Friday, July 10, 2020
Beste is a young girl frustrated with her dreary life. She's recently moved into a new neigbourhood, but the park outside her window is always empty, and her perpetually working parents aren't doing anything to help. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Beste starts going door to door and inviting other kids to play. She successfully gathers/succeeds in gathering a sizable group, but their plans are hampered by the park's tenant, an angry recluse who wants the place to stay empty. Determined to help each-other with their problems and defeat their new enemy, this previously quite neighbourhood has its hands full!...
Can Dostlaris a highly entertaining kids movie, courtesy of Turkey. Getting off to an eye-catching start with a choreographed song and dance, it draws you in quickly, and delivers what it promises.
The movie is never boring, and has a very good structure. It sets everything up quickly, has a good main conflict, and there's always plenty of other stuff going on. The film is never solely focused on one thing, and has a 'slice-of-life' feel to it. Events and revelations come at a good pace, and the last act is less one big climax, and more a few little ones, that add up to something nice.
Certain story beats and ideas are pretty (for example, we all know Kazım is gonna turn out to not be so bad after all, but have a tragic backstory, and redemption), but they're done so in a good way. Even if they seem familiar, you don't mind, and look forward to seeing how it'll play out. In movies where the outcome is even somewhat obvious, you've gotta put just as much effort into the journey getting there as the reveal.
While some elements here are familiar, others are refreshing and unexpected. The movie has a nice frankness to it amongst its lighthearted goofiness, and there are good/effective messages and themes. Such as seizing life while you're still young, overcoming grief and pain, and about one never being too old to play. You really get a good sense of community, and how one person can make a difference. If this one girl hadn't gone around door to door, none of these positive changes would have happened.
Another thing I like is how healthy these kids' interactions are when compared to American films. It's like night and day! The Yanks could learn something here!
The characters are a major part of Can Dostlar, and there was a chance for this to go very well or very badly. This is because we're treated to a pretty sizeable cast! There's Beste, Cem, Ozan, Fatoş, Doğa, Fırat, Eda and Seda, Eraydın, Atlas, and that's just the main group! There's even more kids in supporting roles, and all the adults to boot. It's a testament to the film's writing and direction that it's never confusing or messy. While there are some moments where I was a little unsure of who was who, or other times when characters were absent for a while, no-one feels underused or interchangeable, for the most part.
Something else the movie does effectively is rotate its characters. Rather than focus exclusively on one to the detriment of all others, or try and focus on all at the same time, it revolves around the group gradually. And whenever new characters are in the mix, other ones are shifted elsewhere doing their own thing. For example, when we meet the diabolical Ayberk, it's not as confusing getting to know this new character as part of the gang when a couple of them are busy elsewhere for the moment/time being.
Onto the leads specifically, Beste is a great protagonist! Adorable beyond words, she's also friendly and clever, a good influence to/on all those around her. Cem is cheeky but nice, but a little too untrusting regarding some people. Newcomer Fırat is a neat and snarky kid, but seemingly has something to hide. The twins are a great mix of funny and scary (don't mess with twins!), while Doğa is nice and sweet, and Eraydın is amusingly neurotic and a big eater, without coming off as gross or gluttonous.
The passionate speed-talker Fatoş is energetic without being annoying, and I liked her environmental/recycling crusade. The only one who gets the short end of the stick is Atlas, since he's introduced as being a super hyper kid, but this is never seen again, and he's pretty much normal for the rest of the movie. Overall though, every kid here has at least some distinctive character trait, and some depth and emotion too.
'Bad' Kazım is a good villain, being mean enough that you root against him, but not so bad that he's genuinely horrible. He's also gets times that you get a sense of his unease and inexperience with the outside world, endearing him. The supporting and minor cast all get a good amount of screentime, never hogging the limelight or getting too little to do. Highlights are the shopkeeper and his daughter, who make their scenes really count with their hilarious advertisements and songs, and the adult impersonator (I wonder if that was a real talent, or just the magic of movies!).
The cast here all do a great job! They're a little over-the-top sometimes, and not all deliveries are perfect, but by and large they're a joy, especially given they're younger actors and actresses. No cringey performances here!
The music here is fun! We've got lots of nice tracks all throughout, with the highlight being the peppy main theme, which opens the movie very well, getting you in the mood.
Can Dostlar is a great time for the whole family, and I'm sure it could be a favourite for many kids. I recommend it for those interested, and can guarantee 90 minutes well spent...
Aslı is a frustrated young woman who's just been accepted into acting school. However, the institution wants a $20,000 lira tuition, and the broke Aslı has to figure out how to raise the money. By chance she stumbles across what turns out to be a live acting troupe. The employees are hired by clients to replace certain people, i.e. take the place of an ill lounge singer to make peace between two/rival football clubs, or pose as a fortune teller to convince a guy's fiancee to go for a cheap wedding, etc. Despite a rocky start, these jobs go off successfully, and Aslı gets used to them...until the biggest one so far pits her against a man she can't stand, soon to be a man she can't be without...
Aslı Gibidir (also known as Stunt School in English, since the original title is a pun that only works in Turkish) is a very entertaining comedy. Filled with fun ideas, great scenarios, and more, it's a real treat.
The characters here are a major highlight! From the get-go it's clear that they're not one-dimensional, but have depth to them, as well as many different characteristics. Taking Aslı's parents for example, her father is an overly frugal cheapskate, and also has an honest but negative opinion towards his daughter's appearance (and her chances in ), but loves her regardless, and is supportive of her, even if he doesn't wanna spend several thousand lira on a tuition. Just one of those character traits would be expected for such a movie as this, but all of them just in one? It shows to me that the writer(s) really cared to create a well crafted cast.
Not every character is this rich, which is ok. The important thing is that they're likeable, and appear enough, and thankfully both are true here. The acting troupe are a fun bunch, and despite being a bunch of weirdos and eccentrics, you do get a sense of family with them as the movie goes on, and it's nice that they don't spend the whole movie being snide towards the new recruit, as you'd be likely to see in a hundred other movies like this.
Aslı herself is a fun protagonist, spunky and endearing, with enough flaws to keep her relatable, but enough spirit and passion to make her a fine protagonist. Alp is a nice love interest, with plenty to like. The romance between him and Aslı starts off in the usual way, with them at each-others throats. Would you expect it any other way? How it continues though is nice. The hating each-other phase only lasts for their first scene and a half, and once they actually get to know each-other rather than sparring on a bus, you can see the chemistry developing between them, and buy/believe the romance.
The movie has a good structure, made up of little episodes building together to a bigger whole. Seeing the missions is fun, and never distracts from the plot. There's also plenty of variety here, and I was never left bored.
While there are all/many of your expected romantic cliches on full display here, they're presented in a good way. And nothing is ever too awkward for too long. If Turkish movies are good at anything, it's resolving drama quickly!...Or prolonging it endlessly. Either, honestly.
The climax is a really fun watch. It's a testament to how rousing the music is and how much I liked these characters that I cared so much, even though I actually hadn't the faintest idea of what they were actually doing! I got the gist, but it's a little unclear since it plays over a montage, and some of the dialogue we do hear is indistinct or cut-off, even their show's finale. This isn't a huge deal, as it's generally clear, and it's still sweet. I was left with a mile on my face after this conclusion!
The cast here all do great jobs! There's a good mix of over-the-top with more grounded performances, and no-one ever goes overboard. Nothing too obnoxious, and the quieter and dramatic moments are effective. Aslı Inandık is a great lead. She reminded me a bit of Gupse Ozay sometimes, though not as a ripoff, but a kindred spirit (if that makes any sense). She's a fun actress, and her disguises are really good, physically and =.
The look of Aslı Gibidir is great. The locations we get are both/a mix of familiar and varied, with the recurring locations feeling distinct. The new ones add little pockets of spice all throughout, from the noisy nursing home, to the decorative fortune teller's lair, and the stuffy college admission hall, etc. My favourite was definitely the acting troupe's headquarters. It looks authentic and lived-in , and the fact that we can see all of it in pretty much one shot makes it feel comfy(?), if that makes any sense.
The soundtrack here is a delight too. The main theme is funky, with a great beat, and some of the later instrumental tracks are really nice as well.
Aslı Gibidir is a great little film! A very pleasant surprise, it proves that despite what people say, Turkish cinema has still got it! I look forward to future projects from these people, and checking out what they've done in the past...
