Tag Archives: Family

Review of Corpse Bride (2005)

23 Jan

Corpse Bride (2005) is a stop-motion animated fantasy/musical/family film, which is somewhat similar in style to Henry Selick’s film The Nightmare Before Christmas, except on this one Tim Burton is a producer and a director.

Directed by Tim Burton (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988)) and Mike Johnson (The Devil Went Down to Georgia (1996 Short), The PJs (1999 TV)).

Written by John August (The Nines (2007), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)), Pamela Pettler (Monster House (2006), 9 (2009)) and Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Addams Family (1991)).

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse and others.

I guess since this is the first movie of his that I review, I should express my thoughts on Tim Burton. I used to really like him and not without a reason. I mean, he’s made some of my favourite films, like Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands and Batman Returns, but then as I got older and got more familiar with his films, I sort of grew tired of his heavily stylised visuals. I think Charlie  And The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland are two lifeless, flawed and gimmicky movies, which shouldn’t exist. However, I still like most of his movies and I still look forward to seeing more from him.

This film has one thing going for it, that makes me enthusiastic right from the first frames. It’s stop-motion animation. I don’t know what it is about it, but I just find it beautiful and fascinating. Here again I got to enjoy this amazingly detailed eye candy. And there’s also something about it, that makes scary scenes really  fucking creepy. Some of it has this eerie silent era horror feel.

There’s some nice touches sprinkled throughout the film. Like the brand plate on a piano saying “Harryhausen”. You know, as in reference to Ray Harryhausen, the great special effects artists, who is known for his work in stop-motion. Or in this other instance, we see a skeleton that looks like Ray Charles. There’s also a funny Gone With The Wind reference, you know the quote.

The skeleton dog is really cute, which if you think about it is kind of weird, so that’s an accomplishment, I guess.

The voice acting is pretty much perfect, but some of the characters were written for the actors, so I guess that helped. Of course there’s Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp again, which I think is something Tim Burton should stop doing. I really like them all, but it’s getting hard to take this seriously. Also Christopher Lee is in the cast, so that’s, of course, awesome.

I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, because they tend to slow down the narrative, but I found the musical numbers quite enjoyable and didn’t mind them at all.

It’s sort of classic plot, but nicely twisted and unpredictable. I really didn’t know how it will end, as I kept guessing if the dead will turn out to be evil or what. And surely enough, the ending surprised me. And afterwards I got that feeling, which reminded me, why I used really like Burton. I can’t explain the feeling, but it’s good and  the same as what I got after watching Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.

Overall, a good, well-made, beautiful film and recommended for people of all ages. I liked it a lot.

I hope it's Halloween and not their wedding.

Review of The Kid (1921)

9 Dec

The Kid (1921) is a silent comedy/drama film, which is one of the best known movies, made and starring the silent era comedy icon Charles Chaplin.

Directed by Charles Chaplin (A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923), The Gold Rush (1925)), who directed most of his movies.

Written by Charles Chaplin (The Circus (1928), City Lights (1931)).

Starring: Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance, Carl Miller and others.

Charlie Chaplin has been one of the biggest talents film comedy’s ever had and one of the biggest influences on slapstick comedy in general, being rivaled maybe only by Buster Keaton. I loved Chaplin as a kid and I still love him and find him hilarious now. This is his first feature-length film and also the first feature-length that combined comedy and drama and I’d say it is quite succesful in that aspect.

The movie starts by a woman leaving a charity hospital with a newborn child and deciding to leave it in a car. Fortunately for her, I guess, 20’s cars didn’t have lockable doors. Unfortunately, this is the same reason some criminals steal the car with the baby in it. Of course, the criminals dispose of the baby and Chaplin’s character, Tramp, finds him and is forced to take care of it.

In a classic buddy comedy scenario, Tramp is resentful at first and then warms up to the boy as he grows up and makes him a partner in crime.

It is a very entertaining film and the gags are really funny, somehow the feeling of genuineness shines through, even though all the slapstick routines have become cliché by now. Although slapstick is considered to be juvenile now, I enjoyed it a lot and found the choreography amazing. It never feels like it needs any dialogue and they rarely use the intertitle cards.

