Posts from the ‘Movie Reviews’ Category

The Red Balloon

Here’s a French film from the 1950s that I remember vaguely watching as a child. This short film from Albert Lamorisse is probably one of the most famous children’s films of all time.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda film poster, with Po in the middle.

Image via Wikipedia

On Tuesday I saw Kung Fu Panda 2. I enjoyed the film a great deal, but I’d have to say that the original film is a bit better. I love Jack Black but think that James Hong as Po’s father Mr Ping is hilarious.

One thing I thought was interesting was the use of 2D animation in different parts (mainly flashbacks) of the film.

RIP Peter Falk

Peter Falk has passed away at the age of 53. ‘P’ and I used to love watching episodes of Columbo on TV1 on Foxtel together. Columbo was one of those great characters. He had a lot of good movie roles in films such as It’s a Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race, and Murder By Death and of course The Princess Bride.

The Hand Behind The Mouse – The Ub Iwerks Story

Ub Iwerks

Image via Wikipedia

This excellent documentary by Leslie Iwerks (grand-daughter of Ub) is about the legendary animation pioneer Ub Iwerks, the man who not only created Mickey Mouse and single-handedly animated the mouses‘ first few cartoons, but made so many other technical contributions to movie making in general. This documentary was included as an extra on the Walt Disney Treasures’ Oswald The Lucky Rabbit dvd box set.

The documentary rightly concentrates mostly on Ub’s contribution to animation, thoroughly examining his first meeting with Walt Disney, his work on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse and the Silly Symphonies, and then his branching out onto his own away from Disney. It gives a fascinating insight into the animation industry at its beginning, and about the relationship between Ub and Walt. It also examines the underhanded way that Charles Mintz stole Oswald and most of Disney’s animators from Walt, although with the exception of Hugh Harmon, none of these other animators (Rudy Ising and Friz Freleng) are mentioned.

One thing that I was a little disappointed with was the way in which it skipped hurriedly through the technical innovations Iwerks made, such as the development of the multiplane animation camera, developing the processes for combining live action and animation, the xerographic process adapted for cel animation, the work he did to develop the rides at Disneyland, and the special effects work he did on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. These are mentioned briefly but get nowhere near as much time as his animation career does.

Overall it is a great documentary with a lot of information about one of the greats of animation. It is narrated by Kelsey Grammer and is a must watch for anyone who is interested in how the Disney story all began.

Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

Jack Sparrow

Image via Wikipedia

And while I am reviewing movies that I have seen recently I may as well review the latest installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides. I saw this about a month or so ago wiuth ‘P’, on the day it was released in cinemas. The best thing that I can say about the film is that it is much better than parts two and three but still nowhere as good as the original Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s always good to see Johnny Depp playing Captain Jack Sparrow and I do like Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa and Penelope Cruz as Angelica. Whilst the film is at times quite exciting it is rather over-long and a bit silly. It’s still enjoyable, if only for Depp and Cruz, but it is not as great as the original film.

Father of the Bride

Cover of "Father of the Bride (Keepcase)&...

Cover of Father of the Bride (Keepcase)

“I would like to say a few words about weddings. I’ve just been through one. Not my own. My daughter’s. Someday in the far future I may be able to remember it with tender indulgence, but not now. I always used to think that marriages were a simple affair. Boy meets girl. Fall in love. They get married. Have babies. Eventually the babies grow up and meet other babies. They fall in love. Get married. Have babies. And so on and on and on. Looked at that way, it’s not only simple, it’s downright monotonous. But I was wrong. I figured without the wedding.”

The other night I watched the Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor version of Father of the Bride. I thought it was very funny, especially Spence as the father Stan, who was losing his little girl to her new husband. I though that his dialogue was very witty and you could empathise with his feelings about his now grown up daughter.

“You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. She looks up to you. You’re her oracle. You’re her hero. And then the day comes when she gets her first permanent wave and goes to her first real party, and from that day on, you’re in a constant state of panic.”