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Silent cinema in Germany was a wellspring of horror, with films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari still being influential today. The period also had a treasure trove of other genres too, and their comedies could get just as weird as the expressionist horror films ever did!...
Lancelot is a young heir, riddled with nerves, and anxiety about women. This concerns his domineering father, who insists he marry. The pressure causes the boy to run away and hide in an abbey, among a group of monks who care little about anything beyond hedonistic pleasures. Eventually news gets out that his now ailing father is so desperate for an heir that he's promising a luxurious dowry for when Lancelot comes comes with a bride. The greedy monks decide to use this to their advantage, and hire a local toymaker to construct a lifesized doll for them to pass off as the new bride. Things take a turn for the awkward though when the doll is damaged, and the toymaker's daughter must take its place...
The Doll is a funny and cute little film. At just an hour it delivers a pretty packed story, with enough comedy and romance to keep everyone entertained. At no point does the movie take itself seriously, with wildly exaggerated characters, a silly plot, and more.
If I had to find a problem with the film though, it'd be that the plot is fairly complicated/complex for such an otherwise simple tale, to the point where it takes half the film just to put/get everything in place! I wish they had've streamlined things better, as none of what we see is superfluous. Even the priests who seem absent for much of the movie aren't pointless, as their actions spur on the majority of the story. But if things were arranged better we could've had more shenanigans with Lancelot and his new companion!
There's a plethora of social commentary on display in The Doll, with the most surprising being its critical eye on religious corruption. Few movies back then dared cover this topic, as the church was fiercely critical of what could and couldn't see print. Basically if you dared say they were corrupt, they'd use their corrupt powers to prove to you how not corrupt they are by banning your films and having you tarred and feathered (probably). I must say it's a joy to see this hypocrisy villified, and so humourously too. These piggish monks make for great baddies, even though they don't pose much of a threat.
Other commentary is on general life and society, and can be seen in moments like Lancelot's father on what seems to be his deathbed, and his family are bitterly squabbling over who gets what when he dies, while he's right there! [They even break what they argue over, and have the nerve to blame it on him for not making his will clearer].
The cast is small but well defined. Lancelot is the exact opposite of a macho figure, deferring to his mother and a wailing mess of nerves, perpetually running from the opposite sex. Ossi meanwhile is a clever and industrious young woman, eager to help save her father's skin, even if it is against her better judgement. The romance that blooms between the two is cheesy, but works.
The toymaker Hilarious is amusingly eccentric, but its his young assistant who really steals the show, getting hilariously overdramatic moments for such a young kid, delivering lines like "Hear the confession of a broken man!" as if he were a seasoned adult.
The actors here are exaggerated in a funny way, with the highlight being Ossi Oswalda as the titular doll. She has such great expressions, and no-one in Germany looked cuter when sticking their tongue out than her! Hermann Thimig is an amusingly drippy leading man, while Victor Janson is suitably over-the-top as Hilarius. And lastly, Gerhard Ritterbrand is a hoot as the somewhat crazy assistant.
The look of The Doll is very distinctive. Everything that an intentionally fake quality to it, like it's a school play. This lends a great feel to the proceedings. The cartoonish sun is adorable, as are the other bits of animated scenery. The whole production has a superb fairy tale atmosphere.
Other touches of hyper-reality are some of the casting choices, the way =, and the amusingly styled choreography, with the actors sometimes making movements like they're in a dance. There's a nice attention to detail and embracing of the absurd here.
To finish, The Doll is great fun! It might not be for everyone, but if you're looking for silent fun, or new to the era and want a good (if thoroughly bizarre) example, this is the film to choose!...
In Medieval Britain, a ruthless tyrant controls the local kingdom, and is subjecting the people to all manner of oppression. All that stands against him and victory is the cunning Black Fox and his band of rebels, which includes the entertainer Hubert Hawkins. He's sent out on an important mission with rebel captain Jean to escort the infant heir to safety. While on the way, the two develop a plan to infiltrate the castle, and Hawkins disguises himself as Giacomo, king of jesters and jester for the king. Expected at the castle, it proves to be an easy way inside, but once there Hawkins must work out who's on his side, evade the villains as well as the attentions of a lovestruck princess and her = witch, all while trying to ...
Out of the many performers back in the 1940 and 50s, Danny Kaye was really the [cat's meow]! =. I saw a few of his films as a kid on public-domain sets, but the one that really caught my attention was The Court Jester! While not a failure upon its release it wasn't a major hit, but it took a very short time indeed for it to receive a critical reappraisal, and it's consistently been voted as the star's best film.
From beginning to end this is a fun movie. While fairly long, it moves by at a brisk pace, as if it was half its length, and there's never a dull moment, with various forms of shenanigans taking the stage. There's action aplenty, clever mile-a-minute wordplay, and a sense of exuberance throughout the whole production.
The story is simple but effective, and there's never a moment where you're too lost, even if you can get swamped in the cast sometimes.
The tone of The Court Jester is a really good one. I've heard it described as a parody of the old swashbucklers, and I suppose that could be true, but to me it's simply a swashbackling adventure that also happens to be a comedy. It inhabits both genres perfectly, never letting the story get in the way of the gags or let the comedy overshadow the story. This is a great example of what parodies should be. Movies that respect the genre they're parodying, and work just as well as the genuine article!
Something I really appreciate here is the characters! Overall they're great, though there are perhaps a few too many. There are quite a lot of names here to remember, and not all of them were necessarily necessary, but for the most part they're =. The best of course are the leads. Hawkins is a likeable hero, somewhat hapless, but never useless, or so clumsy he never gets anything done. Jean is a tough dame, What I like most of all is their relationship! With characters such as these they usually hate each-other for much of the film, spending all their time sniping before finally falling in love halfway through. Here though it's the opposite, as these opposites attract! They fall for each-other fairly early, and it's sweet seeing how they interact. It always feels sincere and romantic, and seeing this endure for the whole film is a real treat.
The remainder of the cast is fun. Lord Ravenhurst is the main villain, and The king is =, and I like that he and Ravenhurst are characterised differently, rather than being Evil Overlord No. 1 and 2. While Ravenhurst is a traditional power hungry villain, the king is more like a =. This must've rubbed off on his daughter too, as she's good at heart, but a little crazy, and jumps to execution as a threat a little too quickly to win the hearts of many men I'm sure. She's fun, though a little underused.
The actors all do splendid jobs. Kaye is a great lead, and really gets to cut loose with his various disguises, all of them convincing. Glynis Johns is as pretty as she is talented, providing a straight man, action, and half the romance, all in one. Rathbone is a delightfully evil villain, never failing to be charming, and a young Angela Lansbury is fun as the slightly amoral princess.
The songs here are a real treat! Predominately sung by Danny Kaye, they're peppy, funny, and really get you in the mood for =. The highlight is the opening/closing track Life Could not Better Be, which has a certain unique touch to it to boot! I do wish they were spaced out a little more evenly though, as it's quite a long movie, and there are only = tracks. Some are only a few minutes apart, while others might be separated by half an hour.
The Court Jester has truly stood the test of time, and is one of Danny Kaye's best films, and one of the best comedies to come out of the era. It's well worth a watch...
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Robin Hood, Men in Tights (1993)
Robin of Loxley has returned to England after fighting in the Holy Land, and find that his family is dead and is property seized by the government. The corrupt Prince John has ruled = in his brother's stead, raising taxes to the extreme, and oppressing the people. Determined to fight back against these injustices, Robin must build together a team and =...
Robin Hood, Men in Tights is one of comedy legend Mel Brooks later movies, and while it's not as good as his older classics, it's still a great time!
The plot though some feel a bit such as the battle at the halfway point. It's great, but it's so decisive you wonder how the villains are still active! Besides that things move along well enough, with enough tension and =, often broken up in amusing ways, like Robin getting another chance in the = context because it says so in the script.
As a parody, this hilariously skewers then-recent Prince of Thieves (but in a nice way, never meanly), while also spoofing Robin Hood lore in general, not sticking to just one version. As a film it also stands on its own, too. Some parodies really only make sense in context, but this is just as good even if you haven't seen Prince of Thieves, and not having seen that doesn't mean you've missed anything (or at least, I hope not, 'cause I've not seen it either!).
