She is a stereotypical Southern girl in search of a wealthy husband and she surprised me. At first I thought she was going to be just that stereotype, but turned out to not only be funny, but also a great, truly admirable friend to her Tia and the lack of any malice toward Tiana’s eventual marriage to Naveen just made me love her all the more. So the film has too many characters (those henchmen were forgettable and that entire frog hunting sequence was a fun detour, but detour nonetheless), but those that work are great and surprisingly well developed.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog has gorgeous animation. This is the penultimate Disney hand-drawn feature which makes me so sad as here they showed how powerful that animation is. The mix of CGI in it with the lights mostly added that modern polish to it, but the animation overall is so wonderfully traditional with some beautiful painterly backgrounds and a truly accomplished character design. I loved how this film looked and although the frogs themselves were too simplistic, Ray, Facilier and the humans all looked fantastic and the attention to detail is overwhelming here. They recreated this decade and town so vividly and I loved the swamp setting as well.

Finally, let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is in my opinion one of the finest Disney soundtracks of all time. It doesn’t have the best Disney songs, but it has a lot of very good songs and thus is becomes a terrific soundtrack. And I loved that it is a jazz score and we’ve never really had jazz songs in a Disney flick at this capacity before. That made it unique.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Down in New Orleans is a fun tune, the kind of tune that introduces you to the movie’s setting and time period and it does that really well. I was not a fan of it before, but now I like it much more as it is catchy, fitting in style to the film and overall successful, if too short. When We’re Human is the weakest of the bunch as it is very forgettable and to me unnecessary even.

Ma Belle Evangeline isn’t something I would sing, but it works well in the context of Ray’s character. Friends on the Other Side is awesome! It is in fact one of the finest Disney villain songs ever as the imagery is superb here, it reminded me so wonderfully of Ursula’s scene and song in ‘The Little Mermaid’ and it is the finest moment for Doctor Facilier for sure. It has such a catchy, terrific finale.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Gonna Take You There is the most entertaining song here for sure! It is a fun scene and the tune is endlessly catchy and you just can’t help but sing along with it. Dig a Little Deeper is a great moment for Mama Odie, again the descriptions and the message/motifs are so well incorporated into its lyrics and the song is not only so catchy and fun but also accompanied by gorgeous imagery.

And of course my favorite has to be Almost There. This jazz number is the perfect kind of “I wish” princess song but with the added twist of the wish being a job and not a prince. The entire scene is so well animated and I loved its different, simplistic style incorporated there, it has a great use of the mother’s character and the lyrics are great. It explains Tiana’s character superbly and is just all around incredibly well sung, immensely catchy and one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

………………………………………………….

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So it isn’t all that well paced, but the score is great, the film is fun and innocent but also dark at times and it has some great imagery, details and animation style. The voice acting is also top-notch across the board and the humor is quite solid. I really enjoyed this film despite some of its problems. It was a great start of a new era for the company and it truly is one of the most underrated Disney films recently.

With a terrific mix of traditional and modern in its storytelling and presentation, gorgeous hand-drawn animation, a plethora of lovable, charming characters and one of Disney’s greatest soundtracks with wonderful songs like Almost There, Friends on the Other Side, Gonna Take You There and Dig a Little Deeper, The Princess and the Frog has its pacing issues and a weaker villain, but it is the movie that signaled the arrival of Disney Revival period with an abundance of style, a standout princess and many beautiful scenes.

My Rating – 4

Share

Pom Poko (1994)

Pom Poko Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Pom Poko Movie Review

Pom Poko is a 1994 fantasy drama anime film from Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata. It is one of the weaker, but still underrated Ghibli films.

………………………………………………….

They used their balls as weapons in a brave kamikaze attack

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So this is basically another nature tale where environmentalism is the prevailing message. This time around we follow raccoon dogs who have the power to transform into anything and are forced to transform into humans and live in their society as their forests are getting destroyed. So they do try to hammer this message a bit too much and for some that would be a deal-breaker, but I didn’t mind it too much as it is a very important message and people and children should be aware of this problem.

