Time Bandits (1981)

Time Bandits Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Time Bandits Movie Review

Time Bandits is a 1981 family fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam and starring John Cleese and Sean Connery. It is such a frustrating, disappointing film.

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Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

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Time Bandits Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now I obviously dislike Terry Gilliam as I do not care for most of his movies and that is why I didn’t like Time Bandits as well. He infuses this movie with his signature and very annoying style and thus ruins what could have been a great family fantasy flick with interesting time travel elements.

The biggest problem is its lack of identity. The film tries to be both a family fantasy adventure and a bizarre, odd comedy for adults and you can’t have it both ways. Some parts were admittedly funny and some scenes were very interestingly conceived and intriguing in imagery and mythology, but for the most part both of these movies failed in my opinion.

That is because the fantasy elements were mostly overly campy and filled with a ridiculous villain and many silly characters such as those dwarfs. Not only silly, but the characters are also annoying and some are even plain unlikable.

As for its comedy, it fails in that regard as well owing to its obvious Pythonian style. And having in mind that I do not like ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, I naturally disliked that that humor was present here too. So disappointing and not to mention really not fitting to this story.

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Time Bandits Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Time Bandits does have some inspired scenes with awesome imagery and great effects for its time. Its first half contained some clever dialogue and funny lines. And the overall film is certainly original in plot and characters, but done for better and for worse. I just had such high expectations for this film and it left me feeling cold and even bored. In the hands of any other director, this would have turned out great, but in the hands of Terry Gilliam, it ended up being another frustrating experiment.

Time Bandits is such a frustrating movie and another proof that I strongly dislike Terry Gilliam’s style. It does have some interesting scenes and imagery and you can’t deny its originality, but it is tonally inconsistent as it tries to be both a family fantasy flick and an odd, bizarre comedy and it just never succeeds in either of those areas as the humor is overly Pythonian and the fantasy elements and characters are silly.

My Rating – 3

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 musical romance film directed by Bill Condon and produced by Disney. It stars Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Dan Stevens.

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My dear Belle, you’re so ahead of your time.

This is a small village, and it’s small-minded, as well.

But small also means safe.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

This 2017 version is a remake of the 1991 classic Disney animated film which is regularly cited as one of the best animated movies ever made. So naturally this adaptation was a risky venture and some may say even unnecessary. However, the end result is quite good so to me it was worth it. I liked most of the things and I truly hated just a couple of aspects so I ended up liking the film overall despite it being naturally inferior to its predecessor.

The plot isn’t as rehashed as everyone has been saying. Definitely some scenes are just way too repeated, but because those are classic scenes, you basically couldn’t do it any other way. So I am here only going to talk about those different plot points as we all know the overall story from the original film.

The beginning was a nice idea as it showed us how the prince was turned into a beast. However, they didn’t do it in the best way possible and the scene felt too safe and tame as is the whole flick, but more on that later. I have to say that I almost disliked the first act of the movie as it was mostly just repeated from the original with nothing new added to the table.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

What I liked is that we got too hear the backstory for the Beast, but the highlight was Belle’s backstory. That entire Paris sequence was beautifully conceived and executed. It was emotional and a perfect way to both progress their relationship and reveal to Belle what happened to her mother. That explanation was definitely good, but more often than not, I actually really disliked the film’s talkative, explanatory approach as they had the need to spoon-feed to their audience literally everything (how the two learned how to dance for example) and thus they lost the simplicity and sophistication of this tale and the original movie.

How Maurice got blamed and proclaimed a madman was changed and actually for the better as it was much more believable. The same goes for Agathe as I really liked her mysterious presence throughout the whole film. And the objects turning into anthropomorphic state was another good idea well executed. Overall, I liked these changes, but they were too minor and I would have liked to have seen more sophisticated additions and themes.

The characters are great. Belle is as great as before and the same goes for Gaston who is even funnier and more memorable here. Sometimes the feminist approach with Belle was too on-the-nose, but she was mostly too likable to dismiss. Beast to me was the only truly weaker character as I thought he was too timid and his design was thoroughly unappealing to me personally. Quite poor CGI there. But I have to say that the various romantic scenes that they added for the two were great and they helped strengthen their relationship even more.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Maurice is different than in the original film, but still quite good and likable. LeFou being gay is an interesting and fitting choice, but it backfired as they didn’t do anything with it. They raised the roof for him being the first gay Disney character and I thought that those elements here were too much played for laughs and ultimately disappointing. But I liked his relationship with Gaston and how he eventually turned to the good side, that was great.