The comedy in Men in Tights is mostly really effective! There's various types of jokes, with a heavy (not not too forced) fourth wall breaking habit, cultural references, and all manner of other things. Not all the jokes land for me, and some of them reallly felt =, but at its worst moments, the movie's just a little cringey. It's made with such a fun spirit that it's infectious. This is even more apparent when you watch the behind the scenes featurette and see how much fun everyone has on a Mel Brooks set. It's all so good-natured.
The movie is not only funny, but it's really quotable! Sooo many lines here have imprinted themselves on/in my memory, and I could probably recite half the script to you!
Quite the packed movie, this is also a musical, with four numbers, and they're great fun, from the surprisingly neat mix if a hip-hop tune with a 'Hey nonny' one, to the = Men in Tights song, the sappy and overdramatic (yet also kinda sincere!) romance Marian, and the = opera crooning The Night is Young.
The acting is a highlight. Cary Elwes has great comedic timing and a handsome charm as Robin Hood. It's the role he was born to play! Still definitely his most memorable performance next to The Princess Bride. Roger Rees is deliciously evil as the Sheriff of Rottingham, while Richard Lewis is amusingly neurotic as Prince John. Dave Chappelle, Mark Blankfield, and Eric Allan Kramer, et all, do fine jobs, amusing in various ways. Amy Yasbeck is an adorable love interest, while Megan Cavanagh is great as Broomhilda. And lastly, Tracey Ullman is = as the witch Latrine, and Mel Brooks is fun in his role of Rabbi Tuckmann.
Dracula, Dead and Loving It (1995)
Real estate agent Thomas Renfield visits the mysterious Count Dracula, secretly a vampire, and is hypnotised into becoming his slave. They journey to England, where he begins feeding on innocent young Lucy Westenra, and her friends and family must figure out how to stop this terrible affliction, and put a stop to the demonic Dracula before it's too late...
Dracula, Dead and Loving It is another highly enjoyable outing from Brooks! His last film to date, it's well worth that distinction. Upon its release it wasn't
Where this really succeeds is in how expertly everything is placed together! The look and atmosphere of the film is convincing, and =! That's how you know the mark of a good parody. If you take out all the comedy, do you get a convincing vampire film?
The story is your typical adaption of Dracula, familiar enough to be =, while doing enough of its own thing to feel unique. It adapts certain scenes from the book (or other versions) very well, and honestly some of these wouldn't be out of place in an old Hammer Horror if this was played straight! Meanwhile, the comedic = work great too. Just like how Young Frankenstein looked at serious scenes like the dinner with the blind man and said 'What if he were really clumsy?', Dead and Loving it also takes = scenes from the book and turns them on their head, in a way that's both faithful to the source material while also wickedly funny.
One area where I feel the movie really succeeds as an authentic Gothic film and Dracula adaption is in how it's a chamber piece.
Leading into the set design, it's fantastic! From the Transylvanian village, to Dracula's castle, Dr. Seward's asylum, and Carfax Abbey, etc, there are many great locations, each distinctive and evocative.
Dead and Loving it is a hilarious time! There's good balance of all kinds of humor. Direct parody, wordplay, slapstick, absurdist, etc. There are a few setpieces, and these are fabulous, from the big ballroom dance, where the reflection-less Dracula dances with Mina by a mirror, or the staking of Lucy, which might be the best moment in the film. The lunch with Dr. Seward and Renfield is great too.
The acting in Dracula, Dead and Loving It is great. Leslie Nielsen is used sparingly as Dracula, appearing plenty, and definitely the film's true lead, but not hogging the limelight so much that any mystique of Dracula is lost. Peter MacNicol is hilarious as the insane Renfield, getting many of the film's best moments. Steven Weber is funny as the repressed Johnathan Harker, while Harvey Korman is a great straight man, getting many goofy moments but delivering them with such a straight face. Amy Yasbeck and Lysette Anthony are funny and gorgeous as the two = babes Mina and Lucy, =. And lastly, Mel Brooks is a lot of = as Van Helsing, almost sounding like Inspector Clouseau with his accent. The film operates with a small cast, which works in its favour. We get to know everyone onscreen well, and =.
While Dracula Dead and Loving it may not have been warmly received upon its original release, time has been kind to it, and if you're in the mood for a good old fashioned vampire romp, this is the movie for you!...
Charles and Ruth Condimine are a happily married couple, getting along splendidly and enjoying life at their nice country estate. When some friends come over for a party, Charles arranges for a visit from kooky psychic Madame Arcati, who performs a seance. Unbeknownst to everyone but Charles, it works, and he begins hearing the voice of his dead wife Elvira, before seeing her too. Feeling playful, she begins messing with her former husband, creating an escalation of events that can't end well!...
Blithe Spirit started out promisingly, but it started to get on my nerves a bit as it went on. It begins by introducing its leads in a good way, as nice enough people, if a tad flawed, and the seance happens quickly enough too. There's plenty of funny dialogue, and everything is entertaining.
Where the film started to lose me was partially due to the thin plot, but also the direction it took. One of the main characters just disappears from the movie just like that, as if the writer couldn't be bothered anymore, and just wanted to focus the story exclusively on Charles and his dead ex.
Another problem is that nothing is ever accomplished. The characters try one exorcism to get rid of Elvira, and it doesn't work. They try another, it doesn't work. They try many more over a montage, and none work. Then they realise an important fact they missed, and conduct one last exorcism to finally spend the ghost[s] back to the afterlife!...and it doesn't work. Bloody hell! After that, the characters give up, and the movie just stops, after one last =.
The ending annoyed me too. It's a resolution that might've been effective or funny if done right, but it felt so rushed, and was honestly a bit of a downer! I wasn't sure what to make of the film's overall message too. We start out with a happy couple, and end with [3 dead]! Ultimately, I think Blithe Spirit went on for too long, as if it was an hour long story stretched out to almost 100 minutes. It's never boring or tedious, but it feels endless, with its small story and minimal setting and characters stretched to the limit.
The actors, few that there are, do a great job here. Rex Harrison is amusing as , while Kay Hammond is fun as the mischievous Elvira. Constance Cummings is good as the ore levelheaded Ruth. Hugh Wakefield and Joyce Carey are fun in their small roles at the start, and Jacqueline Clark is alright as the beleaguered maid Edith, but somewhat underused. And lastly, the main attraction/draw is the great Margaret Rutherford! She has a truly great spirit here, coming off as old in visage but young in spirit. She has such a childlike and energetic frivolity to her, it's great to watch!
For a film based on a stage play, Blithe Spirit looks good. Many scenes are slower and comprised entirely of dialogue, and while this nature does sometimes show, the film is directed well enough to avoid feeling like it's just a filmed play. The set is great too, a nice lush mansion you'd love to stay at. The psychic's house is suitably cluttered too.
While the direction is good, the editing is sometimes strange, and we'll change location without realising. A minor issue, that only happened a couple of times and might not be a problem if you're really paying attention, but still a bit weird.
The effects here are great, especially for the time! I expected the film to be lazy, and simply show the ghosts being intangible by having the actors be off camera, or other =. While it does do this at times, there are more than plenty scenes of making contact, and passing right through. The poltergeist effects are great too. Objects lift up on their own convincingly enough, and there are no wires to be seen.
The Monster Walks is an interesting little horror film. Coming from 1932, it feels like an earlier prototype for a lot of the old dark house mysteries/comedies we saw in the 40s, complete with a suspicious ape too! Although in this case it's a real one, not a guy in a suit.
The film is a bit quiet, and a little slow, but never boring.
Despite these issues, it does some things very right! It builds up a good atmosphere of = and oppression, and the cast is well utilised. While the characters aren't the most well-rounded, there's a small amount of them, and they're distinct enough. The girl, the old maid, the creepy guy, the handsome guy, the old guy, the old guy in the wheelchair, etc. This makes the mystery better than when you've either got too many or not enough suspects.
The plot element of the ape in the house is good. It doesn't feel too fanciful, and is a good = means of building a spooky vibe where anything can happen. Well...I say anything, but really the = is incredibly specific, but you know what I mean!
Something that really hampers The Monster Walks is the complete lack of a soundtrack. Some movies can survive not having music, but this isn't one of 'em!