This is a very interesting film in that it very much seemed like a live-action film. Let me explain. Its running time is two hours and the film is sprawling, ambitious and rich in themes and characters which are all rarely seen in animation. That was a two-edged sword however. It was admirable in ambition, but it was also probably too long and some scenes in its middle section felt either repetitive or even unnecessary. There were too many details and plot points in my opinion.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But the story in Pom Poko still worked and these raccoon dogs were very interesting as they have the power to transform and all those transformations were beautiful and interesting to watch. I loved how the humans were realistically portrayed in all their actions and yes – the ending killed me. It  affected me emotionally as it truly is a beautiful, poignant scene. Watching them live as humans and miss their forest home was devastating, but still that final scene where Shoukichi gathers with his companions was so touching and the fourth wall breaking finale was also devastating.

So Shoukichi is a memorable, likable protagonist, Oroku is a lot of fun and old Seizaemon is great. Now most of these characters are underutilized as you got too many of them, but still they all felt like a big family thanks to a lot of emotional connection, excellent interactions between them and fun humor. I loved their relationship with humans too. The voice acting is also pretty good per usual.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So let’s talk about the animation. Firstly, the character design. Let’s first address the elephant in the room – those giant balls. Yes, these animals have giant balls that in the movie they use to fight the humans in the end even. So yes, it felt weird, but if you are used to anime, you would not mind it like I did not. In fact, it was quite funny to me and it is the most memorable thing about the movie for better and for worse. Love it or hate it, it is bold and the overall character design is actually excellent as they have three forms and they shift from realistic to anthropomorphic to transformed so smoothly and all the forms are beautiful.

The overall animation is very competent and actually great. I loved the natural landscapes, but the city imagery was also very memorable. That scene where you witness the destruction of the hill for the placement of the city was truly heartbreaking. The animation here is so polished and so beautiful as a whole that it honestly doesn’t stay too much behind their more well known, earlier efforts. The parade sequence is particularly dazzling to witness.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko also has a very strong score which accompanies those emotional scenes so well and I really liked it personally. The pacing is problematic, but the direction from Isao Takahata is very strong per usual as he is one of my favorite anime directors for sure. But I have to say that I really did not like the narration here.

The dialogue overall is excellent here and the movie is smart, but that narration kidified the movie a bit too much and it was just so unnecessary and extremely overwhelming as it took up a lot of the movie. But the humor is honestly quite solid and the film is charming and poignant enough that it overcame those many flaws and it is in my opinion quite underrated and possibly better than overrated ‘Porco Rosso’.

Pom Poko is a flawed, but solid and ultimately even underrated Ghibli film. Its narration truly is overwhelming, the film may be too weird for some in regards to the character design and it was too long and the middle section dragged a bit, but still this is a very moving, rich tale with a strong environmental message, likable characters, accomplished animation and such a poignant, truly touching third act.

My Rating – 3.5

Share

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a 1947 fantasy romance film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is such a beautiful movie.

………………………………………………….

You must make your own life amongst the living and,

whether you meet fair winds or foul,

find your own way to harbor in the end

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The story is great and it is something that only could have been made during the forties as they were really into ghost stories during this decade. A young widow comes to a haunted house and there she befriends a ghost seaman. Eventually the two develop feelings for each other and that leads to many obvious problems.

The highlight was that beautiful third act. I rarely love the endings from the forties that portray a passage of time, but this one was done really well and it told us surprisingly quite a lot given that we only get a handful of scenes over a great period of time. Great writing right there. And the finale is indescribably beautiful and perfect, I loved it!

But I also loved the film’s exploration of different genres. It is atmospheric at first, sort of like a horror film, then it delves into comedy for a couple of scenes with some really funny banter between the two and it eventually leads to heartbreaking and at last heartwarming drama. But it is above all a fantasy romance and rarely have the two genres coalesced so perfectly into each other as evidenced here.

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Rex Harrison definitely gave a very typical voice here, but still he was very charismatic and highly likable. I really enjoyed him and his performance. George Sanders was typically typecast here and I honestly really disliked his role and his part of the story as it was obvious from the first moment how it would end and it came as sort of a detour to the film, a rushed and unnecessary detour. That is the only thing I disliked in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Mrs. Muir herself is great and such a fine character so wonderfully portrayed by Gene Tierley. This has to be her career finest performance as I have never seen her be this great. She is beautiful and the camera surely does love her, but she is also very competent in the role, very complex and ultimately she gave possibly the year’s best female performance.

