Take 3: The Great Mouse Detective Review

I will admit that before I signed up for the Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon, I wasn’t familiar with Basil as an actor. However, I didn’t let this stop me from participating! While looking through his filmography, I discovered Basil had a role in the 1986 film, The Great Mouse Detective. Because I hadn’t seen this movie before and because I knew I’d likely be one of the few people to discuss an animated film, I selected The Great Mouse Detective as my submission! If you’ve visited my blog before, you’d see that mysteries have a consistent presence on the site. I have set aside time to talk about the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Some episodes of Murder, She Wrote has been reviewed. I even participated in the Murder, She Wrote Cookalong! Despite the abundance of mystery related content on 18 Cinema Lane, The Great Mouse Detective is only the second animated mystery movie to be featured on my blog. However, at least this review will bring something new to the table!

The Great Mouse Detective poster created by Buena Vista Distribution, Silver Screen Partners II, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Walt Disney Pictures. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/the-great-mouse-detective.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Animated films from Disney’s library usually contain quality visuals and art styles. The Great Mouse Detective continues this pattern of animation excellence! Throughout the film, the backgrounds were presented in softer frames with lighter colors, while close-up images were given sharper lines and brighter colors. One example is when Basil, Olivia, and Dr. David are exploring a toy store. The contrasts within the animation made it easier to focus on the characters and their involvement in the story. This art design reminded me of films such as The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and the Tramp. Similar to what I said in my From Up on Poppy Hill review, all of the characters were expressive! Their facial expressions and body language were fluid when reacting to different scenarios. A perfect example is when Olivia and Dr. David meet Basil. The Great Mouse Detective’s claim to fame is how it was the first project from Disney to feature computer-generated animation. This creative choice is seen in the climax, when Basil and Ratigan fight in the Big Ben Tower. While it might not seem like a big deal now, this scene was ahead of its time in the mid to late ‘80s. The scene itself has aged well, while also containing gravitas and depth. It reminded me of the bells from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The use of shadows: The Great Mouse Detective has a primarily darker tone. To emphasize this aspect of the story, shadows were used in various scenes. Toward the beginning of the film, Hiram Flaversham, Olivia’s father, and Fidget, Ratigan’s henchman, are fighting at Hiram’s toy store. In this scene, shadows of the fight are projected over Olivia’s hiding place. Because Hiram and Fidget are not shown on screen, their shadows helped bring an element of suspense and mystery. The shadows also left me wondering what would happen next.

The humor: Despite the film’s darker tone, there were some light-hearted moments that prevented the movie from being too dark. Some of these moments even contained humor. One scene involved Basil ruining a group of pillows in an attempt to solve a mystery. What made this scene funny was the reaction of Basil’s maid over the mess. Another funny moment was when Ratigan called his cat “honey bunny”. What I like about these hilarious scenes is how well written they were. It also helps that there weren’t too many of them, as it would have made the overall picture seem too silly.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The musical numbers: A large number of Disney’s animated films are musicals, with their musical numbers feeling like they belong in that production. Because musicals have become a staple in Disney’s animated filmography, it allows their audience to know what to expect. But The Great Mouse Detective was not a musical movie, especially compared to pictures like Oliver & Company or any of the Disney Renaissance films. The Great Mouse Detective also had a primarily darker tone, with some light-hearted moments. These aspects made the musical numbers seem out of place. The two most notable musical scenes were “Let Me Be Good to You” and “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”, which had entertainment value. While “Let Me Be Good to You” had some reason for its existence, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was randomly placed in the film. It was a light-hearted and upbeat song that came right after a darker scene, featuring Basil explaining the wrong-doings of Professor Ratigan. “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was a combination of “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast and “Mine, Mine, Mine” from Pocahontas. However, what makes “Gaston” and “Mine, Mine, Mine” work is how they fit within their respective productions.

The oversharing of the mystery: When I talked about The Mystery Cruise in my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, I shared how I didn’t like the film’s mystery being revealed after the mystery was introduced. The Great Mouse Detective makes a similar mistake with their mystery narrative. Within the first half of the movie, the details of Hiram Flaversham’s kidnapping are shown in a series of scenes that share a timeline with the events surrounding Basil. These scenes show the whodunit, howtheydunit, and whytheydunit of the mystery. Because these pieces of information are revealed early in the movie, the audience knows more than the characters in the story. This prevents them from solving or experiencing the mystery alongside the characters.

The subplot of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: One of the subplots in The Great Mouse Detective revolved around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it was very under-utilized. In fact, I forgot this event was taking place within the story until the film’s climax arrived. Because the premise of this movie was basic and straight-forward, this subplot felt like it was there for the sake of being there. If the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had been removed from the film, it wouldn’t make a huge difference.

The Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon banner created by Pale Writer from Pale Writer. Image found at https://palewriter2.home.blog/2020/02/01/announcing-the-suave-swordsman-basil-rathbone-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Two years ago, I reviewed Oliver & Company. In that review, I said the movie was the pioneer for what a Disney animated film could and should be at the time of its release. The Great Mouse Detective gave me a similar feeling. Within this film, there were elements that laid the foundation for animated Disney films that came after it. The climax at the Big Ben Tower is one example, with the scenes utilizing computers to bring them to life. Also, in my Oliver & Company review, I said the movie was fine and that there were animated Disney films that are stronger than it. The Great Mouse Detective made me feel this way as well. While watching this film, there were scenes that reminded me of scenes from other Disney projects that were executed better. Some scenes in The Great Mouse Detective felt rushed, making me wonder if Disney was trying to meet a deadline or wanted to take advantage of a busy box office year. Even with everything I just said, this film is worth bringing up in the conversation of animated films. It may get overshadowed, but I think it serves as an important part of animation history.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen The Great Mouse Detective? What are some of your favorite mystery films? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From Up on Poppy Hill Review + 200 Follower Thank You

Well, the day has finally come. 18 Cinema Lane just received 200 followers! Before I continue this post, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped my blog reach this milestone! I still can’t believe that, within these two years, I’ve made it this far as a blogger. For this review, I thought it would be a good idea to select a film that was requested by one of my readers. Last year, Ospreyshire, from the blog Iridium Eye Reviews, recommended the Studio Ghibli film, From Up on Poppy Hill. I chose this film to write about because I haven’t reviewed an animated movie since February. This is actually the second Studio Ghibli production I’ve discussed on 18 Cinema Lane. Last January, I reviewed Howl’s Moving Castle for the 90 Years of Jean Simmons Blogathon. While I enjoyed the movie, I found it to be weaker than the previous Studio Ghibli projects I’ve seen. Now that From Up on Poppy Hill is the fifth film from the studio I have watched, it’s time to determine how this movie holds up to other films from Studio Ghibli!

Howl’s Moving Castle poster created by Studio Ghibli, Toho, and The Walt Disney Company. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798188/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Over the years, Studio Ghibli has gained a reputation with their signature animation style. The 2-D presentation of each story has stood apart from the 3-D computerized technique most film studios adopted in the 21st century. One of the hallmarks of a Studio Ghibli film is the colorful palettes that are used in each production. From Up on Poppy Hill boasts bright colors throughout the story, creating spaces that appear inviting. The scenes were bright enough to be visually appealing, but not too much to the point of over-saturation. Even when a scene used darker colors, there was still a pop of color included. One example is on a rainy day, when the protagonist, Umi, is carrying a red umbrella. The movements of the characters, vehicles, and boats were smooth, which made them easy to visually follow. Characters were also expressive when it came to dealing with a variety of situations. Similar to Howl’s Moving Castle, From Up on Poppy Hill looked like priceless art!

The humor: An element I’ve noticed within Studio Ghibli’s films is their use of humor. Though From Up on Poppy Hill is a more contemporary story from other Studio Ghibli productions, the humor still fit within the world of that particular film. In one scene, one of the members of the Archeology Club tells another club member that they need to find a way to show how cool their club can be. The fellow club member simply replies with “we can’t”. Toward the beginning of the film, Shun, one of the main characters, falls into a pool of water after performing a stunt while attempting to encourage his classmates to save a local clubhouse. When Umi tries to help Shun out of the pool, their fellow classmates cheer them on as soon as she touches his hand. A great aspect of this movie’s humor is how there was enough to maintain the film’s lighted-hearted tone. At the same time, it didn’t diminish the dramatic moments that momentarily appeared in the story.

The music: While watching this film, the musical selections in From Up on Poppy Hill stood out to me. This is because they fit the tone of their given scene so perfectly! Throughout the story, Umi rises signal flags in order to help her father return home. During these scenes, dramatic piano music would play in the background. For more lighted-hearted scenes, up-beat music could be heard. One example is the movie’s very first scene, which shows Umi preparing for a typical day. Because this film took place in the early to mid-‘60s, the music sounded like it came directly from that time period. When Umi and Shun are in a hurry to reach an important destination, the instrumental tune sounded like it belonged in a program like Hawaii Five-O. All of the music in From Up on Poppy Hill effectively brought a sense of emotion to every moment within the story!

Sailing on the sea image created by Michele L at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Michele L.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of backstory for the Latin Society’s clubhouse: One of the overarching themes of From Up on Poppy Hill is honoring the past. This is one of the arguments Shun provides in his efforts to save the Latin Society’s clubhouse. There are times when this theme was incorporated into the story well. But, when it comes to the clubhouse, the history of the facility is never revealed. The only thing closest to a backstory that is given was when one of the club members says the previous residents were as messy as the current club members. This creative choice makes the club’s arguments appear weaker than necessary.

Minimal character development for some of the characters: In any film, character development is an important component. This can help the audience connect with a movie’s characters and get invested in their journey. From Up on Poppy Hill gives the majority of character development to Umi and Shun. Parental figures in Umi and Shun’s life, such as Umi’s grandmother, receive some character development. The rest of the characters receive minimal character development, making it difficult to truly get to know them. One example is Sora, Umi’s sister. While watching this film, I became familiar with her as the story progressed. However, when it comes to learning more about Sora, there was more to be desired.

Drawn out scenes: There were a few scenes in From Up on Poppy Hill that were drawn out longer than they needed to be. A perfect example is when Shun’s father is sharing information about his son’s past. I liked learning more about Shun’s backstory. But it was paired with moments of silent pauses that were a little too long. Had these pauses been shorter, this scene might have helped the film shave off some of the run-time.