Lumiere and Cogsworth and solid and they provide some quite good laughs, Mrs. Potts is also solid albeit infinitely inferior to the original version and Madame de Garderobe and Maestro Cadenza were good new additions.

The acting in Beauty and the Beast is superb. The casting is top-notch as everyone looks the part, even Dan Stevens who is too physically unappealing for the prince, but he was like that in the original too and he gave a good performance. I love Emma Watson, I always have and I am glad that her career is as strong as ever nowadays. To me she was weaker at first, but as the film progressed, she became much more confident and ended up being great in the role. She blended in this movie beautifully as she was just born to play this role. She became Belle and I adored her.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

But Luke Evans is great as well. He managed to bring both the comedic and the serious to the role and he both looked the part and played it superbly. All of the other actors and actresses did a very good job with the exception of Ewan McGregor whose French accent is just horrible.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the songs. This is the first movie in this live-action adaptation era for Disney that is a true musical and I liked that, but to some extent. Musically speaking, it is infinitely inferior to the original and it just makes you appreciate the 1991 film even more. But I still liked that the songs were there as it was pleasant to experience them again and in live-action treatment.

Belle to me felt somehow too long and Emma Watson’s singing, although good for an actress, is ultimately subpar and I missed Paige O’Hara here. Belle Reprise is never as grandiose as it was before. Be Our Guest is actually pretty solid, although definitely too muted. I never liked Gaston so I didn’t like it here either, but The Mob Song is quite good and serves its purpose well. Something There was pretty good and quite comedic which I liked.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

All of these songs from the original are actually rather fine, but the titular song is just so bad that it thoroughly took me out of the movie. Not only did they change the song and added new instruments, they also slowed it down significantly and the entire sequence was just so poorly filmed that it was totally ruined in my opinion. I was actually quite mad for what they did here.

As for those new songs, How Does a Moment Last Forever is brief and effective and Days in the Sun features mediocre lyrics, but is a solid and somewhat catchy tune, although ultimately too forgettable. Evermore isn’t great, but it is perfectly solid with good lyrics and excellent singing. It is also accompanied by memorable castle imagery. All three of these new songs are far from great, but still turned out better than I expected.

Beauty and the Beast is a visual feast for the eyes and that is where the film shines completely. It becomes such a magical experience and you witness a fairy tale unfold right in front of you. Even the 3D was pretty solid with some good, popping moments. I loved the costumes despite Belle’s iconic dress which felt cheap, but all of the others were great and they transported you to its time period wonderfully. The same goes for the imagery and the special effects, both terrific. The score is also very good and I thought that the pacing is solid. The film is long, but it never felt like it which is a testament to how entertaining it is.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

As I said, the Beast didn’t look terrifying and was even scarier in the animated film and that was so disappointing. They should have gone with a much darker and atmospheric tone. But if there is one thing the film does better than the original, it has to be the humor which is so great. I laughed out loud quite a lot as more than a couple of lines were so clever and hilarious. The comic delivery from the actors was excellent. I actually held a smile on my face throughout the whole running time as I was having such a great time and despite its many shortcomings, I think the critics were too harsh to this movie and it is actually quite good, if far from great.

The 2017 Beauty and the Beast is a magical experience despite it being expectedly inferior to the original. Of the songs, the new ones were pretty solid in my opinion with Evermore being the best; both Belle and Be Our Guest were solid, but the titular song was totally ruined with so many incredibly poor choices being made. The characters are great, the casting is top-notch with Luke Evans delivering a strong performance and I adored Emma Watson here. She became Belle which was awesome to witness. The plot changes were minor, but quite good and even though the film should have been darker, I liked its improved humor with many funny lines and the film is a visual feast for the eyes with great costumes and effects. It is ultimately far from great, but still a satisfactory and pleasant remake.

My Rating – 4

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The Painting (2011)

The Painting Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The Painting Movie Review

The Painting is a 2011 French animated fantasy drama film directed by Jean-Francois Laguionie. It is a solid and respectable, but flawed movie.