I like that they never blindly believe the ape's guilt until the last 5 minutes, but instead = frequently, to confirm or deny the theory, and always suspect something more is afoot/going on. However they are guilty of an incredibly stupid act in the climax, when they leave Mary alone with the only possible suspect remaining!
Brilliantly named Exodus, the comedy relief chauffeur is a great addition.
Oh no, when he knows there's danger on the loose, he packs heat! The dude's got a 44 magnum, and is ready to use it!
acting but sometimes weird enunciations. Coupled with the = cheesy dialogue, it's honestly comparable to Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, so if you like that show, you've gotta see this!
The leads here all do perfectly respectable jobs, despite a few lines coming out weaker than others. Mischa Auer is fine as the = creepy foreigner, and he's particularly god in the climax. Lastly, the most notable and recognisable performer is the great Willie Best. It's not his best performance, and he's much better in other films, but his natural charisma still shines through, and livens the proceedings. As the film's only source of comedy, he does his job well, and gets a few funny lines, namely one to end/close the movie out on.
The Monster Walks isn't an amazing example of its genre, but it's not bad, and has got some merit to enjoy.
Monday, June 29, 2020
As a kid I saw plenty of movies, naturally, even if I wasn't yet a full-on film aficionado. One such film was Richie Rich. It's one of those movies where I enjoyed when I was very young, but saw it at a later age and really disliked it. That can happen. You enjoy things more as a carefree young'in, but when you're a stern and serious 10 year old, you balk at such childish material! Then when you're actually older you appreciate them more, and loosen up. So how did Richie Rich fare? Was it the =? Or was it truly bad? After all, it does star Macaulay Culkin, and I've never been a fan!...
Richie is a young boy, and only child of the wealthy Rich family. He gets to live out the wildest dreams of any kid, and live in the lap of luxury, but he still feels like he's missing something. =, and desiring new friends, Richie seeks out some working class kids and tries making friends, with mixed success at first but eventually succeeding. He'll need all the help he can get though when his parents disappear in a plane crash, and the scheming Lawrence van Dough plans on stealing the family fortune...
Richie Rich is a very fun picture! It's your standard 90s kids film, yeah, but it does a lot right. It's not a masterpiece or anything, but as a simply entertaining movie, it succeeds. It also doesn't try and rip off Home Alone, thank God!
This moves along at a brisk pace, never getting bogged down in anything. I really liked how the story takes a little while to kick into gear. Instead of just having the whole movie be a siege on the house while the parents are kidnapped, we get introduced to Richie and his everyday life, see his efforts at making new friends, an other stuff, all while the villain and his plans are gradually set up. It's about halfway throughwhen the first part of his plans kick in, and the last act when he's outright trying to = Richie. I liked this, as it meant the movie was never slow or boring.
Something that surprised me is how the movie doesn't shy away from openly discussing murder and 'suicide', a villain shooting at a kid, or even swearing! Hold your horses, America, you're acting awfully European here! But I kid, children's media that acts with less restraint is loads of fun!
The movie looks great. There's lots of care put into the set design, with a lush setting, an abundance of nice little details
The characters here are all well realised. Richie is a good protagonist, likeable and relateable, despite being the most unrelateable child on earth, and the faithful butler Cadbury is a great companion, Mr. van Dough is a fine antagonist, bad enough to be effective, and getting downtrodden enough without ever coming across as too weak. He's downright devious in some parts! Richie's friends are pretty basic, and I couldn't tell you the first thing about them as individuals, but they're all fine as a whole. His parents meanwhile are amusing and goodhearted, even if the mother is sometimes insanely vain/priorities. And the family's resident mad scientist Professor Keenbean is a good addition, supplying some nice gadgets to help the story along, and provide some gags.
The acting here is all good. Macaulay Culkin is pretty decent. He's not as lively as he could have been, but otherwise is fine. And he's not annoying either, which I consider a miracle! John Laroquette is great as the dastardly villain, while Edward Hermann and Christine Ebersole are a hoot in their scenes. The kids playing Richie's new friends all do fine jobs, while the ones who play his more snooty friends are amusing in their short time onscreen. Mike McShane is = as Professor Keenbean, and lastly Johnathan Hyde is great as Cadbury!
Back in the 90s, there was a bit of a boom of 1960s tv adaptions, from The Addams Family, to The Flintsones, and others. Some of them were hits, others not so much. One such [entry] was the 1993 film The Beverly Hillbillies. Which side of the ridge does it fall one? Let's dig right in and see...
Rural farmer Jed Clampett is out hunting for food one day when she shoots at a rabbit and uncovers an enormous oil deposit. = immediately come to pay a fortune for the land ,and on the guidance of his relatives and friends, Jed takes his family to go live in Beverly Hills. Once there they get used/accustomed to their new life and all the strange attitudes and devices the cityfolk have, facing adversaries in the process. While the Clampetts are nothing but generous, a scheming banker and his girlfriend hatch a plot to steal all their money...
The Beverly Hillbillies is plenty of fun. It takes the show's story and transplants it well to a film setting, never feeling barebones or overstuffed. The tone and spirit of the classic series remains, with the Clampetts being different and certainly more =cultured than =, but otherwise smart in their own ways (besides Jethro), and always being the kindest people in the room. They're like the Addams in a way, except without all the death and macabre stuff.
The movie begins with the Clampetts origins, and shows them as they go from poor to rich, and the various struggles and fun they get through in their new life. It's amusing, and never overstays its welcome, and the conflict comes in a well-paced way, with the villains slowly unfurling a plan of seduction and theft.
The biggest issue that Beverly Hillbillies could have faced was that of one of format. Since this is based off a tv show, there's a pretty sizable cast. In a show you'd see some of them in some episodes, and others in others, but as this is just one movie, it's gotta include everyone and juggle them efficiently. Thankfully it succeeds. Some characters don't get a huge amount of screentime, but no-one feels wasted or unnecessary, and everyone contributes in at least some way. It's a shame there was never a sequel, but ah well, at least this is a complete experience.
The comedy here is all amusing. There's plenty of humour in various ways, and it never just settles on one Nor does this feel like it's lowest common denominator humour. Many scenes had me cackling away, and it's always good-hearted too, never obnoxious or mean-spirited.
Jim Varney is a great lead as Jed Clampett, getting across a traditional hillbilly persona that's amusingly exaggerated, but not to an obnoxious degree. He never overdoes it, and he brings plenty of heart to the role too. Diedrich Bader and Erika Eleniak are fun in different ways as Jethro and Ellie-May, while Cloris Leachman is both gentle and fierce as the manic Granny. Lily Tomlin is a standout/highlight as helpful assistant Jane Hathaway, while Dabney Coleman does a fine job as the more ambiguous but ultimately good Mildburn Drysdale. As the villain's are Lea Thompson and Rob Schneider. The former is deliciously evil and pretty, while the latter is thankfully more normal and restrained than in other films. He's also surprisingly clean! =
The music here is a fun mix of banjos and other hillbilly tracks, as well as typical 90s family/comedy film music. All round a nice score, with soft harmonies, bouncy pieces, and a good rendition of the famous theme song.
In the 17th century, in the wide plains of America, the Powhatan tribe lives peacefully. This existence is shattered with the arrival of European settlers, but one woman is fated to make a difference, and act as a bridge between the two cultures-Pocahontas, Indian princess...
There have been a few animated re-tellings of the legendary Pocahontas's story over the years, namely the Disney classic. There was a spike of off-brand = during the =, taking advantage of the public domain status of these characters to make their own versions as a cash-in. Some of these companies were pretty overt and ballsy with this, while others felt more sincere. Such is the case with today's film, which doesn't feel at all like a knock-off of Disney's Pocahontas, but is its own unique story that really quite surprised me!
While more famous versions of this story take some liberties, =, 199= Pocahontas is actually remarkably true to her real life story! Some liberties are taken, and this is probably more fantastical than real life, but otherwise I was impressed! Regarding tone, this isn't a really depressing film, but it never shies away from certain darker topics. Always in a context suitable for children, of course, but it doesn't sugarcoat or warp history by trying to say the pale faces were peaceful travellers who tried to tame the 'mindless savages'.