Skyline of Yokohama, Japan image created by Lifeforstock at freepik.com. Travel photo created by lifeforstock – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I saw From Up on Poppy Hill, there were mentions of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 1964 Olympics was included in the discussion, not the now postponed 2020 Olympics like I originally thought. The fact this event would be mentioned at all was very interesting. The Olympics are steeped in history, spanning many decades and involving many international parties. As I mentioned in my review, one of the overarching themes of this movie is honoring the past. In the story, history is presented in many forms. Some are embodied as large-scale events, like the Olympics. Others are formed in the relationships we share. From Up on Poppy Hill intelligently and creatively shows its audience how important history is in our lives and our world. As a movie blogger, I recognize how history has made or broken the world of film. But this entry from Studio Ghibli’s collection handles the idea of history with relatability and respect. People from any part of the world can understand the messages presented and maybe take away a small piece of the story and apply it to their own lives. From Up on Poppy Hill is one of the studio’s stronger projects that I am grateful to have seen. A huge thanks goes to Ospreyshire for bringing this film to my attention.

Overall score: 8.3 out of 10

Have you seen Studio Ghibli’s films? Which movie would you like to see me review next? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review

For February’s Genre Grandeur, the selected theme was “Animated Comic Book/Strip Movies”. Chosen by Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights, this theme required some thought. To search for a possible title, I headed to Bubbawheat’s blog and discovered the list of “every superhero and comic book movie in chronological order”. While scrolling through the list, I came across one movie that I had heard of, but had never seen: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This cinematic Batman entry has acquired a great amount of praise over its twenty plus year existence. However, it also has a reputation of not performing well at the box office. Any movie fan knows that box office performance does not always equal quality. But what is the quality of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? Is it truly as good as other people say it is? Has it become overrated through the power of nostalgia? These are the questions I’ll answer in this review!

Batman -- Mask of the Phantasm poster
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm poster created by Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/batman-mask-phantasm/.

Things I liked about the film:

The voice acting: When it comes to animated films, the audience’s attention is so focused on what’s happening on screen, that they don’t think twice about the voice acting. Even though it seems like a small piece of the overall project, it actually can make or break the characters’ and their memorability. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm had an exceptional cast! Each actor brought more than enough emotion to match the facial expressions presented in the movie. These two components felt they were paired perfectly, with the voices themselves feeling like they belonged to that character! The casting itself couldn’t have been better! All of the actors effortlessly embodied their character through their voice talents. They were able to successfully gave life to their roles and enhance their memorability!

 

The animation: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is filled with great animation! Its 2-D style still holds up twenty-seven years later! What works in this movie’s favor is the color palette found throughout the project. Most Batman stories adopt a dark color scheme, to showcase the destruction and dismay that has overcome Gotham City. While Batman: Mask of the Phantasm does feature darker colors, the way lighter colors are paired with them is visually interesting. A great example is when a criminal named Buzz Bronski visits the cemetery. The entire scene is filled with the hues of black, gray, and dark blue. The red roses on a wreath are one of the few light colors that can be found in that scene. This makes the wreath pop with color and forces the audience’s attention toward the flowers. It also gives the film a style similar to movies with a “film noir” label.

 

The music: Another element in animated films that sometimes gets overlooked is the music. For Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a piece of music that really stood out was the official score. Composed by Shirley Walker, this score was powerful and helped the overall production gain its own identity. An orchestral composition and an operatic choir make this piece of music, as well as the overall film, feel grand in scale. This score was used during the opening credits, with similar tunes featured in two climatic moments of the film. Batman movies have historically incorporated orchestral scores into their projects. The score from The Dark Knight is one of the most iconic pieces of music in film history. Shirley Walker’s musical contributions to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm help keep that tradition alive.

 

The writing: I was really impressed by the writing in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as it was clever and well thought-out! The film’s overarching mystery is a perfect example of this. It’s the kind of mystery that allows the audience to take a journey alongside Bruce/Batman. They get to experience events and situations when Bruce/Batman does. At times when a surprise comes, it catches the audience off-guard, as they are so invested in Batman winning over evil that they don’t see a surprise coming. Despite the movie’s darker tone, there was room in the script for humor to be included. One great example is when a party guest believes that the word “engagement” starts with the letter i. Because of how the joke was written and the delivery of the voice actor’s performance, the joke itself was executed flawlessly!

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Rose illustration image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

An unclear timeline: Throughout Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was difficult to determine when this film took place. In a flashback scene, Bruce and Andrea visit the Gotham World’s Fair, mirroring World’s Fairs that have taken place in decades past (for a point of reference, a World’s Fair was featured in Captain America: The First Avenger). That same flashback scene showed Andrea using a car-phone, an invention known for its popularity in the ‘80s. At two separate moments in the movie, Bruce uses a computer to solve the film’s overarching mystery. Batman stories, more often than not, make a conscious effort to ground themselves in reality. Since this film was released in 1993, the story should have taken place in the early ‘90s, in order to reflect its “current” setting.

