From the Page to the Screen – 2010: Odyssey Two

2010: Odyssey Two Review

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From the Page to the Screen – 2010: Odyssey Two

 

2010: Odyssey Two is a 1982 science fiction novel by Arthur Clarke. It is the second entry in the Space Odyssey series and it is such a good, exciting and different story. It once again deals with many different things, this time around with Europa, Jupiter and the collaboration of Americans and Russians in space exploration. All of those are very well utilized leading to such a stellar sequel that also gives us some great answers to previously posed questions.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film adaptation was released in 1984. It was directed by Peter Hyams and stars Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren and John Lithgow. It is not a great movie and some of the changes in adapting it were certainly not admirable, but it is still a pretty good, competent movie that unfortunately was not a box office success when it came out and is not as well regarded these days owing to it being overshadowed by its iconic predecessor. So let’s compare these two.

 

PLOT

The story in the film is actually quite faithfully adapted but I still had a few problems with it. One is the exclusion of that awesome, unforgettable epilogue. That was unfortunate. And the second problem is the inclusion of a Cold War aspect to the story which was sorely not needed leading to a solid, but flawed adaptation.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Unexpected as it may be, the character development is honestly stronger in the film. The characters in the book are flawed and not all that interesting, but here they are mostly much better developed and much more memorable. The actors are to thank a lot for that as they are very talented and it was quite interesting seeing Helen Mirren and John Lithgow so early in their careers and both were excellent here.

WINNER – FILM

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2010 Movie Review

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EMOTION

I thought that emotionally speaking, the film fared better than the book because some scenes were awe-inspiring and I definitely felt the excitement and fascination in some scenes more than I did while reading the book.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The epilogue in the book is very interesting and unfortunately not filmed. Although the film is faithful, it is not particularly sophisticated and naturally the novel is much better in that department. It again shows us the science of space travel, exploration and both Europa and Jupiter were so well described. And of course I loved his take on American-Russian space exploration and how the two nations can work together if they want to.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

This is by far the weakest part of the movie. Whereas the book was so well written by Clarke with great descriptions, again an admirable use of science and a particularly memorable imagery, the film is this time around unfortunately dated with good score, but poor special effects work and it was an overall much less artistic, poetic and atmospheric take on the book than its predecessor was.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 3: FILM 2

This was a much closer race than I thought it would be as I preferred the book much more than the film. In the end, the film is a pretty good adaptation which benefits from better characterization and a more emotional investment, but the story, themes and especially the imagery are much better in the novel and thus this time around the book is a much better alternative whereas previously the two were pretty much on par.

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Little Red Walking Hood (1937)

Little Red Walking Hood ReviewLittle Red Walking Hood Review

Little Red Walking Hood is a 1937 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a fun entry.

Apparently the end of 1937 proved to be a turning point for Warner Bros. as evidenced by such a strong line of very good films and an emerging original and wacky style present. Here we got a parody of Little Red Riding Hood which succeeds more than it fails at making us laugh and amused. Everything here is very comedic and although I wanted more danger from its villain, the wolf is still a lot of fun and he really is very funny character who should prove influential for future villains in the series.

Riding Hood is an impersonation of Katharine Hepburn and although that is amusing, it has been seen a lot before so it isn’t particularly original. The grandmother is fantastic as one of the funniest moments came when she made a call and thus the wolf had to wait for the call to end so they can continue the chase. That was hilarious in its ridiculousness. I also really liked the audience gag though it is not as original as the one in ‘The Case of the Stuttering Pig’. I loved its ending where it is revealed that Egghead who was appearing throughout the cartoon is actually a hero and his purpose is kicking the wolf and kissing the girl which he did.

Little Red Walking Hood is a hilarious parody with a couple of awesome gags and mostly amazing characterization.

My Rating – 4.2

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The Illusionist (2006)

The Illusionist Movie Review

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The Illusionist Movie Review

The Illusionist is a 2006 historical fantasy romance mystery film directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton. It is a pleasantly old-fashioned film.

