Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice Review

Beetlejuice is a 1988 fantasy comedy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton. It is one of the director’s most respected films and rightfully so as it truly is superb.

It is about a recently deceased young couple who want to get rid of the new people in their house and they get help from a devious ghost. The story is the film’s biggest strength while also being its biggest weakness. Let me elaborate. It is such an authentic and rich tale filled with astonishing attention to detail, great energy and impeccable imagination. It is riveting from beginning to end and it is always wildly original. But it is also extremely uneven in terms of pacing and storytelling. Some parts were too wild and the whole third act is really disappointing in terms of plot because it was never as interesting or as fresh as before. It is also very rushed in the end, while also being sluggish in pace in its first half. But the overall charm, originality and inventiveness of it all leads to such a memorable and unique experience.

The characters are mostly terrific. The title character is most certainly the highlight with his crazy and wild persona and such an authentic look. But it is interesting that he appears only in the second half of the film and although usually it is better for memorable supporting characters to have as little screen time as possible, here I would say that there should have been more from him nonetheless as he is the highlight. But when he is in the picture, he steals the show and is quite remarkable.

Adam and Barbara are quite boring when compared to the rest of the characters, but they are purposefully innocent and normal as to counteract the other crazy characters. And they are also quite charming. The rest of the characters are all pretty good, but it is Lydia who is the best of all as she is such a unique character with her goth appearance and weird behavior, but she’s good-natured and so good to Adam and Barbara and their relationship is one of the strongest points in the movie with some touching moments as well.

The acting is fantastic across the board. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis are both good, but it is Winona Ryder who shines in her role and is such a revelation at such a young age. And of course Michael Keaton steals every scene he is in, delivering probably his best performance to date. All of the actors and actresses are really good and they bring professional gravitas to the table.

Beetlejuice is especially a technically remarkable feature. It is wonderfully directed by Tim Burton and extremely well acted by its talented cast. But the sound effects are excellent and the score is really good with the two songs in it being incredibly catchy and fun. And it is visually such a stunning film with typical Burton imagery at display with excellent puppetry and stop-motion. However, the special effects aren’t as good and the scenes with the worm are very dated in look and are mediocre when compared to the other sequences filled with superb make-up and extraordinarily inventive character design. The imagination is just phenomenal here and the endless authenticity is evident.

But the pacing is weird and very poorly handled with the third act that is just a huge, overwhelming mess. It should have been much better as the previous parts were all excellent. And the tone is also jarring as the musical and horror elements don’t mash as well as fantasy and comedy usually do. But the film does have a big heart, an evident charm and it is a hugely memorable movie. The humor is also fantastic with incredibly funny Michael Keaton who has many hilarious lines and ingenious slapstick. But the whole movie is funny and even hilarious from time to time and it is just incredibly entertaining throughout its whole running time.

Beetlejuice is certainly one of the best Tim Burton movies. It isn’t as good as ‘Edward Scissorhands‘ of course and it is inferior to underappreciated ‘Big Fish‘, but it is still one of the very best of his other movies without a doubt and it deserves its cult, even classic status as it is perfect for today’s audiences and especially during Halloween.

Beetlejuice is definitely uneven in terms of storytelling and pacing while also having some tonal inconsistencies, but it is such a wildly original, wonderfully entertaining and hugely imaginative work filled with some beautiful imagery, memorable story, well developed characters, terrific humor and some great antics.

My Rating – 4

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                                   Interior & Exterior Stills in Beetlejuice

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Flowers and Trees (1932)

Flowers and TreesFlowers and Trees Review

 Flowers and Trees is a 1932 Silly Symphony animated short film by Disney. It is a groundbreaking color film and an Oscar winner.

It is about the fight between trees during spring. This is an expected story for the studio. The fight is typical and it isn’t particularly smart. However, the characters are well depicted and it is overall moving and well paced as well.

The animation is absolutely superb of course. It is the first ever color animated film and the Technicolor here is gorgeous with a nice style and great character design. I also found the score to be stupendous in this one and it accompanied the plot perfectly. It is in terms of storytelling a flawed film, but technically speaking, it is most certainly arresting and revolutionary which is why it deserved its Academy Award.

Flowers and Trees has a pretty ordinary and typical plot for its time, but what sets it apart from other shorts is of course the groundbreaking use of color. It also has a wonderful ending, polished animation all around and solid movements. It is not fantastic in the storytelling department and it is definitely far from the best Silly Symphonies, but it’s overall an engaging and technically superb film and a deserved Oscar winner.