 

Too many flashbacks: Flashback scenes are meant to provide additional context to the film’s plot. They are placed at certain points in the story, so they can present their full impact on the audience. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, several flashback scenes were shown, explaining the nature of certain relationships and giving clues to the film’s mystery. However, I feel there were too many of them. More than three flashback scenes existed in this narrative. At times, it seemed like every other scene in the movie was a flashback. It also didn’t help that some of them were a little too long. One example is when Bruce meets Andrea’s father for the first time. I liked the scenes themselves, but they made the flow of the film a little clunky.

2 joker cards
Pair of joker playing cards created by Outanmax at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/2-joker-cards_1127202.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Outanmax – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is not just a solid Batman film. It’s also a solid animated film in general! For my first time watching an animated movie starring the world’s favorite ‘Caped Crusader’, I really enjoyed what I saw! It contained a lot of elements I look for in good animated projects, such as the quality in animation and the story itself. What’s great about this film is how Bruce/Batman was allowed to be a detective within the story. This aspect of the character is not often seen in cinema, as Warner Bros. has usually placed more emphasis on making Batman an action-hero. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was nice to see Bruce/Batman use multiple talents to save the day. This is definitely one of the better of the Batman cinematic entries! It has stood the test of time and is an enjoyable picture! I want to thank Bubbawheat and MovieRob for giving me a chance to finally see this film! Looking back on it, I have to wonder, where has Batman: Mask of the Phantasm been all my life?

 

Overall score: 8.4 out of 10

 

Do you have a favorite Batman film? Is there an animated movie you’d like me to talk about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!

 

Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club

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Gold glittery 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-party-flyer_3641545.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.

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Jack Dawson from Titanic: “I’m the king of the world”!
Jake Sully from Avatar: “No, I’m the king of the world”.
Bucky Barnes from Avengers: Endgame: “Am I that much of a joke to you”?
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen
 

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.

 

2. Rome in Love

This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.

 

1. Swept from the Sea

When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

Take 3: Kubo and the Two Strings Review + 125 Follower Thank You

Two weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received a hundred and twenty-five followers! However, because my blogging schedule revolved around the four blogathons that are scheduled for August, I haven’t found the time to publish this review. I knew I wanted to post this review before the end of the month, so I made some room in my schedule for this review to become a reality. For this post, I chose a movie that was released in August of 2016. I had the option of two Hallmark Channel films and Kubo and the Two Strings. Since I reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie for my previous blog follower dedication review (that film was Desolation Canyon) and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was back in February (the movie I talked about was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2), I decided to talk about the latter. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that I had not seen, but definitely had heard about. Mostly positive things were said about it, with the animation itself being a highlight. I don’t watch stop-motion animation often, so that means this is the first film of this kind to be reviewed on my blog! Even after reviewing over a hundred films, there’s still a “first for everything”.

Kubo and the Two Strings poster
Kubo and the Two Strings poster created by Laika and Focus Features. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kubo_and_the_Two_Strings_poster.png

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Stop-motion animation can be hit or miss. You can either get something that looks whimsical, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or off-putting, like Coraline. Kubo and the Two Strings, however, falls more on the whimsical and imaginative side of the genre. The use of colors is what makes this movie stand out, as the balance between bright and dark palettes was complimentary. A good portion of the landscapes looked very realistic. Water, cliffs, and snow are just a few examples. I also liked how each character had a unique design. No two characters looked alike and their personalities were different from one another. All of these factors made for a truly stunning visual!

 

The humor: Family-friendly/children’s films sometimes try to incorporate humor by telling the same types of jokes. These jokes can be so overdone that they fall flat or become offensive. The humor in Kubo and the Two Strings was witty and clever. Funny moments felt like they were naturally extracted from the situation, instead of having the characters say or do something hilarious for the sake of it. Kubo and the Two Strings’ humor was well spaced out. It was mostly placed in the quieter scenes of the film, where there was less action and suspense. These moments never overshadowed or took away from the movie’s dramatic and serious parts.

 

The messages and themes: Kubo and the Two Strings contains several messages and themes that not only compliment the narrative, but help create an enriching story. An overarching theme is family, which plays a huge role on more than one occasion. It provided a moral compass for the characters and even put a new take on a familiar trope from family-friendly/children’s films. The message of how powerful story-telling is was impactful, changing the way certain things are presented. Something as simple as a piece of paper or the sounds of a bird as just two examples. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that gives the audience valuable words of wisdom!

 

The pacing: As I previously stated, the film’s humor was placed in the quieter scenes that featured less action and suspense. I should also add that the humor played a role in assisting the movie’s pace. Kubo and the Two Strings’ pace felt like the ebb and flow of an ocean’s waves. When an action scene came into the story, calmer scenes soon followed. These scenes were used to provide character development and feature interesting character interactions. Because of this balance between action-heavy and dialogue-focused scenes, it never made the movie feel drawn out or longer than its run-time. It made the movie-viewing experience that much more enjoyable!

122337-OQPQ2I-585
Paper Boats in the Sea image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/background-of-paper-boats-with-hand-drawn-waves_1189898.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Choppy movements: Whenever characters moved, it was always in a fluid motion. Some examples include walking and putting up objects. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the motion of human characters’ mouths. Any time a human character spoke, the movements of their mouth appeared choppy and they didn’t flow with the rest of the animation. The only character I didn’t feel this way about was Monkey. I’m not sure if this is a production issue or if it’s because I don’t watch stop-motion animated films often. But it got to the point where these choppy movements were distracting.