Elizabeth Taylor is stunningly beautiful as Kay, Stan’s only daughter who is about to be married off. Much credit has to be given to Vincent Minelli’s direction, as when we see Kay in her wedding dress in three mirrors no less, she is just gorgeous. But Tracy is the real standout in the film. He brings great warmth, wit and empathy to the role of Stan. Some of the little one-liners that he made had me chuckling out loud. I think I prefer this version to the Steve Martin film from the 1990s.

African Cats

I am a sucker for animal documentaries, although I am not such a big fan of those on Animal Planet for some reason. I do like the old school Disney documentaries from the True Life Adventure series. This film, which was released in American on April 22nd (Earth Day) won’t be released in Australia until August. By that time it should already be available from Amazon on DVD.

And in 2012 more cute African animals will hit the screen with Disney’s Chimpanzee.

I also did not know that my birthday is also Earth Day.


Cover of "Help! (Deluxe Edition)"

Cover of Help! (Deluxe Edition)

Help! was The Beatles second movie. Unlike the earlier A Hard Day’s Night, Help! was filmed in colour. Unlike A Hard Day’s Night, Help! featured a silly plot in which Ringo‘s life is in danger due to some Eastern cult. The plot is just silly but the songs are again fantastic. Included this time around are Help!, Ticket To Ride, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, You’re Going To Lose That Girl and The Night Before, all guaranteed to get you at least tapping your feet if not singing along. This is John, Paul, George and Ringo in great form and a very good film. Perhaps my favourite Beatles movie.

Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Cover of "Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of...

Cover via Amazon

I love stop-motion animation, whether it is King Kong climbing the Empire State Building, Jason and the Argonauts fighting of a marauding band of sword wielding skeletons, or Wallace and Gromit flying to the moon to get some cheese. I’m not exactly sure why the reason this is though. Perhaps I just appreciate the pain-staking efforts that the animators go to bring an inanimate lump of clay to life. I know that I would be extremely frustrated if I laboured for a whole day and only had three seconds of film to show for it. I feel sad that stop-motion animation and traditional hand-drawn animation have largely been replaced by CGI, whilst I absolutely loathe motion-capture animation. (Yes, James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis, motion-capture is a form of animation, regardless of what you say. It is also a very poor cheating form of animation!)

In recent years stop-mo has undergone a bit of a renaissance. In 2009 Henry Sellick released his brilliant animated version of Alan Moore’s Coraline to great acclaim, whilst Wes Anderson’s version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox was also very good. Britain’s Aardman Animation have been at the forefront of stop-motion animation for the last two decade thanks to Wallace and Gromit.

Curse of the Were-Rabbit is Wallace & Gromit’s first foray into feature-length films. Aardman were previously responsible for the great Chicken Run in 2000, but Wallace & Gromit have been around since the early 90s thanks to great short films like A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. A Grand Day Out was nominated for the Academy Award for best animated short film in 1993, whilst both A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers later won this award.

Whilst I probably do prefer the shorts and Chicken Run to Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it is still a great movie to watch. The animation is great, as it always is from Aardman, and Wallace & Gromit are as enjoyable as ever. However I do think that perhaps they are both more suited to short films than feature-length ones.

A Hard Day’s Night

Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

A Hard Day’s Night was The Beatles debut film. It’s quite a funny, silly film, full of great music. John, Paul, George and Ringo aren’t great actors, but they certainly looked like they were having a lot of fun, as was Wilfred Bramble as Paul’s Grandfather.This is the film that is about a fictional day in the boy’s lives and features the title song, as well as I Should Have Known Better, Can’t Buy Me  Love, And I Love Her and She Loves You. I probably prefer the silliness of  Help! to this one, but A Hard Day’s Night is still a great film.

I love The Beatles. I have been listening to their music since the day that I was born, thanks to my parents. In fact I think I knew all the words to most of their songs by the time I was five. Whilst kids today listen to crap like Lady Gaga, and the previous generation listened to The Wiggles, I grew up with the Fab Four. In fact, I have only ever met one person who disliked The Beatles, and they had such abysmal taste in music that their opinion meant nothing anyway.