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Entries in review (3)

Saturday
Dec152018

Thar B Spoilers Review: Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) Script

Last year for the holidays I ventured into the “Realm of the Forgotten” again and talked about the forgotten oscar winning tv animated short film version of “A Christmas Carol”.  How did that work out(shows pathetic view number,  play sad sax music)?  Uh yeah…well since I’m a Taurus and that makes me a bit of a knuckle head I’m going to try again.  This time with “The Nutcracker”!  Well, it makes a bit of sense.  A recent adaptation of the story just came and went in the theaters last month.  Plus when you think nutcracker you think of the holidays right?  This version however is a tad different.  In what way?  How about someone known as the Rag Man turning kids into mice if they don’t go to bed on time?

 

Interested?

 

First some backstory.  Author E. T. A. Hoffman originally wrote a (short) story in 1816 called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” which followed a young girl and her toy nutcracker battling a heinous Mouse King as well as said nutcracker whisking her to a enchanted land inhabited by dolls.  In 1882 composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky(along with Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Alexandre Dumas(he adapted the story)into a ballet only called “The Nutcracker”).  *In 1882 a ballet was made based off of the story.*

 

The story has been adapted who knows how many times since then.  The most well known versions done however are probably a segment from “Fantasia”, “Nutcracker The Motion Picture”(1986), Holiday performances held across the world to some of the most eyebrow raising ones were (ex.) “Care Bears Nutcracker Suite”(1988), “The Nutcracker in 3D”(2010), “Barbie in the Nutcracker”(2001) to this version “Nutcracker Fantasy”(1979) and that’s the one that I’m tackling today.

 

This is an odd take on the story.  It uses some to the framework of the initial tale and them makes a run for it.  Also this is a stop motion animated film.

 

The film opens with an adult Clara recounting the tale(play some narration).  Welp!  I guess I know that she’s going to make it to the end then!  We’re introduced immediately to “The Evil Ragman” and it looks like he graduated from “CREEPER SCHOOL” with honors!  He creeps around looking for any kids that stay up too late and turns them into mice and then tosses them into his sack.  A couple questions: 1. Why ONLY KIDS?  2.  What, are the parents just fine with this practice?  What happens when they come in the morning with their kids missing?  Are they just going to shrug their shoulders and say “That brat got just what he deserved!”?  Also where is the FBI, MIB or BPRD when you really need them?! 

 

(02:47) I find it interesting that they call this Nutcracker Fantasy.  Isn’t that redundant?   Of course it’s a fantasy.  Since when have living toys and magical creepers not been a fantasy(ohh…yeah…)?  Anna is told to go to bed by here aunt but she’s too excited because her childhood friend Fritz is coming to visit tomorrow.  (03:32)It’s around this time I’ve noticed a couple of things.  One, Anna’s image of Fritz looks like a bishonen character from Utena!  Two, the design of all of the characters is off putting.  I didn’t know why at first but now I do.  No one blinks their eye’s!  Every character has the same thousand mile stare.  There is also a lack of movement with the faces.  Because of this the characters have a disturbing feel to them.  I haven’t heard a lot about this film but what I have heard is that it’s crazy.  I’m thinking the appearance of the puppets has something to do with that.

 

Well after Clara claims there ain’t no Ragman and I’m adult she’ll stay up as long as she wants(play lonely island song)she then like a scaredy cat she hops in bed and closes her eyes(?)!(04:31)  Wait, why after almost 5 mins did the animators decide now was the time to show animation?  Sigh, you know if I keep asking questions this review will be one hour long.  Which isn’t good since the film is only 1 hour 13 mins long!

