REVIEW: The Croods [2013]

“Never not be afraid” One credit has fascinated me since The Croods opened in theaters: story by John Cleese. That John Cleese? Surprisingly, yes. It’s a somewhat convoluted journey from his failed adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s The Twits with Kirk DeMicco catching the eye of Dreamworks and earning them the pick of the litter as far as in production pitches at the studio. They chose one about a stereotypical caveman and his “modern” counterpart running from the volcanic apocalypse plate tectonics wrought. It was set up at Aardman, left for…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: iNumber Number [2013]

“Hurry. This place got more crooks than government.” The South African director behind cinematic adaptations of John van de Ruit’s comedic, teen-lit Spud series about life at boarding school starring John Cleese hits the Toronto International Film Festival with his latest work: a violent heist flick with a rogue undercover cop at its center. I’m not sure you could go in any more divergent of a direction, but Donovan Marsh handles the transition with aplomb as iNumber Number lives up to its many comparisons to Reservoir Dogs. It’s high style…

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REVIEW: Planes [2013]

“I fly for truth” What should be an auspicious occasion for DisneyToons Studios earning its first theatrical release since 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, the Cars spin-off Planes sadly does little to affirm the decision. Actually, the fact Disney supposedly decided to upgrade its status because of how impressive early scenes looked only makes things appear more like a cash grab to milk the universe for extra box office dollars. A second read-through of Jeffrey M. Howard‘s script—he of home video Tinker Bell fame—shouldn’t have been necessary as it’s pun-heavy dialogue…

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REVIEW: Winnie the Pooh [2011]

“I’m a bear with very little brain and long words bother me” Written in the 1920s by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard, Winnie the Pooh has been a children’s favorite for almost a century now. First adapted to film by Disney in the 60s and last seen in 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, it is no surprise to see the Mouse House’s reworked animation department under John Lasseter reboot the franchise. Animated like I remembered it from my own youth, this new story decides to forego the allusion each…

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [2011]

“His name is Voldemort, Filius. You might as well use it. He’s going to try and kill you either way.” Every story must come to an end and the saga of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is no exception. Splitting the final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale of wizardry into two films makes it so the words are given justice and very little is left out, but just as Part 1 lacked a complete arc, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is even less its own entity. To…

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REVIEW: Planet 51 [2009]

“Sea monkeys dancing to the Oldies” There is a new competitor on the animated picture front. The Spain-based company Ilion Studios has thrown their hat in the ring with the new film Planet 51. Unlike some of the other upstart firms that have cropped up in the past decade, Ilion’s artistry is very much on par with Dreamworks and Fox, (no one can compare to Pixar, sorry), and surprised me with how clean and polished the animation was. A studio like this needs to find success early, however, in order…

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REVIEW: The Pink Panther 2 [2009]

“An odd, sexy brother in a dress” Hmmm. Does America really hate itself this much? I guess it does. I’ll start off by saying how I’m not much of a fan of Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther let alone watching Steve Martin laugh himself to the bank with a couple of remakes, (I did not see the first). But alas, I found myself in a theatre full of elderly people laughing and younger people walking out, (it was a free screening, I don’t much blame them), and I envied my two…

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REVIEW: The Day the Earth Stood Still [2008]

“Only on the precipice do we evolve” Ah, remakes. Why does Hollywood insist on updating/copying/being inspired by past works, especially when the original was good? The past few years have even seen re-imaginings of John Carpenter films; the guy is still alive and making movies, so why are we redoing his past work from only two decades ago? When it comes to the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, I guess one can at least comprehend the want to infuse some 21st century graphics and effects; it was…

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REVIEW: Fierce Creatures [1997]

“Saddam Hussein presents” Fierce Creatures is the quasi-sequel to the great A Fish Called Wanda, a movie I need to revisit as well. More of an excuse for those stars to get back together and have some fun, the film brings out some big laughs with its farce, overacting, and Monty Pythonesque absurdity of events and wordplay. It may not be great comedy, but there is enough heart and enjoyment to have a good time. Really, whenever you can see John Cleese and Michael Palin onscreen together, take it as…

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