Friday, August 31, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (Steven Spielberg, 2011) Review

Am I the only who was bugged by the opening. It was missing something...something big. The Tintin theme. The one from all the TV shows before this film. So as you may have guessed, it's based on three of the Tintin books...more or less. Now I for one love the Tintin series and was very excited for this film (the projector broke so I had to wait for the DVD) but did it hold up to the hype I created (although no else seemed to care)? Let's find out.

After purchasing a rare model ship, Tintin (Jaime Bell) learns that it's more trouble than it's worth after an American informat is killed on his doorstep after warning Tintin about the ship. He is kidnapped by a man named Sakharine (Daniel Craig) who has an identical model ship and is after a scroll hidden in Tintin's ship. While escaping Sakharine's clutches, Tintin runs into the captain of Sakharine's ship (which is not a model), Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). The two escape from Sakharine and must now track down Sakharine and stop him from getting the scrolls which lead to Red Rackham's secret treasure.

I was blown away at how amazing this film looks. Okay, it's cheating since it's motion capture but that can't stop it from looking incredible. The characters are an excellent recreation of their classic comic styles and their voices just help amplify how great the characters are. Jaime Bell is perfect as Tintin and, while I was sceptical at first, Andy Serkis is surprisingly good as Haddock. Daniel Craig surprised me as the villain, Sakharine, just because I've never seen him do a villainous role before. Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) surprised me because I just thought they were signed up for the star appeal but they actually perform the role well and I wish there was more of them.

Was I the only one that was shocked that this was marketed as a kids film? People die, blood is seen, Tintin is seen holding a gun and there is lots of life-threatening peril. I think it's more for fans of the original Tintin stories than for kids. It does throw a few twists in there like how Sherlock puts twists on classic Sherlock Holmes. Also, I was disappointed with John William's score for this film. It was very forgettable and was just crying out for the original Tintin theme.

All in all, The Adventures of Tintin is a great adaptation of the classic stories. If you love the world of Tintin, you will love this film. Sure, there are some moments that I thought were just plain stupid but they're easy to forgive and it comes together as a great adventure. A must see for Tintin fans but it is by no means a kids film. DON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE. You can enjoy this at any age.

A great adventure film that is a must see for Tintin fans. The acting is good and looks incredible.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Brad Silberling, 2004) Review

In a world where all films now aren't original (OH SNAP!), a majority of them rely on books in order to make adaptations of them. Film franchises like Harry Potter and James Bond are based on books and they did insanely well. Outside of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, there's one book series that I enjoy and really wish that one day, thee is a film based on in. In 2004, my prayers were answered in the form of A Series of Unfortunate Events. How was it? Let's find out.

After the death of their parents, Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken) and Sunny Baudelaire (Mara and Shelby Hoffman) are left with a legal guardian to take care of them named Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). When they learn that Olaf simply wants to inhert their family fortune, they manage to escape and are taken to other members of their family such as their Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly) and Aunt Josephine  (Meryl Streep). All the while, Olaf is hot on their trails and is determined to take their fortune.

Look at that! A star studded cast. There are the above ones but also featured are Timothy Spall, Catherine O'Hara and Jude Law. Heck, there's even cameos from Dustin Hoffman and Lemony Snicket (the author of the original book who Jude Law's confusing). Jim Carrey is a bizzare choice for Count Olaf but then I remembered that Olaf is supposed to be a hammy actor...just like Jim Carrey...just more evil! So, yeah! Good casting in this film...except I have no idea why Klaus never wears his glasses...which he always wore in the books. 

Something interesting the film did was, instead of adapting one book, they adapted the first three books in the series. It actually works well and they manage to tie the three stories together. it becomes one long story and definitely pays off. If it was just the first book, it wouldn't be as good since they cover it in about half an can't really stretch that for an extra hour.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a good adaptation of one of my favourite book franchises and does the books justice. The casting is perfect since every character is how I imagined them when reading the books. I love the framing device of having Jude Law as Lemony Snicket. I don't know why but it makes the film that much more...good? It's not for everyone's taste though and only the fans of the books will get the most out of it...still...I wish they did the rest of the books. I would love to see an adaptation of the eleventh book.

I can see the potential and, while there are some great things, is only really for the fans of the books.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Speed (Jan de Bont, 1994) Review

Bit late but did you know Dennis Hopper died...two years ago...I'm efficient okay? Sure, he did some absolute crap (Super Mario Bros. anyone?), I will always look back to one of his best...this film...since I'm talking about it...I got nothing...let's just get this over with.