 

Over the next few mins Uncle Drosselmeyer does his best ragman impersonation to creep out Clara, argues with his wife and just acts weird.  It’s here where Clara get’s the titular nutcracker(why was he shot creepily at a dutch angle at (07:00)?!)during which Uncle Drosselmeyer explains that while he is a clock maker his true love is doll making(he also states that something isn’t right about the doll he gave her).  Clara’s reaction to this is your 8th and 9th nightmare for tonight.  What’s worse about this horrifying image is they reuse this shot about 5 seconds later(08:09)!  After Uncle Drosselmeyer acts creepy one more time Clara falls asleep via a 1970’s rock ballad (09:30).  The song is pretty good(even though it explains everything that is happening on the screen at the time!) Unfortunately the song ends and Clara wakes up noticing that some rotten mice just kidnapped her doll.

 

She very stilted-ly chases after them.  She saves the doll but it looks like the mice got away and then this happens(12:10).  What the hell is going on?!  Who is this?(play We are siamese if you please)  Okay just how far are we into this film.  13:10(ding sound effects)  I’m not sure I’m going to make it the next hour.  I know there both different types of film but I’m starting to get “Abar The First Black Superman” flashbacks now.  Okay so I don’t know if I’m tripping or if the film is here.  This, these ladies(?) order the mice to get the doll and suddenly the nutcracker comes to life and this leads to the laziest most anticlimactic fight in history(13:35).  During this Clara falls asleep and wakes up with the nutcracker gone.  So we’re not going to see the conclusion to the fight then?  Sigh, fine!

 

(15:08)  Okay with the playing of the nutcracker and the aunt walking like this towards Clara I defy anyone to tell me this isn’t a horror film!  It seems Clara is sick now so the aunt goes to get a doctor and I really didn’t think I’d see the day were the Filmation and Hanna Barbera practice of limited animation would make it’s way to stop motion but, man(16:17)!  So anyway Clara falls asleep and she seems to be having visions from the previous night.  She climbs into the downstairs clock when she thinks she sees her uncle(18:00).  She continues to chase his image until she winds up in a castle I think and in a room with pictures of her.  A bunch of women and a king greet her and says that she’s his daughter named Mary(22:11).  The king doesn’t take her presence too well.  Okay the king gives Clara the lowdown about what’s happened.  That 2 headed rat witch thing from earlier is name Morphea and she went to war with the king.  He lost because he soldiers are wind up toys and they unwound themselves.  DESIGN FLAW!!!  How did he not see that happening from the beginning?!(24:30)  As part an agreement the Queen insisted on an arranged marriage with her son and his daughter.  He said NAH and she very sensibly turned his daughter into a mouse and put her to sleep to this day.  (25:43) Okay so after seeing Fritz as a soldier to the doll kingdom Clara is just not going to say or do anything?  Really?  Oh, brother.

 

Then for the next 2 mins what I can only describe as nonsensical nonsense occurs.  (27:58)After a bunch of random things happening finally the Russian stereotype states that he has a plan to wake the princess.  AH!  So that’s what’s supposed to be going on?  Then what was all of the dancing and a robot cat chasing a toy mouse for?!  Was there an actual script to this movie or was everything done in a stream of consciousness way?  Don’t believe me?  For the next several minutes we have characters wanting to chop off peoples heads, say sonnets, do explosive experiments and run around kissing everyone in order to wake up and change the princess back to normal(32:00)!

Tuesday
Apr242018

VENOM OFFICIAL TRAILER IMMEDIATE THOUGHTS

VENOM OFFICIAL TRAILER THOUGHTS

 

Well, this is better.  The difference between this and the teaser trailer is huge.  I felt the the teaser trailer seemed unfinished a and was basically just a couple characters running around and the studio saying: “Eh, the sfx would be added in later” and I was right.  I do wonder why SONY decided to release this trailer now?  Were they confident with the footage they have now?  Or are they trying to bandwagon on any good will “AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR” will have this week(also since Spidey will play a part in that film even though in the Venom universe(ugh)I don’t believe Spider-Man exists).  

 

Well let’s look at some pro’s & con’s of the trailer.  

 

PRO:  

 

We get a better idea of the story.  Reporter Eddie Brock is investigating the nefarious dealings of the “LIGHT” company.  They have symboite’s and want to use them to help spearhead human evolution(I don’t think they know what evolution means).  They try to prevent Eddie reporting on this and he get’s one of the symboite’s inside of him wackiness ensues.

