Disney, film

Movie Review: Disney’s Treasure Planet

Another Disney film that is not recognized for how great it is. Based on the beloved book Treasure Island, this 2002 film takes the story to the galaxy, and it is a fun ride. There might even be a few names in here you recognize. As always spoilers will be ahead.

Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man constantly getting in trouble on his home world Montressor. He lives with his mother Sarah Hawkins (Laurie Metcalf) in their own inn. Ever since he was a kid Jim has loved the story of Treasure Planet, a legendary planet rumored to hold Captain Flint’s loot.

One day, a ship crashes nearby and Jim rescues the pilot Billy Bones, but he is too wounded. Bones gives Jim his chest and a warning to “beware the cyborg” before dying. Space pirates soon arrive and burn the inn to the ground, but not before Jim, Sarah and their friend Dr. Delbert (David Hyde Pierce) escape. Jim finds what the pirates were after, a sphere containing a map to Treasure Planet! He and Delbert decide to go and find the treasure to build the inn back. They hire a crew on the RLS Legacy which includes the cat like Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson), her first mate Mr. Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne) and the cyborg John Silver (Brain Murray.) Jim does not trust Silver, due to Bones’s warning but they soon begin to bond. However not everything is how it seems on this adventure. About as far as I can go without spoiling, although I can say you will hear Martin Short in this film as well.

One of Disney’s most underrated films, Treasure Planet takes a great story and turns it into a fantastic adventure for the family. It is funny, action packed and has a great amount of heart. It is not as good as some of Disney’s classics, but I’d still recommend this film if you have not watched it.

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film, must see

Movie Review: Legally Blonde

Who says you can’t be smart as well as stylish? This 2001 movie completely changed multiple stereotypes against women, blondes, lawyers and just overall not judging a book by its cover; not to mention launching one actress into super-stardom. Spoilers ahead as always.

College student and president of Delta Nu sorority Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is hopelessly in love with her boyfriend Warren Huntington III (Matthew Davis) She expects him to propose when he takes her out on a date, but instead he dumps her because she is “not serious” enough for him and his career. Desperate to win him back Elle decides to follow him to Harvard Law School and gets in. However Elle quickly realizes she will not be taken seriously by her classmates, including Warner and his fiance Vivian (Selma Blair.) With the encouragement of her new friends Emmett (Luke Wilson) and Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge) Elle begins to get better at becoming a lawyer, even scoring the same internship with Warner and Vivian with their professor Callahan (Victor Garber). Elle begins to work on a case where a fellow Delta Nu alum Brooke Taylor-Windham (Ali Larter) is accused of killing her much older husband, but Elle believes she is innocent when everyone else doesn’t. I cannot go more without giving away the rest of the film.

This is a perfect girls night movie. You will be cheering on Witherspoon as she proves to not be a ditsy blonde and a very good lawyer. While she had acted before and had done well Witherspoon’s career took a huge leap after this film and I cannot be any more happier for her. If you haven’t seen this film I’d put this on your must-watch list immediately. This film did have a sequel, a spin-off and became a hit Broadway musical, personally one out of the three is worth checking out

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film

Movie Review: Air Force One

Normally politics and action do not go together, but this might be an exception. One of the best action films of the 1990’s Air Force One is an excellent watch if you like Harrison Ford or action films in general. Spoilers ahead as always.

Shortly after General Ivan Radeck, a dictator of Kazakhstan, is captured a diplomatic dinner is held in celebration of his capture, which included the Russian President Petrov (Alan Woolf) and the American President James Marshall (Ford) a former Vietnam War veteran who reaffirms the commitment to never negotiate with terrorists. Marshall, his family and several Cabinet members board Air Force One to come home when those loyal to Radeck board the plane posing as a news crew and hijack it, led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman.) They demand Radeck’s release or they will kill everyone on the plane. Per protocol (at least in the film I do not know if this is the actual protocol) Marshall is lead into the escape pod and it is launched, however because his family was captured Marshall feigns the escape to save them. With the aid of his Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) over a satellite phone he “acquired” from one of the loyalists, Marshall does what he has to do to save his family, but someone close to the president may be a traitor. I cannot go more without spoiling.