Japan Retro Cartoon Icons Set
Japanese paper dragon image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flower”>Flower vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When it comes to my blog follower dedication reviews, I always try to choose films that are worth my followers’ time. Because they helped my blog reach the milestones that it has, I feel they deserve a good, quality movie as well as review. Well, I can honestly say that Kubo and the Two Strings is that film! This movie has everything I could ever want or ask for in a cinematic story, holding on to my attention from start to finish. While we’ve seen the “hero’s journey” narrative before, this film takes that template and breaths new life into it. It’s a story with so much heart, that it feels like the creative team behind this film truly cared about the movie they were making. With relatable and inspirational messages and themes, Kubo and the Two Strings makes me want to be a better person. Speaking of people, thank you to all of my one hundred and twenty-five followers, as well as my readers, for helping me get to this point. You have and will always play a vital role in this blogging journey.

 

Overall score: 9.1 out of 10

 

Do you like that I review animated films? Which movie from this genre would you like to see me talk about? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Which Films from Fox are Disney Scrapping?

Yes, it’s been four months since I last posted a Word on the Street story. While looking through my Word on the Street posts from this year, I noticed that all of them were about Hallmark related projects. I don’t want to be a movie blogger that just talks about one thing. So, I took a short break to find interesting pieces of movie news that had nothing to do with Hallmark. Yesterday, I found a story that was quite fascinating. In a video from the Youtube channel, Clownfish TV, Kneon and Geeky Sparkles, the hosts of the video, talk about the various films from 20th Century Fox that Disney was planning on not greenlighting. Because Disney purchased the aforementioned studio, they inherited a lot of movie titles. Some of them hadn’t even gone into production yet. In this post, I will discuss these titles as well as my thoughts about them. Now, as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”!

People creating film
People working on films image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

In a video titled “Disney CANCELS Fox Films! Blue Sky Studios Gets Disney ‘DISCIPLINE!’”, Kneon and Geeky Sparkles, two of the creators of the Youtube channel, Clownfish TV, discuss some of the Fox titles that Disney will not be developing, as well as the articles that reported them. The first title that Disney eliminated, according to Collider, is an animated film called “Mouse Guard”. I’m not familiar with this particular project or its source material. Kneon and Geeky, however, were more knowledgeable about the subject, even going so far as to share the film’s production status. Geeky states that “you cannot have a competing mouse”, indicating that the only mouse that’s worth Disney’s attention is their one and only, Mickey. If this were true, that would make the company look a little bit hypocritical, especially since they’ve created beloved characters that were also mice. Some examples are Gus and Jaq from Cinderella, Roquefort from The Aristocats, Bernard and Miss Bianca from The Rescuers, Jake from The Rescuers Down Under, and the cast of characters from The Great Mouse Detective. In another article that was featured in the video, this time from Screen Geek, Kneon and Geeky examine the short list of films that will, probably, never see the light of day. These titles are Flash Gordon, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Chronicle 2, McClane, The Sims Movie, Assassin’s Creed 2, Mega Man, and Magic: The Gathering. I’m, honestly, not heartbroken that these films got cancelled. Most of the projects on the list sound like unnecessary sequels or reboots/remakes. Even Geeky and Kneon weren’t that upset about these films being cancelled. This particular article featured a link to a Reddit page that listed even more movie titles, which Kneon and Geeky also talked about. The first section of the article listed films that had a chance of not getting scrapped. While looking through these titles, Geeky expressed interest in seeing the Zorro reboot, currently titled Z. In my opinion, none of the movies on this list sound intriguing enough to make me want to pay theater admission for them. The next section listed movie titles that were not getting eliminated. When Geeky and Kneon were looking through the list, Kneon had a feeling that a film titled Nimona would either get scrapped or be placed on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. His reasoning was because the movie is, apparently, going to be animated by Blue Sky Animation, a division of Fox that Disney is disciplining (which, according to Kneon, means “budget cuts”). This is the first time I had heard about this project, so it’s not a title that I’m emotionally attached to.

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On-line movie purchase image created by Makyzz at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/on-line-order-cinema-movie-tickets_1577652.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/technology”>Technologyvector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

While searching through the extensive list of film titles on Reddit, there was one movie that I didn’t see in the article. Back in March, I participated in the Book Adaptation Tag. In that post, I said that one of the “book movies” I was looking forward to was Words on Bathroom Walls. According to IMDB, this film is in post-production. Based on the limited amount of information I was able to find, it doesn’t seem like this movie has a distributor yet. Despite this, the fact that Words on Bathroom Walls wasn’t even a part of the conversation was something I found surprising. If this specific movie were included on the list, I’m guessing that it would have been saved from cancellation due to its production status. Hopefully, Words on Bathroom Walls will get a distributor sooner rather than later.