The story here isn't a simple romance, nor is it all set during the one time. It spreads across the entirety of Pocahontas's life, from her childhood years being raised by her tribe, to meeting settlers, averting catastrophe, then John Smith's injuries force him to return home to England, and Pocahontas must undertake a vast journey. We see her travel across the lands, from tribe to tribe, spreading a message of peace and harmony. I figured this would be it, but nope, the film goes even further! We see Pocahontas getting married, giving birth, travelling to England, before we witness the end of her life...And then the movie is *still going*, as it focuses on her son now. Jeez!
If all of this sounds like = overload, it thankfully isn't. The plot is detailed enough without ever being overcomplicated, and while the lack of one = = could hurt the overall story, the lead character is enough to anchor it, for the most part. The film gets across a truly [epic] feel during its relatively brief runtime, and while it did throw me through a loop with how quickly the movie = certain things, I never had a huge problem with its decisions.
In terms of history, this surprised me because of the sheer number of details that were accurate, which never are in other adaptions! Not to slight/sleight them, as such an approach can be fine, but I really appreciated the = touch here. Certain things are different, but the details themselves are all spot-on, with the only major difference being everything here is markedly happier (barring her tragic young death, of course). This feels like the ideal way her life would have played out.
The characters here are pretty good. Pocahontas is the best, and most well-rounded. She's likeable, sweet, and proactive too. She takes her destiny in her own hands, and doesn't rely solely on others, nor does she devote all her time to fawning over romances. She gets shit done! She shares good chemistry with pretty much everyone, and the = are fine. The only issue with the remainder of the cast is that they don't really appear enough. Some are built up as if they're gonna be important, like the childhood rival or John Smith, then just depart. Pocahontas's inter-tribal band doesn't get a whole lot to do either, but they make a decent impression. Her son is good. He was just a smidge annoying at first thanks to his = voice, but that lessens as the story goes on and he gets to endear himself to the audience, and improve in general. He manages to carry the story well enough in the absence of its true lead, even though you do wish she were still here.
A Japanese production (Or Italian? Or both), I saw the English dub for this, and it's...not terrible. Some of the voices don't match up with the characters, and the performances get get pretty cheesy at times, but otherwise there's nothing bad here. As for the animation, much of the same can be said. It's obviously cheap, and = in places, but I'd never say it's bad, and it's really quite good in places, and always gets the job done.
A highlight of this film is definitely the score! While this may have been a low=budget production, they did not skimp on the music, which has a =, =, and sometimes melancholic feel. Some of the tracks are used a little bit too much too often, but I never got sick of them, and they lend so much to the [experience].
Friday, June 26, 2020
In the annals of cinema, there are some movies spoken of in hushed tones of dread, notorious for their terrible qualities. One such film is Sylvester Stallone's Stop or my Mom Will Shoot, but is it really as bad as this reputation holds?...No, of course not! Even if this wasn't that great, I couldn't see it as being anything other than harmless fluff, as it's not mean-spirited or offensive at all. And as for Stallone's filmography, god knows he's made worse! Now let us move away from that and never speak of it again...
Sergeant Joe Bomowski is a tough cop, but his relationship is on the rocks, and he's generally unhappy. Things are made worse when his domineering mother Tutti arrives, and immediately begins meddling in his affairs. While she's often a nuisance, even destroying his gun while attempting to clean it, she slowly helps out, and things begin to improve even if Joe can't see it yet. Things take a turn for the dangerous though when Tutti is the only witness in a violent crime, and Joe must permanently babysit her, and solve this case before it's too late...
If we're to begin anywhere with Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, it's gotta be the title, which is amazing! It builds up expectations for the movie to come which are thankfully met.
This is a fun cop movie. It's cheesy for sure, with a few moments which you'll roll your eyes at, but it's never ridiculous, or just plain stupid. You always believe the movie due to how earnestly it handles the material. It never acts like everything's a big joke, but strikes a good balance of tone. Never too serious, but not farcical either.
The plot is pretty good, with it mainly being a character piece. In this regard it succeeds very well, as both Joe and his mother are well realised characters, both with their own good sides and faults. Joe is a good cop, but he leaps into some situations without thinking, and has trouble opening up and letting people in. Tutti meanwhile is too meddling and embarrassing to Joe for her own good, but often has a point, and she immediately endears herself to everyone she meets, even criminal sorts!
The grumpy police chief and the love interest are one and the same here, and she's a likeable supporting character. She slaps Joe when he deserves it, and kisses him when the audience wants some romance.
One character I appreciated was funnily enough Tutti's dog, which is in just about every scene! Pets so often get forgotten in movies, so it was quite refreshing to see that's not the case here. Little = gets to join in on a lot of the adventures! I mean, he's just there for moral support, but still!
The comedy here all works. It's often funny, never cringey or too over-the-top. Something also of note is when the title is delivered! Saying your movie's name in dialogue can often be cheesy, especially with such a goofy one. Here is no exception, but it works, is funny, and does at least makes sense in context. The weirdest part of the movie is a dream sequence partway through, which contains Sly Stallone as you've never seen him before!
If I had to pick any complaints with this movie, they'd be relatively minor, but still there. First and foremost, there's not a great deal of focus on the crime. There's the bare minimum, but I wish there'd been more investigation. Instead the movie keeps focusing on other stuff. It's all good stuff, but still. I wanted more. Because of this we keep hearing that Joe's getting too close to comfort for the crooks, but never really seeing this in action.
The other issue is just that some characters didn't appear as much as they could've. Like Joe's partner, or the mean cop Ross, who disappears almost entirely after the halfway point. This goes a little for the villains too. We never really get enough time to know 'em. They're just pretty basic. What we do get though is pretty neat, but that's about it.
Stallone plays well with comedy, handling both the badass cop moments and the comedy situations, and his attempts at romance are Estelle Getty meanwhile is a spunky ball of fun! She's really enjoyable, steals every scene she's in, and share's great chemistry with Stallone. Heck, with everyone else too! She really sells her character's infectious nature.
JoBeth Williams is both good as a gruff police chief, and a love interest. Roger Rees is a neat villain, though his attempts at an Italian-American accent are somewhat marred by him being British. Despite this, he's effectively slimy, and a bad dude! I only wish he appeared more. We don't see him until halfway through.
To finish, Stop, or My Mon Will Shoot might not be high art or anything, but it never tries to be. It's simply a fun movie, that succeeds on its own terms
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Ryota is a young man searching for his brother, believed lost at sea. A visit to a local psychic has him further convinced, so he teams up with some new friends to check out some boats. Together the trio accidentally break into a fancy yacht, and Ryota takes advantage of the opportunity and sails the ship to the South Pacific. His friends and the ships criminal owner are none too happy with this unplanned trip, but this quickly becomes secondary when the yacht is attacked and scuttled by a giant claw. They wash up on a tropical island, which turns out to be occupied by a sinister terrorist organisation, using slave labour to help create nuclear weaponry. Together with an escaped native girl, they free a sleeping Godzilla and plan on liberating the island...
Also known as Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Godzilla vs the Sea Monster
The plot gets off to an attention-grabbing start, with a good thrust] and the ball gets rolling very quickly. We jump from one interesting setting to another in quick succession, from a fun dance off (I wanna participate!), to an oceanic adventure, finally ending up on the island. We meet the cast early on, and are on the island quickly enough. From then on the film is quickly paced, never letting the fact that it mainly only has one setting get in the way or slow things down.
One always wonders how the human plot will fare in a monster movie. Will it be a good one that = the time well while you wait for the monsters to show up again, or will it be a punishingly long affair, where a bunch of annoying dopes hog most of the screentime that rightfully belongs to Godzilla? Godzilla vs the Sea Monster is definitely on the positive end of that spectrum. The human plot is adventurous, thrilling, and we always care for everyone involved.
There is however a ...slight problem. You wanna know how long it takes Godzilla to appear in this film? NEARLY AN HOUR/NEARLY AN HOUR! That's right, you heard me! We see brief shots of him sleeping at a few points, but he only wakes up to kick ass 52 minutes in. Thankfully when Godzilla does finally get involved, it's definitely his show. The movie doesn't skimp on the Big G when he's onscreen.
Mothra is also in this film, but she doesn't wake up until the end. On one hand this is good, as it doesn't needlessly overcrowd the film with a monster who really =. But on the other hand, It's been over an hour, Mothra, wake your lazy ass up! Your citizens need you!
The story here is a pretty simple one, but in a good way. It knows what to focus on, and does so well. Even the ending's cheesy moral comes with an amusing and goodhearted joke about it, which also acts as payoff to an earlier line.