As I stated before this is one of the best action films of the 1990’s and I am kinda glad this was released in the 1990’s. According to IMDB in the director commentary Wolfgang Peterson said he would not have made this film after 9/11, and even if he did he feels it would have gotten panned by critics and the box office would have flopped. I cannot say for certain if that statement would have been true, but I believe the director made the right decision. The story is compelling to watch, the action is so good, and the acting is fantastic, seriously huge props to Ford and Oldman. I would recommend this film to be on your action movies to watch list.

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classic, film, musical, must see

TV movie Review: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, 1997 version

I was planning on doing this at a later time, but as yesterday was the 20th Anniversary I kinda of feel obligated to write about one of my favorite version’s of this musical fairy tale. It is not only one of the best versions of the tale, but it opened eyes to how a story can be told. Cannot talk about this without spoiling, then again you probably know the story so what’s the point in saying beware.

Cinderella (Brandy) is living with her cruel stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her stepsisters Minerva (Natalie Desselle-Reid) and Calliope (Veanne Cox.) She is treated as a servant, but made a promise to her father they would stay together after he passed. One day in the market her imagination wanders, thinking of finding “the one” and almost gets run over by a carriage. She is helped by a handsome stranger and they quickly realize how much they have in common, not satisfied in their lives. They are drawn to each other until stepmother scolds her for talking to each other. As you can probably guess that stranger is the Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban.) He feels isolated in the palace with his only companion being Lionel his valet (Jason Alexander.)

His parents, more specifically his mother Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg), decide to throw him a ball to find a bride. Christopher wants to find love the old fashioned way, his father King Maximilian (Victor Garber) understands, but the Queen takes charge. The whole village prepares for the ball, including Cinderella’s stepmother for her daughters, not Cinderella who wishes to go. Prince Christopher eventually agrees to the ball, but makes his parents promise if he doesn’t find his love at the ball it will be on his own terms. The night of the ball Cinderella tearfully wishes to go to the ball, and her wish is granted by her sassy fairy godmother (Whitney Houston.) Shortly after arriving Cinderella and Prince Christopher fall in love, but at the stroke of midnight she takes off leaving her glass slipper. Cinderella’s stepmother realizes who that mysterious girl was at the ball and diminishes Cinderella and her father. The next day Christopher and Lionel search for her, and almost give up hope after the stepmother’s house, Cinderella wasn’t there having planned to run away. However once he leaves Christopher and Cinderella find each other and remember their first meeting. They shortly marry with Fairy Godmother watching from far away.

I’m sure you are thinking this, “what makes this version so much better than the others?” Well for starts that all star and diverse cast. Only in this film and in so many other Rodgers and Hammerstein productions (Broadway or film productions) will you see people of different ethic backgrounds in a musical, it is probably only in this film will you see an African American woman and a Caucasian man have a Filipino American son. But that is what many love about this film is how diverse the cast is, even critics who disliked the film at the time liked the diversity. The soundtrack is also absolutely incredible with songs from the original musical, but two additional songs. This version was a HUGE hit for ABC with 60 million watching this on it’s first night! It you were not one of those viewers please find this, I’m sure it is one YouTube somewhere this is an AWESOME version of the classic fairy tale.

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classic, film, Holiday, musical, must see

Classic Movie Review: Meet Me in St. Louis

Once again I have to call this a classic because it is. One of my favorite musicals and favorite Judy Garland movies of all time, released in 1944; this might be her second best known work after Wizard of Oz. I’ll even tell you the best time to watch this film is around Christmas, which I will go into later. As always spoilers ahead.

Beginning in the summer of 1903 we are on a journey with the Smiths, a family living in St. Louis: Father Alonzo (Leon Ames), Mother Anna (Mary Astor), one son Lon Jr.(Henry H. Daniels Jr.) and four daughters Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther (Garland), Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) along with a house keeper Katie (Marjorie Main) and Grandpa (Harry Davenport.) The World’s Fair is a year away and the family is excited, Mr. Smith is questionable. Rose and Esther are struggling with their romantic lives; Rose is expecting her boyfriend Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully) to propose but he has yet to do so and Esther is hopelessly in love with the boy next door John Truett (Tom Drake). When Mr. Smith announces the family will move to New York, the family is devastated because their whole lives are in St. Louis and they will miss the Fair. I cannot go too far without giving away the rest of the movie, you just have to watch it.