The relationship between the two is just wonderful. This is one of the rare romances that honestly gave me the feels. I rooted for the two end up together so strongly which is a rarity for me, but the writing and the dialogue are so good and their relationship is so sweet that I fell in love with both of them almost immediately. It is one of the best love stories from this period without any doubt, it’s both moving and timeless in quality while also being fueled by its fantasy aspect to give it that extra layer of awesomeness. It is a better movie than ‘Ghost’ in my opinion.

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

As I said above, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is so well written and having some excellent lines of dialogue and great quotes, but above all it is superbly directed by one of my favorite directors Joseph L. Mankiewicz and he excelled here and gave this movie such a polished feel. The cinematography is simply stunning and it led to the only Academy Award nomination for the movie (ridiculous).  I loved the house, the effects and the beach scenes were the best. And the score is so incredibly moving and atmospheric in quality that it fuels the more emotional scenes to even greater heights.

Beautifully scored, gorgeously shot, so well directed and fueled by Gene Tierney’s wonderful, powerhouse performance, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is an underrated, marvelous fantasy romance that I simply adored. It is so well written and it has such a beautiful ending, but its romance is so elegant and lovable that I was fully invested in it. It shifts genres so well and it is such a moving, even poetic film that really needs to be appreciated more.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Sleight (2017)

Sleight Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Sleight Movie Review

Sleight is a 2017 fantasy drama film starring Jacob Latimore. It is an okay, but very disappointing indie flick.

………………………………………………….

So, she’s a lot cooler than you?

………………………………………………….

Sleight Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Its plot actually had some potential and is rather interesting. It mixes drama with fantasy elements and is basically a drug movie but with a magical twist as its protagonist is a magician. It is implied that his powers are real at the end. I liked those magical elements, but they were sorely underutilized and ultimately disappointing in context to the whole movie despite having some memorable moments.

And its drug part is as typical and as annoying as you would come to expect from “black people selling drugs in order to support a family member” premise. Entirely unoriginal and only the magical element was new and exciting but it also fell through unfortunately.

Jacob Latimore is memorable in the role and quite good and all of the actors did a solid job, but the characters themselves are quite boring and typical stereotypes and nobody managed to stick through. And the direction by its new director isn’t the greatest as expected.

Sleight is well edited and paced and it is not boring and its running time is manageable, but should have been used for better things as the film was sometimes repetitive and I also thought that some scenes and plot progressions felt unrealistic and the film was not brutal enough which is weird to say coming from a guy who hates violence, but here the film was too non-violent given the premise.

………………………………………………….

Sleight Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I felt like that throughout the whole time watching the movie and the stakes were never as high as they needed to have been. There are some memorable scenes here such as all those magical moments, but most of it was forgettable and uninspired leading to one of the weaker films of the year and one of the more disappointing indie films.

Sleight is well acted and quite interesting in its premise, but underutilized and familiar in its execution with uninspired drama elements, dull and forgettable characters and too many typical scenes. A disappointing indie flick.

My Rating – 3

………………………………………………….

Share

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review

Pan’s Labyrinth is a 2006 fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is one of the best films of all time and one of my personal favorites.

………………………………………………….

But captain, to obey – just like that –

for obedience’s sake… without questioning…

That’s something only people like you do

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The story is brilliantly crafted and the shift from war/historical drama to dark fantasy is always conveyed smoothly and in a slick fashion. That’s why the film is great as both a war drama and a fantasy and it really wouldn’t be as phenomenal had it relied on just one of those genres. It is the ultimate Spanish Civil War movie as it captures the brutality of its soldiers and all of the shootouts so well while giving us an unforgettable villain in the process, but more on him later.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy, a very dark one indeed which means that it isn’t really suited for kids and only adults should watch it. It is the finest adult fairy tale ever conceived and one of the all-time best in the fantasy department. What I loved about it is its attention to detail in the modern recreation of a fairy tale.