After a recent bomb scare by a bomb expert, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) is revealed to be behind it and is presumably killed in a run-in with top cop Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves). This seem to be fine until Payne is revealed to have survived and has now attached a bomb to a bus. The catch? The bus must stay over 50 mph so that it doesn't explode...or Payne is given the money he wants, either way works. Jack manages to get on-board the bus and must now come up with plan to disarm the bomb and keep the bus over 50 mph or else...they die.

I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Keanu all, but he was actually pretty good in this film. I don't recall much development but there are times where I can let it slide considering the character is somewhat cool (just look at him up there....with his police vest). The most memorable character is Howard Payne, though. He's practically a Bond villain. The other characters on the bus are okay as well but you will get annoyed with them...especially the one that dies (whoops! Spoilers). There is a love interest too in the form of Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) and kudos to the film for having a competent female character. The best character has to be Det. Harold 'Harry' Temple (Jeff Daniels)'s Jeff Daniels plus there's one tragic moment that is glanced over yet left an impression on me.

 I won't say it's a unique concept (although it probably is) but it sure is interesting. It's intriguing and you get wrapped into the story because there is a reason to continue! For all you know, the bomb goes off and everyone dies...I mean, you don't know...what's that? You've seen it already...well might agree that the ending reminds me of a Bond film: Epic final battle, peculier villain death, one last problem, explosion, hero and love interest make out. I'm done. I've watched too much James Bond.

Speed is an interesting film with one hell of a hook. The acting is great and contains some of the actors greatest roles and I was always on the edge of my seat. Sure, there were some VERY stupid moments (the bridge jump, 'nuff said) but there is more good than bad in this film. It's an enjoyable action film and should be watched but It's not a must see film that everyone must see. You don't have to...I'd understand if you don't watch it.

An enjoyable action film with some great acting but there are moments that are just SO stupid, I just can't ignore them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brave (Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, 2012) Review

Pixar is back! Done. Set the tone for the rest of the review. After the failure that was Cars 2, Pixar was pretty much beaten by Dreamworks last year so they needed to make a new film that would be up to the standard of their previous films such as Monsters Inc or Finding Nemo. They did. Brave is exactly what I wanted since the great disappointment hat was Cars 2 (I'M NOT LETTING IT GO!). Why? Well, let's find out.

Taking place in ancient Scotland, Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is sick and tired of having her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), make all her decisions in her life. When she runs out on having to choose a suitor, she encounters a witch in the forest (Julie Walters). She makes a deal and is given a wish...but be careful what you wish for. She asks if her mother could change so that Merida can determine her own fate. Did I say wish? I meant curse. When it affects Elinor, Merida must now rely on her bravery and archery skills to undo the curse and return her life back to the way it was.

Anyone notice the theme of this year for films? Archery! The Hunger Games, Avengers Assemble and now Brave all feature prominent characters who use archery. It's good to see a Disney princess (I guess she counts) who doesn't end up with a man and is still independent. It's a nice change of pace and is one of Pixar's best protagonists. Might I add that her dad, King Fergus (Billy Connoly), is the best character in the film because he's incredibly funny and is the master of changing the mood of a scene. This film has some of Pixar's best characters.

When I started watching this film, one thing went through my head: "Oh man, these accents are going to annoy me". They did not by the end. The voice acting is believable and very well done. unlike with most animated films with celebrity voice actors, it was hard to try and separate the voices from he characters. They are perfect. The casting is perfect. Another great thing is the visuals. The backgrounds are absolulty beautiful and the characters look great and are well designed.

Brave is Brother Bear mixed with How To Train Your Dragon. That's the plot...sort of. Anyway, this is definitely a sign that Pixar is back in the game and Dreamworks better watch out. Yes, the classic Pixar tropes are still here (John Ratzenberger, Luxo Jr, A113, Pizza Planet Truck) and are harder to find then ever (I HAVEN'T EVEN FOUND A113 YET!). Just one thing, DON'T MAKE A SEQUEL FOR THIS. The Toy Story sequels are great but Cars 2 proves that when a sequel isn't needed...don't make it. The Incredibles 2 and Monsters Inc 2 are the only sequels I want...wait a second...the next Pixar film is a prequel to Monsters Inc...YEAH!

A return to what Pixar do best. Visually, it's fantastic and the voice acting is perfect. A much needed improvement over Cars 2.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985) Review

It's time for a teen film! One of my first reviews I ever did was of Ferris Bueller's Day Off so I think it's time we take a look at what it would be like if it was really serious. Sure, the late, great John Hughes had done some crap (Flubber for example) but this is one of his best! I can't really think of a good introduction so let's just dive right in!