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Everything you have seen here has been an illusion

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The Illusionist Movie Review

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Yes, this film is a very unique mix of genres. It is above all else a mystery, a historical mystery set in 1889 Vienna but it also has very strong romantic and fantastical elements as his “illusions” are never properly explained and are thus to me fantasy. It achieves that awesome mix really well while also being stupendously traditional in its approach. They just don’t make mysteries like this anymore and this is one of the rare examples that sometimes these can happen so naturally I liked every second of it.

It follows a romance between a magician and his childhood sweetheart but eventually she disappears after the fight she had with her set to be husband Prince Leopold. The mystery of what happened to her and who killed her is actually very intriguing and I wanted so badly to see it resolved that I found the ending itself not that rewarding.

It was actually a really solid twist and a fine conclusion, but it came off as awfully rushed which was to be expected owing to the film’s oddly established structure. Basically you get the mystery around an hour and ten minute mark and the movie’s runtime is about an hour and forty five minutes. So the first half is way too prolonged and the second half is awfully rushed when that mystery should have been emphasized and elongated much more.

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The Illusionist Movie Review

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Edward Norton is quite good in The Illusionist, but not great and another actor maybe would have done a better job. Jessica Biel is solid in her role and Rufus Sewell is not that great as Prince Leopold. I also had a big problem with him acting guilty in the scene with an inspector. It was an obvious method to distract the audience from the actual solution. And in my opinion Paul Giamatti was by far the highlight here in such a great, complex role as an inspector and he gave such a strong, evocative performance in terms of emotion and facial expressions.

My favorite scenes are the ending which was rushed but very interesting and all of the magical scenes were naturally a lot of fun and visually arresting. The scenes with Paul Giamatti, all of them, are magnificent and he is the standout actor and character here. But the very best sequence is the mystery itself which was so gorgeously filmed and in such an intriguing, authentic manner as the viewpoint is that of a neighbor and thus we as the audience look through his eyes at this odd incident. Very clever and offbeat.

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The Illusionist Movie Review

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The Illusionist is beautifully shot and gorgeous in both cinematography and costumes as well as the interiors. It looks and sounds good with a pretty good score, but pacing is just all over the place and in my opinion the direction from Neil Burger is very weak and a bigger, better director would have made a difference for sure. But it is still a pleasing, very engaging film that mostly did work.

The Illusionist has problematic pacing, the direction from Neil Burger is quite weak and the structure of the film is very odd as the mystery begins only at the half-mark and thus the first half is prolonged and the second one is awfully rushed. However, this is still such a pleasing, wonderfully old-fashioned mix of genres with the fantastical elements being intriguing and a mystery being very well thought out and fascinating. The movie also looks and sounds good with pretty good performances among which Paul Giamatti stole the show with such a terrific performance in such a great role.

My Rating – 4

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The Case of the Stuttering Pig (1937)

The Case of the Stuttering Pig ReviewThe Case of the Stuttering Pig Review

The Case of the Stuttering Pig is a 1937 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is such an offbeat experiment.

Porky and his brothers and sister Petunia learn from a lawyer that they are about to inherit some money from their deceased uncle but the lawyer than transforms into a monster and attacks the pigs. This is a unique horror Looney Tunes entry. It isn’t too creepy and should have been more atmospheric, but it is pretty great for kids.

The film is never as awesome as it could have been, but it’s still such a good short with great Porky Pig and an amazing villain who actually went on a journey here from a disguised good lawyer to a full-on menacing villain. And his design is pretty cool too. I loved that gag directed towards the audience as it is beyond clever and probably one of the top five most inventive moments thus far from the series which really says a lot.

The Case of the Stuttering Pig has some brilliant gags, good character design and an absolutely terrific villain.

My Rating – 4.2

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From the Page to the Screen – 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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From the Page to the Screen – 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel written by Arthur Clarke. It is one of the best books of all time and a seminal work of this genre as it explores all the major SF elements from artificial intelligence to extraterrestrial life to human evolution. It is one of my personal favorite novels and an undisputed masterpiece by which all other sci-fi books are measured. Both the movie and the book came out in 1968 and I am going to compare these two masterpieces in five categories.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

Kubrick’s film came out in 1968 and actually it was released before the novel as the two were created simultaneously interestingly enough. It was not as praised when first released, but thankfully now it is considered to be the finest science fiction film of all time and a masterpiece by all means. Its status is more than deserved as it is one of my five favorite movies, the one that gets better and better with each viewing.