 My Rating – 4.1

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You Only Live Twice (1967)

You Only Live Twice Movie Review

You Only Live Twice Movie Review

You Only Live Twice is a 1967 spy film and a fourth entry in the Bond series starring Sean Connery and directed by Lewis Gilbert. It is a solid, but flawed entry in the franchise.

Amidst the Cold War, Bond goes to Japan to find out why American and Soviet spacecraft mysteriously disappeared in orbit. The plot is a typical Bond tale and although interesting at times, it is mostly boring and forgettable. It starts off well and it has its moments, but the ending is silly and some parts are ridiculous.

Yes, it is once again a ridiculous and overly silly film. The sequence in which Aki is poisoned and killed for instance is just so ridiculous and impossible to happen in real life that I rolled my eyes with disbelief. And many scenes are like that. But at least there weren’t as many gadgets this time around which was a pleasant surprise.

Bond is quite good here, not as good as in some of the previous installments, but still fine. Aki is also an okay character, but a somewhat forgettable one. The revelation of Blofeld was interesting and nicely done and the rest of the characters are not as memorable.

The acting is quite good. Sean Connery is good when his signature humor is concerned, but is weak at other parts where he tends to overact. Akiko Wakabayashi did a fine job and the rest are not worth mentioning.

The humor is the best reason to see this movie. It is really funny from time to time with Bond in particular being very humorous. I like the humor from these early Bond flicks and it is thankfully present here as well and it made the movie much better.

The locations are also really good. Unlike ‘Thunderball‘ which was uninspired, You Only Live Twice has a bigger use of locations and interesting places which is why it is better than that entry, but is nonetheless weaker than the previous flicks. But Japan is great to look at and I liked the incorporation of their culture and the different places from the city to the volcanoes.

It is well directed and acted, but awfully paced. It isn’t overlong, but is extended in some parts and rushed in others. It is also a forgettable movie overall which is its biggest problem. It is never particularly involving and it is at times even dull. The photography is great and the humor is really good, but the rest of the aspects are lacking making it a very flawed entry in the franchise. And I hate how unrealistic it is and too goofy.

You Only Live Twice is really forgettable, awfully paced, at times boring and never involving and it is just so unrealistic and at times even ridiculous. The humor is really good with some quite funny lines and the locations are excellent and beautiful to look at, but the rest of the movie is flat and forgettable and never particularly interesting to watch.

My Rating – 3.5

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Interior & Exterior Stills from You Only Live Twice

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Super Bomberman 3 (1995)

Super Bomberman 3

Super Bomberman 3 Game Review

Super Bomberman 3 is a 1995 platform action video game and the third game in the series. It is such a good game and a great addition to the series.

The gameplay once again consists of normal and battle mode. Let’s talk about the former first. There are five worlds here, each with four levels. The first world is the weakest and most forgettable one, but the second one is such a great world with the mining setting wonderfully put to use with some excellent level design and of course great enemies and excellent difficulty level.

The aqua levels in the third world are not as memorable, but are still so much fun, albeit the boss is somewhat stupid. The fifth world is the first one which is truly great. Not only is its Egyptian setting beautiful to behold with some great character design, but it is very difficult and sometimes frustratingly so which makes it wonderful.

The fifth world is excellent as well. The icy levels are a blast to play but it is the enemies that are the highlights here with some clever movements and quite stupendous difficulty. And of course all of them don’t matter in comparison to the final, sixth world. It is the last world but the one which, unlike the others, cannot be accessed by cheats and has to be beaten all at once. That makes it difficult naturally, but it is the opponents that make it frustrating! They are so well made and it is interesting how many of them have to be bombed at least twice to be destroyed and that was super hard. But the level design is great and also not easy. It is most certainly the hardest and the most entertaining world in Super Bomberman 3.

But the last boss is excruciatingly hard! It was maddening to me. It has to be beaten once which is difficult, but then you get another fight when it comes into a robot and that robot is so frustrating with its many missiles and weapons. It isn’t quite as difficult as the last boss in ‘Super Bomberman 2‘, but it is definitely near that level as he is so hard and it took me hours to beat him! Not to mention the fact that the whole world has to be played just to get to him as there are no cheats.

Once again, the previous bosses fail in comparison to the last one. Not only are they much weaker, but also much less memorable. But the character design is great, the enemies are excellent and the levels are really well imagined and the worlds are diverse. The score is really good as are the sound effects. As for the graphics, it is an interesting experiment. It is a throwback to the previous Bomberman games, especially ‘Mega Bomberman’ and that differentiates it from other entries in this franchise. And although that choice was weird, I appreciated it in the end as I liked that old-fashioned graphics in the first place. It is colorful and really pleasant to watch. It is technically a solid game.