On a weekend day, five students arrive at high school as they have each earned detention. These students are (from left to right in the picture) John Bender (Judd Nelson), Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) and Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall). The film follows these five students taking place in one day. That's basically the summary. There isn't much else. To be honest, there is development but that would be telling spoilers...which I only do with certain films...if I feel like it.

 Like I just said, the film basically runs on development. The characters go through some character development (naturally) and end up pouring their souls out to each other. They are all likeable and well (sorry for the overused word) developed. The actors work well off each other (all though I believe there was tension on the set, am I right? AM I RIGHT?!) and it works with a great setting...which I think is the same high school as in Ferris Bueller's Day Off...probably. The acting is the main reason this film is actually really good. There is a lot of emotion used and conveyed so acting is top priority...and it didn't disappoint.

You want all your questions answered? Good for you because you aren't getting any answers. The film is filled to the brim with enigma codes which is something that John Hughes seems good at. What happens the next school day isn't even mentioned. I keep having to compare it to Hughes' other film, Ferris Bueller, just because this film is the darker twin of it. Another parallel is that we also see the story of the principal (Paul Gleason) just as we did with Ferris Bueller but it's not played for laughs and is actually quite tragic in a way. This film will tug at your heart strings.

The Breakfast Club is filled with development, enigma codes and emotions. It's a touching film that is actually sort of dark in comparison to other teen films like American Pie and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It is a great film that set the bar for teen films afterwards...that people seemed to ignore. The acting is great, the story, while limited, is great and the characters are very likeable. Well, that's that film done (i've been meaning to do it for a while) but I can tell you Friday's film since I watched it today...hence why this is up late: Pixar's latest film Brave.

A well written teen film that actually is more serious than it is funny. Great acting helps increase the quality.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004) Review

So Pixar hasn't exactly been doing as good as they could be recently (Cars 2 being a failure and Brave getting mixed reviews) but let us take a look bad at when Pixar made films every year and yet someone managed to be animated gold every time! I could talk about ones like Monsters Inc. or review the Toy Story trilogy but since I'm in such as super hero-esque mood (as a result of Avengers Assemble, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises all in one year) I thought I should take a look at Pixar's attempt at the super hero genre: The Incredibles.

Several years ago, there was a mishap involving a superhero named Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), a villain named Bomb Voyage (Dominique Louis) and a fan of Mr. Incredible called Buddy Pine (Jason Lee) trying to act as his sidekick. As a result, superheroes were banned and had to give up their super identities. Mr. Incredible goes back to his life as Bob Parr and now lives with his wife Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and his children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox) and Jack-Jack (It's a baby). Despite the law that outlaws superheroes, Bob still goes out at night with his friend Lucius/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and do good deeds. This catches the attention of an unseen client willing to pay for Bob's services on his secret island. The client is revealed to be a new villain by the name of Syndrome whose real name may sound familar (Buddy Pine...remember him?) who is trying to give special abilities to everyone so there will be no superheroes left. Now the Incredibles must stop Syndrome.

While it seems like it would be a parody of the superhero genre, it actually does well and is more than a parody like Johnny English Reborn. The characters are great and actually would fit in with other comic book characters (no, this isn't based on a comic book, okay?). Syndrome is a memorable villain and easily one of Pixar's best villains (up there with Hopper from A Bug's Life and Losto from Toy Story 3) and the heroes are also great. Mr. Incredible is a very likeable character and Frozone, from what I can tell, is a character that everyone likes. The one character everyone thinks of when they think of this film is Edna Mode (Brad Bird), the person responsible for all the superhero outfits (kind of like Gok Wan).

This film looks fantastic. It is definitely one of Pixar's best look films. The backgrounds are detailed and the character models look fantastic. I distinctly remember the scenes inside Syndrome's base looking especially good probably due to the lighting (my experience with CGI animation is only Source Filmmaker). They definitely put all their effort into this one. The voice acting is also a great part. They really bring life into the characters (everyone loves Edna's voice probably because of her campiness and that Gok Wan quality).

The Incredibles is a film that may surprise those who think it's just a parody. It's not. It clearly has alot of effort put into it and it certainly paid off. If you were disappointed by Cars 2, watch this again to remind of what Pixar can really do! I haven't seen Brave yet so maybe they're back in the game after getting beaten by Dreamworks last year (Cars 2 against Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda contest). Sure, it isn't my favourite Pixar film but it's still a great film and is one of the only Pixar films that really warrants a sequel.

A fantastic looking animated film that does the genre justice (heh), has great voice acting and is one reason to respect Pixar.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nowhere Boy (Sam Taylor-Wood, 2009) Review

If anyone reading this watched the Olympics closing ceremony, then you may have noticed that there was a lot of songs by The Beatles playing. I therefore thought I should review a film about The Beatles...or...atleast John Lennon. Yeah, this film has Paul McCartney and George Harrison (Sorry, Ringo) but it mostly focuses on John Lennon's early life and the origin of The Beatles. Let's get straight into Nowhere Boy...OH I get it, like the song Nowhere Man...but he's a boy...okay then.

