classic, film, musical, must see

Movie Review: Quest for Camelot

I bet I know what you are thinking: “What is this Disney Movie and why haven’t I heard of it?” Hate to burst your bubble, but this is not a Disney movie it’s Warner Bros. (though given it was 1998 during Disney renaissance I can understand the confusion.) Unfortunately the film did not do as well as Warner Bros. would have liked, both box office and critically, and the studio ended up loosing $40 million. However the film did develop a bit of a following after the success of the soundtrack and while probably not a must watch for a kid it is still enjoyable. Spoilers ahead.

Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig as an adult, Sarah Rayne as a child and Andrea Corr singing) wants to be a knight like her father Sir Lionel (Gabriel Byrne), a knight for the Round Table, yes King Arthur’s round table. During a meeting Ruber (Gary Oldman), a knight desiring to be king, tries to kill Arthur (Pierce Brosnan and Steve Perry singing) but Sir Lionel saves Arthur at the cost of his life. Years later Ruber returns to take over by stealing Arthur’s sword Excalibur. Ruber’s griffin (Bronson Pinchot) does steal the sword, but thanks to Merlin (John Gielgud)’s falcon Ayden (Frank Welker) the sword falls into the forbidden forest. Ruber seizes his army, including the comical rooster Bladebeak (Jaleel White) and Kayley’s mother Juliana (Jane Seymour with Celine Dion (yes that Celine Dion) singing) to gain entry into Camelot. Kayley escapes and decides to go after the sword, gaining allies in Garrett (Carey Elwes with Bryan White singing) a blind hermit and a two headed dragon Devon and Cornwall (Eric Idle and Don Rickles) in her quest.

This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and I still watch it every now and then. I am a huge fan of the Arthur myth and while I haven’t seen every version this is probably my favorite of the ones I’ve watched; which includes The Sword in the Stone. I get why the story itself gets a lot of grief, but as a kid I didn’t mind.

However the most successful part of the movie is the soundtrack, with spectacular songs. Here are some of my favorites: “On my Father’s Wings” by Kayley as she grieves for her father and how much she wants to keep him alive through her, “I Stand Alone” is Garret’s song about how he doesn’t play well with others, there is a reprise when he doesn’t feel good enough for Kayley and “Looking through Your Eyes” a romantic duet between Kayley and Garret as they fall in love. The most famous song from the soundtrack is Julianna’s number, you may have heard of it, “The Prayer.” That’s right people, the song famously covered by Celine Dion, Andrea Bochelli, Josh Groban and just about everyone doing an opera number on the talent shows came from this little known movie. First time I heard this song outside the movie I thought, “this cannot be the same song I heard” but no it was and I could not have been more gleeful. Whenever someone tells me they haven’t heard of the movie but the song I always say check it out, and I’m telling you the same thing. Regardless if you are a kid or an adult this movie is great and I highly recommend it.

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DC Films, film, must see

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

My family really enjoys the comic book franchises, movies and TV shows, and we watch almost all of them. I will go into more at a later time, but today I wanted to do the movie everyone was talking about and in my opinion lived up to it’s hype: Wonder Woman. If you have not seen the movie, spoilers will be ahead.

The only child on the island of Themsycira, Diana is raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) of the Amazons and trained by her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). Hippolyta doesn’t want Diana to fight as in their past fighting the God of War Ares, who may still be alive after being wounded by Zeus. The Amazons are always ready for a fight and Diana grows up to become to a beautiful and tough woman (Gal Gadot), and a fight comes very soon for Diana. A plane crashes on the island and Diana rescues the pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Unfortunately he was followed by an army of bad guys and many Amazons are killed; including Antiope. Trevor soon reveals, under the lasso of truth, that he is a spy who stole a notebook providing clues to an even deadlier poison gas which would give the Germans victory. Believing Ares is responsible for the war and how evil man is Diana leaves the island to kill Ares with Trevor. Suddenly Diana realizes the world and man are not what she always thought they would be as she fights the war and falls for Trevor. And that is about as far as i can go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

Wonder Woman has been an icon for woman since 1942 and for years a live action adaption seemed to just stay in developmental hell, a term used for movies just waiting for a studio to take the chance. While there was the successful TV series with Linda Carter, her appearances of animated shows and a direct to DVD movie, it seemed Wonder Woman would not get her on-screen due. Until Batman vs. Superman when the world was re-introduced to Gal Gadot (unless they were familiar with the Fast and the Furious franchise) as the Amazon princess. It wasn’t too long before Wonder Woman finally had the on-screen treatment the character and audience deserved.