The tasks obviously come from all those classic fairy tales, but the brutality and the grotesqueness of its creatures is particularly great as it also is faithful to the mature tone of all those fairy tales and is in line with del Toro’s vision. The look of the creatures and the use of insects here are his trademarks. So the film is phenomenal for the fact that it feels like an adaptation of an ancient fairy tale, but is in fact an entirely original work which just goes to show how talented and creative this man really is as he also wrote the script for the movie.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Ofelia is such a great protagonist. She is your archetypal fairy tale hero, but always competent and brave. Her sacrifice in the end was touching and her plight in the entire film is hard to watch. I loved Mercedes. She is a kick-ass female character and the only one who genuinely managed to stop and hurt Vidal and thus she is the bravest person here. All of her scenes were filled with intensity and simply brilliant.

The Faun is very well imagined and I loved his uniquely grotesque and different design. The Pale Man is even more memorable as this child-eating monster with eyes on his hands. His design is absolutely fantastic and so authentic. I also loved those fairies and the scene where the two were eaten was devastating. And of course that giant toad was a short, yet memorable presence.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

And now we come to Captain Vidal. What is there yet to say besides that he is one of the greats. He is a calculated and brutal villain, but never quite becoming a cartoon villain as he was realistic to me and I could see that he could have been a real figure. There were people like him, dictators, and thus the movie is all the more hard-hitting. His presence is felt in every scene, he is creepy and powerful and he never made a mistake which I also loved. He is one of my favorite villains ever and one of the biggest reasons why this film is such a classic.

The acting is of course magnificent. Ivana Baquero did such a terrific job in the main role and for a child, she was absolutely superb and she sold her every scene. Maribel Verdu is also competent and she did a great job in such an admirable female role. The voices of the creatures and monsters were all terrific as was the narration. And of course Sergi Lopez was amazing in the villain’s role and he brought him to life in such a grand style with excellent facial and voice work.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Pan’s Labyrinth is visually dazzling. It is a dark film, but here that approach was warranted given the tone and still it could be well seen. The cinematography is absolutely terrific with some of the camera movements bringing a lot of intensity to the scenes. Of course the shaving scene is so well filmed with that clock approach, but I liked every one of its brutal scenes as they were so well filmed and they knew when to show us the whole thing and when not to show us.

The film is brutal and sometimes too painful to watch, but only in a couple of its scenes and even though I dislike violence, here it was crucial for the plot and especially its villain and thus I didn’t mind it. Some of the imagery here concerning the fantasy elements was fantastic and I loved that bright ending. I also loved the use of the forest and the house, both looked great.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Of course the effects are excellent. As I said above, the creatures look very original in their grim and somewhat creepy designs and all are brought to life so well and they meshed superbly with the screen actress. The film’s editing is just brilliant and so tight that every scene here lasted for just the right time and nothing at all was either rushed or prolonged. That is why the movie is consistently involving from beginning to end.

Pan’s Labyrinth features an unforgettable score which I never forgot from the moment I heard it. The whole film has great sound effects and great score, but Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby is just such a gorgeous theme which really stuck with me long after seeing the film for the first time. It gives power to all of the scenes that use it, especially the emotionally rewarding ending and its melancholic and beautiful tone just gets me every time.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

My favorite scenes are the ending, the labyrinth chase, the demise of the villain, the Pale Monster and Mercedes hurting Vidal. The film’s tone is dark and mature, but there is light in its ending which was necessary to break all that brutality and darkness. The direction from Guillermo del Toro is just brilliant and this is his magnum opus and better than any other movie he’s made by a mile. The film is memorable and original with such a great dialogue and story and it’s also so emotional and simply powerful in every way. It is my favorite movie from the 2000s and an undisputed classic.

With superb visuals and authentic creature designs, such a great score with an unforgettable melancholic theme, excellent performances across the board and many instantly memorable sequences, Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro’s magnum opus which features a fantastic and very dark original story and one of the best film villains ever in Captain Vidal. Whether as a drama or as a fantasy, the film is consistently engaging and superbly crafted in every way. It is simply an immaculate achievement and one of the greatest films of all time.

My Rating – 5

………………………………………………….

Share

Colossal (2017)

Colossal Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal is a 2017 fantasy thriller film directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. It is one of the year’s most underrated films.

………………………………………………….

Hi. She’s the monster; I’m the robot

………………………………………………….

Colossal Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The film really should not be talked about in detail as the story is so unique that it should be experienced by everyone without spoilers. It is one of the most original films that I have ever seen and its offbeat nature just blew me away. It seemed like something anime would do and seeing it in an American film and realizing that it is not based on anything previously published or released makes all the difference. It is the proof that originality is still possible, even in this day and age.