Set during the early life of a John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), living with his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), John's life begins to take a turn away from a normal life. When he manages to locate his long lost mother (Anne-Marie Duff), he begins to show aspiration for music playing and begins to become a very good guitar player with the help of his mother. Mimi does not approve of his relationship with his mother and John is left having to make a choice between them. Meanwhile, John's guitar player gets peoples attention and is approached by another teenager called Paul (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who also plays the guitar. They round up a few more people and start a band...not called The Beatles (that came much later).

Now, I'm not to sure on the accuracy of this film (since I heard that John met George Harrison before Paul...although I could be wrong) but my biggest gripe with his film is the casting. Aaron Johnson is great as John Lennon and both Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff are good but the other characters seem a little off. The worst offender is Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul McCartney. He isn't who I would pick...and there was a reason for that. He just doesn't seem right. I don't believe he is playing Paul McCartney. Just a guy with the same name. George Harrison isn't in it for long so I can't really complain but I remember that he was okay.

It sounds like I don't like this film but I do. I love The Beatles (and am listening to them while writing this) and I think this film does them justice. The music is especially good (which is obvious considering they're Beatles songs...) and, as previously mentioned, Aaron Johnson is great as John Lennon. He looks like, sounds like him and does really well acting as him. He works well off of the other actors and really draws you in.

Nowhere Boy is a great adaptation of John Lennon's early life even if isn't accurate (maybe someone can correct me...hmmmm?). If you're a fan of The Beatles, I would definitely recommend you watch this. The casting isn't perfect but the acting compensates for this problem. This is a good film. It's not the best film around but it's still good....the casting still bugs me...also fans of Ringo may not like it for obvious reasons...

A good adaptation even if it isn't one hundred percent accurate. It features a great lead role and some good music.

Don't expect a review for the next couple of days...okay?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis, 1988) Review

With the recent retirement of Bob Hoskins, I thought it would be best to reminisce about his best film. I think we are all in agreement here that he was a great actor (Super Mario Bros. never happened) and it's a tragic loss to the move industry of his retirement. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a revolutionary film for one reason: it did a good job of combining live action and cartoon together. Sure it had been done before but here, it really works which I guess is due to the context of it. Let's take a look to see why it was as revolutionary as it was.

Set in the fourties, toons live in the human world where they are actors working in cartoons (how else are cartoons made?) and one of the stars is Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer). When is wife, Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), is caught playing 'patty-cake' (trust me, that isn't a euphemism...but it's sure treated like one) with gag making entrepreneur Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), Acme is killed and everyone blames the naturally jealous Roger. Roger enlists in a ton hating detective named Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to try and clear his name while on the run from Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), a man who has developed a way to kill toons for good. Eddie and Roger must know learn who framed Roger Rabbit (see what I did there?).

It's a crime/noir film yet it features cartoons and therefore appeals to kids as well as adults (although adults will probably enjoy it more). Normally I would shout "IDENTITY CRISIS" yet they manage to justify the mixed genre very well. The live action characters interact with the cartoons characters well and the animation on them really brings them to life and it fits in. The biggest compliment I can give is that the animation is fantastic and the acting combined with the animation makes this one hell of a memorable film. Everyone I talk to seems to remember Judge Doom the most and I can see why. He is incredibly evil and absolutely terrifying by the climax. Christopher Lloyd really went al out with the creepiness here.

This film is a kids dream come true. All of their favourite cartoon characters together in one film, kind of like what Wreck-It Ralph is doing for video game characters. It was very shocking to see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny on the screen together...shocking in a good way. There are so many characters to recognise and some play roles in the film outside of a cameo (which there are a lot of). The new characters like Roger and Jessica (who is not a rabbit...not by a long shot...heh...heheh) are actually well developed and very likeable. They feel like they fit into the world of kids cartoons (well, maybe not Jessica...heheh).

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a celebration of cartoon history and it does incredibly well to embrace that. This is a film that everyone has seen and if you haven't then you're missing out. This film holds Bob Hoskins' best role in his career and it's sad that he's retired. Consider this a little tribute to your best role, Bob. The rest of the actors do well and the animation is top notch. A must see.