This is a film consistently listed as one of the best musicals of all time, and I completely agree. Garland is one of the best actresses ever on film, and she shines just as bright in this film as her other work. However it takes a great ensemble and when it comes to musicals this cast is hard to beat. I also love the stories and how intertwined they are, at first it won’t make sense but give it a few moments and it will. Meanwhile the soundtrack has some of the best songs in a musical. Here are some of my favorites: “The Trolley Song” sung by a chorus of teenagers about the St. Louis trolley and Garland as she imagines about John and “The Boy Next Door” an almost single camera shot with Garland as she expresses her love for John. However there is a song from this film more famous than the film itself, and why you should watch it at Christmas. That song is called “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Yes, one of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs of all time came from this film. Just a heads up the lyrics for this film are different than other versions, you can thank Frank Sinatra for that, but nonetheless hearing Garland sing this song to Margaret O’Brien in this film is hauntingly beautiful. If you are not going to watch this film, although I’d put it on a must watch list, listen to the soundtrack. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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classic, film, musical, must see

Movie Review: Fiddler on the Roof

No matter how familiar you are with Broadway, or musicals in general, you had to have heard of this one. Based on the 1964 musical, this 1971 film is one of the few true adaptions of Broadway musicals, a few songs missing but the story still follows. It won three Oscars for the music and was nominated for several others, including Best Picture. As always beware of spoilers.

In the small village of Anatevka a poor Jewish milkman Tevye (Topol) constantly talks to God about his worries, most of which include his FIVE daughters and his wife Goldie (Norma Crane in her final role.) Tevye arranges for his eldest daughter Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris) to marry the wealthy butcher Lazar Wolf (Paul Mann), but Tzeitel wants to marry her childhood sweetheart Motel (Leonard Frey). Tevye at first is not accepting of this because of traditions, but sees how much his daughter loves Motel and finds a way to get out of the arrangement. The second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) falls for Perchik (Michael Glaser) a radial Marxist and the third daughter Chava (Neva Small) falls for Fyedka (Raymond Lovelock) a Russian Christian; Tevye is NOT OK with one of these relationships. Meanwhile while the romantic problems are happening the Russian government’s presence in the village soon becomes dangerous, and the residents may be forced to leave. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the film.

When watching the film and seeing each character go through their problems, you can’t help but feel along with them (whether it is meant to be funny or heart-breaking.) At one point in the film when Tevye discovers one of his daughter’s marriage’s you see the hurt on his face and how much it pains him when he feels forced to disown her. I just want to be clear on a few things, I do not know if this can give someone an idea of the Jewish culture, so do not make any assumptions please. If you like musicals I would put this on your must watch list.

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film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: Live and Let Die

Time to go Bond again with the first of the Roger Moore era, and in my opinion his best. Live and Let Die is a constant top 10 Bond films and I can see why. Spoilers ahead as always.

James Bond is sent to investigate why three MI6 agents were killed within 24 hours, one in New York, New Orleans and the fictional Caribbean Island San Monique. All three were observing Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), San Monique’s dictator with questionable operations. Aided by Felix Leiter, this time portrayed by David Hedison, and Quarrel Jr., the son of Quarrel from Dr. No (Roy Stewart) Bond soon discovers Kananga is also Mr. Big, a gangster who runs multiple Fillet of Soul restaurants. Kananga’s plan is to mass procedure heroin and as Mr. Big free of charge, but when the addiction rises he will begin to charge, very expensively. Not the most evil plan, but still Bond has to stop it. He also meets multiple henchmen including Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a beautiful tarot card reader, Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown), only talks in a whisper, Tee Hee (Julius Harris), has a claw for a hand, Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) a CIA double agent and Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) a master of Voodoo, and has one hell of a laugh.

Roger More’s first spin as 007 was a very good one, as I’ve stated before his best one. To be fair most of his other films as Bond are pretty campy so this was a good start. It was interesting seeing a villain ahead of Bond and the voodoo makes it somewhat creepy. Never been a fan of not understanding something, except when it comes to magic, and voodoo is definitely something I have no intention of messing with. My views on Solitaire will be at a later time. so I want to talk about the rest of the villains. Kananga is not a particular memorable villain when it comes to the Bond franchise, however his death scene is fantastically gross. It is a little difficult to decide between Tee Hee and Samedi who is the most memorable henchman, but I have to give it to both of them they are fantastic. Live and Let Die should be on your must watch Bond list.

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