It juggles its tones so well and it truly is very diverse in terms of the genres. I do not agree that it is a dark comedy, but it does have some of those elements. It also has some drama as well as really well realized horror elements. But it is at its core a fantasy thriller in my opinion. The film starts as a drama, then suddenly becomes a full-on fantasy and it afterwards introduces strong thriller elements with its villain. It is unlike anything I’ve seen before.

………………………………………………….

Colossal Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Of the highlights, I absolutely adored its ambiguous ending as well as the final fight which was so well thought out and with a great twist. The film has exceptional attention to detail and they truly did the most they could do with this premise. Some of the chases felt unrealistic and to me the film has a plot hole or two (why not call the police or at least retain the villain in some way), but those plot contrivances are to be expected of any crazy and original idea and most of the movie had no such problems.

Dan Stevens is good in the role, but this is the show between Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway. Him I did not buy in this role as his comedic background was not perfect for a very dramatic, serious role. He is still good, just not great. But the character is so well written and memorable. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, entirely stole the show here and delivered one of her best roles to date in such a phenomenal, really strong and heroic female role.

………………………………………………….

Colossal Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Colossal is so well made. The direction is good and the script is out of this world. Its attention to detail and its dialogue are both terrific and the movie is actually pretty smart. It actually explores two things really well. One is the nice guy facade which women do know a lot about and the other is a quest to beat alcoholism which is the main theme of the film. Every woman should see this movie in my opinion as its heroine is great and the troubles she faces should prove relatable to them.

The score is forgettable, but I did like its special effects. Humble, yet very well done and the two creatures correspond well to the two characters. I liked their designs quite a bit. The film can be surprisingly funny at times while also being genuinely dark at other times. It is always a riveting ride and truly one of the most underappreciated films of 2017.

With absolutely amazing and actually quite thematically rich script, excellent characters and a superb performance from Anne Hathaway in such an admirably heroic female role, Colossal is simply unlike any movie I’ve seen before. It juggles its tones and different genres so well to create a well thought out and incredibly offbeat story that is not only incredibly entertaining, but also very deep. It is one of the most underrated films of 2017.

My Rating – 4.5

………………………………………………….

Share

Big (1988)

Big Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Big Movie Review

Big is a 1988 family fantasy comedy film starring Tom Hanks as a boy who makes a wish to be old and he becomes a 30 year old man.

………………………………………………….

And I’m three months older than you are, asshole!

………………………………………………….

Big Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is a film that has quite a unique and interestingly very original and rarely explored premise. The beginning with the machine is very well executed and memorable. But the middle of the movie is Big’s weakness because it is filled with typical movie tropes that are reminiscent with so many 80s and 90s family films. It also has some very naive scenes that are hard to believe and illogical. And it can get pretty cheesy and familiar. But the film’s third act gets it back on the track with a phenomenal exploration of its central theme – childhood versus adulthood. And her realization and their emotional goodbye is such a warm and heartbreaking scene and also a perfect conclusion to a heartwarming story that seems as if it came right out of a fairy tale. It is so good and effervescent.

………………………………………………….

Big Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The characterization is pretty good as is of course the acting. Tom Hanks is expectedly superb in the protagonist’s role and he plays Josh Baskin perfectly, always making you remember that the character is in fact a lot younger because he embodies that inherent childlike behavior that is essential for the role. Elizabeth Perkins is wonderful as Susan Lawrence, his love interest. Her performance is very good and the character is surprisingly poignant, realistic and very likable. Her relationship with Josh is very endearing from start to finish and she possesses an inherent charm. The other characters are all quite forgettable, but those two are great and his best friend Paul is a likable and also very realistically depicted kid.

The direction is quite good, but the score is stupendous, very beautiful and moving at times. The dialogue is also quite solid and the editing is mostly good. The film benefits from its offbeat premise and a lot of heart at its core.

………………………………………………….

