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Showing posts from June, 2016

A Tribute to The Critic

What’s the greatest animated show that ended before its time? There are plenty. Some ended well on their own accord like Gravity Falls and Cowboy Bebop. But many were unjustly cancelled like Mission Hill and Clone High. Among those cancelled shows, my favourite is a barely remembered ABC comedy called The Critic. The series was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss shortly after their tenure as showrunners on The Simpsons came to an end. Seasons three and four which they oversaw are still widely regarded as among the best seasons of TV comedy so naturally they were given the chance to create their own show. The result was an animated comedy about a pathetic New York City film critic called Jay Sherman voiced by Jon Lovitz who hosts his own At the Movies-style show called Coming Attractions. The series follows the tribulations of his career as well as his personal life trying to find love and fulfilment while in a job where he must always focus on the negative. And is he ever negative…

Finding Dory...'s Parents

Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s very best films, it’s one of my two or three favourites; it also happens to be a film that never demanded a sequel. Nemo getting lost again? “The Return of Darla”? It seemed like a bad idea, and I was concerned when I heard Finding Dory was going to be released. Because making the comic relief foil of one film the star of the sequel is how Cars 2 happened? Thankfully, Finding Dory is no Cars 2.
          It’s revealed that Dory was born in a marine institute exhibit and that prior to the events of the first film she got lost. Because of her short-term memory disorder she could never remember her parents or where she came from, and so meandered the ocean until meeting Marlin. Now she’s beginning to recall things again and with Marlin and Nemo, journeys back to the aquarium in California in search of her family.
          Most of the film is set in this marine institute and though it doesn’t have the depth and wonder of the ocean, the filmmakers still hav…

Game of Thrones Review: "The Winds of Winter"

Game of Thrones season six has generally been good but bumpy, entertaining but nothing all that special. Yeah we got Jon Snow and the Hound back, yeah we got to see Jon and Sansa reunite, yeah we got to explore some of the history of Westeros before the events of the show, but it hasn’t been the most thrilling. Then last week they gave us “Battle of the Bastards” a spectacular epic show that I declared the best of the season before this episode brought the season to an end. I’m not reneging on that statement; “Battle of the Bastards” I still think is better, but damn, “The Winds of Winter” named for George R. R. Martin’s yet to be released book, comes pretty close. If anyone had problems with the direction of the season or some of the storylines, these last two episodes easily make up for it.
          Hell, the first twenty minutes alone are pretty damn spectacular and shocking with a body count that rivals anything in the series, including the Red Wedding. It opens wonderfully with …

Disney Sundays: Pocahontas (1995)

By the mid-90s Disney was on a hot-streak; through The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, they’d made some of the most instantly memorable, incredibly popular, and just generally amazing works of animation easily gaining back the dominance of the art form they’d lost in the 70s and 80s, culminating in The Lion King which became the highest grossing animated film and, as I mentioned last week, kinda defined a generation. How on earth could Disney top that?
          Well they didn’t. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of considering just how good The Lion King was. But not only did their next film not top The Lion King, it wasn’t even that good in general.
          In fairness, the idea to base a film on the historical figure Pocahontas, a Native American girl who supposedly saved the life of an Englishman John Smith (though a story that in all likelihood was just made up by Smith (Pocahontas conveniently happened to be a celebrity in En…

Back to the Feature: The Elephant Man (1980)

David Lynch is known for his fascination with human oddities and abnormalities, our responses to the strange and unusual; and possibly the best showcase is his 1980 biopic The Elephant Man which is all about the care for and tragedy of John Merrick (actually called Joseph) a Victorian man who suffered from a severe physical deformity that got him the nickname “Elephant Man”. It’s an incredibly depressing movie, but hopeful too, and very well directed and performed.
          Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) a surgeon at the London Hospital discovers John Merrick (John Hurt) as a freak show attraction due to his deformities. In public he is forced to walk the streets with a burlap bag over his head. Treves pays to have Merrick brought to the Hospital for examination and possible care. He soon discovers that against his presumptions Merrick is not intellectually impaired and he works to permanently house Merrick at the hospital as well as generate more public sympathy for his…

