REVIEW: Dumbo [2019]

Let’s get ready for Duuuumboooo! We’re a long way away from 1941 and the days of pure frivolity in your animated films are over. That’s why Disney evolved their glorified sing-along The Jungle Book into a weighty dramatic adventure and why their sweet little flying elephant Dumbo can no longer sustain himself as a metaphorical hero teaching kids lessons about believing in themselves. There needs to be raised stakes and a bona fide antagonistic force to combat to hold our attention now. So screenwriter Ehren Kruger repurposes the original film’s…

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REVIEW: Alice Through the Looking Glass [2016]

“Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear” Now that the whole “should we reboot or create a sequel or just go ahead and do both at once” debacle is over thanks to Tim Burton‘s misguided Alice in Wonderland, maybe Disney’s desire to create an imaginative and surprisingly dark franchise of the absurd could find creative merit to match its insane billion dollar gross. This is because the filmmakers (Linda Woolverton returns as screenwriter with James Bobin taking over the director’s chair) have acquired the latitude to think outside the box…

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REVIEW: Big Eyes [2014]

“I’m just a Sunday painter” It’s a paint-off. Literally. Will the winner be the charismatic salesman peddling his wife’s art as his own or the soft-spoken woman slaving away in a turpentine-filled room that’s been dominated and belittled into allowing him to do so? Who will earn the right to say they were the creators of an oeuvre simultaneously thought to be worth thousands of dollars and infinite fame by the general populace and conversely less than the canvas they were painted on by New York Times critic John Canaday…

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REVIEW: Rise of the Planet of the Apes [2011]

“These people invest in results. Not dreams.” How did the apes from Pierre Boulle‘s Planet of the Apes gain control of Earth? The 1968 film adaptation shows human/ape hybrids walking, talking, and living in civilizations—a great sci-fi conceit making us believe in a distant planet where evolution took a different turn than what happened here. But as anyone who saw that movie or Tim Burton‘s much-maligned remake knows, a twist arrives to show the existence of these creatures was something else all together. We discover we were watching a tale…

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REVIEW: Maleficent [2014]

“Goodbye, Beastie” Let’s be honest, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is a bit of a bore. I remember my sister often wanting to watch when we were kids and me having none of it until the end’s fire and brimstone and menacing dragon spawned from the tale’s creepy, wide-smiling villain. Did I understand the fairy’s reason for cursing the princess? No. I’m not quite sure I realized the political ramifications of her baby shower invite getting lost in the mail until it was explained to me last night after watching Maleficent—the Mouse…

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REVIEW: Oz the Great and Powerful [2013]

“What’s the third up?” I have to reevaluate my distaste for everything Oz not existing inside the mind of Dorothy Gale now that I’ve discovered Victor Fleming’s seminal work The Wizard of Oz wasn’t as faithful to its source material as I once assumed. I could never ignore how the simple attempt to craft a prequel within a fictitious fantasy world was in direct opposition to what made the original so timeless and important to lost children yearning for more than they have. And then I read how L. Frank…

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Posterized Propaganda October 2012: Summer Excess and Festival Freshness

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Summer is over and the studios still have a few genre flicks to unload before the arthouse, festival favorites begin rolling out. Oh, and Halloween is here too. The sad…

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REVIEW: ParaNorman [2012]

“He’s probably up there fiddling with his Wee-Jah or his orbs …” LAIKA, Inc., the little studio with big dreams in Oregon is officially more than a flash in the pan success story that brought to life a critically acclaimed feature film before scaling back to commercials and music videos. Using a beacon in the stop-motion animation world like Henry Selick to adapt and direct Coraline showed the vision to take chances on darker material than most may want to expose their children to and they were rewarded for the…

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REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises [2012]

“Sometimes the pit sends something back” **Potential thematic spoilers** The trailer for the aptly coined ‘epic’ conclusion to director Christopher Nolan‘s caped crusader trilogy—The Dark Knight Rises—says it all through an emotional exchange between Batman (Christian Bale) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Lamenting in her trademarked selfishness that he doesn’t “owe these people any more” and he’s “given them everything,” she begs to run away from the anarchy ravaging their once great city of Gotham. He did his best, admirably failing. Having none of it, though, the billionaire playboy who molded…

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REVIEW: Dark Shadows [2012]

“You’ll have to imagine us on a better day” At present, the Tim Burton discussion can be answered in two ways. One: I’ve become too old and jaded to ‘get’ the farcical nature of the auteur’s darkly comic worlds anymore. The satiric tongue-in-cheek tonality he so brilliantly cultivated in grotesque-lite universes either doesn’t have the same effect on me that it did in my youth or just isn’t as good. In that vein comes number Two: Burton has lost a step and now languishes in a perpetual self-parody desperately trying…

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REVIEW: The Nightmare Before Christmas [1993]

“Curiosity killed the cat, you know” Born from a poem written in the early 80s while Tim Burton was still working as a Disney animator, The Nightmare Before Christmas was a project the auteur wasn’t going to let lay dormant anymore. After finding success with his signature style in the likes of Beetlejuice and Batman, Burton and Disney were able to agree to a deal that would let another Mouse House alum—Henry Selick—direct it as his first feature film. Bringing in Danny Elfman to write the music and eventually sing…

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