 

PLOT

The film is a very different animal than the book. It has that overarching story and it follows it pretty closely and is a great adaptation by all means. But it doesn’t delve deeper into it as it is mostly an audio-visual and highly artistic experience which develops the story well, but also leaves some things ambiguous. Clarke, on the other hand, went into a lot more detail when it comes to the story and thus I have to say that I preferred the book here.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The characters in both the book and the film are not as important as the overall story is too big and the scenario is too epic for them to have much impact on it. I thought that in the book the human characters were mostly much better developed, but the acting in the film is very good and HAL 9000 leaves a much bigger impression in the movie.

WINNER – TIE

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2001: A Space Odyssey Movie Review

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EMOTION

Again this story does not need emotion and it may even be too cold for some. However, the film itself makes you feel at awe almost consistently, it moves you in terms of inspiration with its sheer epic feel. The atmosphere is both creepy and majestic and I definitely left the theater feeling as if I witnessed a grandiose display. That is why the book could never compare emotionally.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

Again the film does not rely too much on each of its themes and it mostly underlie them and leaves most of it ambiguous to interpret for viewers. The book, on the other hand, is very clever because it is written by Clarke who is a very smart man with a mind of a scientist and thus we get a lot of great themes so beautifully explored thanks to fittingly very scientific and detail-heavy writing.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Clarke wrote the novel so well, but he does leave something to be desired on an artistic level and in that department Kubrick trumps him with simply amazing special effects (the best of all time in my opinion), beautiful sets, amazing use of classical music in its score and beautifully conceived atmosphere. This is the definition of a film that needs to be seen on the big screen as both its audio and visual qualities are out of this world and breathtaking.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 2: FILM 2

I know that this is a cop-out in a way, but this is honestly a tie for me. I cannot possibly pick one as being the better when both are so great in their own right (though I did put the film in first place in my ranking of the entire series). They complement each other perfectly as the film is visually and auditory an amazing experience and in terms of art it is profound whereas the book is much heavily plotted, much more detailed and more scientific. This is the textbook example of a book and a film that are both equally amazing and yet so different from each other.

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Sundae in New York (1983)

Sundae in New York ReviewSundae in New York Review

Sundae in New York is a 1983 Oscar winning animated short film that is very mediocre.

This is one of the worst Oscar winners in this category for the eighties decade for sure. It is basically a film about how great and awesome New York is and naturally I do not love films that promote one city as being the best of all no matter how great it actually is. And there is no story here whatsoever. It is just one guy telling us how great this city is and that’s it.

Why it won the Academy Award I will never know. Admittedly its song repeated throughout is somewhat fun and solid, but the animation is not great and the film has no substance to it whatsoever, it is way too short and I wouldn’t consider it either artistic or deep. It is just a self-congratulatory piece of filmmaking.

Sundae in New York has no plot or deeper meaning and is just about how great New York is leading to an undeserved Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film winner.

My Rating – 2.5

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a 2007 fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp. It is a solid, but weaker third installment.

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Dying is the day worth living for

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

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Now I found the first and the second movie to be mostly equal and quality and both are very good. But this one is unfortunately not as good and although solid, it is a somewhat disappointing end to this trilogy. Well, it was a trilogy for its time anyway.

There are a lot of things that are wrong with At World’s End so let’s start with the story itself. It is a memorable conclusion to this story and especially the third act is very rewarding emotionally and in terms of the action. However, everything that came before it was very problematic.

The film is filled with way too many subplots and storylines and I agree with the critics that it is way too convoluted for the sake of being convoluted and it is at times even difficult to understand which is not supposed to happen for a fun blockbuster at all. So I loved the third act, but the first and especially the second one were overlong and troublesome.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

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Jack is once again very good. The part with the doppelgangers was painfully unfunny, but he is otherwise reliably good and amusing here and again quite funny. Barbossa is also very good and funny how eager he is to return to being a captain. The chairman and other British men were not memorable and I have to say that Davy Jones wasn’t as compelling here as he was before.

