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Showing posts from October, 2016

That Time Scooby Doo Made a Great Movie

I have a confession to make: I love Scooby-Doo. For me, it’s that cartoon franchise I know is kinda dumb but can’t resist because of nostalgia, really likeable characters, and a set-up that though formulaic, is an enjoyable formula that’s strangely timeless. It’s a franchise that’s been re-imagined dozens of times over four decades. But it’s always been for kids right? There’s no way any variation of Scooby-Doo can be taken seriously -I mean look at the title!
          Well titles can be deceiving and though you may not believe it, the Scooby-Doo franchise’s first movie is fantastic. No, not that terrible live-action crap that wasted a perfectly good Rowan Atkinson. I’m talking about Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island! Released in 1998, it was the first direct-to-video movie based on the series, and for a Scooby-Doo film it’s quite dark, dramatic, and genuinely scary, especially for kids. In all honesty, this should have been the theatrically released Scooby-Doo movie!
          S…

Disney Sundays: Winnie the Pooh (2011)

As you may recall, I really liked Winnie the Pooh when I was really little. The timeless stories and characters, the lush atmosphere of the Hundred Acre Wood, and the simplicity of it all was very endearing. And apparently its effect was similar for enough other kids of my generation and younger, that Disney’s 2011 Winnie the Pooh reboot WASN’T the first theatrical Winnie the Pooh film released in my lifetime. Yes, I remember The Tigger Movie, and hearing about Piglet’s Big Movie, and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie. But it’s astonishing that the best of the Winnie the Pooh movies since the original, Pooh’s Grand Adventure, wasn’t released theatrically when all these others were. That’s the film that as strange as it sounds, got kinda dark and scary for kids by putting the characters in actual peril on a quest into the unknown. And I loved it! I bring it up because 2011’s Winnie the Pooh is clearly borrowing from it.
          Not the whole film, but one storyline is directly stealing…

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince review

It's a film that's mostly set-up for the next two installments, and is this why Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the least of the series?

Five Hidden Halloween Gems

We’re all familiar with the classic great horror movies to watch around Halloween. From thrillers like The Shining, Psycho, to slashers like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. But what about the less famous movies, the new classics of the Halloween season that are just as effective as the greatest of Hitchcock, Craven, Carpenter, etc. Here are five great films worth checking out this Halloween that have slipped under the radar over the years:

In the Mouth of Madness is a pretty flawed movie, but one that certainly sticks with you. Locked up in an asylum, a former insurance investigator (Sam Neill), relates the story of how he went mad while searching for a horror writer (J├╝rgen Prochnow) in the town that’s the basis for many of his books. This film is pretty weird which is what you’d expect from John Carpenter, featuring hallucinations, gruesome imagery, and quick cutting. But I appreciate it for the particular style of horror it is. This film is one big tribute to H.P.…

Back to the Feature: Cape Fear (1962)

What’s scarier than a stalker with a grudge against you and your family?
          Until I saw this movie my only point of reference for Cape Fear was the hysterical Simpsons episode that parodied it. Seriously, check it out, it’s got Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes and an HMS Pinafore homage! The 1962 thriller film that inspired it as well as Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake, is a very interesting and unique movie for its time. Director J. Lee Thompson is clearly channelling Hictchcock to the point it could even be a Hitchcock film, what with it’s great suspense and psychotic tension.
          When Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) a convicted rapist, is released from prison after eight years, he tracks down Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the lawyer who testified against him and whom he holds personally responsible for the years in prison that ruined his life. Always toeing the law, Cady stalks and torments Bowden and his family, particularly with an interest in his fourteen year old daug…

Disney Sundays: Tangled (2010)

During the 2000s while Pixar and DreamWorks were on fire with CG animated movies, Disney wasn’t doing so well in that form. The kind of movies they were trying to make weren’t quite their own and felt like they were attempting to replicate the identity of those other major studios. Either the comedy and pacing of DreamWorks or the sentimentality of Pixar. But Disney needed to use the form to their own advantage, and unlike those studios, had a long history with a recognizable identity. And so at long last in 2010 appropriately for their 50th animated feature they decided to do a princess story in this new art form.
          But really, Tangled? That was the best title you could go with? Not simply Rapunzel? That title sounds like some direct-to-DVD fairy-tale parody movie!
  Tangled is an adaptation of the Rapunzel fairy tale which for a long time seemed like the only well-known fairy tale Disney hadn’t done yet. The princess Rapunzel has magical golden hair that rejuvenate…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix review

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest and one of the most interesting books in the series. Does David Yates turn it into a good movie?

Accounting Made Awesome?