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A simple drawing can be more elaborate than an elaborate painting.

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The Painting Movie Review……………………………………………………..

A painter has left a work incomplete and that causes a conflict between the three groups – ones who are entirely painted, ones who lack some colors and those that are only sketches and looked down upon. Three friends, one from each of three classes, go on a quest to find the painter so he can finish the painting and bring peace.

That is the plot here and of course you’ve got some ‘Toy Story‘ in it, but to me it still felt authentic as it dealt with paintings and the painted characters and that was interesting and somewhat original. I liked its adventurous spirit and the film is engaging to watch. But the message of the film and the entire political conflict here is fairly predictable and familiar.

The characters are very problematic. Some are more memorable than the others, but most are very weakly realized and frankly not at all interesting. That was one of the biggest problems of this movie. But the voice acting is quite the opposite as it is actually very good and professionally done.

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The Painting Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The Painting is one of those French animated films that are very artistic both in their approach and execution. I am of course talking about the animation. It is so artistic in style. Now this is a two-edged sword and let me explain. The scenery is gorgeous and some of it is undoubtedly breathtaking. There are a couple of sequences here that are just beautiful to witness. I loved that the movie that featured paintings also felt like a painting in and of itself with an animation done in watercolor and it fits into the overall storyline so well.

It is a very colorful and wonderful movie. However, the character design is to me very troublesome. I just disliked it as it felt odd and very unappealing in its rough style. Of course, some characters had to look like that owing to the story, but it still could have been done better and more appealing. It is a movie that looks great as a whole, but the characters in it look rather odd.

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The Painting Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The Painting has its great moments such as that ending which is somewhat expected, yet very well done and animated. I really liked some scenes here, but it still disappointed me as it wasn’t as entertaining or as exciting as it needed to be. It is very well directed, but not that well paced and overall it should have been more complex in terms of characterization and storytelling. In the end, I did like it, but it is a lost potential as it could have been immensely better.

I really liked the animation in The Painting which is so fittingly artistic and sometimes quite beautiful to witness, but I disliked the character design which felt rough and odd to me. The story is solid, but too simplistic, the characters are entirely forgettable and although the film is very well made and sometimes inspired, it could have been much better anyway.

My Rating – 3.5

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Moana (2016)

Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana Movie Review

Moana is a 2016 animated musical fantasy adventure film that is the 56th Disney animated feature. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned Disney film which I liked a lot.

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If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I found the plot to be very good, if some plot points felt obvious. To me, the film succeeds the most as an adventure owing to its pure, unabashed sense of fun and discovery. I loved that about it as nowadays we rarely see these kinds of films and here we’ve got a grand sea adventure for the ages.

Of course the Polynesian setting is beautiful and highly authentic and intriguing. I loved that we got to meet this culture and their traditions, it definitely felt original and refreshing in that aspect. Another strong thing about it is its lack of villains. Moana has no villains whatsoever in it and that was great and realistic. The villain is the nature and its forces which was great to witness and so refreshing. I loved that the film focused more on the relationship between its two characters than on action. But the action is great too and actually the entire last battle and especially the final appearance of the goddess was just beautiful to behold and it was the best and most epic scene in the entire film.

Let’s talk about the characters. Moana is pretty good as the newest Disney princess. Yes, sometimes she felt too arrogant and annoying to me in a typical feminist fashion. But she was mostly likable and I liked that the movie was about her for the most part and her journey is so well established and her ups and downs are dramatic and emotional.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

As for Maui, I don’t know about this one. Mainly because I dislike Dwayne Johnson and his voice so much, I did not care about this character much. Auli’i Cravalho did a much better and more natural job in her voice performance. But even though the two are great together and their tumultuous friendship feels like one of those classic Disney friendships from yesteryear, I still did not like him individually. He had some great moments, but was overall too unwilling to help her at first, too selfish and his humor felt forced to me. Really not a fan.