After looking at the many actresses that could have been Wonder Woman over the years I can honestly say no one could have done a better job than Gal Gadot. She is beautiful, she is fit (which when you play Wonder Woman you have to be) and is an amazing actress. Chris Pine was absolutely perfect as Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s constant love interest in almost all adaptions, and while I am not sure of his future with the franchise I hope we see him in some capacity or another. Robin Wright may be on screen for a short amount of time but she definitely left a lasting impression. Someone did a post on Facebook where they had pictures of Robin Wright and Carrie Fisher as Buttercup and Leia, showing them as princesses in the 80’s, but leaders and generals today. The rest of the cast is superb, some are funny and others are just so rotten.

I absolutely loved this movie and I cannot wait to see more of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Justice League and the sequel whenever that may be.

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classic, Disney, film, must see

Movie Review: Disney’s The Black Cauldron

Haven’t heard of this movie; doesn’t surprise me. Released in 1985 and loosely based on two books in The Chronicle of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, “The Black Cauldron” is considered to be Disney’s black sheep. It did not do very well at the box office and well it is not something Disney is not too well known for: dark. Once again spoilers will be ahead.

The film opens with the explanation of the mythic Black Cauldron. There was a king so cruel, even Gods feared him. As no prison could hold him he was thrown alive into molten iron. This demonic spirit took form of the Black Cauldron. The legend goes on to say it waits for the most evil man to use it and raise an undead army to take over the world (yep this is a kid’s movie.)

Centuries go by and the story fades into legend, until the Horned King (John Hurt) the skeleton and cruel ruler of Prydain searches for the Cauldron. Dallben (Freddie Jones), an enchanted farmer, fears the Horned King will steal his pig Hen Wen as she has powers able to locate the cauldron. He sends his assistant Taren (Grant Bardsley), who dreams of becoming a hero, to take care of Hen Wen. However the boy daydreams too much, not to mention gets annoyed by Gurgi (John Byner) a creature living in the forest, and Hen Wen is captured. Despite breaking in and freeing Hen Wen, Taren earths the Horned King’s wrath. Along with Gurgi, the magical princess Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan), the middle age musician Fflewddur Fflam (Nigel Hawthorne) and a magical sword, Taren decides to find the Cauldron and destroy it before the Horned King can use it for his evil plan. Along the way Taren learns being a hero doesn’t mean having a sword and wearing a suit of armor.

If I were to say what was my favorite Disney movie of all time this might just be it, or top 3 easy and I’m someone who doesn’t like to get scared. I watched this for the first time when I was 4 maybe 5 and it scared the heck out of me, some of it still does! Don’t believe me, google a picture of the Horned King. The guy is a skeleton with bits of flesh on him, has horns sticking out of his head and his voice is CREEPY (bravo to John Hurt by the way.) As far as Disney villains go this guy deserves more recognition. He wants to take over the world with an undead army!

The other characters stand out just as much as the King. Taren is the boy who knows there is more outside the farm and wants it, bet he didn’t expect that adventure he got. Eilonwy is just as much a princess as the official list (because of the poor box office she is not on the list) and is most definitely not a damsel in distress. Fflewddur is the comic relief of the group, which at times is necessary. Finally Gurgi while at times a pest is shown to be the bravest of them all, can’t say why though sorry.

I understand why this film did not do too well at the box office, when you think Disney “dark” is not the first word to come to mind with their movies. The film did gain a cult following and might be the only reason why someone like me can watch the movie. However it doesn’t mean this film is not worth the watch because it truly is. I always recommend people to watch the lesser known Disney films because they are good, might not follow the success as Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and others but they are worth the watch. I will go into more of those at a later time, but for now I highly recommend watching this kinda scary Disney film.