 

The Look of Venom.  I’m okay with the look for 2 reasons.  

 

1. I liked the look of Venom in Spider-Man 3.  So this film resembling that one isn’t a problem for me.  

2. While it does look unfinished the film comes out in about 5 months so I’m sure the effects of the suit will continued to be worked on.

 

Using aspects of the comic.  Well really only one thing.  The Light company.  They play a big part in Venom’s and the symboite’s history.  Adding them in as the main villain is a good idea if you’re not going to add in any other part of Spider-Man’s universe.

 

The feel of the trailer…at first. For about the first 45 seconds this looked and felt like a horror film.  That would actually work because when Venom first appeared in comics his appearance was shrouded in darkness and there was a horror movie feel to his presence.

 

CON:

 

After about 45 seconds this looks like a generic action film.  Segueing from the horror feel of the 1st half of the trailer to the action of the 2nd half felt haphazard.  It looks like this becomes a chase film.  Which I like and which sounds good however if the film-makers utilize all of Venom’s powers then that means he can camouflage and even turn invisible.  That makes chasing him difficult and usually a pointless endeavor.

 

The design & creation.  The lack of the white spider on his body(which granted could come later)and that ridiculous tongue.  I’ve never liked it in the comics.  It always came off as too silly to me.  Most people probably won’t remember this but that flapping tongue was there in his first appearance in the comics or the first time he battled Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man #300.  The rumors about Peter Parker existing in this films universe have been all over the place.  Sometimes we’re told he isn’t in the film other times we’re told he makes a cameo.  Either way Peter won’t play a role in Venom’s origin.  Which will make major parts of of Venom’s identity questionable.  Here’s what I mean.  Venom’s powers are based off of Peter’s(spider-sense, wall crawling, agility, etc.)  The symboite and the race that it comes from in the comics replicates whatever abilities it’s host has.  So without a spider-man how will the film explain why Venom has the powers that he has?  Will all the symboites(because it looks like there are going to be at least a couple more in the film)have the same powers?  Will the other symboite’s spin off from Venom just as Carnage did in the comics?

 

Story and sequel potential.  The story doesn’t look that interesting.  Also where can it go if Venom is the only meta-human in on the planet?  No one will be able to take him down.  Will Venom’s villains in possible sequels be other symboite’s?  Like Carnage, Hybrid or Anti-Venom?  Sony is trying to make other films with Spider-Man characters but have them exist in their own universe.  This stymies their growth as a franchise.  If they never run into Spider-Man or even each other they lose a bit of their uniqueness.  A big part of what makes these characters great is how they affect Peter Parker and his larger universe.  With the way Sony is working with these Spider Man “spin-offs” is the equivalent of making a Lex Luthor film and having Superman never existing in it.  Or better yet it’s like having a “JOKER” tv show but Batman doesn’t exist…oh wait that’s “GOTHAM”.

 

Despite my initial and current feelings on this property I will still give it a chance.  After all the director Ruben Fleischer did direct “Zombieland”(well he also directed “Gangster Squad”).  The writers wrote “Beautiful Girls” and “High Fidelity”  but they also they did “Kangaroo Jack”, “Fifty Shades of Grey” & “Gangster Squad”.

 

Uh-oh.

 

MUSIC USED:

“RUN”

“BLOCKBUSTER”

Tuesday
Feb202018

EARLY MAN (2018) Movie Review

BEFORE I BEGIN:

 

The reason I went to see “EARLY MAN” was two fold.  1. If I don’t then who else will?  I mean look at the box office it’s predictably bombing big time.  2.  After reviewing the dumpster fire that is “GOBOTS: BATTLE OF THE ROCK LORDS” I needed to see something good.  Even if this was the worst Ardaman film that would still be 10 times better than the GOBOTS!