 

What are your thoughts on this piece of movie news? Which movie would you want to save from being scrapped? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the sources that I referenced in this article, you can watch the video by visiting Clownfish TV’s Youtube channel or typing “Disney CANCELS Fox Films! Blue Sky Studios Gets Disney ‘DISCIPLINE!’” into Youtube’s search bar. The link to the Reddit article is in the video’s description. You can also visit  these links:

https://www.screengeek.net/2019/08/11/disney-fox-movies-cancelled/ (This article features a link to the movie list on Reddit)

http://collider.com/mouse-guard-movie-concept-art/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8045906/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_on_Bathroom_Walls

Take 3: Moulin Rouge! Review + 110 Follower Thank You

In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!

Moulin Rouge! poster
Moulin Rouge! poster created by Bazmark Productions and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/moulin-rouge.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!

 

  • The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!

 

  • The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.

 

  • Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.

 

  • Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.

Note_lines_horizontal1
String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 Review

I’m not going to lie, I don’t have a movie in my life that I would consider “so bad it’s good”. But, because of my involvement in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon from Taking Up Room, I wanted to find that film that I could finally call “so bad it’s good”. For this review, I could have chosen a film that has a reputation for being “so bad it’s good”. However, just because other people say that a movie is “so bad it’s good” doesn’t necessarily mean I would feel the same way about that movie. So, I approached the topic with this mindset: find a movie that might be less-than-stellar but has qualities about it that are redeemable. When I thought about a film that could fit these criteria, my first thought was a Don Bluth film that hasn’t been well remembered. One of my favorite movies is Anastasia from 1997. Don Bluth’s animation style is one of the things that make that movie so memorable. But I know that not all of Don Bluth’s films were created equally. With that said, I have chosen All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 as my pick for this blogathon! Since I’ve only seen half of the first film and bit and pieces of its sequel, I coordinated a double feature so I could figure out if All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 is “so bad it’s good”. Even though it had some flaws, I thought that All Dogs Go to Heaven was a good film. It also gave me some perspective as to what I could or could not expect from All Dogs Go to Heaven’s successor. Now that I have revealed which movie I’m reviewing, it’s time to see if All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 is truly “so bad it’s good”!

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 poster
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 poster created by MGM/UA Family Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, and MGM/UA Distribution Co. Image found at https://mgm.com/#/our-titles/47/All-Dogs-Go-To-Heaven-2.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The animation: Even though Don Bluth was not involved in the production of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, I still liked the animation within the film. Like in the first movie, there was a good balance between dark and bright colors. A good example of this is during the movie’s climax, when the darkness of the prison is balanced out with the bright red of the villain and the bright pink that came from Heaven. I also thought that the quality of the animation was sharper than in the first film. Even though the animation was good in All Dogs Go to Heaven, it was softer in terms of the lines and shape of characters, buildings, and landscapes. In the sequel, this softer style of animation was just reserved for landscapes.

 

  • Revisiting the characters of Charlie and Itchy: When it comes to sequels, one of the best parts is seeing familiar faces from the previous film. A highlight of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 was having Charlie and Itchy return from the first movie! Their involvement in the sequel’s story helped provide some continuity between the two films. It was also nice to see both of these characters receive more character development. While in San Francisco, Charlie shares a memory of his youth with a new character named David. Not only did David learn more about his friend, the audience got to learn more about Charlie. Moments like this help characters like Charlie and Itchy gain more likability.

 

  • The villain: As I was watching All Dogs Go to Heaven, I noticed that one of the flaws of the film was Carface. While he was a good villain, Carface wasn’t as strong of a villain as the movie wanted him to be. He seemed to show up in the film only for plot convenience, which made him not as big of a threat to the protagonists as he could have been. In All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, the villain was a cat named Red. To me, this villain was scarier than Carface, even upstaging Carface’s villainy. No matter if Red was on or off-screen, the sense of dread and doom was always there. Even his transformations in the film were pretty terrifying. This helped make Red an even bigger threat to Charlie, Itchy, and their friends.

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Dog collection image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/dog”>Dog vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • No references to the first movie: Something that I look for in a sequel is how the story connects to its predecessor. Unfortunately, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 didn’t really make an effort to address the events of the first film. One example of this is the absence of Anne-Marie. In the previous movie, Anne-Marie played a significant role within the overall story. Her friendship with Charlie and Itchy was depicted as being very meaningful. But in the sequel, when Itchy joins Charlie in Heaven, Charlie does not ask about Anne-Marie’s whereabouts. Because these important details were ignored, it almost seemed like everything that happened in the first movie meant nothing.

 

  • A rehashed story: The overall narrative of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 felt like it copied some of the key plot points from the first film. David’s involvement in the sequel is a good example of this. Similar to Anne-Marie, David spends the majority of the film by himself. Charlie not only befriends the child protagonist in both films, he also helps them find their family. At one point in their respective films, Anne-Marie and David get taken by Carface. These coincidences made this story feel like it wasn’t as creative as it could have been.

 

  • The main plot being an afterthought: In All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, the primary plot was about Charlie and Itchy going back to Earth in order to retrieve Gabriel’s Horn. But as I watched the film, it seemed like the story focused more on the whereabouts of David than returning Gabriel’s Horn back to Heaven. The audience doesn’t see the consequences of not having Gabriel’s Horn until the climax of the film. After the initial loss of Gabriel’s Horn, it doesn’t show up in the film again until the half-way point. While this part of the story was an interesting way to continue the overall narrative, it felt like more emphasis was placed on recapturing the magic of the first film.