If I had to pick any problem with the film, it'd be that the story stalls at about an hour in. Once Godzilla's woken up, we're pretty much treated to characters running from one end of the island to another waiting for things to happen, which they do. But nothing really integral to the plot. Just = scenes such as Godzilla fighting a =, or =. All good scenes, and this is never boring or slipshod, I just kinda wish they'd been tied = a little more.
The climax is all action, and it's plenty of fun. Very thrilling, and packed with [excitement]. Something I like is how we see the insides of the buildings and underground installations as Godzilla tramples on them. Every stomp he makes threatens the slaves trapped underneath, and it makes the climax tense in an effective way. You might just be expecting the last act to be a curbstomp battle where the good guys easily win once the monster's woken up, but his carefree involvement does create new kinds of tension.
First up is the human characters They blend together a little, since the four (later five) guys all look the same. Their clothes are really the only indicator of who's who, and how serious or goofy their faces are. Ryota is a likeable lead, noble and determined, setting the events of the plot into motion. Yoshimura is more intense, having a bit of an edge to him due to his criminal nature, but he never goes off the deep end. He shows a maturity to the situation, accepting the loss of the money quite well, and he gladly uses his skills to help the others, and immediately detests the slave-using baddies.
Ichino and Nita are good comic relief, and they contribute well too. Nita for example comes up with a great plan for the slaves when he gets captured, and boy does it pay off well! He deserves a medal. Daiyo the native girl is nice, and provides us with a different = to the others, with her gender, ethnicity, and mysticism adding lots of extra flavour to the film.
I wondered how Ryota's missing brother would play int oevents, and eventually he does turn up. I was a little afraid at first that a 6th hero would clutter things up, but then I noticed he kinda evens things out since Nita is still kidnapped at this point. Thankfully this is far enough into the movie for there to be no/little confusion, as we already know who everyone is, and no-one feels useless.
The remainder of the Orphan Island people are =, with the Fairy Twins appearing briefly to impart advice, and sing. Lastly, there are the villains of the piece are effective enough. They're not really the main focus in terms of character, and are just there to provide an obstacle, and be evil. They succeed on both fronts, and they're = and distinctive, complete with silly eyepatches!
Now for the true stars of the picture-The monsters! Godzilla seems so far away for the longest time, but once he's here he effortlessly reminds us why he's the king of the monsters. As for his alignment, he teeters a bit. The heroes are understandably frightened of him, but while he's perhaps more neutral in regards to human life here, he's never malevolent, and he only directly harms the bad guys. Even then he probably would've left them alone if the assholes didn't attack him while he was trying to sleep! ==, I tell you!
Mothra may be sleeping on the job most of the time, but the culture of her islanders help build up a nice aura around her and her abilities. Ebirah is a nice new villain, despite his limited time, but he's mainly just a flunky for the bad guys,
The tone of Godzilla vs the Sea Monster is an effective one. The film isn't farcical, but it's also never entirely serious too. It strikes a really good balance where it treats the events =, but never forgets that it's supposed to be fun. From the neat soundtrack, to the opening dance off, and the brawling monsters, this is a lighthearted adventure =.
The soundtrack here is awesome! All throughout the film we get these groovetacular beats! Whoever had the inspiration to have disco and funk music in a Godzilla film had a strange idea, but a very successful one. The music adds so much to the enjoyment of this movie.
The cinematography and direction in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster is superb! The production is shot on location inthe South Pacific, and not only is this already an easy opportunity to get some great shots, the director and crew here really did their work, and get some beautiful moments on film, especially with sunset. The monster fights are all staged well. Some of the shots also look surprisingly modern too! They look like something out of a 1980s Godzilla flick, with the = and level of detail.
The effects here are great! We've got plenty of nice miniatures, a few giant monsters, and =! Starting with the kaiju, Godzilla is very good. He's a good mix between scary and =, without looking too goofy or comical. Mothra meanwhile is very pretty and elegant, charming the audience despite her limited screentime. Ebirah also looks good, The miniature buildings are all great, and =, as do the artificial bits of the island. There's a good integration between the fake and real island, and the ending cataclysm impresses. The effects aren't perfect, mind you, as there are some amusingly fake dolls here and there, but that's no big issue. Where the film really impressed me was its attempt at an underwater fight scene! It's not the clearest, nor the most animated of fights, but it's not bad, and I applaud the effort!
The actors here all do good jobs. While there wasn't much to distinguish them visually from one another, they don't act the same, and they do a good job with the material they're given, working hand in hand with the good story to give life to the film.
Godzilla vs the Sea Monster may not have any expert social commentary, nor is it one of the more serious and dark entries in the series, and it may not even feature the titular kaiju that much, but it's one of the best in the series I've seen so far. It's pure fun from beginning to end, and well worth a watch!...
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
In the future, space station Gamma 3 is observing all manner of space particles, bored out of their minds, when suddenly they discover a chilling object. An enormous asteroid is heading straight for Earth at alarming speeds. A crack team is sent out to neutralise it, and while they're successful, a mysterious green organism hitches a ride onboard back to the ship, growing unseen. While a hostile love triangle brews onboard between the commanding officer, head doctor, and a demanding newcomer sent in to help, the green slime grows until it becomes a small army of seemingly unstoppable monsters...
The Green Slime is a joint production between MGM and Toei, which provides it with a pretty unique look! American films all look bland when compared to Japanese. That's because Asians aren't afraid to be silly or 'unrealistic'! And because of this they really go all out on the effects, to great...well, effect! It's this that gives The Green Slime an edge over a lot of other sci-fi flicks from the period, although the later date also plays a part, as this was very near the end of not only the subgenre, but classic b-movies period.
Where The Green Slime falters for me is twofold. The first issue I have is that regardless of the clever [pacing] at the beginning, the movie eventually started to bore me. I'm just not a fan of movies set all in one location during a real-tie siege. It feels slow!
The other issue is the characters! I hated them all! Jack is an asshole, the opposite of charming, always snippy, and disrespectful of others. And he's the hero! The girl Lisa meanwhile is selfish and two-faced considering =, and Vince is pouty and reckless. He constantly makes decisions that get people killed, feels bad about it and swears it'll never happen again, then promptly does it five] more times, still acting as if he's the voice of reason. It's a serious problem when you hate all the characters in a film, especially when their romance is a major factor! I do not watch b-movies about slime monsters to see people being snippy at each-other for an hour and a half!
The effects in the Green Slime are a high point. The monsters look great. A little silly, especially in how they walk, and knowing that they were operated by children makes them adorable, but they make the film! Only the sound they make annoyed me a little. The set design here is very good too, and the semi-futuristic setting allows the designers to go all out, and not worry about realism.
The direction by Kinji Fukasaku is mostly pretty good. The editing is something worthy of mention, as it's spectacularly awful in one scene!There's a multi-car pile-up, followed by a few action rolls from the hero, but it's all edited so disorientingly that it'll leave you spinning!
The actors here all do competent enough jobs, but they can't help/salvage the fact that their characters are annoying. Or perhaps it was their fault at least partially!
As a co-production between many countries, The Green Slime =. There are Japanese effects and sets, Italian and Turkish actors, and the American imports being the two male leads, and a kickass disco song! Yeah! It feels incredibly out of place, but I pay that no nevermind, because it is the grooviest and funkiest tune you'll ever hear in a sci-fi b-movie like this!
Monday, June 1, 2020
The character of Sherlock Holmes has been exceptionally long loved in cinema. He can and has appeared in any kind of story, in many different genres. type
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is an interesting example/showcase of excess. This film isn't a huge spectacle full of It's an otherwise normal Sherlock Holmes pastiche...albeit once that was nearly 4 hours long! was trimmed to a more manageable 2 hour length (thank god), against Wilder's wishes
You'll never believe how it ends though!...With no confrontation or = whatsoever! The heroes are just chilling out when Mycroft sends for Sherlock, and shows him a submarine for 5 minutes, Queen Victoria pops up to take a look, then quashes the entire/whole project. That's it. No =. This would have been unsatisfying even for a half hour story, as the lack of a = ending makes it feel pointless. But to waste an hour and a half all for an anticlimax like this is excruciating!
mystery exceedingly poor. The first section has none, while the second makes no effort in concealing anything, revealing the identity of the spy early on, as well as the monks = (although they were quite frankly really suspicious anyway)
"To think people still believe in that nonsense! I mean, here we are living in the 19th century!"
most bizarre moment was when Holmes is detailing why women can't be trusted, and among other things he casually mentions a fiancee who 'unreliably' caught influenza and died before the wedding! This isn't treated as a major character moment, or a = dramatic scene, but just a stupid joke.