 

One last thing when I came into the theater no-one was there.  Heck about 5mins before the film begin no-one was there.  Eventually people did come in(and a family left before the climax)but there was about the same amount of people here that were at my screening of “KUBO OF THE TWO STRINGS” but less than “THE EMOJI MOVIE”.

 

STORY

 

After the opening where we see a group of cave people create Futbol we then skip to see perhaps the last survivors of the stone age get run out of their home by the bronze age or rather the local governor searching for more bronze.  In order to get their land back the young stone boy(?) Dug challenges the Governor’s top team to a futbol match.  If the lose they have work in the mines.  Oh there’s also a 50ft. duck with sharp teeth running around for some reason!

 

THE GOOD 

 

Good integration of 2D, Stop motion and CGI.  During the credits there was one for pyrotechnics.  That surprised me because I thought the explosions were all cgi.  Now knowing that they all weren’t impresses me even more.   I enjoyed the characters.  While they didn’t have deep characterizations they were all fun.  None of their quirks were overdone. I really liked the main character Dug.  He was smart but not overbearing.  Relatable and had a good spirit to him.  Here’s something I didn’t think I’d compliment, the voice acting.  Yes this has a few celeb voice but I didn’t realize that it was them.  That’s awesome because I’ve always felt that in voice acting you should be playing a character and not yourself. After all once a film comes out who remembers the celeb that voiced what role?  There are also some great visual gags.  Some are even funnier if your a fan of futbol(soccer).  I also liked how well constructed the world was.  There were some funny visual gags that came from how the world was built.

 

THE BAD

 

It was predictable in parts.  In some ways it was WAY to obvious.  I understand that this is for kids but kids, even young ones are more sophisticated than adults give them credit for.  While I really enjoyed the film I think it will leave a lot of American movie goers cold because it has soccer in it and Americans don’t love the sport(even though kids play it when their younger).  There are a bunch of quick jokes about the sport both verbal and visual that if you don’t know anything soccer it you’ll just be scratching your head.

 

RECOMMEND:  YES a little.

 

While I didn’t laugh at loud any point I did smile a lot and chuckle a good number of times.  It’s not Aardman’s best film.  I would put “Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and the “Shaun the Sheep Movie” ahead of it.  I would put this on the same level of “Pirates: Band of Misfits”.  That said I still found it enjoyable but I get the feeling that this film won’t find it’s audience.  Not in America at least.  There are critics saying that after “Paddington 2” and “Peter Rabbit” there aren’t any other family films.  Uh, actually their are.  Yeesh, if even critics don’t know that this film is out then what chance those it have?  “EARLY MAN” won’t do well at the box office.  One reason is it came out too late or too early(too early? early man? was that an unintentional joke?)If this came out in January or August or September it might’ve had a better shot.  this came out the week of the “Black Panther” premiere and Peter Rabbit is in it’s 2nd week with very little box office drop off. When you also factor in “50 Shades Freed”, “The Greatest Showman” and “Paddington 2” there isn’t enough money to go around.

 

However this film has a bigger problem which isn’t it’s fault.  It’s stop-motion.  The American movie going audience doesn’t like stop motion animated film.  At first I thought it was just because of the creepy aesthetic of the films of Studio Laika.  Except Aarman has a different feel and also looks more claymation than puppet.  It doesn’t matter.  While occasionally there have been a few hits(“Corpse Bride”(well it made it’s money back),”Chicken Run”, “Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “A Nightmare Before Christmas”)in the domestic box office, Americans just don’t like the style and prefer the comfort of CGI now(which odd since CGI ages way faster and stop motion tends to be ageless).  

 

Even though the film is bombing I hope it’ll find an audience overseas.  As for people thinking “Oh your wrong the American audience doesn’t just go for CGI films!  Their more diverse than that!” Well we’ll find out this year won’t we?  During the previews they showed trailers for “Isle of Dogs” and the next “Shaun the Sheep” movie.  If either or both are a success here then I will be incredibly happy that I’m wrong but I’m betting that I’m not.