As for battle mode, this is where it shines. Not only is normal mode great, but the battle mode is also really good. Most are great. The first, fourth and eighth zones respectively are lacking, but others are excellent with the second one being really inventive, the fourth one being very entertaining and the ninth one being so interesting and different from the rest. But the tenth zone named Swamp Boogie is without a doubt the standout as it is incredibly demanding. It took me hours to beat it! And although the rest are pretty easy, that one is so hard not only for its annoyingly difficult design, but also because the opponents are so good. Yes, interestingly enough, the A.I. in Super Bomberman 3 is really good. It is of course not as good as when you play with real people, but it sometimes comes close as they can be a nuisance and they can make some really clever movements and decisions. And that really took me by surprise.

When comparing it to the previous games, Superb Bomberman 3 just might be the best one yet because it has the modes which are both great. It is better than ‘Super Bomberman’ even in the Battle Zone and it is overall even better than ‘Super Bomberman 2′ as it is more diverse and at times more difficult. It is such a great entry in the series and I really hope the next two are going to be the same.

Super Bomberman 3 is nice to look at, really addictive and so fun. Both modes are well crafted, the opponents are great and the boss is superb which are all the reasons why it just might me the best entry in the series yet. Such a fun and demanding experience.

My Rating – 4.6

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Bee Movie (2007)

Bee MovieBee Movie Review

Bee Movie is a 2007 animated family comedy film by DreamWorks Animation and it is one of their most problematic and ridiculous movies, but still one of the most entertaining.

It is about a bee who after an encounter with a human woman tries to change the law in regards to honey profiting and bee usage with disastrous consequences. Okay, so this is definitely an incredibly fun film to watch and it was, at least to me, one of the most unabashedly entertaining films from DreamWorks Animation. I won’t deny that. It was fun, sometimes funny and for once fast-paced in a good sense.

However, entertainment factor does not determine a movie’s greatness and this is certainly the case of such. It is so ridiculous first and foremost in its premise alone but also in its execution. Not only do the endless parade of bee and overall animal puns get annoying, but also the constant hip and childish urge is evident. But the whole third act is just where they went too far. I know this is supposed to be a family film, but even such a movie should not have a sequence in which hundreds of bees lift and maintain an airplane in the air. That was so ridiculous and just plain dumb that it ruined it for me. And the whole speaking between bees and humans is ridiculous as well as the movie’s whole second half which succumbed to the usual over-the-top blockbuster trappings.

The characters are really good, I have to say. Barry was sympathetic to me and although he was a typical modern protagonist for the studio, he was still realistic and a likable creation. Vanessa is really, really good. I liked her character the most probably because she was atypical and quite lovable in her quirky behavior. And the relationship between these two is naturally the highlight. Adam is a stereotype and Ken is an expected Patrick Warburton creation, but he was at least quite funny. Most of the characters are memorable.

The performances are, on the other hand, not as good. They once again went with the celebrities route and it did not work out particularly well for them. Jerry Seinfeld is most definitely the best of the bunch and he suited the role the most. However, not the same can be said for Renee Zellweger who just does not fit for this woman. Yes, she admittedly did a fine job, but her voice is too soft and too calm and I just wished someone else acted Vanessa. But the rest are all solid.

The animation here is nothing praise-worthy and the character design as well as the overall exterior look of the film is an archetypal DreamWorks look. But on the other hand, I did enjoy it as I enjoyed the overall movie experience. I liked its colorful approach and although the use of so much yellow can be annoying to some, I liked it personally and I liked the look of the trees and nature. The humans definitely look similar and the film is not artistic, but at least it is pleasant to watch and it was professionally done.

What I liked about it is the refreshing choice to not use too many modern pop songs this time around. Yes, the score is once again mediocre and certainly forgettable, but at least it isn’t filled with so many annoying songs that DreamWorks is famous for doing. However, the pop-culture references are still present and pretty annoying and the use of puns is admittedly excessive. But it is funny and I liked the humor here as it provided me with a couple of really big laughs. It was an easy territory to go in, but at least it was mildly funny and sometimes quite hilarious.

Bee Movie is up there with ‘The Road to El Dorado‘ in terms of quality which isn’t bad as it means that it is better than their many CGI features from the mid 2000s that were so uninspired and lacking in terms of both entertainment and humor. It isn’t a good film per say, but it certainly isn’t bad either.