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based on true story, tv shows

TV Show Review: Law and Order: True Crime

As the franchise has been around since the 1990’s at some point we’ve all watch an episode of Law & Order. Whether it was the original, Criminal Intent or SVU; Law and Order is an iconic television franchise (yes understatement of the century I know.) The latest Law & Order series premiered over a week ago, and so far it has the potential to be another hit for Dick Wolf.

Law & Order: True Crime is what the title says, following the true crime cases that have made headlines. While some characters and plot were added to make the story more interesting, the case itself has not changed. The eight episode first season is all about The Menendez Murders, two brothers Lyle and Erik who killed their parents and the trials that had everyone in America glued to court TV. Edie Falco stars as the boys defense attorney Leslie Abramson who was determined to free the boys by bringing to light what their father did to them.

Now I’ll admit this concept is not original; there has been many shows depicting other true crime cases (American Crime Story comes to mind) and the unnecessary adding makes those who may not have followed the case confused. However Edie Falco is a standout, whenever she is on screen my eyes and ears are wide open. I also thought it was smart to go with a case nearly everyone has heard of but not done to death in recent years, like the OJ trial or JonBenet Ramsey. I think Dick Wolf knew what Ryan Murphy did with American Crime Story with the OJ trial and the upcoming Gianni Versace murder and others and decided to focus on trial cases. I do hope this series does well, but I think because of other shows are doing exactly this concept my hopes are not too high. However if this show does get renewed I wonder what cases Mr. Wolf has up his sleeve. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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tv shows

TV Show Review: The Good Doctor

I had an English teacher who always told me when it comes to writing the first sentence has to hook the reader; if you cannot grab the reader’s attention they will not read the rest of what you have to say. I bet I know what you are thinking: what does this have to do with a TV show? Answer: everything. If a promo for a new show can get your attention within the first ten seconds it has done the job. The first few moments of the promo I saw advertising “The Good Doctor” had me hooked to the screen. I had to watch the pilot to know more. After I could not believe what I saw; I will try to be spoiler free.

Freddie Highmore, best known for his role as Norman Bates in “Bates Motel”, portrays Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young man with autism and savant syndrome. Dr. Murphy was on his way to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital for a surgical residency position when an accident forced him to help save a boy’s life. Meanwhile the hospital board was skeptical of hiring Dr. Murphy because of his disabilities; Dr. Marcus Andrews (CSI: New York star Hill Harper) leading the charge. However Board President Dr. Aaron Glassman (Emmy winner Richard Schiff) has known Dr. Murphy since he was 14 and knows what the young man has gone through to get to where he is, and wants to show others like Shaun that they have just as much of a chance. While it took convincing and saving the boy’s life Dr. Murphy is hired, much to the dismay it seems of Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) an overconfident surgeon. Dr. Murphy does get some friends along the way including Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas.)

If you have looked at my page or first blog post you know exactly why this show means so much to me. That being said I will say seeing Highmore portray Dr. Murphy was very surprising. No case of autism is the same and to add savant syndrome makes Dr. Murphy an interesting character. I have not seen a TV character like him; which was the goal of the people behind the show. Not going to lie seeing how others treated Dr. Murphy prior to him being hired and even in the flashbacks of him as a kid almost broke my heart, but I knew going into the show this was going to happen. I have only watched the pilot, the second episode is currently on my DVR, but in my opinion so far this show is worth watching. Critics have been a little mixed on the show, which I can understand given other medical dramas, and that is fine. All I ask for you is to watch the pilot and see if “The Good Doctor” is worth checking out.

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film

Movie Review: Home Again

Once again my friend and I saw a movie on a whim, and we were not disappointed, also thought I should add some current still in theater movies.  I love Reese Witherspoon and while this may not be her best role, she still shines. I am going to be spoiler free as much as I can as this is still showing.