I liked the fact that the movie chose to focus mostly on these two as that led to a better developed relationship between these two, but it still has a couple of memorable supporting characters in it. To me Moana’s parents and especially her father was a walking clich√©, but the grandmother was such a kind and wonderful person and their relationship was so sweet. Her death scene was really impactful and tragic. Tamatoa as this gold-obsessed coconut crab was the closest that this movie came to having a villain and I really liked him. He was a memorable and sometimes even funny character and he served his purpose and made an impact for a short screen time he received. I would have really liked for them to have focused on Pua instead of Heihei and that was unfortunate as Pua is such an adorable, lovable pig whom I liked a lot. But Heihei is also pretty good as this incredibly stupid rooster and some of his gags were quite funny. He truly is the dumbest Disney characters of all time.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana is a musical and to me it succeeds as such much more so than ‘Frozen’ did because it has more than one really good song. The overall score was really good too. Tulou Tagaloa is a short, if good opening for the movie, but I loved its Polynesian sound and language. That is the major strength of this movie – finally we see a Disney movie that utilizes the culture it depicts in its soundtrack!

An Innocent Warrior is another strong Polynesian number, it has beautiful vocals and is really moving. But I disliked Where You Are quite a bit as it is so bland, so forgettable and it is probably the weakest song in the entire movie. I also disliked You’re Welcome which featured too much rap and Dwayne Johnson singing is not my cup of tea. That sequence is comedic and it explains his character well, but the tune as a whole was annoying.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Shiny is a much better rap song. I still dislike that that genre was featured here as it does not fit, but I found the song’s chorus to be very catchy and memorable. But I have to say that I strongly disliked how this song started, but more on that later. I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) was to me such a powerful number and not that much in the tune itself, but in terms of storytelling and characterization, it probably succeeds the most out of any song here as it perfectly helps us prepare for the storm and is so emotional and with beautiful vocals.

Logo Te Pate is also such a catchy, fun number that I liked a lot. But the highlights are naturally How Far I’ll Go which was Oscar-nominated and We Know the Way. How Far I’ll Go is such a classic Disney song in its style and it perfectly helps develop the character of Moana while also having a great scene to accompany it with good imagery and such good lyrics. But it is so immensely catchy too.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

But to me We Know the Way is easily the highlight. I love this song so much! With superb lyrics and a great usage of Tokelauan language, it features such a great scene as a whole and I just loved that backstory in this movie. But it is such a catchy tune, so catchy and so fun that I actually have listened to it at least fifty times so far. It is a new Disney classic song in my opinion.

So naturally I love these songs so much and I think the soundtrack is mostly superb and stupendous, but I really disliked the musical direction in this film. For example, We Know the Way just sort of started and those transitions were not the most polished. But as I said above, Shiny starts in such an unappealing way with the character basically saying that he is going to sing. I disliked this meta approach to the songs so much as it basically adds another strong reason for musical haters to hate the genre. I would have liked a more respectful approach.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I liked the humor in Moana quite a bit, but I liked that it was mostly dramatic and that it focused on adventure and drama the most. It is a high-spirited adventure, but it succeeds in emotion as well because a couple of scenes are just so powerful, either poignant or uplifting. And some scenes, such as the last couple of them, are grand and majestic in both scope and emotion. The film is definitely ambitious in some areas.

The animation is gorgeous to behold. I loved its use of hand-drawn animation, but this is the first computer animated film from Ron Clements and John Musker and the results are more than stellar. The character designs are pretty good, but the highlights are some of the highly memorable imagery and the ocean. The water is so well animated and a character in its own right.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The film is well edited and well directed, I found the tone to be well handled and diverse and the film is emotionally engaging, but the dialogue needed to be much bigger to sell those abundant conversations and emotional scenes better. And because the film was too simplistic and definitely unoriginal in its storytelling, it never achieved the status of those Renaissance flicks from the nineties, but it came actually pretty close at times which I did not expect. And I loved that it was a return to classical Disney musicals and that is the major reason why I liked it more than Zootopia’ from the same year. it has its problems, but it is so wonderful and adventurous that it mostly succeeds.

Moana has its problems such as some typical plot points, a lack of stronger dialogue and I really dislike Maui and the film’s annoying meta approach at times, but the film succeeds as a high-spirited, grand adventure and it is a return to those classic musical adventure films from Disney which is why I loved it so much. The characters are mostly good, the film is very emotional at times, its lack of villains is admirable, some scenes are just beautiful and majestic to behold and the film’s Polynesian setting is so well utilized and intriguing. But the soundtrack is just fantastic with so many great, catchy or emotional numbers with the highlights being How Far I’ll Go and especially We Know the Way which are definitely future Disney classics.