It is technically lacking. The brisk pace isn’t particularly annoying and was even enjoyable to me, but the direction is flat, the acting isn’t that good and the animation is pleasant, but not that great. The dialogue is far from sophisticated, but the message is well done. It is a good film for the kids to teach them about bees and their importance, but it is also bad for them because they once again made them unrealistic and too goofy. They should have gone with a more grounded approach and it would have made it much better. It’s also not as emotional as it should have been and the characters, though likable, are still not the ones you root for in a bigger degree. The problem with Bee Movie is also that it is in its execution a forgettable animated film and not just unrealistic, but also too childish and ridiculous.

Bee Movie is such a ridiculous movie not just in its premise but also in its execution, especially of the second half. The humor can be annoying and it is too childish and at times quite dumb, but it is admittedly very funny from time to time and it is also really fun to watch. It is riddled with flaws, but it is still one of the most entertaining DreamWorks films.

My Rating – 3

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Mouse Trouble (1944)


Mouse Trouble
Mouse Trouble Review

Mouse Trouble is a 1944 animated short that is the 17th of Tom and Jerry’s shorts. It is a wonderful film and a deserved Oscar winner.

Tom reads a book in which it is explained how to catch a mouse. He tries numerous tactics, but fails every time. This is such a great concept for a Tom and Jerry short that is just perfect on every level. It is executed wonderfully with hilarious results. Both characters are phenomenal here and the short is funny and entertaining from start to finish. The ending is especially good and the first half also has many simply hysterical and superbly realized moments.

It isn’t a perfect film as it loses its steam near the end a bit and it plays it safe, but it is still incredibly well animated and wonderfully scored. But it is above all inventive with great action and very well imagined situations and it is funny throughout its whole running time. It is a recipient of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and deservedly so as it is, without a doubt, the finest Tom and Jerry film of the year and that is saying a lot because 1944 was such a strong year for the duo.

Mouse Trouble is an endlessly funny, incredibly inventive and beautifully constructed film that is one of the finest of Tom and Jerry shorts.

My Rating – 4.4

 

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The Hustler (1961)

The Hustler

The Hustler Review

The Hustler is a 1961 drama film directed by Robert Rossen and starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleeson and Piper Laurie. It is a lauded, but to me a very overrated movie.

It is about a professional pool hustler and it follows his obsession with the sport, his turbulent relationship with a woman and the consequences of the life he leads. Now, I definitely do agree that it is an important movie with a relevant and socially conscious subject matter. However, the execution of said subject matter is pretty mediocre. It is, simply put, a boring movie. Incredibly, frustratingly dull and awfully slow-paced. It is lifeless, lacks energy and is mostly a chore to sit through. That is the biggest problem of The Hustler and it unfortunately stays as a problem throughout its whole running time which is also way overlong.

Eddie is a typical protagonist of the time, but he is well realized and pretty well developed. And a lot of the highlight dramatic scenes are with him. Fats is an okay character, but the rest are quite forgettable with the exception of Sarah who is grounded in reality and likable.

The acting is without a doubt the film’s strongest point. Paul Newman is of course the standout and he deserved his Oscar nomination, but he did not get the award deservedly. Piper Laurie is also stupendous and she did such a great job in the most sympathetic role. Jackie Gleason is also good, but the rest are forgettable.

It is a well filmed and well directed movie. The tone is too depressing and it is at times overly dramatic, but most of the dramatic sequences do work. It is also important to watch and is definitely a professional, well acted film. It is grounded in reality as well with such a realistic approach to its storytelling and character depictions. The dialogue is also solid, but it is just so predictable, so overlong and so incredibly tedious that it can put you to sleep. It is an awfully paced, sluggish movie.

As for its Academy Award nominations, it did not deserve the nine it got. The acting nominations are deserved, but the rest are not. And this is once again a proof of how weak a year 1961 is when even most of its biggest films aren’t that good in reality. Such an uninspired year for films.

The Hustler is well acted, well directed and it has an important subject matter, but it is just so incredibly boring with a lack of energy in its execution, awfully sluggish pace and overlong running time. It is realistic and relevant, but still a chore to sit through.

My Rating – 3

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Jolly Little Elves (1934)

Jolly Little ElvesJolly Little Elves Review

Jolly Little Elves is a 1934 animated short film by Walter Lantz. It was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 7th Academy Awards.

It is about elves who help an old shoemaker with the shoes. It is such an uninspired and disappointing movie mainly because of the plot that is so forgettable and even non-existent. Nothing particularly memorable or remarkable happens here.

Yes, the animation is solid, it isn’t great, but is well done and the details are great. The character design is also fine and the score is pretty good with the dunk song being quite memorable and catchy. But the characters are very bland and although it starts and ends well, the whole middle section is pretty boring to be honest. And it definitely did not deserve its Oscar nomination as there isn’t anything particularly great or interesting about it.