Game of Thrones Review: "Battle of the Bastards"

The ninth episode in Game of Thrones seasons is always the episode where something big goes down. The death of Ned Stark, the Battle of Blackwater, the Red Wedding, etc. And with the title “Battle of the Bastards” this episode was sure to be a disappointment if it wasn’t the best episode of the season! I mean it’s arguably the most noble hero on the show going up against the most hated villain -how can that not be epic? And thankfully it is! Even though parts of the outcome we could predict -clearly Jon Snow wasn’t going to die so soon after coming back and Aidan Gillen’s credit kinda spoiled that Littlefinger would come to the rescue -it not only managed to be one of the most gripping and intense episodes of the show, but also provided one of the best medieval battles ever put to film!
          But before we get to that we have to check in on Mereen, especially given how dire things looked over there last episode. I do love Tyrion’s attempts to compensate with how “Mereen …

Disney Sundays: The Lion King (1994)

Without a doubt, the defining Disney movie of my generation was The Lion King! Not only was it the highest grossing animated film up to that point, but EVERYONE had seen it, loved it, and had some personal connection with the film’s characters or themes. It was the latest Disney movie my home had on VHS and most other kids I knew had it as well. And admittedly though I don’t think it was my favourite Disney movie even then, it was watched more than any of the other Disney animated movies we owned!
          So yeah, The Lion King is a movie I like most people my age, know very well. It’s left a massive impact on Disney and animation in general being one of the most famous films of the art. But is it really like the box office, critics, and audiences would seem to suggest, a pinnacle of animation? 
          Let’s take a look at the story: Simba is a young lion being reared to one day become the King of the Pride (to whom all the animals of the Savannah including the prey see…

Where's the Craft in Warcraft?

High fantasy is a hard genre to get right, but it can be done well if it does one of two things. Like Lord of the Rings, it could present us with larger than life characters, but still tell a basic story (i.e. Good vs. Evil). Or like Game of Thrones, it could tell a complex story but ground it in a relatable world with identifiable characters. Warcraft does neither of these.
          Based on the mega-hit online game series, the story follows a horde of orcs travelling through a portal from their own wasted world into one governed by humans. But some of the orcs like Durotan (Toby Kebbel) a chieftain of his own tribe distrust their leader, who controls the portal with his mysterious magic. On the other side, the humans prepare to defend themselves, led by a soldier called Lothar (Travis Fimmel), the King (Dominic Cooper) and their own magical protector called the Guardian (Ben Foster). They’re assisted in their defence by a green half-orc called Garona (Paula Patton), and b…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the strangest things to have lasting power. I have a good friend who remembers them nostalgically from childhood as do I, and we’re eight years apart! For such a bizarre idea, who’d have thought it would still be around today. But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is in theatres and everyone’s favourite pizza-eating foot-clan fighting mutants are back. They haven’t had more than one good feature film, and after this one, that’s still kinda the case.
          During a transfer between prisons, Shredder with the help of a mad scientist called Baxter Stockman manages to escape and Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo go after him.  Eventually they discover that not only has Stockman manufactured a substance that mutates humans (and could have reverse effects on the turtles), but two new mutants called Bebop and Rocksteady are gathering pieces of technology that will open a rift uniting Shredder with a powerful alien villain…

Penny Dreadful Reviews: "Grand Guignol"

The finale to season one of Penny Dreadful certainly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it to take the turns that it did and I respect it for that. Though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed I didn’t get more out of it. Yet it still met and surpassed expectations in other regards. In any case it’s a curious finale, a decent one and it’s worth discussing.
          After discovering Mina is being held at the Grand Guignol, the team prepare to rescue her. However at the Grand Guignol, Caliban manages to completely ruin his chances with the woman he’s fallen for by being too impassioned, and heartbroken he returns to Frankenstein. Though Frankenstein considers killing him and even comes close, they start working together to create Caliban’s mate. Brona dies sending Chandler into despair at the worst of times, as a couple Pinkerton agents show up, sent to England by Chandler’s father to bring him home. Sir Malcolm and Vanessa butt heads with the latter confronting the …