My Rating – 4

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A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls is a 2016 fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. It is one of the year’s best films.

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Because humans are complicated beasts.

You believe comforting lies, while knowing full well the painful truth that makes those lies necessary.

In the end, Conor, it is not important what you think.

It is only important what you do

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

It follows Conor, a child whose mother is terminally ill. One night, he is visited by a giant monster who begins to tell him stories that serve as life lessons and help him cope with his pain. This film surprised me because it started off in a regular manner, but ended up being very original and smart. It is one of the most sophisticated films of its type I’ve seen recently.

It deals with a subject matter of cancer which is overdone by now, but finds a new way to approach it like all the best films do. It shows us how it is okay to accept death of your loved ones and even wish it to come sooner in order to stop the pain. That emotion makes us human and it shows that none of us is perfect and we are all complex beings. I loved that statement and it was so clever and thought-provoking.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Rarely have I seen a more emotionally raw and dark film. That is why this film is certainly not for children and even not for teenagers. It is adult and mature and intended only for that audience in my opinion. It is actually so dark that it was overwhelming at times, but it was mostly pleasantly serious and in the end emotionally rewarding, even if it can leave you in a depressed state afterwards.

I really liked the characters. Conor was great and such a realistic and complex kid. His mother is sweet and I really liked his strict grandmother too. And even the father had his moments. All of the performances are excellent with the exception of Sigourney Weaver whose accent is just so bad and it took me out of the movie whenever she talked. But Felicity Jones is terrific in an underrated performances and Lewis MacDougall is absolutely fantastic! Wow, I don’t know where Hollywood suddenly manages to find all these incredibly talented child actors, but his performance is once again (after Jacob Tremblay in ‘Room’) one of the best male performances of the year. So strong, so believable and so emotional. He was great in an extremely difficult role which is so commendable.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls was obviously based on a book and sometimes it was too evident and at first I thought it didn’t translate well into the big screen with those three stories, but I changed my mind after witnessing those story sequences. The visuals there are absolutely amazing owing to some artistic and wonderfully moody animation. And they all served their purpose and actually were very well incorporated into the overall picture leading to one of the best adapted films of the year.

The editing is excellent and the direction from Bayona is expectedly great. I loved its cinematography as well, some shots were terrific. Even though I loved the dark visuals overall, I found the design of the creature to be overly bland and familiar. I just didn’t like it, though Liam Neeson naturally did a great job voicing the character.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

So the film sounds great and it looks really good, but it also has a great script, characters and acting and it is uncommonly clever for this type of movie. But it also possesses a big heart and truly its last sequence is emotionally powerful and just heartbreaking to witness. I loved it so much. This is clearly a drama instead of fantasy. It has fantasy elements, but they are obviously not real and that was a very interesting development. I found the film’s realism commendable and its dialogue is also surprisingly strong and again very down to earth. I would even call the movie artistic in its storybook sequences which felt inspired even. It is a film that has it all and I am so sad that it was such a huge commercial failure and even the critics didn’t appreciate it as much as it deserved, not to mention that it didn’t garner a single Oscar nomination which is just a travesty.

A Monster Calls features a very bland creature design and a pretty bad British accent from Sigourney Weaver, but Felicity Jones was great and Lewis MacDougall gave one of the year’s best performances as he was so great in a very difficult role. The story is intriguing, the tone is admirably dark and although it is difficult to watch and depressing, it is ultimately emotionally rewarding and it has such a great message and is overall stupendously sophisticated. It is one of the year’s finest and most underrated films.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Golden Compass (2007)

The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The Golden Compass Movie Review

The Golden Compass is a 2007 fantasy film directed by Chris Weitz and starring Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards. It is a solid, underrated film adaptation.

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“One thing I do know, Lyra, you mustn’t grasp at the answer.

Hold the question in your mind, but lightly, like it was something alive.”

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Now this was an interesting film for me as I departed largely from the general opinion of it, both from audiences and critics. It is based on ‘Northern Lights’ which is the first novel in His Dark Materials trilogy. And even though it is obviously a very problematic adaptation, it is still a very solid one and it didn’t deserve the mediocre reviews at all. It isn’t great, but it is somewhat satisfying.