Jolly Little Elves is such a forgettable short with good animation and score, but uninteresting characters and such an uninspired and bland story.

My Rating – 2.8

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Manhattan (1979)

ManhattanManhattan Review

Manhattan is a 1979 romantic comedy film directed by Woody Allen and starring himself as well as Diane Keaton. It is one of his most well regarded works for good reasons.

It is about a 42-year-old man who dates a 17-year-old girl, but eventually falls in love with his best friend’s mistress. That premise definitely sounds cringeworthy. And the movie is like that to some degree as it is a typical love triangle that is almost impossible to happen in real life, but is typical for a Woody Allen flick. Also, I won’t lie but the age difference between the two in the relationship is creepy.

And although that certainly wasn’t pleasant, the movie still largely manages to overcome those problems mainly due to a clever script and fantastic humor. And also great character development. The screenplay is superb, it is never boring, never rushed and it has just the right amount of dialogue as well as calm moments accompanied by a wonderful score. The beginning wasn’t as good, but the whole second act was phenomenal and filled with many sophisticated conversations and great performances. I loved the ending as well and although it somewhat felt weird and came out of nowhere, it is still so cliché-ridden that I enjoyed it immensely.

The characters are, as I said before, phenomenal across the board. And despite those impossible love connections and convoluted relationships between them, they felt like real people, flawed and realistic. Isaac is of course the standout character here. He is a typical, but still great Woody Allen character and his neurotic and hypochondriac behavior lends to much of the film’s humor. Mary is fantastic as well, so likable and so grounded in reality and the relationship between the two is excellent. Yale wasn’t as memorable, but Tracy is such a sympathetic and lovable girl that you really feel for her.

The acting is absolutely fantastic. Allen is excellent in the lead role, but Diane Keaton also did such a good job as well. However, it is Mariel Hemingway who stole the show. She is so natural and so phenomenal in her role that she really surprised me and naturally deserved her Oscar nomination.

Manhattan is astounding to look at. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous with a couple of instantly recognizable and simply beautiful shots. And the black-and-white photography choice was fitting for this film. It is well acted and wonderfully directed, but it is above all so tightly paced and edited with not a single wasted or rushed sequence and that I enjoyed a lot. The score is so incredible and George Gershwin‘s music suited this material wonderfully. The humor is fantastic and is one of the biggest reasons to see this movie in my opinion. It is filled with so many sophisticated and hilarious lines and I laughed many times. It is also always realistic, always unpredictable and never clichéd. The tone is well handled with romance and comedy elements wonderfully incorporated along with some dramatic moments as well. The dialogue is superb and the film is really smart. Yes, the creepiness factor is definitely present and it ruined the experience for me, but they still don’t go too far with it and instead of stupid sex scenes, clever conversations and realistic and emotional scenes are present which I really loved. And it is definitely one of the director’s best works and one of the very best of his earlier works. It isn’t as good as ‘Annie Hall‘, but it is definitely better than ‘Interiors’.

Manhattan is such a good movie that is unfortunately creepy and too convoluted in premise, but is still so grounded in its characters, it has fantastic acting across the board, the cinematography and score are both terrific and the movie has such a sophisticated, cliché-ridden screenplay, great conversations and really good humor.

My Rating – 4

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Interior & Exterior Stills from Manhattan

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Puttin’ on the Dog (1944)

Puttin' on the Dog Puttin’ on the Dog Review

Puttin’ on the Dog is a 1944 animated short that is the 16th of Tom and Jerry’s shorts. It is one of the funniest, but more problematic films.

Tom disguises himself as a dog in order to get into a dog pound to search for Jerry. This is an expected territory for the filmmakers and it is an entertaining setting. Tom is really good here and Jerry is excellent as well. But Spike is the worst here since his introduction as he is too stupid. And that is the biggest problem of this movie. The portrayal of dogs as these incredibly stupid creatures is so stereotypical and although done with funny results, is still a weak choice.

The ending is also not as good as it could have been, but is still an okay finale. But Puttin’ on the Dog is incredibly funny. That is its biggest strength. It is often really humorous and at times even hilarious. It is one of the rare instances of a Tom and Jerry short being very funny, but also very troublesome in other regards. It is well animated with all of the dogs well depicted and it is well scored. I just wished for a less stereotypical approach to the story.

Puttin’ on the Dog is an evidently funny short filled with hilarious moments, but it is also stereotypical and problematic in its plot.

My Rating – 4

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