A fantastic mix of live action and cartoon. Great acting accompanied by great animation makes for an excellent, must-see film

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kronk's New Groove (Saul Blinkoff, Elliot M. Bour and Robin Steele, 2005) Review

This was a sequel that was definitely unnecessary. Lion King 2 worked, The Return of Jafar cleared up the first film and Little Mermaid 2 did a good job continuing the story...not this one. This was really not needed. The Emperor's New Groove was okay but it wasn't anything special so why did they need to make a sequel to it? The first one was only above average so what did they expect from this film? Kind of pointless if you ask me. Well, Kronk was a popular character so I guess he deserves a spin-off film right?.....right?

After the events of the first film, Kronk (Patrick Warburton) has now changed his ways (not that he was really evil) and no longer works of Yzma (Eartha Kitt). He is now trying to spend the rest of his life trying to please his father (John Mahoney) by having a great house on the hill, a beautiful wife and a family. During the process of this, he runs into Yzma again who tries to bribe him so she can sell her 'youth potion' to the old people in town and gains the house on the hill as a result. Next, Kronk and his group of campers (seen at the end of the last one briefly) ends up competing against a camp troop leader called Ms. Birdwell (Tracey Ullman) but they ultimately fall in love which could leave the wife that Kronk's father wants him to have. Now Kronk has to secure the things he has by the time his father comes to visit.

It sounds a bit all over the place and that is a result of the use of a framing device. This feels like a combination of short cartoons stung together by the scenes in the restaurant. I hate films like that. Tarzan and Jane (a pseudo sequel to Tarzan) was exactly this as it was made up of episodes from the cartoon series. This one isn't made up of cartoon episodes but it might as well be because of the fact it's all over the place. Yes, Kuzco is in this film and yes he is still voiced by David Spade (they had a replacement for the series so I was impressed that they bothered to get him back) but he acts as another framing device. Yes, there is a frame for the frame. It's a mess.

Well, that's the problems but are there any good points? Yeah. It's funny, just like the first film. The humour is still hear but it isn't as funny as the first probably due to the lack of Kuzco being a main role. The first one had both Kronk and Kuzco prominently. Take one of them away and you're left with one funny thing. The animation is also good but it doesn't look as good as the first probably because it lacks the vast backgrounds and some great action scenes.

I said it with Cars 2 but I really mean it here: Kronk's New Groove doesn't need to exist. The first one wasn't anything special so why make a sequel to it? I just don't understand Disney's way of thinking. Give The Emperor's New Groove a sequel and not one of the best ones like Robin Hood or 101 Dalmatians? What's that? You say there is a 101 Dalmatians sequel? Ohhh...nooo...

An average film that doesn't need to exist. It looks nice and is funny but the plot is a bit rubbish and the new characters leave a lot to be desired.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Emperor's New Grove (Mark Dindal, 2003) Review

We were all confused when this was released. This was from the same animation gods that created The Lion  King and Beauty and the Beast but when they announced there next film would be about a llama voiced by David Spade. Let me repeat that: David a llama. I...whah...I...WHAT?! I was as confused as the next person but when I finally watched it, I will admit that it was pretty good. Sure, it wasn't as good as the likes of The Lion King or Aladdin but it has a certain charm. Let's take a deeper look.

Kuzco (David Spade) is a egotistical, self centred emperor who, despite his flaws, is adored by everyone...everyone except his administrator Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and her right hand man Kronk (Patrick Warburton)...not that Kronk really cares. Yzma decides that she has had enough of Kuzco and decides to poison him. Kronk gives him the wrong poison and ends up turning him into a llama. He is dumped out of the castle and left with a peasant named Pacha (John Goodman) who is reluctant to help Kuzco since he planned to destroy Pacha's house to make his own holiday home. Kuzco promises to not build it and they set off to the castle in order to restore him to his former glory.

Kind of like A Goofy Movie, The Emperor's New Groove is a buddy film (between Kuzco and Pacha) and also a 'road to' film since they are trying to get back the castle and visit a number of different locations filled with random characters they meet along the way. It's also one for Ymza and Kronk...although I use the term 'buddy' very loosely. I guess it was nice to see Disney do a comedy for once. The humour of the film is memorable and is actually pretty funny. I think the bizarre combination of Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton (name a weirder duo, I dare you) is what really brings the humour out. They really work well together. Of course, David Spade is funny but is just being David Spade.

I do have a few gripes with this film. The obvious one being that I just can't escape the thought that Disney will never be as good as they used to be. The Princess and the Frog sort of teased us into thinking that it was going back to the way it was. Sure, The Emperor's New Groove looks good and it's nice that it was traditionally made but I would rather watch some Disney films during the Disney Renaissance (from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan) but I can't really say it's the worst Disney where near.