But I liked his romance with Tia Dalma, but her Calypso twist is not all that well executed. As for Will and Elizabeth, he died here which was a brave choice and their kiss at the end was well filmed and again she is pleasantly more heroic here. But still I am not a fan of her and she took way too much screen time from Jack.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is well acted. Keira Knightley is still annoying in the role, but less so than before and of course Bill Nighy and Johnny Depp are the highlights with such strong performances.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

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The film again has those pitfalls of a regular POC entry such as overlong runtime and too much action and spectacle, but some of that action was a lot of fun to watch and it does serve as a solid conclusion to this trilogy. The special effects are expectedly terrific and the score is very good though I would have liked a bigger use of their iconic score which is surprisingly not as prevalent this time around. All in all, it is a solid film, just not as good as the previous two.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a solid conclusion to the trilogy with a very strong and rewarding third act, some fun action scenes and again terrific special effects, but the film is not as good as the previous two entries owing to its overlong runtime and way too many characters and storylines leading to a needlessly complicated movie.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Lyin’ Mouse (1937)

The Lyin' Mouse ReviewThe Lyin’ Mouse Review

The Lyin’ Mouse is a 1937 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a very good entry.

A mouse gets trapped and in order to escape being eaten by a cat, he tells him a story about a lion and a mouse and how the mouse helped the big cat. The cat eventually releases him only to realize that he has been fooled by a lie. The ending is so funny with the line “Sucker!” being hilarious and perfectly delivered. That moment exemplifies the best of Warner Bros. sensibilities and that is what I want in their cartoons.

Both the score and the animation are not the greatest here and the film is predictable and definitely too short. The runtime was way too short for this story which contains a story within a story. But it is fun, it is very well crafted and I have to say that the voice acting is superb with the highlight being the lion so well voiced by legendary Billy Bletcher. That’s some excellent casting right there.

The Lyin’ Mouse is fun and funny and although too short, it features excellent voice acting and such a memorable ending.

My Rating – 3.9

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

Wreck-It Ralph is a 2012 animated fantasy adventure film which is the 52nd Disney animated feature and one of the best of all time.

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Because if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Yes, I absolutely love this film!! This is one of my favorite Disney movies which is definitely in the top 15 Disney films list for me. The greatness of this movie lies in its great replay factor. This is the third time I’ve watched it and it is even better now than it was before and every next time I watch it, I put it a little bit higher on my Disney list.

It is about an arcade game villain who wants to become a good guy and be respected as everyone else. He sets out to get a medal in another game, befriends a young girl and uncovers the conspiracy behind the whole Sugar Rush game. To me this film has that wonderful, traditional friendship and heart at its core, but is set in a modern video game world and thus it achieves a perfect mix of contemporary and old-fashioned.

It is without any doubt one of the most original films of the decade as its plot is absolutely brilliant and so incredibly authentic and inventive. It is an action-packed, but always entertaining and heartwarming film and always so original in almost every way. It features some of the best and most intricate world building that I have ever seen as every little detail is thoroughly thought out here and all of those 80s video game references should prove delightful for their fans.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The beginning features narration, but is essential here and thus a good choice. I loved everything about that Game Central Station as it was brilliantly conceived and I just loved the rules of this universe. The human players play them and everybody has their own role but if they step outside of their own game, they could die for real and not regenerate. Great rules.

Hero’s Duty is not my favorite scene as it was too dark but still refreshingly so for an otherwise lighter film. The danger there was well conveyed and the first person shooter elements are so well realized. I loved how Ralph and Venellope met and those scenes where he builds a kart and teaches her how to race were wonderful.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Ralph breaking her kart was such a dark, unexpectedly brutal sequence which was emotionally devastating and one of the movie’s highlights for sure. I loved the mystery here and how Ralph uncovers it, the twist with the villain is actually very interesting and well executed. The final race was fine, but the twist with Venellope being a princess was actually fantastic. The fact that they managed to sneak in their usual princess formula into this different, non-princess film is highly admirable as that development honestly worked. Loved it. And of course the ending is one of my favorites as seeing Ralph watch Venellope from his arcade and the two smile and wave was just so emotionally rewarding and I was incredibly moved by it which is a testament to how strong emotion and characterization here is.