In terms of storytelling, it mostly succeeds. The entire first and second acts are just phenomenal and very faithful to the source material which I did not see coming and it made me happy. The entire movie is actually quite faithful and some scenes are even directly taken from the book both in scenery and in dialogue. But of course that third act is just so troublesome in every way. They basically decided to cut off the last couple of chapters and intended to feature it in the second film as they had already filmed those scenes. But because the film failed both at the box office and with the critics, they never made the sequels and thus we’ve never seen those scenes which is so unfortunate. And the ending where she was going to Lord Asriel thus felt disappointing, abrupt and did not provide the necessary closure.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

But that is the only problem I’ve had in terms of the story as otherwise it was really well crafted and adapted and the action was great and not excessive thankfully. But the character development is definitely quite weak and the characters are just never as memorable as their book counterparts. Lyra is very disappointing and she got more of a passive role in the movie and was overall not as complex. Pan was solidly utilized. Mrs. Coulter is excellent and Nicole Kidman did such a great job in her role, very menacing and she stole every scene she was in. Lord Asriel is disappointing. I didn’t imagine Daniel Craig in this role, but he was solid. The problem with him is that they cut off too many of his scenes. Serafina Pekkala is actually quite solid and Eva Green was perfectly cast for the role. Lee Scoresby is likable as he was in the novel and Iorek Byrnison is very good and looked great. But I agree with the critics in that the heart is missing and the film is just never heartwarming and is too cold like its glacial setting.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

There is no denying the film’s visuals as it truly is technically accomplished, absolutely gorgeous to behold. The special effects are splendid, fantastic and they aged really well. It is in fact one of the best looking movies of the 2000s decade. It thoroughly deserved its Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

But the film’s scenery is just as good and the cinematography is amazing. I loved the scenes with Oxford and England looked wonderful and some of the scenes were jaw-droppingly gorgeous to witness. But of course I loved the icy scenes later on and the bears were well designed and both the film’s exteriors and interiors were quite inspired. The costumes were also top-notch as was the film’s score and sound effects. It was obvious that they poured the last penny on the production values and it paid off as the visuals are the film’s strongest asset.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The action is also pretty good and The Golden Compass is actually pretty well edited and paced if you naturally discount that awful third act. Now obviously it wasn’t as clever as the book was, but that wasn’t the problem to me as the film is meant to be more of a visual and kinetic experience. And it did deliver on both fronts as the action is quite good and memorable and some scenes were just as I imagined them. The dialogue, although not great, is mostly solid and passable. Overall, I think it was undeservedly judged and although far from great, it is better than most book-to-film adaptations.

The Golden Compass is an undeservedly judged movie that is actually quite solid and never as mediocre as critics made it out to be. Yes, the third act is just awful as they basically cut off the last couple of chapters from the book and thus left no closure to it plus the characters are never as memorable as they were in the written form, but the film is still satisfying because in terms of the plot it was actually very faithful and great before that third act and it is a visual feast for the eyes with absolutely gorgeous scenery, exquisite costumes and brilliant special effects that rightfully won the film its Oscar.

My Rating – 3.5

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Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings is a 2016 stop-motion adventure film directed by Travis Knight. It is Laika’s fourth feature film and it is pretty disappointing.

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If you must blink, do it now

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

The film revolves around Kubo who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits. This is the kind of a film where it took me a while to realize just why I didn’t enjoy it more as it seems to be perfect in every way, but it just isn’t. And that is the point here – almost all of the plot points are very good, but the film is somehow not great as a sum of its parts and the story just isn’t all that fascinating.

I enjoy Eastern animation and I did enjoy its influence on this film, but in terms of storytelling and tone, it is too much of an American film. Let me elaborate. Japanese animation is mature and serious and this movie is like that many times and it deals with serious issues and it has some incredibly creepy moments, but the overall tone to it is frustratingly light-weight and comedic and it just doesn’t fit in with the story.