The Emperor's New Groove is a funny, good looking film that's only as good as you find it. It's a simple film that sees our heroes getting from point A to point B but it features some good character development, great villains and some decent voice acting. I would recommend it to anyone who likes comedies. You don't have to  like animated films because the writing is good enough to pass as a live action script.

A good looking comedy that features some great aspects. Not Disney's best but it's nowhere near the worst.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mr. Popper's Penguins (Mark Waters, 2011) Review

Let's sum up my initial opinion of this film in one word: sceptical. This film could either be really really stupid or surprisingly heart warming and actually less of a comedy film then I had expected. After watching this film, I can now say that it was the latter. I was actually very surprised by this film considering it didn't seem to be around for long. Is it a good film though? ...........let's take a look.

Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) was never really close to his father but this doesn't stop him from leaving Tom something in his will. What would you expect in his will? Money, a house or maybe a pet or two, or three...or six. Tom receives a package to which he finds the next step in his life, six pet penguins. Naturally, he wants to get rid of them but his kids grow an attachment to the penguins and the penguins grow an attachment to him. His antics catches the attention of zookeeper Nat Jones (Clark Gregg) who wants to take the penguins for his own. Now Tom has to make a choice: keep the penguins who love him or give them up to the zoo.

What surprised me the most about this film is the approach it took. It could have been a very stupid kids film but it isn't. Sure it's a kids film but it is in no way stupid. It's surprisingly funny and Jim Carrey keeps his zaniness to a minimum which may please those who don't like it when Jim Carrey goes crazy (like in The Mask and Batman Forever). Sure, it isn't his best work but it isn't his worst either. The penguins are just in it for the kids. They do make up the narrative but the whole reason for their existence is just for kids but I guess it's far considering that this is a kids film...a more mature kids film then I've seen in recent years.

There are still problems. You do grow to like the penguins but even so, they are a bit ridiculous. The filmhad already set itself up as a quite serious and realistic film and, by the end, you begin to question this films logic. Sure, it's a kids film but even so there are so scenes that seem out of place. It's also a little too kiddy for my liking. There are fart jokes...has it really come to this? REALLY?! You can do better.

Mr. Popper's Penguins is definitely a kids film, there's no way to ignore it. It isn't a terrible film but it isn't the best film ever. It is above average but it could have been better. I do like Jim Carrey in this and even Clark Gregg is very memorable and it's good to see him not being Agent Coulson and even an antagonist. If you haven't seen this film...I might recommend it if you enjoy Jim Carrey films. Basically, if you liked films such as Yes Man and films like Night At The Museum, you should enjoy this.

An enjoyable family film that, while it does have problems, is fun to watch and filled with great acting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998) Review

Well it's my birthday today so I guess I ought to review a film that is somewhat special to me. I'll say why at the end. I mentioned in one of my first reviews (Yes Man) that Jim Carrey was one of my favourite actors. This was the film that made that concrete and easily has one of his best roles. Sure it's not the only reason that was great about this film but it is one of the biggest reasons. Let's dive in to The Truman Show.

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) begins to feel that the world seems to centre around him as weird stuff start happening. From set lights falling out of the sky to homeless people looking like his father. His friends and family try to make it seem like it's all in his head until it's revealed to the audience (yeah, not to Truman) that his life is in fact a TV show created by Christof (Ed Harris). He is the only real thing in the show as everyone he knows is an actor even his wife, Meryl (Laura Linney), and his best friend, Marlon (Noah Emmerich). Now Truman is determined to prove that his world isn't as simple as it seems.

The concept is fantastic. I absolutely love it. The execution is the reason it works. Jim Carrey really conveys the naivety of being trapped in a fake world very well and is easily his best role. He only goes 'over the top Jim Carrey' in one scene and even then it's tame. If you hate Jim Carrey, you probably won't in this film. He really proved he can do more than comedy (although there are a few funny moments). The rest of the cast work well with him and Ed Harris creates an excellent over-seeing character who watches over Truman's world. The concept plus the characters is really what makes this film shine.

I can't really think of any problems unless I really think about it. It's a fantastic film. The way everything comes together is genius. It's an intelligent film that is actually better the second time around. They do explain things but the first time through you may be have to be patient with this film or else you won't enjoy it. It definitely pays off and is were the movie also shines. This movie shines alot, alright! It's so clean it squeaks. I spot something new everytime I rewatch this film, just like Back To The Future, and I welcome films like this since they make me feel smart and that's a good thing.

The Truman Show is a fantastic film. The idea behind it is fantastic, the acting is great and the fact that everything comes together well makes this film stand out even more.The only bad thing from this film is that it probably inspired Big Brother (which is...eeeehhh) and, if that's the worst there is, that must mean it's a good film. It is. It really is. Now, at the beginning I said this was somewhat special to me. Why? Because this is my favourite movie of all time (at time of writing).