One of the biggest aspect of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes are the assertions/assertations that he and Dr. Watson are in a secret homosexual relationship. themes gay
pastiche also tackles Holmes' drug use, but in a very halfhearted way. It pays =, but has no interest in actually exploring or combating it, like The Seven Percent Solution, to coin an example/a comparison.
performance as Sherlock is strange. He's a bit like Peter Cook, and has a very effete delivery and mannerisms, and an oddly pasty face, as if he's been.slathered in chalky make-up. He has his good moments, and I have faith that he could be a good Holmes, although I wasn't sold on him in this particular movie. As for Colin Blakely, I love him! So I was surprised and interested to see him as Dr. Watson of all things! How does he do?...Ehhh, he's alright. He's so covered in = and affects such a = accent that it's sometimes hard to tell it's even him, and I forgot at numerous times. He's fine here for the most part, but suffers from a = of Watson, and poor direction here and there ("You CAD!").
Christopher Lee acquits himself the best here, although I resent the director who made him shave half his head! Mollie Maureen very elderly and childlike Queen Victoria. It's a good performance, though a little weird compared with what we usually expect from her majesty. Genevieve Page is alright as Gabrielle, getting across what she needs to. Tamara Toumanova meanwhile is alright as the sultry but grumpy starlet, but doesn't get a lot to do. And lastly, Irene Handl has a nice short role here as Mrs. Hudson.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was an interesting idea, but for me it was a failure, and took away 2 hours from my life I could have spent rewatching Without a Clue.
Young Sherlock Holmes
At a London boarding school is a young teenager named Sherlock Holmes. Blessed with remarkable talents of deduction, he teams up with his new friend John Watson and girlfriend Elizabeth to solve a series of bizarre murders in town...
Young Sherlock Holmes is one of the worst entries in this vast canon I've seen, by by golly is that saying something!
The mystery is pretty mediocre, and there are rarely any meaningful clues. The crimes also fall apart on even the most basic scrutiny. It's a really big assumption that all the victims would commit suicide! The drug only causes hallucinations and lasts just 5 minutes, and the cult just hopes the people will jump out a window, run in front of a carriage, or stab themselves! And all the darts conveniently disappear, and the authorities notice neither them or the puncture wounds. And why now? if it was this easy why not get revenge 20 years sooner, or kill them all in a single day? Nothing's stopping them. The whole sacrifice stuff feels unnecessary and tacked-on too. Frankly it makes the heroes feel useless, since they failed to prevent eight murders!
A black mark against Young Sherlock Holmes is that it is truly ridiculous! I could look past the goofy characters, and the silly concept, but what I have trouble buying is that there's an immense secret society of ancient Egyptian cultists who regularly sacrifice young maidens! Or that they willingly embark in massive chases in public! Secret societies don't stay secret when 50 members all run out screaming down Wapping with scimitars! It gets to the point where I honestly don't blame Lestrade for not believing Sherlock's story! What's all this doing in a Holmes story, too?
There are other things in the movie that bothered me too, like Holmes being expelled. It annoys me that this is never resolved. Justice is never seen, and the snobby bastard responsible is never punished (or ever seen again). Most importantly, this deprives the film of its most interesting setting! A classic British boarding school! Also silly/weird is that this expulsion is apparently so severe that Holmes is forbidden to attend his mentor's funeral, and if he's caught hanging around in London he'll be arrested! What the fuck kind of boarding school is this?!
A serious problem with this film is tone. It's a light children's adventure movie, but with many violent suicides, a teenage girl getting shot to death, and others being burned alive in pretty ghoulish ways! What the fuck, is this a horror film?! I wouldn't mind graphic and scary deaths in an adult picture, but when you have moments like this in a movie for kids, that's a bit suss. I know I may have been the kind of kid who loved this and actively sought out gruesome horror, but there's a difference. I knew that was for adults, and I didn't expect to see violent disembowelment in Clifford the Big Red Dog!
To cap all this off, there's a disturbing amount of people who want to murder children in this movie! Even the kindly Arabs hate the evil cult so much they're ready to shoot the pint-sized adventurers in the face for even asking about them! Because as we all know, shooting young teens in the face isn't considered evil anymore. Church declared it so back in 1866, weren't you paying attention?
As a Sherlock Holmes film, this is disappointing. It breaks continuity of course, but that aside, the whole tone is off, as well as the story, and The nods to continuity annoyed me too. The presence of Watson here as a kid makes no sense when he and Holmes didn't meet till adults, so have it be an original character! The villain changing his name to Moriarty at the end feels forced, and means the movie never really accomplished anything (not to mention a villain with three names is really damn confusing!). Oh well, at least they didn't make his school nemesis Moriarty!
And lastly is Elizabeth's fate at the end, which is depressing as well as pointless! It only happens to show why Holmes is detached and unemotional towards women in the books. It's because he was an emotional person who had a tragic romance as a young boy. ...Again/AGAIN? Again with this same tired old cliche? Bloody hell! Why can't Holmes just be an unemotional and distant guy to the opposite sex because that's just his personality? Why do they always feel the need to explain everything?!
The movie also explores where Holmes got the parts of his famous costume. All in a very hamfisted way, and it's especially annoying to have Watson and others go 'Oh, you look ridiculous with that pipe!', 'Bah, that hat is stupid!' or 'You're surely not going to wear that silly coat are you?', etc. It's frustrating to have the movie constantly have characters insult the iconic things, just for a lame joke. I also dislike that he gets the famous coat from the serial killer who shot his girlfriend! I don't care if it feels like a hunter's trophy, throw it in the darn trash!
Then at the end, there's a text crawl, where the movie has the balls to call itself an affectionate 'speculation'! = Perhaps Young Sherlock Holmes's worst crime over all else is that it's simply not logical at all.
One of the most intrusive aspects of the film is the narration from an older Watson! It's often unnecessary, it sometimes explains to us what would have been better to see, and in the worst instance, Holmes starts answering a question about an important discovery, and the narration butts in! He gets no more than two words out before future Watson speaks for him!
Length is also a big problem here. The film is 2 nearly hours long and it really didn't need to be. It meanders around so much with the most bare basic things, and even the climax is ridiculously drawn out, lasting for another 20 minutes after you think it's over.
Let's move onto the characters. Holmes is portrayed alright, and is more emotional side does make some sense, but it's not a great depiction. bears zero portrayal to the Watson of the stories, ]and they really should've made it be a different character. After all, Holmes and Watson don't meet until adulthood in the original stories! Let this kid be an original creation.] Elizabeth is a nice enough girl, but a bit [superfluous] I felt, while her uncle is a bit obnoxiously goofy.
I really didn't like Lestrade's portrayal in this movie. For a start, he's not so bloody old that he was in the force when Holmes was a wee nipper! But mainly he's so skeptical that it gets old fast. He has one mode, and that's "Go away, boy, I don't have time for your silly theories!"
Since there are no other suspects in this movie, it's pretty obvious that the baddie is the suave professor with the evil sounding name. His identity is a point of confusion, as he has no less than three bloody names throughout the film! He's not a very good villain, really. Predictable, a little dull, and lacking. He also has moments of idiocy, like hypnotising Elizabeth to find out where the other boys were last...even though he's the last person to see them! he knows where they were! The remainder of the cast is middling and unremarkable.
The acting here is ok, having its moments. Nicholas Rowe is alright as Holmes, but he can be a little monotone at times. Also, I don't mean to be harsh on him, as despite some shaky moments he's not that bad, but Jesus, his eyes here have the cold dead stare of a serial killer! Alan Cox is fine as Watson, though a little unremarkable. Sophie Ward is decent as Elizabeth. Roger Ashton Griffiths is an ok Lestrade, but doesn't get much to do. And the villain is played decently by Anthony Higgins (who interestingly enough played Holmes once in a terrible TV movie).