Jackie Coogan is so much more expressive and funny than any of the 6-year-olds we see in family movies today. Chaplin and him play off of each other perfectly and I really believed their relationship. This isn’t the most physical performance of Chaplin ever, but he’s great anyway.

This is a drama film as much as it is a comedy. It isn’t funny all the time. There’s one scene in the film that is so incredibly heart-breaking, I actually teared up watching it. And if a simple 1920’s silent comedy can do that, there’s something great about it.

I’d say it is a movie everyone should watch, because it is so accessible to everyone. I totally loved it and recommend it immensely. And see Charlie Chaplin’s genius at the start of his feature film career, that fulfilled his potential.

"You will know me as the most charismatic child actor of the next 90 years."

Review of Wide Awake (1998)

22 Nov

Wide Awake (1998) is a family/drama/comedy film, also known as M.Night Shyamalan’s second movie, also known as the movie that totally bombed and didn’t make Shyamalan famous.

Directed by the Indian-born director M. Night Shyamalan (Praying With Anger (1992), The Sixth Sense (1999)), who is known for making movies with twist endings.

Written by M. Night Shyamalan (Stuart Little (1999), Unbreakable (2000)), he also used to make good movies, now he’s generally considered a hack.

Starring: Joseph Cross, Dana Delany, Denis Leary, Robert Loggia, Rosie O’Donnell, Julia Stiles and others.

As you can see there’s quite a few well-known actors here. Ok, obviously, Cross and Stiles became more known later, but still it is a solid ensemble for a low-budget family movie. And the performances are quite good. Cross isn’t a terribly annoying (although he is on the verge of being) little kid. When at the beginning he states “People think I ask too many questions,” you already know that he is one of those children. His parents are well portrayed too, but they aren’t in the movie a lot. Rosie O’Donnell is cast as a nun, obsessed with baseball, which suits her, seems a bit forced, but might be my favorite character in the movie.

O’Donnell’s character got me thinking a bit more and realised that this is what christian fundamentalists would imagine is the perfect career choice for a christian lesbian woman. As we all known you can’t be gay and believe in god. For that you will be ass-raped by Jesus Christ himself during his frequent visits to the depths of hell. So what you should do, not to anger God, is say goodbye to all the worldly pleasures and become a monk or a nun. Your only choice is either having sex with your own gender (and burn in hell) or choose absolute abstinence.

It also made me think, why would anyone ever send their child to a parochial school? It seems like the most depressing place ever. It teaches you to be stiff, wear short pants and not question God. It just made me sad. Although, if they can teach these 11-year-olds to write essays like the main kid did at the end, props for them. It’s quite obvious it’s the work of a screenwriter, who hasn’t met kids of this age for a while.

This really feels like a made-for-TV family movie. In a sense that you might turn on the TV in a weekend morning and while waking up watch this. Although, you might see that until the very end it’s actually a depressing movie. It isn’t fun or entertaining. For a family movie I don’t think there’s much that kids would enjoy about it and the parents will wonder why the hell are they watching this overly sappy family movie, that even their kids don’t like.

In one scene the kid just runs past a statue of Jesus, while yelling “Holy Shit” like six times. Can you really do that in a movie and have it rated PG?

The kid’s grandfather is dead and it was unclear to me at times if I was seeing flashbacks with him or the kid was just imagining him.

Other than it being very cheesy at times, you can’t tell this is a Shyamalan movie. That is until the end of course, where he inserts this unnecessary plot twist, which is barely a twist, since if it had been cut, nothing would have changed.

I can’t recommend it to anyone really, because it’s too depressing for young children, too cute for teenagers and too naive for the adults. It’s a mediocre movie and the only reason to see it might be if you’re curious about Shyamalan’s early work.

"Hey man, do you think we're latently gay?" "Shh, just hold my hand..."

Review of 10,000 BC (2008)

13 Nov

10,000 BC (2008) is an adventure/fantasy/drama film set in the prehistoric era.

Directed by the German director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998)), who is known for making blockbusters.

Written by Roland Emmerich (Das Arche Noah Prinzip (1984), Stargate (1994)) and Harold Kloser (2012 (2009)), who is better known as a composer.

Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel and others.

I guess, I should state my opinion on Roland Emmerich first. Although I do like some of his movies (Universal Soldier) and think some of them are ok (Stargate) and even if I ignore the outright awful ones (Godzilla), with his movies there’s always this feeling that he is an idiot. There is a certain group of directors, which includes Michael Bay as well, that consists of these filmmakers that have some talent in one area, but are total morons in other ones and Emmerich falls in this category, sometimes making something decent, sadly, with this movie he doesn’t manage to do that.

After a couple of minutes you start realizing, that this movie just keeps slapping you in the face with its stupidity. If you’ve ever heard anything about prehistory, you might notice the movie seeming to be a bit off. I don’t know if Emmerich, while doing research for his script ever noticed that every major element of prehistory wasn’t happening at the same time. So the script consists of wildly clashing historical inaccuracies, just to support huge spectacles and visual effects. It makes it almost absurd when the tribe speaks in a very articulate english, actors of different ethnicities are playing members of the same tribe and this distorted history is thrown on top of it.

The movie showcases a spectacular set of historical inaccuracies. For example, horse domestication – 4000 BC, boats – 3000 BC, boats that are anything like the ones seen in the movie – 1100 BC, Egyptian civilization – 3150 BC, blue eyes – 6000 BC, mammoths galloping – not possible and so on. I’m not saying it should be totally accurate, it is a fantasy film, but why did they call it 10000 BC, when it should be called The Whole Prehistory? Also the movie takes itself so seriously. And when talking about himself casting unknown actors, Emmerich stresses it was done to not distract from the realistic feel of the prehistoric setting.

Speaking of casting, the actors aren’t really bad, but them being of different ethnicities and all having dreadlocks and speaking English in weirdly stilted accents, just was kinda unbearable. Also it is said that Emmerich rejected making the film in an ancient language, feeling it would not be as emotionally engaging. Well, I think a similar movie shows us otherwise, it’s called Apocalypto and it is a better film.

Another point is that it presented no feeling of how large are the distances they are travelling, it seems that in a couple of days they manage to do a month’s worth of foot travel.

It has a totally stupid ending, where we are supposed to care about this love interest which we barely see doing anything but wearing blue contacts.

Besides the idiotic script, there’s this horrible CGI, which is laughable. Seriously, they couldn’t make the CG animals more cartoonish and the green screen sequences more painfully obvious.

So yeah, the movie is a total waste of time and because of the shitty CG and horribly written script, I can’t recommend it to anyone. Only maybe if you want to make fun of it with some friends.

10,000 BC - Even the acting is CG.

Review of Up (2009)

10 Nov

Up (2009) is a computer-animated adventure/drama/comedy film, which is to date the third highest grossing PIXAR films, only behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. (2001), Mike’s New Car (2002 Short)) and this is only his second feature-length movie.

Written by Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007)), who also served as co-director and a voice actor in this and also Pete Docter (Toy Story (1995), WALL·E (2008)), so there’s CG animation guys all over this.

Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson and others.

This is one of those movies that creates my distaste for the modern animation films. It is so sappy and pushy in the emotional department and at times utterly idiotic and unbalanced and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

It starts of with this story of a little boy, who’s a nerd for this explorer guy and then he meets this androgynous girl, so, as it happens to all about-6-year-olds, they, of course, fall in love, marry and live happily forever after. That is except that time when they were sad that they can’t have children and that other time when after Carl forces Ellie to climb a hill one too many times, she gets sick and dies. At this point it could seem like I just spoiled the whole plot, but no, that’s just the first 15 minutes, also known as the best part of the movie. Then it goes on to this stupid adventure story, which involves huge birds, talking dogs, an annoying kid and some unexplainable logic.

I think PIXAR should just stick with drawing animals because their artistic choice on the designs of the people really baffle me. Why the hell does the main character is the only person to have this huge, blocky head? I don’t seem to recall Spencer Tracy looking like that. Seriously, how come no one notices how horribly disfigured Carl is? It is not fun when the main character of an adventure-comedy is the Elephant Man.