Big Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Big should have been funnier and that is my problem with it definitely. It has its charms, but it should have been funnier having in mind it is a comedy above all. And that middle of the film with some boring office sequences and a lot of unnecessary characters with naive behaviors definitely ruined the movie. But this is a children’s movie from the eighties and such problems in the script are expected. And the kid should have been ten instead of thirteen years old because it is much more realistic for him to be younger. However, the movie manages to transcend above those clichés with its very original and incredibly moving ending. And professional acting and endearing characters certainly don’t hurt.

It has its flaws including some cheese factor and some naive sequences, but Big is largely a stupendous family movie with charming characters, great Tom Hanks in the central role, some wonderful themes, heartbreaking ending, nice score, quite offbeat and very well used premise and a lot of heart at its core. As family films from this period go, it definitely is quite underrated in its own right.

My Rating – 4

Share

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Kiki’s Delivery Service Movie Review

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Studio Ghibli’s forth film which is solid, but pretty overrated.

………………………………………………….

Flying used to be fun

until I started doing it for a living

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows a young witch in training. She hits her teenage years and moves to a new town where she starts earning money by delivering packages with her broom. She meets a lot of different people and experiences adulthood. It is a coming-of-age flick which should prove awesome for children and most especially little girls, but it is in my opinion too childlike and girly and it doesn’t have the adult appeal that childlike movies such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ have.

That is mostly why I didn’t love it. I liked it more upon my second viewing, but I still think it isn’t better than solid. The plot is somewhat non-existent except that it is a coming-of-age story and although it is too slow at times, I mostly liked its casual approach which is the director’s signature direction. He directed the film really well, that’s for sure.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Of course Kiki not being able to talk to her cat eventually and losing her flying ability was a metaphor for becoming an adult and losing your innocence and I loved that, a very elegant and heartwarming way to state that transition. The movie is slow, but certainly quite sophisticated and although seemingly too sweet, it does portray many different types of people and some not all that good so it does become more mature at some points, but too rarely.

I’ve had a big problem with its ending. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that is leisurely in style and pace and thus its climactic ending felt way out of place and honestly quite ridiculous. It is a typical action-oriented finale that should be reserved for all those stupid family flicks made in USA and seeing Miyazaki resort to that was unfortunate.

Kiki is a good character, though a bit too good natured and somewhat forgettable when put against other strong Ghibli heroines. Jiji’s sarcasm proved to be a lot of fun and again I really liked that only she could talk to him. Their relationship pleasantly reminded me of Lyra and Pan’s relationship in ‘Northern Lights’.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Osono is charming and Ursula shared a really great scene with Kiki and I loved her artistic background. As for Tombo, he is your typical Ghibli male love interest, but their relationship was admittedly quite sweet and touching. The voice acting is expectedly very good here.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is as superbly animated as you would come to expect from the caliber of this studio and its famous director. The character designs themselves are good, but it is the backgrounds that prove to be a real treat here. I absolutely loved how gorgeous some of the imagery was here. I always loved seaside towns and this town being European in style was refreshing to see in an anime film. I loved how the town looked and it felt so cozy, but the house interiors, the food, of course the nature and every little detail was beautiful to witness and Ghibli’s early films from eighties and nineties really do give hand-drawn animation a great reputation.

The score is also very good and grandiose and different in its style which I loved. Its opening and closing number was also quite sweet. The film is definitely wonderfully made technically and both the script and the dialogue offer some gems in terms of the scenes. My favorite scenes are Kiki’s discussion about art and flying with Ursula, her first scenes in a new town were all phenomenal and her scenes with Tombo and Jiji were all big winners.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So the film is pleasant and charming, but admittedly too slow at times and I honestly thought that the film was way too simplistic and it definitely ended in a very mediocre, frustratingly annoying manner. It is a movie that is perfect for kids and little girls, but it never has that universality to it that other Ghibli classics have. It is the weakest Ghibli outing from the eighties by far and definitely one of its most overrated films. It is solid, don’t get me wrong, but I’d come to expect much greater things from this magnificent studio and this one is certainly way too overrated for my taste.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is expectedly gorgeously and meticulously animated, very well scored, pleasantly leisurely in pace and style with a good metaphor and it is a charming coming-of-age film that is great for children and especially girls, but it isn’t all that appealing to adults, I found its ending annoyingly too climactic and out of place and although the film is definitely sweet and solid, it is far from great and is actually one of Studio Ghibli’s most overrated works.

My Rating – 3.5

Share