But Kubo definitely has a stupendous story. I liked all of its elements and I particularly liked the use of ancient music as well as the overall setting which was great. Those sisters were phenomenal foes and quite creepy actually. The horror elements here were awesome. And even though it somewhat affected it in terms of scope, the twist itself was very interesting and I didn’t see it coming at all.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is a boring protagonist, but Monkey and Beetle are much more memorable. They aren’t that great individually, but in a group and together they are terrific and the character interactions were great here as was the overall group dynamic. As for the Moon King, I never really found him all that interesting as a major villain and, without spoiling anything, how they concluded his story was pretty odd and somewhat stupid in my opinion.

Kubo and the Two Strings has absolutely gorgeous stop-motion animation which has now become a standard for the Laika studio. I loved all of the details and the world building is mostly solid. It could have been much more epic in scope, but what we got was still good. Some of the character designs were pretty inspired with the sisters and Monkey being the highlights, so well done. And the color palette is excellent.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is well paced and well directed by Travis Knight, but I just found its voice acting to be quite uninspired. It isn’t terrible, but it is far from great as both Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey gave weak performances and the casting in particular is quite bad in this one. And the other flaw is the emotion. The film is emotional and I guess melancholic, but because I just wasn’t that invested in its characters, I never really felt anything which was a big problem for me. And that is this movie in a nutshell – it is seemingly great, but to me personally it never quite came together as a whole and I was quite disappointed to be honest.

Kubo and the Two Strings has expectedly gorgeous stop-motion animation, good mythology, very interesting twist in the third act, it works great as an adventure film and most of its plot points are very good, but it isn’t that great as a sum of its parts, the tone is way too comedic and not fitting in with the plot and I just didn’t feel anything mainly because I didn’t connect with the characters and because I found the voice acting to be not that great.

My Rating – 3.5

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Hercules (1997)

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

Hercules Movie Review

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

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

Have a nice day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating – 4

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Ghost (1990)

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

Ghost Movie Review

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

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

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I love you. I really love you.

Ditto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating – 4

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Topper (1937)

Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

Topper Movie Review

Topper is a 1937 fantasy screwball comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Constance Bennett, Cary Grant and Roland Young. It is a disappointing comedy.

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I’ll be out before you can say Jack Robinson – only don’t say it for a few minutes.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

It follows a stuffy man who is haunted by the ghosts a fun-loving married couple who want to help him loosen up in order to get to heaven. The premise itself is marvelous and it really had potential for greatness, but the execution is weak and sometimes quite problematic leading to a disappointing movie that is just solid and never as great as it easily could have been.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

The acting is easily Topper’s biggest achievement. Everyone here did such a great job in excellent roles as the characters themselves are easy to define, but memorable and likable. Roland Young is the best and his Oscar nomination is very much deserved. Constance Bennett is also very good and quite charming and she steals every scene she’s in. But Cary Grant disappointed me. Not his performance as he is always great and is the same in this movie, but I expected his role to bigger as I am a big fan of his, but he is the least utilized of this threesome unfortunately.

Topper is well directed by Norman Z. McLeod and mostly really well paced and shot. I really liked its use of nature as that is always hard to come by in a 30s movie, but here it was all the more memorable for it. And I really liked the driving sequences which were of the most entertaining here. All of the characters are great and the wife of Cosmo is also really memorable and sometimes even quite funny.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

So what is the problem here? Well, that is the humor. Screwball comedies are my favorite subgenre of comedy as they are always charming and hilarious. But Topper is never hilarious and is in fact rarely genuinely funny which was so disappointing to witness. I don’t know why they didn’t utilize on this awesome premise, but somehow only the first act was quite funny at times and, as I said, those nature and driving sequences were excellent. But the second half is repetitive in its plot and humor and some of the humor as well as the supernatural aspects are very dated to be honest. Most of its supernatural aspects is solidly put together and the special effects are most definitely terrific for its time, but the rules here aren’t as well governed and the physical humor gets pretty repetitive and for a movie with ghosts in it, it is never inventive which was a real shame to see. Those are the reasons why the film left me unsatisfied in the end.

Topper is very well acted with Constance Bennett being very memorable in her role and Roland Young being deservedly nominated for an Oscar, the premise is terrific and some sequences here are charming and funny, but most of it isn’t as funny as it should have been and it is never as inventive or as entertaining as the premise demanded it leading to a disappointing screwball comedy.

My Rating – 3.5

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