Then there’s this fat, little asian kid, who looks like he’s suffering from Down’s syndrome and his obesity doesn’t make it more appealing. I really hated that kid, I identified with the blockhead only because he was annoyed by him as well. I just wished I could reach in and punch his oddly small face deeper into his irritating head. And I so despise this cliché film trope (e.g. Cop And A Half, Real Steel), where and adult at first doesn’t like a child/animal and by the end has become attached to it, basically a type of a buddy film.

Ed Astner was a good choice for the voice of Carl, others were ok, no stand outs.

I won’t say there weren’t any good jokes, I liked that prehistoric bird, especially when he swallows and then throws up the walker-cane, I also liked that they inserted that Pluto thing, which the dog does at one point. But then it does this stupid gag, when the main bad dog has a broken voice-box, which makes his voice very high-pitched, so the joke is that everything he says is not intimidating anymore and also it uses this idiotic joke, which is common in family films involving animals, the bird Kevin turns out to be a girl. Hilarious, right?

Every time when I saw the balloons attached to the house, I kept remembering that Mythbusters episode, where they fail to lift a child with a shitload of balloons, yeah, it’s a cartoon, I can forgive them not giving a shit about physics. But then there’s this concept children do understand – aging. I mean, how come that this guy that was an adult, when Carl was a toddler, now looks the same age if not younger than him?

I didn’t hate the movie, but also there was nothing I really liked about it. I guess I would recommend it to you if you have lost someone close to you and a movie about coming to terms with the death of a loved one would be something to identify with, otherwise, I don’t see any reason to see this film. PIXAR has done better.

Real tasteful, huh?

Review of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)

24 Oct

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009) is a computer-animated comedy/sci-fi/family film loosely based on a children’s book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett.

Directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s creative team (Clone High (TV)).

Written also by Miller and Lord (Extreme Movie (2008), How I Met Your Mother (TV)).

Starring: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Mr. T, Neil Patrick Harris and others.

I’m not a big fan of these modern computer-animated films, but I still can enjoy them from time to time. And this makes it even more rewarding when I actually like this kind of animated films. And this one might be my favourite of all those I’ve seen.

I mainly enjoyed this so much, because it was actually funny. The jokes were good, the character’s had interesting fun personalities, the visual gags totally work and so on, it succeeds first of all as a sci-fi comedy and only then as an animated family film. It also has the funniest depiction of getting kicked in the eyes I’ve ever seen. I could list a lot of great jokes, but that would be stupid, just know that there’s enough of humor. It also shows how hilarious anaphylactic shock can be.

Another pretty innocent, yet kind of disturbing joke for me was how the main character Flint as a child invents “spray-on shoes” only to discover the effects are irreversible and so he goes on to live with sprayed-on shoes. Somehow this made me think only about how fast his feet would have gotten infected and started to decay, leaving Flint in a wheelchair. Children’s movie my ass. It’s just as Flint says “You can’t run away from your own feet.” So you probably will have to amputate them.

At least here people aren’t as creepy looking (with an exception of main character’s dad, who does suffer from some kind of deformity) as in, for example, Up.

The cast of actors is amazing. Mr.T’s character is hilarious and the opposite mohawk is a nice touch. And everyone else does a great job as well. And I’m glad every time Bruce Campbell is in a major studio movie, even if just his voice.

The score is really good.

The animation is just beautiful, the action scenes and the backgrounds just look spectacular. And I’m glad I didn’t see it in 3D, so I could fully enjoy all the rich colors, although I suppose the 3D works a lot better in animated films and heard some good things said about the use of 3D in this.

Sony Pictures Animation should do more movies like this and less like The Smurfs or Surf’s Up.

As in most animated movies (for marketing reasons) the messages are made to seem subtle, but really are quite obvious and this movie is no exception as it addresses issues like modified food and obesity. Or you can look at it as a religious film, portraying one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony. And that’s what it does, it makes you see that, yes, falling, free food would be awesome, but only for a very short period of time. Also that’s basically a summary of the plot.

So yeah, I thought it was a hilarious and beautiful movie, totally loved it and recommend seeing it, you’ll have some fun.

"I pity the foo' !"