The actors playing the murder victims are all ridiculously over-the-top, and even poor Freddie Jones is dragged down by the direction. Perhaps the worst performance in the entire film though goes to Susan Fleetwood as Mrs. Dribb, who is fine for the most part, until she suddenly goes crazy in the last act, and does literally nothing but snarl like an animal for the rest of the movie.
The effects are a major part of Young Sherlock Holmes, to its detriment. This should be a low-key mystery, but instead has no less than six hallucination sequences! All very elaborate, with over-the-top special effects, and all are quite silly. The effects themselves are good in some places, but the CGI is where it disappoints a little. Some shots are just plain terrible, while the stained glass man fares a little better, but isn't that great. Interestingly enough, he was the very first character in a film to be created entirely with digital effects!...Kinda wish they hadn't wasted $200,000 dollars and 6 months of work/time on 31 seconds instead of just dressing a dude in a costume, or making an animatronic, but oh well.
One of the strangest parts/things about Young Sherlock Holmes is its Harry Potter connection! It predates the books/films by about 15 years, and yet is chockabock full of connections! Directed by Chris Columbus, this is a film about a talented boy, his goofy friend, and a girl solving a mystery, at a whimsical snowy boarding school. There's a blonde snobby bad boy, a bully named Dudley, a heavily cloaked villain, heroes sneaking into a library at night with lanterns, people being wrapped around/up by living vines, a stone staircases on fire during the climax, and main villains burning to death too! WHAT THE HELL/What the hell?! Is this a coincidence? It can't be! That's at least ten things! Who ripped off who here? Did J.K. Rowling pinch stuff from Young Sherlock Holmes for her new book series, or did Chris Columbus rip off himself when making his Harry Potter movies?! Bizarre, I tell ya!
To finish, Young Sherlock Holmes was an annoying, horrible film! It's not completely without merit, but as a movie and as a Holmes entry, it's utter rubbish!
They Might Be Giants
Former judge and millionaire Justin Playfair has believed himself to be Sherlock Holmes for the past year, ever since the death of his beloved wife.
I was always interested in the concept behind They Might Be Giants, and I always wanted to see it! Until = that is. Then the movie always occupied a place of dislike in my mind. It's fitting now to finally discuss my thoughts on it, and where I feel it fails.
The movie is a very artistically minded one, and its themes envelope the whole story. They're very interesting on paper, and some of the speeches 'Holmes' gets as the story rolls along are decent, and one in particular is great, giving a superb reason for an otherwise strange and un-Sherlockian/Holmesian title.
"Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be...Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes."
Where the themes fall flat is the obvious message and presentation. This might be just my opinion, but I found the whole film to be very on the nose. For the whole movie/journey, the heroes don't really find any clues, but the important thing is the people they meet along the way, and we see the quirky everyday people who populate New York City. *sigh* I'm not saying this plot is inherently bad, or that any cliche can permanently become tired, but in this case I saw it coming a mile away and was hardly enthused.
The pinnacle of this message comes at the end. As the heroes and friends dueled an army of orderlies in the supermarket, I said to myself in a stupid voice "Gee, I won-der who the real madmen are? Is it...society?!". This film is about as subtle as a gold brick! The overall message is just lazy! There's a triumphant scene where all the 'crazies' are proudly marching towards Moriarty, and you look forward to what they find!...Then they find nothing, Holmes makes a halfhearted speech, and they all leave for a minute before invading a supermarket.
Putting the themes to one side for a moment, let's discuss the plot. It's not very good. Since the movie starts off in media res, we never get to see the real Justin Playfair. Because of this it's hard to relate with him now in the present. It also feels like he should have an epiphany about his dead deceased wife, but he never does, which almost seems callous.
We're often going from one scene to the next in a very straightforward way, except for one diversion. The leads are in a greenhouse with new friends when they're interrupted by the sudden attack of criminals, then this is interrupted when we suddenly cut to Watson trying and failing to cook for 5 minutes. It's a strange transition, and I didn't understand it. Ok, I guess they escaped the baddies, but why did they separate again and why are they having a date? The whole scene feels at odds with the rest of the film. Sure, it's cute and we're seeing their relationship grow I guess, but they're meant to be out there finding clues and solving mysteries! This is the last 20 minutes after all. And who, who in the name of god keeps all four burners going on their stove at once?! To feed two/TWO people?!
While 'Holmes' and Watson go visiting every crackpot in New York based on the most = of clues, there's a subplot with his brother showing a very real real threat. He owes money to these gangsters from what I could tell. We don't really get much information. We never find out who they are, and after the greenhouse confrontation they're never seen or heard from again. Neither is Justin's brother for that matter! There's a lot this film needed to wrap up, but never bothers to. [I wonder if the writer had trouble with it, because] the story seems to meander around a little meaninglessly, and not enough happens to really sustain the narrative
There's a lot of characters here, and most only get one scene, before coming back together for the supermarket battle. Justin Playfair makes for an ok Sherlock Holmes, but he makes tons of deductions without ever explaining it, so it comes across as magic more than logic. Honestly the character and canon of Holmes really doesn't provide much here, besides the omnipotent Moriarty. Mildred Watson is an ok sidekick, although I can't decide if her constant flip-flopping makes sense, or is annoying. The remainder of the characters are mixed. Some ok, some bad, some decent.
The comedy in They Might be Giants is pretty lousy. Some scenes are alright, but others I felt were too cartoony, and came off like they were trying too hard, or not enough. The worst [comedy scene] is by far the supermarket scene at the climax! Absurdly over-the-top, too stupid for words, and solving nothing,
Here's what I find to be the film's lowest moment however! The movie's final moments are a ridiculous non-ending. Skilled authors can craft [endings] such as these brilliantly, such as Edgar Allan Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym (apologies for the mouthful!). Where they succeed and this one fails is that they have enough details and elements] for you to make a genuine conclusion, or perhaps multiple. They Might be Giants instead felt lazy to me, like the writer didn't want to actually answer the deeper meanings of life but instead = with a cop out. There's a flash of light, and the implication that 'We all have, like, our own Moriarty, man, and struggling against an unseen foe makes us feel alive!]', but it feels unearned, because the film hasn't actually done anything! It was telling a story, then it just cuts off when thinks might've gotten more interesting and thought-provoking! I understand that some might feel these questions are too big to answer, but to that I say-Silly. This is a story! Try! After all, even if your theory = is wrong, at least you took the trouble to think of one, and you might inspire the audience to think of their own too]/regardless!
There's another issue I have with this ending however, and it blows the other one out of the water. Getting into brief spoilers, after a whole film of showing Justin to be a font of wisdom, truly the only sane man, who helps and inspires everyone he meets, he thinks he sees Moriarty on a train track, and gets himself and Watson killed! The two walk into a railway(?) tunnel, both now claiming to see and hear Moriarty coming, then they're suddenly enveloped in light. Ergo, the headlights of a train just before it flattens them! Dialogue from Holmes supports the possibility that they're about to die! I don't think/know if this was intentional, because I can't overstate how thoroughly it completely undermines the whole message of the film! That the supposedly 'insane' people are the true wise men of society...Then the guy's illness makes him and his friend accidentally commit suicide?! What the hell kind of message is that? Was the author high? Stupid? Did he let some stranger write the ending?! Whatever the case, this utterly ruins the film.
They Might be Giants isn't paced terribly, and each scene moves by quickly enough even if they're not the most entertaining. The music here is sometimes schmaltzy, but otherwise ok, and there are some intriguing tunes here and there. The locale of New York is a little boring to me for a Sherlock Holmes story (even a fake one such as this), as well as ill-fitting for an artistic story. I'm sorry America, but your cities just can't handle art! They're too normal!
The actors here do ok to decent jobs. George C. Scott does a lot right, and I applaud him for taking on a role like this. He was always a cool dude! The film didn't let him live up to his full potential, I felt, but he's still fine, even if his English accent slips every now and then (which I suppose makes sense here?). Joanne Woodward is a nice foil, and plays her role well. Jack Gilford is a nice presence,and despite some strange deliveries at times I mostly liked him. Rue McClanahan is amusing, while Kitty Wynn is as beautiful as ever in her short role. Ron Weyand however is pretty terrible as the bad doctor and his lousy Southern accent.
Overall, there's not a lot to recommend in They Might be Giants. It's not without some positives, even if they're only little, but none of them are able to save it in my eyes. A stupid, irresponsible film that fails as a pastiche, a Sherlock Holmes film