The Accountant is not a very exciting name for an action film. When you think of the title “accountant”, you often associate it with monotony and tediousness. This film from director Gavin O’Connor tries to subvert that stereotype, which it does a little, but not enough.
          Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an autistic mathematics genius who works as a small-time public accountant by day, but secretly makes a fortune managing the accounts of a number of dangerous criminal organizations. Finding work with a robotics company, he uncovers a laundering scheme that puts his life and his assistant Dana’s (Anna Kendrick) in danger. While this is happening, he’s being tailed by a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons), and his analyst (Cynthia Addai-Robinson).
          While the action is really decent boasting some pretty impressive fight choreography, the story is too convoluted for its own good. If you don’t understand accounting practices and terminology, it’s going to be hard to keep up w…

Disney Sundays: The Princess and the Frog (2009)

  The Princess and the Frog needed to be good! Not only was it following on the heels of a severe Disney dark age (so much so that the one good film, Bolt didn’t draw in much of an audience), but it was also reviving the Disney staple: the princess movie. Furthermore, it was starring the studio’s first African-American lead, and was both the return of John Musker and Ron Clements whose last film Treasure Planet didn’t turn out so well, as well as traditional animation in general at a time when almost every competing studio had given up on it.
          Tiana is a young woman in 1920s New Orleans working two waitressing jobs so she can afford to open her own restaurant. While catering a masquerade ball for her friend Lottie, the local rich socialite, she meets a talking frog who claims to be the visiting Prince Naveen of Maldonia, transformed by a voodoo magician Dr. Facilier (also know as the “Shadow Man”); and after much convincing, kisses him, only to turn into a frog herself. Both …

Penny Dreadful Reviews: "And They Were Enemies"

Alright, so that wasn’t what I expected.
          Season two’s finale, “And They Were Enemies” wraps up some arcs and leaves others in really interesting places for the third season. I’m legitimately excited to see where these characters will be and what developments are on in store for them. …But there were a couple other things that were pretty weird and may not have gotten the response the writers intended.
          And let’s get that out of the way right off the bat: the ending to Vanessa’s arc is really goofy and it’s all because of that damn puppet! As it turns out, the devil really does embody this fetish and tempts Vanessa in the most ludicrous ways. I get what they were going for, maybe something along the lines of Child’s Play, but I couldn’t take it seriously for a second. At one point Vanessa almost kisses it which is the epitome of ridiculous. Penny Dreadful’s always been a little bit corny and pulpy in keeping with the genre of its title, but I felt this was g…

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire review

There are some really good things in this movie: visuals, world expansion, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes. So with all of that, why is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire one of the weaker films in this series?

Nat Turner's Story Birthed Again

I hadn’t heard the story of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion before I saw The Birth of a Nation. Nor I assume, have a lot of people. Which is one of the reasons this movie is so important.
          It’s also important because the title Birth of a Nation has up until now been associated with a 1915 silent film by D.W. Griffith that though significant for its ground-breaking filmmaking techniques, is extremely controversial for its glorification of white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. The hope is that this new film will both allow that title to lose these connotations as well as bring the story of Nat Turner more attention. Essentially this film is raising awareness.
          Nat (Nate Parker) is raised a slave on the Turner cotton plantation in Virginia where after learning to read the Bible, he becomes a preacher to the slave community. Through his popularity and impassioned preaching style he travels to other plantations where he witnesses the full extent of suffering t…

The Girl Just Missed the Train

The Girl on the Train is another mystery thriller novel-turned-movie following on the heels of 2014’s Gone Girl. It’s not as good as that movie, but is this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins compelling enough?
          Rachel (Emily Blunt) is a depressed, jobless alcoholic who often blacks out, leaving blank spaces in her memory where she’s unsure of her actions. It’s this that led to her divorce from her husband Tom Watson (Justin Theroux) who’s now married to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and they have a young child. Every day, Rachel commutes to New York by train, passing by her old neighbourhood where she watches neighbours of Tom and Anna’s, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans), who she imagines must have the perfect relationship. But those presumptions aren’t quite what they seem. When Megan, who coincidentally works for the Watsons, goes missing on the same night Rachel wanders into that neighbourhood and blacks out, she wonders if she might have…

Disney Sundays: Bolt (2008)

Of all the Disney movies I’ve had to watch for this series, Bolt was not one I was looking forward to. Everything from its plot about a dog who’s the star of a TV show thinking he’s a superhero feeling twenty years too late (is this Underdog meets Toy Story?), to the fact that it stars John Travolta and Miley Cyrus, spelt doom. Oh my god, this is going to be another Chicken Little isn’t it?!
          But to my astonishment Bolt was actually pretty good. For everything going against it, I’d say it was remarkably good. The movie still has its problems, it felt less like great Disney and more above average Pixar, but I can’t believe Bolt of all things is actually Disney’s best animated film since Lilo & Stitch!
          Bolt is the pet dog of a teen actress called Penny with whom he stars on a popular show about a dog with superpowers fighting crime in Los Angeles. The director feels that in order to get the best performance out of Bolt they have to convince him that the …