Yes, the character development is superb across the board as is the voice acting. Ralph is one of the best Disney protagonists in my opinion as he is that great. He is relatable, very well developed and likable without being too heroic. John C. Reilly was perfectly cast for this role and he did a phenomenal job.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Venellope von Schweets is even better! She is again not too likable and a realistic modern kid, but so well developed and I admired how the two shared the same dreams and goals and that strengthened their relationship. She is such a moving character with a terrific backstory and their friendship is the heart and soul of the entire film and its driving force. Sarah Silverman’s husky voice bothered me at first, but then I grew to like it and she really did an outstanding job in the role.

Fix-It Felix Jr. could have easily been an insufferable, one-note character owing to his inherent heroism but I loved that Ralph was the protagonist and he was in the back and he definitely became better and better as the movie progressed. His relationship with Sergeant Calhoun is so silly, but it honestly works. She is a very memorable, strong female character and they are the exact opposite of each other but that is maybe why their relationship felt so entertaining and strong. And I loved her backstory. This movie is a textbook example of how to properly do character backstories.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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All of the other characters are not all that memorable though they did serve their purpose really well such as all of those bratty girls, henchmen and of course the various famous video game characters were so well incorporated with the highlights being Q*bert who is so cute and tragic and Zangief who is absolutely hilarious.

As for King Candy, I honestly wasn’t thrilled with him. I have to be honest. He is the weakest aspect in the film and he really held it down quite a bit. Now I loved his backstory which was once again very strong and the twist that he is Turbo is great, but the problem with him is that he is obviously meant to portray a feminine gay guy stereotype and this is the 2010s and this type of villain is no more excusable.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The animation is fantastic in Wreck-It Ralph, absolutely gorgeous. It is undoubtedly the finest computer animated film so far from Disney because the character design is very strong as all characters look very authentic and the way they movie and look is very much like a video game character fittingly. But the film is so polished, it looks fittingly modern and high-tech and I adored how colorful it is, especially Sugar Rush. The film looks beautiful and is a rare movie that gives CG animation a good name. Plus those video game scenes were fittingly very retro and realistic.

Wreck-It Ralph isn’t perfect. The villain is weaker, the action is at times slightly overwhelming and the humor could be immature (some of the banter between Venellope and Ralph was too childish). But most of the other humor is actually very strong and the action is mostly fantastic and a lot of fun to watch. The film is briskly paced, but never rushed and it is an absolute blast to watch. It is unfortunately over too soon and you want more so I am glad that we are getting a sequel as this world is just so rich with endless possibilities.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The film has no songs but it doesn’t need them as it isn’t suited for a musical. That one song from Rihanna is here (Shut Up and Drive) and I wasn’t a fan of it nor was I the fan of the other songs with the only exception being Celebration which was well incorporated. The score itself is terrific and pleasantly retro which I loved, especially in those earlier scenes. It is a memorable film with strong dialogue, amazing world building and very high emotional engagement as some scenes moved me so much. Needless to say, it is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film.

The characters in Wreck-It Ralph are amazing despite a weaker villain. Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun are such a fun couple and of course Venellope and Ralph are the heart and soul of this film. The animation is so beautiful and so phenomenal that it gives computer animation a good name for once. The emotion is overwhelming and some scenes moved me tremendously. And above all else, it is fueled by one of the most original and intricately plotted stories in recent memory filled with excellent character backstories and simply extraordinary world building. It has its small flaws, but it is mostly a brilliant film which is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film and one of the best of all time as well. A future classic that only gets better with each subsequent viewing.

My Rating – 4.5

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Rover’s Rival (1937)

Rover's Rival ReviewRover’s Rival Review

Rover’s Rival is a 1937 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a very good entry.

Porky Pig wants to teach his dog some tricks, but the dog is very old and incapable of doing any of them plus there is another younger dog who tries his best to make it even harder for the old dog. What I didn’t like at all here was that ending. Not only was it not great overall, but that asshole of a small dog did not get his proper due and basically went unharmed. I always have a problem with such endings.

But otherwise this is a very good short that, although not as funny, is actually very entertaining and heartwarming. Porky is reliably good and I love his pet-oriented shorts probably the most as evidenced by my love for ‘Porky’s Pet’ too. That little dog did not get punished but was great as a villain. And of course the highlight is the old dog who has an old man voice and both his voice and design are terrific and authentic.

Rover’s Rival is very well animated with good action scenes and great characterization, but a very disappointing finale.

My Rating – 4

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