Alice Kinney (Witherspoon) is a newly separated 40 year old mother of two girls who is trying to get her life back on track. Her ex-husband (Michael Sheen) is constantly busy and apparently doesn’t have time for the girls. Alice is barely keeping it together when one night she meets three 20 something guys: Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff); three aspiring filmmakers having trouble finding a place to stay. Alice allows them to stay in her guest house after seeing how well they get along with her girls and it’s not long before they become an unconventional family. When the ex gets wind of three good looking young guys living with his family, and one of them is interested in his wife, let’s just say he becomes free. This is about as far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

Now will this go down as Reese Witherspoon’s best work; no, not even close Legally Blonde is her best work. However Witherspoon is a great actress, my opinion one of the best today, and she does a great job in this movie. She may know what her character was experiencing with her first divorce and being a single mom for a while and may have channeled it into her character, I cannot confirm that but it is a thought.

Moving on to the three young men in the film, they do a great job as who their characters are; probably because they know how it feels. Nat Wolff has been in the spotlight on and off since he was a little boy on Nickelodeon and only recently has broken out as a potential leading man, keep in mind I said potential so far he’s done teen book adaptions as a lead or memorable character. I want to see what he can do now. Jon Rudnitsky has only recently left Saturday Night Live to go into film, and he does an amazing job in Home Again, however this is his first film so it can go one of two ways and I hope it goes up. Pico Alexander has appeared in a handful of shows and a few films so he is still breaking out. While he does not have as much experience as the other guys, he once again shows potential.

Overall the film is cute and I would recommend it for a girls night, whether it is still in theaters or not.

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classic, film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

So sorry for the long wait, but I have finally watched “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and once again my heart is just a little broken. Once again spoilers will be ahead as it is unavoidable.

This time portrayed by George Lazenby, Bond is on the hunt for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (portrayed by Telly Savalas) when he saves the life of Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, aka Tracy (Diana Rigg), a women seemly committing suicide on the beach when Bond pulls up. Tracy thanks Bond at the hotel they are staying at, and Bond fights off an attacker. The next morning Bond is brought to Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), a crime-lord with legitimate ties and Tracy’s father. Telling Bond of Tracy’s past Draco offers his services and money in exchanging for continuing to see Tracy. Desperate to find Blofeld, Bond agrees. M pulls Bond off the Blofeld assignment and Bond submits his resignation, but Moneypenny writes it to give Bond two weeks instead, what would we do without her? Despite getting the information from Draco, Bond continues to see Tracy, falling in love with her. Bond discovers Blofeld is trying to gain a title as a count and poses as a genealogist Sir Hilary Bray (George Baker, who also does the voice when Bond goes undercover) to get closer to his foe. Blofeld has established an allergy research institute along with his henchwoman Irma Blunt (Ilse Steppat) on the Swiss Alps with the promise to cure allergies. Bond meets 12 women, and beds two of them, known as the Angels of Death; they believe they are being cured of their allergies but in actuality they are being brainwashed for biological warfare, destroying plants and animals in exchange for money, the title and amnesty. Bond, along with Tracy and Draco stop Blofeld with Bond forcing Blofeld into a neck brace. Bond and Tracy marry, but the film ends in tragedy; with Blofeld driving Bunt shoots at the couple killing Tracy. No Bond fan can watch that ending and not cry or have their heart broken.

I know Lazenby gets a lot of grief for his only turn as 007, don’t get me started on the clothes even if it was the style in 1969, but I did not think he was that bad. While Bond is usually seen as tough, leading with his head, and not emotional I found it refreshing seeing Bond in love and vulnerable. Seeing Bond in films later after Tracy’s death is almost sad whenever she gets brought up. My feelings for Diana Rigg as Tracy will be at a later time, and I do have a lot to say about her. Savalas’s Blofeld is very good as he actually does something other than threaten Bond and occasionally shoot. Ferzetti is great as Draco and it almost makes me wonder if Bond kept in contact with him after Tracy’s death. Steppat as Blunt is one of the best henchmen in the Bond universe and it is sad we never get to see her character again; the actress tragically died four days after the film premiere.

The action scenes are very intense in the film with the ski segment and the final battle prior to the wedding. The entire film is one of the best in the franchise, and probably the saddest. It is still a must watch if you are a Bond fan. Coming soon, “Diamonds are Forever.”

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