So Bad It's Good Blogathon banner
The So Bad It’s Good Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2018/11/15/announcing-the-so-bad-its-good-blogathon/

My overall impression:

As a movie, I thought All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 was just ok. As a sequel, this movie felt very unnecessary. Instead of complimenting or adding to the previous chapter, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 almost rejected everything that came before it. All Dogs Go to Heaven ended on such a good, definitive note. This made for a memorable and enjoyable stand-alone film. As I mentioned earlier, the sequel made the events in the first movie feel like they meant nothing. However, I do think that the creative team behind All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 had their hearts in the right place. We did get to see Charlie and Itchy again, as well as being introduced to new characters. The animation was good and so were the songs. While I wouldn’t call the sequel “so bad it’s good”, I don’t think it’s as enjoyable as the previous film.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Which movie do you think is “so bad it’s good”? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Kim Possible (2019) Review

The time has finally come for me to review a film that has gotten a lot of attention on 18 Cinema Lane, the new live-action Kim Possible film! If you’ve been following my blog since last year, you would know that I’ve been talking about this movie since the very beginning. In fact, the first announcement about this Kim Possible movie was the first Word on the Street story I ever wrote. As the months went by, I’ve discussed other news relating to this film, such as casting announcements and production updates. When the trailer for Kim Possible was released last December, I definitely took the time to talk about how I felt about it. To me, the trailer was fine, at best. I’ve also shared that I was very skeptical about the project. As I mentioned in my very first Word on the Street story about Kim Possible, I have enjoyed watching the original show. However, I was concerned about a newer audience receiving more attention from this film’s creative team to the point of alienating the audience of the original show. Even though I had very low expectations for this film, I still watched it with an open mind, with the hope that it could be good. After one whole year of introducing this movie news story to my readers, it’s time to talk about 2019’s Kim Possible!

Kim Possible 2019 poster
Kim Possible (2019) poster the Walt Disney Company and Disney Channel. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Disney XD© Disney Enterprises, Inc. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kim_Possible_(2019_film)_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: While watching this movie, I was really impressed with the acting! Every actor in this cast seemed to disappear into their roles, effectively bringing characters that I have come to know and recognize to life. Sadie Stanley shined in her performance as the beloved secret agent, Kim Possible. Whether it was an intense action sequence or an emotionally heart-felt moment, Sadie successfully brought the versatility that helped her embody this character on-screen. As I’ve mentioned before, Shego is my favorite Disney villain of all time. Seeing Taylor Ortega’s portrayal of this memorable character made me so happy! She captured Shego’s snarky attitude and strength that I best remember from my days of watching Kim Possible on television. The acting in this film was definitely a highlight!

 

  • Looking and feeling like the show: Throughout this film, I noticed how close almost everything looked to the show. From the Possible family home to the high school’s official sign, there were a number of things in this movie that looked like they were copied directly from the series. Because of this level of detail, it made the movie feel like the show. Since I am fond of the original series, I liked this aspect of the film. It made it seem like the creative team behind this movie truly cared about the project they were creating. Things like this made me enjoy the film that much more!

 

  • The humor: The Kim Possible television show was known for having humor woven into each episode. In this movie, there was humor that was effectively incorporated into the story. One example of this is the high school’s official sign. In the show, this sign would display funny sayings and puns. The sign in this movie not only had those funny sayings and puns like in the show, but the words on that sign correlated with the events in the story. The overall humor in this movie matched the tone of the show. Not only that, but I thought this film’s humor was genuinely funny.

 

  • The messages and themes: Another thing that the Kim Possible show was known for was including messages and themes into the story of each episode. This movie also had messages and themes that were related to the overall narrative. Friendship, jealousy, and not being afraid to ask for help when it’s necessary are some themes that stood out to me in this story. The messages of the importance of being a good friend and the difference between who you are and the things you do are messages that felt relatable. These messages and themes made me feel good about what I was watching.

Shego and Drakken pin
When talking about this Kim Possible movie, of course I was going to put a picture of this pin within this review! Apparently, this was the only Shego related Disney pin that was ever created. Screenshot created by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The inconsistency of the special effects: When I first talked about the Kim Possible trailer, one of the things that stood out to me was how the special effects looked. At worst, the special effects in the trailer were distracting. Throughout the film, the special effects were 50/50. There were some times when the special effects looked good, such as when Shego uses her green blasting powers from her hands. But there were other times when the special effects looked less-than-stellar. This mostly happened whenever an explosion happened during an action scene. When this occurred, it appeared like the actors were moving in front of a screen. Fortunately, these less-than-stellar moments with the special effects were not as distracting as it looked in the trailer.

 

  • Kim Possible as a celebrity: In the show, the only people who seemed to know about Kim Possible being a secret agent were Ron and Wade. Because this part of Kim’s life was secret, it gave audience members the impression that Kim could still be a relatable character no matter how extraordinary her life seemed. In this movie, everyone knew that Kim was a secret agent, even having other characters treat her as if she were a celebrity. This new aspect of the character took away some of her relatability. But the creative team behind this movie still gave Kim enough relatability to her character to keep her as close to the original version as possible.