It was favourite movie of all time. A fantastic concept executed well by great actors and everything else that makes up the film.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) Review

So while I was reviewing Space Jam yesterday, I remembered that Bill Murray appeared in it for some reason. I then remembered that he has done much better films (one of which is one of my favourite films of all time) so I thought I would take a look at one of this best. Let's take a look at a very unique and absoluly genius film: Groundhog Day 

Groundhog Day is a day of the year where the town gathers to watch a groundhog (one of those little mole/beaver things) come out of it's hole and if it sees it's shadow then there will be more weeks of winter (or something like that). Phil (Bill Murray) is a weatherman sent to a town celebrating Groundhog Day in order to report on it (considering the groundhog determines the weather...). Naturally, being a Bill Murray character, he has no problem hiding his frustration (which is the nicest way of saying he's an asshole) but he finally gets punished when he wakes up the next morning. The next morning, he goes about his day as normal but something is up...he has to relive the same day. This leads to some great moments such as him killing himself in many ways or trying to woo Rita (Andie MacDowell). Now he has to find out how to stop the loop and get on with is life.

That's a great set up! That is a very unique idea that can be used for some really good moments. It is somewhat of an iconic film anyway and it's probably as a result of the unique idea. The use of the song 'I Got You Babe' and Sonny & Cher that plays on Phil's alarm clock everytime he wakes up. It has been parodied in the likes of American Dad! in a similar situation. Still, the unique idea + Bill Murray really work well together as it offers more alot of hilarious moments. This is a funny film but considering it's Bill Murray and is directed by Harold Ramis (two of the reasons that Ghostbusters was so good), this doesn't really come as a surprise.

Being British, I have no idea what the point of Groundhog Day is nor do I understand it. How can a beaver thing seeing it's shadow determine the weather? I don't know but this film (somewhat) teaches me. I can see that people get annoyed by it (Phil simply calls the groundhog a 'rat') and that it seems like a pointless holiday. That's sort of the charm of the film. It's a pointless holiday so why should we celebrate it. It only acts as a background event anyway, it's just unfortunate that they day that keeps looping is Groundhog Day (hence the name of the film). It seems you don't have to understand it to get this film.

Groundhog Day is a great film. The unique idea for the narrative is really where it shines as it offers alot of opportunities. Bill Murray is...Bill Murray but it works because he actually has to learn something for this film. It has a good moral but you really watch this film just so they can enjoy the great moments and the whole idea for looping one day over and over again with hilarious consequences. If you haven't seen this film, I would highly recommend it if you like Ghostbusters.

A hilarious film with a great premise. One of Bill Murray's best roles and he makes this film even better.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Space Jam (Joe Pytka, 1996) Review

Is this a movie? Really? To me, it looks like one giant commercial...released theatrically. So much product placement and considering that this is a crossover that means it's advertising more things. The concept of the film itself is even more questionable. Looney Tunes...and Michael Jordan...playing basketball...against a bunch of aliens. Huh. It's still a giant advert though. Does that mean it's a bad film? Let's find out!

Michael Jordan (Played by...Michael  Jordan) has decided to quit playing basketball and try other sports like baseball (which I think actually happened). This is relevant. Meanwhile, The Looney Tunes are challenged by a group of aliens to beat them at a game of basketball. Therefore, they need professional help. This where Michael comes in. When playing golf with his friends Bill Murray (Played by...Bill Murray) and Stan Podolak (Wayne Knight), Michael gets sucked down into another world. He is greeted by Bugs Bunny (Billy West) and the other Looney Tunes including the likes of Daffy Duck (Dee Bradley Baker) and Foghorn Leghorn (Bill Farmer). The aliens have stolen the skill from other basketball players so now it's up to Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes to stop them.  

Lots of people hate this film because it's cheesy, over the top and is basically a hour and a half long advert. Lots of people love this film because of the nostalgia factor, the good animation and voice acting and introduced a pretty good Looney Tunes character to the series who has gone on to be a fan favourite (Lola Bunny (Kath Soucie)). I will say that it does do a pretty good job of combining live action and cartoons similar to how Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did except that was fantastic while this is...above average...just. I do like the duo of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck mainly because their voice actors are two of the best around. Billy West (who voices Bugs) you may know as Philip J. Fry from Futurama (and basically everyone else) and Ren & Stimpy while Dee Bradley Baker (Daffy) you may know as Klaus from American Dad or Ra's Al Ghul in Batman: Arkham City. The two work well off each other and offer some of the best interpretations of the characters...which is being generous to this film.

There are still problems that REALLY ruin this film. Now I ask you, as a kid, between Michael Jordan and The Looney Tunes what would you rather pick. A kid would rather go for Looney Tunes (unless they a huge basketball fans...) but the film focuses too much on Michael Jordan and considering he is a wooden actor, it really brings the film down. The only Looney Tunes that really get a lot of screen time are Bugs and Daffy (and Lola to an extent) Also, everything's all over the place and in your face. THERE'S NO PERSONAL SPACE IN THIS FILM. The camera must feel violated. One last's small but leaves a huge mark. Bill Murray. What the hell. He is a fantastic actor (Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day) yet his role in this (as himself) is just...out of place.

Space Jam is an above average film...just. The animation is good and the mix of animation and live action is fantastic but we've already seen it before and it was done better then. The voice acting is top notch but the live action acting is wooden and feels life-less. The product placement is a joke (I believe there was about four or so product placements in one line of dialogue) and the camera zooms in way too much that it's beyond a nit pick. This had potential but sadly missed the mark. It's a nostalgic classic, don't get me wrong, but watching it now...I feel underwhelmed. I will say one thing though, they left out the little rat know as Speedy Gonzales. I can't stand him at all and am so glad he doesn't feature at all. Good one, guys! Thank you.

An interesting concept that sadly missed the mark and left alot to be desired.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Extremely Goofy Movie (Douglas McCarthy, 2000) Review

I'm back, baby! Without further ado (adieu? Still have no idea), let's dive right in. You probably had no idea that there was a sequel to A Goofy Movie but then you realise "Oh yeah! This is Disney. The make sequels to pretty much everything!" so it wasn't really a big surprise. What WAS a surprise however is that it actually does something Disney sequels hardly ever do: be good! There's your incentive so let's take a look.

After the events of the first film, Max (Jason Marsden) is now moving onto college (university for us Brits) with his friends P.J. (Rob Paulsen) and Bobby (Pauley Shore). Naturally, his dad, Goofy (Bill Farmer), is upset over Max's absence. After daydreaming at work, Goofy manages to get himself fired but in order to get a new job he needs one thing: a college degree. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! Goofy must now go back to college...the same one that Max is going to! Meanwhile, Max, P.J. and Bobby are trying out for the college's skateboarding team. Their main rivals are the Gamma House led by Bradley Uppercrust III (Jeff Bennett) with his right hand man and main muscle appropriately named Tank (Brad Garret). Bradley tries to convince Max to join them but he declines so he can stay with his friends, this enrages Bradley and how wants to beat Max and his team.

Technically, this film actually looks better then it's predecessor. It has some very nice shading and lighting and the new designs for the characters (since they're older) look pretty good. I say technically because, while it does look better, I still prefer the style of the first one. It's more lively and cartooney (this one was darker) which is what I affiliate with Goofy. Actually that's another thing. The title doesn't really reflect the film. Neither does the first one. In comparison to other films, these films aren't actually as goofy as you might expect and this one isn't as goofy as the first so I wouldn't go around calling it Extremely. Yeah, I realise it's a pun so...bleh!

The cast is expanded from the last films. Goofy, Max, P.J., Bobby and Pete all return from the last film while new characters basically replace the older ones. Roxanne is gone for some unknown reason. New to the series is Slyvia Marpole (Bebe Neuwirth), the college librarian and Goofy's love interest (Max had one last time so it's time that Goofy got a result of Disney's one parent policy), the afformentioned Bradley Uppercrust III who acts as the main villain for the film and, lastly, is a girl who everyone just calls 'Beret Girl' (Vicki Lewis), I guess because she wears a beret, who acts as P.J's love interest. Can I just say that, because of Slyvia and Goofy's love of the seventies, the film has one hell of a dance scene in the middle. There are no songs this time but the dance scene is fantastic. The lack of songs doesn't seem like a problem as the setting of the film would make them seem out of this film was released during Disney's era where they didn't make musicals (like Tarzan, The Emperor's New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire).

An Extremely Goofy Movie was a big surprise considering what usually happens with Disney sequels (they usually suck). It's one of the only Disney sequels where it's acceptable to prefer it to the original. Do I? No. No I don't. The first one was a classic with so many memorable moments and quotes but this one, while it is a good film, isn't as memorable and won't leave a great impression. Kudos on keeping the entire same cast though. Disney sequels don't do that usually. It's a hard film to track down (it was direct-to-video and the DVD was only released in USA) but if you catch in on something like Disney Cinemagic, I would recommend you watch it if you like the first film.

A pretty good sequel to a classic but it sadly doesn't meet the same level as the first (it's close though).