Vector cartoon illustration of college classroom
Picture of a high school classroom image created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Kim Possible was a better movie than I expected it to be! Despite its flaws, I thought this movie was good! Before this film’s release, my biggest concern was the movie possibly catering to a younger audience to the point of alienating the audience of the original show. However, the creative team behind this film did a good job at introducing new fans to the source material while, at the same time, respecting the fans of the original show. In fact, it felt like the creative team brought back the magic of the original series! As someone who not only watched the show in its original run, but also was very skeptical of the project, I ended up enjoying this movie more than I thought I would! I’m so glad I gave this film a chance!

 

Overall score: 8 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on this review? Would you like to see your favorite animated show adapted into a live action film? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Howl’s Moving Castle Review

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know who Jean Simmons was before I signed up for The Wonderful World of Cinema and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies’ 90 Years of Jean Simmons blogathon. So, I had to take a trip to Jean’s IMDB Filmography page. What I discovered was a voice acting credit for the film, Howl’s Moving Castle. Since I’ve never seen this movie and since no other blogathon participant was planning to talk about this movie, I decided to contribute to this blogathon by reviewing this film! Before watching Howl’s Moving Castle, I had seen three other Studio Ghibli films. These movies are Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, and Tales from Earthsea. I have enjoyed all three of these movies, so I had a feeling that Howl’s Moving Castle would be somewhat enjoyable. How does this movie compare with the other three? Fly through this review if you want to find out!

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Howl’s Moving Castle poster created by Studio Ghibli, Toho, and The Walt Disney Company. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/howls-moving-castle.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The characters: Like any movie, Howl’s Moving Castle has a cast of characters that are very unique from one another. Not only do these characters have their own distinct physical features, they also have their own personalities. A good example is Howl himself. He has characteristics that help him stand out from the other characters (his hair can change colors more than once) and has a personality that adds to the uniqueness of his character (he is a powerful magician who has his fears and insecurities, but doesn’t let these feelings show easily). These two major concepts make Howl an interesting character. They also help shape the rest of the characters in this film.

 

  • The animation: Studio Ghibli films are known for their artistic animation. Howl’s Moving Castle is no different, filling up the screen with exquisite creations. In fact, the animation in this movie was so good, it honestly looked like priceless art. Everything that was featured on-screen was very detailed, even down to the very look of Howl’s castle. I also liked how the use of color was applied to this film’s animation. The bright colors that were found in some scenes complimented one another and, for the most part, made these scenes feel cheery and light-hearted. Whenever darker colors were used in other scenes, it never looked dull or devoid of color. Instead, these colors accompanied the darker moments unfolding on-screen.

 

  • The humor: When I watched Howl’s Moving Castle, I knew there would be some light-hearted moments sprinkled throughout the film. However, I wasn’t expecting this movie to have as much humor as it did. There were several moments in this movie that I found to be genuinely funny. One of these scenes was when Howl was freaking out over his hair changing from blonde to orange. These scenes, as well as the other humorous moments in this movie, were not only well-written, but also well-executed.

90 Years of Jean Simmons blogathon banner
90 Years of Jean Simmons blogathon banner created by Virginie from The Wonderful World of Cinema and Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. Image found at https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/coming-up-next-year-90-years-of-jean-simmons-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Lack of exposition: While Howl’s Moving Castle had a basic story that was fairly easy to understand, I found this movie to have very little exposition. Characters were not really given fleshed out backstories and certain events within this story aren’t given a significant amount of explanations. Within this film’s narrative, there’s a war that happens which affects the characters’ environment. However, it is never explained why this war is taking place or how the war started. I was very frustrated by this flaw of Howl’s Moving Castle.

 

  • An underwhelming villain: This film actually has two villains and I found both of them to be very underwhelming. Not only were they not given strong backstories, but they weren’t given any villainous qualities that made them very memorable. Because of this, the only real sense of danger that was found within this story came from the war itself. When it came to the villains themselves, I did not find them to be threatening or scary. To me, both of these villains were wasted potential.

 

  • The run-time: Howl’s Moving Castle is approximately two hours long. This caused the story to feel more drawn out and a little bit too long. Because of this, I felt that the first half of the movie was stronger than the second half. In my opinion, I don’t think this particular story needed this long of a run-time. Having the movie be an hour and twenty or thirty minutes long would have worked better for Howl’s Moving Castle.

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Fairytale castle image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fairy-tale-castle_837803.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Designvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At best, Howl’s Moving Castle was decent. It was a fine movie-viewing experience and I enjoyed the film for what it was. However, out of the now four Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen, Howl’s Moving Castle was weaker than the previous three films. This movie does have its merits, but it also has its flaws. It felt like this story was trying to accomplish too much at once, causing some of the film’s meanings and messages to get lost in the shuffle. But, like I’ve already mentioned, most of these issues within the movie’s narrative come from the length of the run-time. I would suggest that people, especially those who haven’t seen this movie, give Howl’s Moving Castle a chance. However, if you have seen other Studio Ghibli films before watching Howl’s Moving Castle and if you really enjoyed those movies, you might want to lower your expectations.

 

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Jean Simmons’ films? Do you like watching movies from Studio Ghibli? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen