Take 3: Brave Review

When Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews announced the No True Scotsman Blogathon, there was a list of recommendations on the announcement post. On that list, the Disney Pixar film, Brave, was mentioned. At the time I signed up for the event, no other participant had chosen that movie to review. This surprised me, as Brave is a well-known title. Since I happen to own a copy of this film on DVD, I chose to write about it for the event. This DVD was given to my family as a gift several years ago. But until this blogathon, I never got around to watching it. Animated films are also not reviewed on my blog often. This is because I’ve already seen most of animation’s beloved titles. But there are times when there is that one movie that I skipped over on my journey as a movie blogger. Brave is one of those movies, so now it’s time to finally talk about it.

My picture of my DVD copy of Brave. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Disney Pixar has a reputation for framing their stories in impressive technology. Brave certainly carries that tradition, as the animation looks realistic! In one scene, a close-up of an archery target board is shown. The rough texture was captured through animated technology, making it easy to forget the board wasn’t real. Many scenes took place in a forest at different parts of the day. The natural greens and browns were appealing to the eye, adding depth to the world around the characters. Speaking of hues, I really liked the use of color in this movie! Merida’s hair is a perfect example! No matter where she went, her bright orange hair provided a great contrast. There was one scene where Merida was in a forest at night. Since black was the primary hue in the forest, Merida’s hair gave a pop of color to that scene.

The humor: I haven’t seen a Disney Pixar film in a while. But, from what I remember, humor is a consistent component among these types of projects. When it comes to Brave, the humor was spontaneous, the type of humor I’m a fan of. After a successful day of exploring, Merida is talking to her horse, Angus. Then, out of nowhere, Angus hits Merida with his tail in a silly way. Later in the film, Merida’s suitors are being introduced. The father from one of the clans appears to be talking about a very muscular young man. As the introduction continues, the audience learns the father’s son was hiding behind the muscular young man, actually being much smaller in size.

The writing’s cleverness: While watching this movie, I was able to pick up on the cleverness within the script. When the various clans arrive in Merida’s kingdom, Merida’s mother, Elinor, is making a speech. During that speech, Merida discovers a loop hole that she can use in her favor, as she doesn’t want to get married yet. While we’re talking about the clans, let’s talk about one of the suitor’s fathers. Throughout the story, this character was known as Macintosh. At first, this sounds like a typical Scottish name. However, Brave was dedicated to Steve Jobs, who passed away a year prior to the movie’s release. One of Apple’s products was a Macintosh computer, so naming one of the characters after something related to Steve’s company makes sense.

No True Scotsman Blogathon banner created by Gill from RealWeegiemidget Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

Inconsistent characters: At the beginning of the movie, Elinor is introduced as a caring, protective mother. During her interactions with her daughter, she didn’t come across as overbearing in her protectiveness. But as Merida grows up, Elinor’s personality becomes a “bait and switch”. While she states in the story how she means well, she is overbearing in her protectiveness. At times, Elinor’s change in personality felt over-the-top. Merida herself is another character I found inconsistent. There were times where her clever and critical thinking skills shined, showing how she is an intelligent explorer. However, there are also times when Merida acts like a stereotypical teenager. I understand Merida is a young character and is not meant to be “perfect”. To me, though, it seems like the writers couldn’t decide which aspects of this character they wanted to emphasize.

Things happening too quickly: There were parts of the story that, to me, happened too quickly. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Merida doesn’t want to get married yet. This causes a conflict between her and her mother. While I won’t spoil the movie, I will say the resolution for this conflict was reached with little build-up. The bridge from Point A to B wasn’t as strong as it could have been. In fact, so much time was spent with Elinor and Merida fighting or both of them working to resolve another conflict, that the marriage conflict was somewhat overshadowed.

Parts of the story that didn’t make sense: Toward the beginning of the film, Merida’s father, Fergus, lost one of his legs while attempting to fight an evil bear. While that part of the story is simple to understand, it’s what can be seen in his castle that didn’t make sense to me. At one point, at least one taxidermic bear is found standing against a wall. After going through such a traumatizing experience, why would Fergus want any association with the animal that severely injured him? While we’re on the subject of bears, there is a witch in the story who is a woodcarver, with her work resembling bears. It is never explained why she chooses bears as her artistic focus. Therefore, her emphasis on this specific type of animal kind of felt random.

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

My overall impression:

After sitting in a cabinet still wrapped in the manufacturing plastic, my DVD of Brave has finally gotten some use out of it. Now, you’re wondering what my opinion on the film is. Well, I thought it was just fine. There is good effort that was put into this project, as the animation itself shows. But I can think of other Disney/Disney Pixar titles that are stronger than Brave. While I liked the cleverness found in the script, there was more to be desired from the story. Structural issues, like weaker bridges from Point A to B, hurt the script. Also, it didn’t help how some parts of the story didn’t make sense. Despite all of this, Brave does bring something unique to the table. It’s also nice to see Scottish culture/heritage receive more recognition in the world of cinema.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Brave? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Girl Who Spelled Freedom Review

Originally, I was going to publish a double feature review of Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and The Girl Who Spelled Freedom for the American Experience on Film Blogathon. However, I have also been working on another big project that required more time than I expected. Therefore, I was only able to watch one movie, which was The Girl Who Spelled Freedom. Don’t worry, though, because I will coordinate a double feature to celebrate the publication of 500 posts! The 1986 made-for-tv movie had been unknown to me until this year. I stumbled across The Girl Who Spelled Freedom when I was looking through an IMDB list about family-friendly films. After reading the synopsis, I was interested in watching the movie! There aren’t many cinematic stories that feature a spelling bee. In fact, the only one I can think of is Akeelah and the Bee from 2006. I also realize that Disney creates fewer “based on a true story” movies now than they did decades ago. Because a Disney project hasn’t been reviewed on my blog since last December, let’s begin talking about The Girl Who Spelled Freedom!

The Girl Who Spelled Freedom poster created by Buena Vista Home Video, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), ITC Entertainment Group, Knopf/Simons Productions, and Walt Disney Television. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I have stated in the past, it takes a very talented young actor or actress to carry a film. For Jade Chinn, she did such a great job with the material she was given! What made her performance so memorable is how she utilized body language, emotions, and facial expressions to illustrate Linn’s limited use of English. However, these techniques helped address what the character was experiencing. When Linn was traveling on a plane for the first time, she curled up on the floor in fear. The way Linn was behaving showed the audience that cultural differences and language barriers can turn something as simple as a plane trip into a terrifying experience. Another stand-out performer was Mary Kay Place, who portrayed Prissy Thrash! One of her best scenes took place toward the beginning of the film. Prissy and her husband, George, were dealing with the news of how many members are in Linn’s family. Prissy is so overwhelmed, she suddenly bursts into tears. This moment alone displays the emotionality Mary was able to bring to her performance! A heartwarming scene was when George was teaching Linn and her sisters how to count. The performances from the actors in this scene, especially from Wayne Rogers, appeared so genuine. It was also nice to see the dynamic between these characters!

The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised by some of the cinematography in The Girl Who Spelled Freedom! Even though this is a made-for-tv movie from the mid ‘80s, the cinematography looked like it came from a theatrical production. At the beginning of the film, Linn and her family are crossing a river. One shot is presented as if the viewer is in the water, watching the family moving through the river toward safety. When Linn and her family are staying with the Thrash family, they discover one of the sons is missing. As George and Prissy are searching their home, the camera follows them. This gives the idea the audience are looking for this child alongside the characters.

A balance of heartbreaking and heartwarming moments: With films that deal with emotional material, there are bound to be heartbreaking moments. In The Girl Who Spelled Freedom, there were certainly scenes that were sadder in nature. An example is when Prissy takes Linn and some of her siblings to the park. When the children see a giant statue of the Crucifix, they become scared, as they are instantly reminded of the trauma they experienced. Even though Prissy reminds them that the statue isn’t real, the children are still shaken up by the imagery. At the same time, the film contained light-hearted moments that were heartwarming. At the Thrash family home, Linn accidently walks in on Laura, Prissy and George’s daughter, curling her hair. In an effort to prevent Linn from feeling embarrassed, Laura decides to not only curl Linn’s hair, but also curl Linn’s sisters’ hair. The scene itself was very sweet and showed how a little bit of kindness can make a big difference.

The American Experience on Film Blogathon banner created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini

What I didn’t like about the film:

Missing context: The Girl Who Spelled Freedom has the same flaw The Crow did: there are areas of the story that needed context. One strong example is Linn giving sentimental value to a ring. At the beginning of the film, Linn can be seen looking for a ring in the mud. When she is escaping from a group of soldiers in Thailand, she gives the ring to one of the soldiers. In the United States, Prissy gives one of her rings to Linn. Later in the film, Linn is upset when she accidently drops the ring down the sink. The significance of this ring is never addressed in the film. Linn herself never explains why the ring is so valuable to her. If context had been provided to this part of the story, the audience could try to understand why the ring is important to Linn.

A limited presence of the spelling bee: Before watching this movie, I knew there would be a spelling bee featured in the overall story. However, I was expecting a build-up to the spelling bee, similar to Akeelah and the Bee. While we get to see a spelling bee in The Girl Who Spelled Freedom, it was only referenced a few times before the actual event began. Most of the story focused on Linn’s adjustment to life in the United States. Even though watching the spelling bee unfold was satisfying, I wish it had received a little more emphasis in the film.

A few characters receiving character development: In films that feature bigger casts, it is not easy providing character development to every character involved. But when only a few characters receive character development, it can be disappointing. This is what happened with The Girl Who Spelled Freedom. The only characters who are given character development are the members of the Thrash family and Linn. With Linn’s family, the audience becomes familiar with them, but doesn’t get the opportunity to get to know them. This can also be said about other characters, such as Henry Turner, who helped the Thrash family bring Linn and her family to the United States.

Winner’s medal image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/golden-awards-set-with-colors-details_844356.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The American Experience is a tricky thing to sum up, as everyone’s experiences are going to be different. This is especially the case if someone is a refugee or immigrant. The Girl Who Spelled Freedom is a perfect example of how unique the American Experience can be. For most of the film, Linn and her family deal with “culture shock”, coming across things and situations that they feel are “unusual”. But over time, they start to create their own American Experience. Linn enters a local spelling bee in 1983. An activity that is typically seen as fun and harmless was seen by Linn as a fight for survival, a view that was shaped by her past experiences. Therefore, she was partially responsible for creating her own American Experience. For a television film from the mid ‘80s, I’d say this is one of the better presentations! While the film does have its flaws, it did feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie before the collection moved to Hallmark Channel. After the film, there was an interview with the real-life Thrash and Yann families. Because the audience was able to hear their sides of the story, it added to my enjoyment of the overall project! It’s a shame fewer networks have decided to create made-for-TV films. There are so many stories worth telling, so I hope they are able to get told someday.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Have you seen The Girl Who Spelled Freedom? Are there any television films you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove Review

While hosting A Blogathon to be Thankful For, I was invited by Crystal to join her Agnes Moorehead blogathon. After accepting the invitation and making a quick search through Agnes’ IMDB filmography, I chose the 1971 Disney film, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove! According to the synopsis, this is about a small group of children who make a monster so their teacher wouldn’t be ridiculed by others in their town. Recently, Crystal’s brother, Jarrahn, shared the news that Crystal was in a coma. This meant that Jarrahn and Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, would be co-hosting the event. Hearing the news about Crystal was saddening. However, I was glad to see Jarrahn and Gill step up to the plate to help a fellow blogger and sister in need.

The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove created by The Walt Disney Company. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. 

Things I liked about the film:

Genuine portrayals: Since I chose to review this movie because of Agnes Moorehead’s involvement, I’ll talk about her performance first. She portrays Mrs. Pringle, a local bird watcher who is also a well-known gossip. Throughout the film, this character took everything she did seriously. It got to the point where she seemed to care too much. However, Agnes’ portrayal was so genuine, I actually liked seeing Mrs. Pringle show up. Other genuine portrayals came from Annie McEveety, Jimmy Bracken, and Patrick Creamer. As Tippy, Scott, and Catfish, these actors appeared to work well together. The friendship between the children felt realistic and it was nice to see their camaraderie over the course of the film!

The messages and themes: Within the story of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, messages related to standing up for those you care about, teamwork, and listening to what someone has to say are found. A good example is when Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish work together to build the monster for their teacher. Because Henry Meade, the teacher, is important to the children, they stand up for him and help in any way they realistically can. Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish spend days building the monster by gathering material and putting the pieces together on their own. This part of the story also emphasizes putting others before yourself.

The mystery of the smugglers’ “boss”: A group of smugglers inhabit a run-down house near the protagonist’s small town. Throughout the film, these criminals briefly talk about their “boss”. However, this particular character isn’t revealed until about the last twenty minutes of the movie. The mystery of the “boss’s” identity kept me invested in the film, giving me an opportunity to figure out who this person was. Even though I had an idea of who the “boss” could be, I was surprised by the final outcome.

The Second Agnes Moorehead Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is an hour and thirty-minute film. While this is the typical length of time for a made-for-tv presentation, it was too long for this particular title. That’s because the story was simple and straight forward, needing only about thirty minutes to be told. The run-time of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove made the overall project too drawn out.

The smuggling subplot: In The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, there was a subplot involving smugglers importing valuables into the protagonist’s small town. The subplot itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like it was included in the film just to satisfy the run-time and push the plot forward. As I previously stated, the story is simple and straight forward. The inclusion of the smuggling subplot unnecessarily complicated a narrative that was easier to understand.

The main plot being overshadowed: As I mentioned in the introduction, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is about a small group of children who create a monster in order to defend their teacher from being ridiculed. However, when the smuggling subplot is introduced, the children change their focus to finding the smugglers’ hidden treasure. This causes the main plot to be pushed to the side for the sake of highlighting the subplot. With a movie titled The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, a viewer would expect the film to primarily revolve around the monster the children create. Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive as much attention as the title suggests.

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type="URL" data-id="<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.comStrawberry background image created by Bluelela from freepik.com.

My overall impression:

To me, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove was ok. However, I feel this specific story would have been better served as an episode from a children’s/family-friendly show. The straight-forward plot could be resolved in a short amount of time. In the movie, it was drawn out to over an hour. It also doesn’t help that the smuggling subplot pushed the main plot out of the way. The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is not the worst film I’ve seen this year. In fact, I could tell the creative team behind this movie had their hearts in the right place. But when it comes to films of this nature, I have seen better. Younger children might enjoy this title, as it features young characters saving the day. But older audience members might find themselves more bored than entertained.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove? Which made-for-tv movie would you like to see me review next? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

‘Phantom of the Megaplex’ at 20: A Reflection on the Movie-Going Experience

Anyone who knows me would know that one of my favorite movies is the Disney Channel film, Phantom of the Megaplex. In fact, this movie has had a great influence on my life, as it showed me that the world of film and the movie-going experience could be fun. Because its milestone 20th birthday was on November 10th, I decided to use my entry for my blogathon, A Blogathon to be Thankful For, to celebrate this special occasion. A lot has changed since 2000, especially the movie-going experience. With that said, this editorial will highlight how different a trip to the theater is now compared to its depiction in Phantom of the Megaplex. The actual birthday itself looked very different than expected, due to the months-long Coronavirus pandemic. For the sake of this editorial, I will be discussing today’s theater-going experience as if 2020 were a typical year. Also, all of the photos are screenshots I took, unless stated otherwise.

Phantom of the Megaplex poster created by the Walt Disney Company and Disney Channel. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Disney XD© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Purchasing a Ticket

In Phantom of the Megaplex, Karen, the younger sister of the film’s protagonist, Pete, plans on arriving at the theater at 7:30 in order to catch a 7:50 showing of a movie called ‘University of Death’. When she and her younger brother, Brian, get to the theater, they are stuck waiting in a long line. This is the result of Movie Mason, a patron of the theater, spending more time persuading guests to see better films than taking their tickets. Fortunately, Karen isn’t late to her film. But, when she meets her friend outside the auditorium’s door, Karen and her friend briefly discuss the idea of their other friend saving seats for them. The example I just described shows how movie-goers in 2000 used to arrive much earlier than their movie’s run-time to not only purchase a ticket, but to also claim their seat of choice. In addition, movie-goers arrived early to the theater to avoid any unexpected hiccups like the one I mentioned. Twenty years later, it’s still encouraged to show up early to the theater so you’re not late to your film. However, buying tickets and choosing seats are not an issue like they were before. Thanks to the internet, movie-goers can purchase their tickets on their local theater’s website or from a third-party site like Fandango or Atom Tickets. Movie-goers are given an opportunity to reserve their seats as well. Had the story of Phantom of the Megaplex taken place now, all Karen and Brian would have to do is show an employee their pre-paid, printed out ticket and avoid a line like the one Movie Mason created.

The line on the left gives viewers an idea of how long Karen and Brian’s line was. They could have been walking up the stairs on the right with their pre-paid, printed out ticket if this movie was released in 2020.
When movie-goers purchase their tickets online, they will see an image like this screenshot when choosing their seats. Image found at https://giftofocpd.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/theatre-seat-selection/.

Auditorium Chairs

Several scenes in Phantom of the Megaplex show the auditoriums inside the theater. All of the chairs featured are covered in a red material with a folding seat. Theater-goers in 2000 would have this style of chair as their only option. But since then, more cinemas have adopted recliners. There are even theaters that have chosen other forms of seating, such as couches and lounge chairs. However, if you would like to sit in a theater chair from twenty years ago, there is one theater chain that has put these chairs to good use. Two Emagine theaters in Minnesota offer “retro seating”. According to the theater’s website, these are “retro auditoriums that don’t feature recliners, but have throwback seats with throwback prices”.

The Cotton Hills Megaplex is filled with red covered chairs with folding seats like the ones pictured above.
Red leather recliners from Marcus Theatres are just one example of how cinemas have evolved their seating options. Image found at https://journalstar.com/business/local/marcus-to-remodel-the-grand-add-recliners-to-all-auditoriums/article_ff46f554-0eeb-56ec-a153-2a8d79e00f71.html
While I wasn’t able to find an official photo of Emagine’s Retro Seating, I did find this picture from one of the theater’s auditoriums, which gives movie-goers an idea of the type of chairs found in this particular screening room. Image found at https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g43333-d8360379-i207947595-Monticello_15_Theatre-Monticello_Minnesota.html

Bars

Because Phantom of the Megaplex is a family friendly film, bars would not be found at the cinema. However, theaters have added bars to their facilities within the past two decades. One example is AMC Theaters’ MacGuffins Bar. AMC’s official website states “the term “macguffin,” coined by Alfred Hitchcock, refers to a plot device that propels a movie forward”. The website, Run Pee (a site that informs audience members of the best times to take bathroom breaks during a movie), shares that MacGuffins Bar sometimes correlates drinks with the movies shown at the theater. One example is “a dino-themed bevvie when Jurassic World 2 was showing”.

This advertisement from MacGuffins Bar & Lounge takes advantage of Wonder Woman‘s 2017 release with an exclusive drink inspired by the movie. Image found at https://www.scoopnest.com/user/AMCTheatres/873698822307708929-wonderful-flavor-order-our-wonderwoman-themed-macguffins-drink-39gauntlet39-this-weekend

Movie’s Poster at the Door

Throughout the Cotton Hills Megaplex, the theater where Phantom of the Megaplex takes place, a movie’s poster is located in front of the auditorium the movie will be playing. In a scene where the “Phantom” causes mischief, a poster for a movie titled ‘Glimpses of Genevieve’ is located right next to the theater’s twenty third auditorium. The film’s title is also electronically shown above the poster. Personally, I have never seen this particular set-up at any theater I’ve attended. Also, theaters today will either not have any indicator (besides the ticket itself) of what movie is playing in the auditorium or the film’s title will be electronically shown above the auditorium’s door. The poster itself will be located in another area of the theater, such as near the main entrance.

This image shows the poster for ‘Glimpses of Genevieve’ sitting right in front of Cotton Hills Megaplex’s twenty third auditorium.
My screenshot features an entrance to a cinema’s auditorium showing 2020’s Tenet. At this specific cinema, the film’s title is above the door.

Cinema Sitter

One of the characters in Phantom of the Megaplex is a “cinema sitter”, an elderly woman who walks around the premises and makes sure the theater’s patrons are on their best behavior. Her role is similar to that of a hall monitor, reprimanding guests who wander the halls of the Cotton Hills Megaplex. This is another concept that I have never seen or heard of at any theater I’ve attended. I’m also not aware of “cinema sitters” being an official component of movie theaters prior to the release of Phantom of the Megaplex. The only thing closest to a “cinema sitter” in real life is Harkins Theatres’ PlayCenter. This space, located in select Harkins Theatres, is dedicated to looking after children while their parents are seeing a movie. The PlayCenter itself would be compared to a typical day care center, a place where children can be occupied while their parents are away. According to the official Harkins Theatres website, “PlayCenter staff members are trained professionals who work exclusively in the PlayCenter. They are background checked and fingerprinted.”

Karen is trying to find Brian with the help of this cinema sitter. The cinema sitter takes her job so seriously, that her title is labeled on the back of her smock.
This photo of Harkins Theatres PlayCenter looks very similar to what people would expect a typical daycare center to look like. Image found at https://www.lblittles.com/cerritos-harkins-family-theater/

Payphones

A row of payphones can be occasionally seen throughout Phantom of the Megaplex. From Pete calling his mom to one of Pete’s co-workers, Lacy, putting a phone back in the payphone holder, these payphones are used to scare Julie, Pete’s mom, and George, Julie’s boyfriend, into going to the cinema to check on Julie’s children. While I’m not denying the existence of payphones in movie theaters, I personally don’t remember seeing payphones in the cinema. Since the film’s release, cellphones, particularly the smart phone variety, have become more common in society. This modern advancement has ultimately led payphones to become more obsolete.

The row of payphones behind Pete are a reminder of how communication devices have changed.
Can you spot the payphone in this theater lobby?

The Projection Booth

The projection booth in Phantom of the Megaplex is operated by Merle, the head projectionist at the Cotton Hills Megaplex. When Pete and Brian ask Merle to resolve one of the “Phantom’s” shenanigans, Merle inspects the projector equipment to show Pete and Brian what likely happened. He even pulls a piece of film strip, proving that the movie itself had not been tampered with. In 2000, movie theaters were not utilizing digital cinema like they are today. Instead of using a digitized film reel or hard drives and internet links, theaters used film reels with strips of film. The closest thing to “state of the art” film projection cinemas had in 2000 was IMAX. Today, theaters are developing their own versions of this projecting concept. One example is Cinemark XD, found at Cinemark Theatres. According to the official website, Cinemark XD uses a “state-of-the-art projector capable of 35 trillion colors”.

In this scene, Merle pulls at a piece of film strip to show how it is perfectly intact.
A typical projection booth at a digital cinema. Notice how the film strips are missing? Image found at https://library.creativecow.net/articles/lasson_russell/digital_cinema.php
Computer chips, known to theaters as cinema chips, are replacing film strips in many cinemas. Image found at https://library.creativecow.net/articles/lasson_russell/digital_cinema.php

Spoilers

In an effort to figure out the “Phantom’s” next scheme, Brian visits a movie spoiler website to discover the plot of an upcoming movie called “Midnight Mayhem”. The idea of spoilers has not changed in twenty years. However, the reveal of movie details has expanded beyond websites devoted to the concept. Spoilers can be found everywhere. Social media platforms have been avoided when big blockbusters are released. Warnings for spoilers can be featured toward the beginning of film reviews. Causal word of mouth may slip a major plot point into the conversation. With recent technological progress and the ability to connect with people from across the globe, it has actually become harder to prevent surprises in movies from being spoiled.

While today’s spoilers may be found on the internet, they’re not limited to exclusive websites, like the one pictured above, anymore.

Conclusion

Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to the movie-going experience. Through the lens of film, we are given an opportunity to glimpse the past, even if it is only for a few hours. Phantom of the Megaplex captures how the cinema operated in the beginning of the millennium. It serves as a time capsule for those who remember that specific place in time. The movie is also a reminder of how far cinematic technology and the cinema itself has come. As of November 2020, it is unclear to determine what the landscape of movie theaters will look like by the time Phantom of the Megaplex turns twenty-five. While technology in film has made tremendous strides, there is still a lot that can be done. But will there be a facility to showcase these discoveries? There is no straightforward answer that can be given right now. However, we can still celebrate a movie’s milestone birthday through home entertainment and the internet. Like Movie Mason once said, “tell my theater that even when I’m not here, its magic is never far from my heart”.

Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Links to topics I mentioned in this editorial:

Retro Seating: https://www.emagine-entertainment.com/theatres/emagine-rogers/, https://www.emagine-entertainment.com/theatres/emagine-lakeville/

MacGuffins Bar: https://runpee.com/macguffins-bars-at-amc-theaters/

Harkins Theatres’ PlayCenter: https://www.harkins.com/play-center

Cinemark XD: https://cinemark.com/technology/cinemark-xd/

Digital Cinema: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_cinema#:~:text=Whereas%20film%20reels%20have%20to%20be%20shipped%20to,drives%20or%20optical%20discs%20such%20as%20Blu-ray%20discs.

Word on the Street: Regal Cinemas to Temporarily Close Their Doors + 2019’s ‘The Lion King’ Will Receive a Second Film

For this month’s Word on the Street story, I was only going to talk about 2019’s ‘The Lion King’ receiving a second film. However, when I heard about Cineworld’s recent decision, I just had to talk about it. Yesterday, on October 4th, Chris Lindahl from IndieWire reported “a temporary suspension” is being placed on the United States and United Kingdom locations of Regal Cinemas. Chris also said this plan would start on October 8th. Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, claimed in an official statement the closure “is not a decision we made lightly”. This closure being temporary is a silver lining. However, I do feel bad for Regal’s employees and patrons.

Others have also talked about this story, including Todd Russell from Movies, Movies, Movies, and Geeky and Kneon from Clownfish TV. Todd’s take on this piece of movie news brings up a good point. In his article, Todd questions Regal’s practices for new releases, asking the question, “if you temporarily ignore the theatrical window and embrace more direct to streaming titles you can show plenty of new movies, so why won’t you try that?” Here’s another question that should be asked; why would Regal decide to re-release Alita: Battle Angel if they had even the slightest concern of their theaters staying open? Until newer blockbuster titles can come back to the big screen, Regal could have shown older films to keep themselves afloat. While this idea has been adopted by other theaters, it seems like it would have been a win-win for Alita’s fans and Regal. According to Clownfish TV’s Kneon, an online campaign created by fans of Alita revolved around their effort to have Alita: Battle Angel re-released. Three days later, on October 3rd, Kneon announced the campaign was successful, with his video featuring a tweet from Regal Cinemas about the news. Regal’s tweet was posted on October 2nd, two days before IndieWire’s Chris Lindahl reported on Cineworld’s decision. Alita: Battle Angel was originally scheduled for an October 30th re-release.

Sources for this piece of movie news:

Clownfish TV’s videos (you can type these titles in the search bar on Youtube): ‘Alita: Battle Angel RE-RELEASED to Theaters? Fans Want #RereleaseAlita to Trend!’, ‘Alita Army VICTORIOUS! Theaters to #ReReleaseAlita Beginning this Month!’, and ‘Regal Cinemas SHUT DOWN! Hollywood Will Take YEARS to Recover!’ (these videos may contain language)

In this screenshot I took with my phone, Regal’s official tweet about Alita: Battle Angel‘s re-release is shown. The circle and arrow in the picture stress the dates of the tweet’s release and Alita: Battle Angel‘s planned re-release. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

While this isn’t a recent piece of movie news, it’s one I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about. Last week, Rebecca Rubin and Brent Lang from Variety revealed the 2019 remake of Disney’s The Lion King will receive a second film. The two authors said “the new movie will partly focus on the early years of Mufasa”. The screenwriter from the 2019 movie, Jeff Nathanson, will join the team, with Barry Jenkins directing the film. Since we’re on the subject of The Lion King, I’d like to share one of Rafiki’s quotes from the 1994 film; “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or…learn from it”. With this new creative decision, it seems like Disney is running from their past, especially when it features mistakes. Two years ago, the studio released Solo: A Star Wars Story, a movie that revolved around the early years of Han Solo. The film’s overall box office results were $393,151,347, making it one of the lowest grossing films in the franchise’s history. Solo: A Star Wars Story contributed to a problem Disney has had for years; choosing not to tell newer stories in favor of tried-and-true properties. Even though this new chapter of The Lion King is in pre-production, Disney’s choices show they are refusing to follow Simba’s lead by learning from their past.

Sources for this piece of movie news:

https://variety.com/2020/film/news/lion-king-sequel-director-barry-jenkins-1234786355/

https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Solo-A-Star-Wars-Story#tab=box-office

https://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Star-Wars#tab=summary

Empty theater photo created by rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Is there a theater open near you? Let me know in the comment section.

Stay safe.

Sally Silverscreen

The 2020 Unpopular Opinions Tag

Last week, I announced I would be publishing a celebratory post to commemorate reaching 200 movie reviews. Now that my 200th review is published, it’s time for the celebrating to begin! Two months ago, I read an Unpopular Opinions Tag post from the creator of Iridium Eye Reviews, Ospreyshire. This post inspired me to create an Unpopular Opinions Tag article of my own! However, I waited for the perfect opportunity to post it. Since publishing 200 movie reviews is an accomplishment, I thought this would be a good way to start the week! Before I begin, I’d like to remind my readers, followers, and visitors that these answers are based on my opinion. This post is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative.

Shocked man image created by Cookie_studio at freepik.com. People photo created by cookie_studio – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.
  1. Popular series I don’t like* (* – as much as other people do)

For this question, I had to put an asterisk by the series I chose. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, I don’t like Signed, Sealed, Delivered anywhere near as much as other people do. I find the overall quality to be inconsistent. While there have been a few movies I enjoyed, the majority of them, in my opinion, are either ok, decent, or bad. It also doesn’t help that the stories tend to emphasize the personal lives of the Postables over the mysteries of the letters. When the next Signed, Sealed, Delivered film is eventually released, I hope it’s one of the better ones.

2. Popular movie I like, but everyone seems to hate

I’ll select two movies for this question: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I haven’t watched these movies in several years, but I remember liking both of them over the first one. Over time, I discovered most people like the first movie, but dislike the second and third films. Personally, I think the first three films make up a solid trilogy!

3. Love triangle where the character didn’t end up with the character I wanted

I’m going to discuss a relationship from an animated movie for question number three. I haven’t seen FernGully: The Last Rainforest in a long time. However, I recall not agreeing with Crysta’s decision to stay with Pips. I found Pips to be a terrible significant other. Not only does he bully others, but he also manipulates Crysta by creating a false image of himself instead of being honest with her. Based on a video review I saw a few years ago, Pips apparently becomes a nicer person in FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue. But, personally, I feel the sequel was created to justify Crysta’s decision.

4. Popular genre you hardly watch

For me, this genre would definitely be documentaries. Either I don’t have the opportunity to purchase/rent them or I rarely come across one I’m actually excited about. The last one I watched was Life, Animated, which I would recommend to those who are fans of animation. I recently discovered a docuseries called The Road to Miss Amazing, so I might get around to checking that out!

Group of unhappy image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

5. Beloved character you don’t like

Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara would be my choice for this question. She’s a static character with an unpleasant personality. Following her for about four hours doesn’t help either. I’m also not a fan of Scarlett’s relationship with Rhett Butler, which is one of the unhealthiest relationships in film.

6. Popular show or series I can’t get into

BYU-TV aired reruns of Wind at My Back for a period of time. Because I’m a fan of When Calls the Heart, I thought Wind at My Back would be a show I’d like. I watched two episodes with an open mind, but I ended up not becoming invested in the program. Wind at My Back is a show that tries to be a Hallmark Hall of Fame-esque production without showing an understanding for what makes a Hallmark Hall of Fame project typically work. Based on the two episodes I saw, I found the show to be devoid of humor. Wind at My Back is a show that was meant for someone. However, I recognize that someone was not me.

7. Popular show or movie I have no interest in seeing

When it comes to movies, I have no interest in seeing any of the Sharknado films. I know any title from that series would be a perfect choice for Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. But just because other people say a film is “so bad it’s good”, it doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to agree with them. The tv show I’ll choose for this question is the Canadian program, Heartland. This show has been on the air since 2007. Since this chronological story has been running for so long, I don’t have the time to devote to Heartland. Also, I’m a person who watches more movies than television.

8. Popular show or movie I prefer over the book

This year, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and saw its film adaptation. While I thought the book was fine, I found the movie to be a better story-teller than the source material. The 1962 film went to the heart of the text a lot sooner, cutting out a lot of the “slice of life” content I wasn’t a fan of. Visual elements, such as suspense and cinematography, helped to enhance the story.

To Kill a Mockingbird poster created by Brentwood Productions, Pakula-Mulligan, and Universal Pictures. Image found at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:To_Kill_a_Mockingbird_(1963_US_theatrical_poster).jpg

Bonus Round: Movie I used to love, but I hate now

In this last question, I’ll talk about two movies. The first is High School Musical, a movie I used to like, but now strongly dislike. When it premiered in 2006, I really liked the concept of a modern-day musical airing on Disney Channel. This brought something new to the table. In a short amount of time, High School Musical became bigger than it needed to be, which made it appear everywhere. It also started what I call the “instant celebrity” trend, where characters are no longer allowed to lead typical lives and deal with typical problems (examples: Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens). These things have turned me off from High School Musical.

The next movie is Avatar, a movie that I don’t dislike, but have fallen out of love with. I enjoyed the movie when it first came out. But as time went on, it lost relevancy. It also didn’t help when James Cameron kept pushing back the release dates for his sequels. Every movie doesn’t have to start a franchise, with Avatar as a prime example.

Did you like reading my Unpopular Opinions Tag post? Which tag would you like to see me write about next? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Never a Dull Moment Review

Like I said in my Follow Me, Boys! review, I have several movies on my DVR. Most of these films were recorded last year or over a year ago. Last night, I chose to watch one of these films, which I added to my DVR last June. This film is Never a Dull Moment! Sometime, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a marathon called “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. When this event takes place, the network will show a collection of smaller titles and lesser known films from Disney. In one of these marathons, Never a Dull Moment was included in the line-up. While I had never heard of this film prior to the marathon, I have seen two of Dick Van Dyke’s movies. Because one of those films was Mary Poppins, which I have enjoyed, I had a good indication that I might like Never a Dull Moment. Was this the case? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

Never a Dull Moment poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NeverADullMoment1968.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Before watching Never a Dull Moment, I had seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. A consistent component of Dick Van Dyke’s acting abilities I have noticed is the strong adaptability. In one scene, his character, Jack, is acting drunk in an attempt to impersonate a gangster. Moments later, Jack is crying over the loss of a fictional Aunt Gladys. This is a great example of how Dick could effortlessly take on any situation through his performance! At limited moments in the film, a gangster named Florian would appear. This character was portrayed by Tony Bill. What I liked about his performance is how calm and collected his persona came across. Even though Florian was Leo Smooth’s henchman, he presented an idea of a gangster that people have come to recognize in film. While I liked Dorothy Provine’s portrayal of Sally, I want to talk about Joanna Cook Moore’s portrayal of Melanie, as her on-screen presence was shorter. Joanna’s personality was bubbly, which appeared natural for her character. During a scene where Melanie is showing Jack some of her figure skating photos, Joanna seemed to use her performance to light up the room. Her on-screen presence was memorable, despite being featured in only three scenes.

The set design: I was really impressed by the set design in Never a Dull Moment! Since the movie takes place in New York, tall skyscrapers and even the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen. This specific set looked impressive, making the location feel larger than life! Another great example of set design was Leo Smooth’s mansion. My favorite feature of this set was the consistency and fine detailing of the woodwork, especially on the staircase! A local art museum is where the film’s heist is featured. During the climax, various art exhibits are showcased. The Pop Art exhibit was the best one, as the art itself was colorful. It was also large in scale, creating a space that felt grand.

The music: If used well, music can help set a tone for either the whole movie or a particular scene. The music certainly did that for Never a Dull Moment! Whenever Jack was sneaking around Leo’s mansion, smooth jazz music could be heard. This fits the tone of those scenes because it emulates a feeling of curiosity that usually comes from film-noir and mysteries. In a scene involving a spinning piece of art, music from a merry-go-round was playing in the background. Since the art itself is colorful and the scene is meant to be humorous, this musical selection makes sense.

Art tools image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flar-art-tools-pack_835368.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>.  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paint”>Paint vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: One overarching narrative of Never a Dull Moment revolves around a group of gangsters planning to steal a valuable painting. While an important component of any heist is the preparation stage, this part of the process lasted longer than it should have. Only one scene is dedicated to highlighting the plans for the heist. But the rest of that time was spent focusing on things not related to the heist. One example is Melanie Smooth attempting to relive her glory days as a famous figure skater. Moments like this had nothing to do with the heist and caused the overall story to feel drawn out.

Little sense of urgency: Heist films are usually fast paced, as there is a sense of urgency to carry out the heist. But, in Never a Dull Moment, the amount of urgency within the story was small. For most of the film, Jack hangs out at Leo Smooth’s mansion. This part of the movie was mundane, as little to no excitement was taking place. Even the gangsters’ activities didn’t feel out of the ordinary. A good example is when Leo is painting in his office. While the overall level of excitement picked up when the heist started, the build-up itself was not exciting.

A dull first half: With a title like Never a Dull Moment, you’d think the movie as a whole would be intriguing and action-packed. However, that is not the case for this film. I found the first half of the movie to be dull. This is the result of the story being drawn out and a small amount of urgency. Even though a part of the overall narrative focuses on a heist, this aspect of the story seemed to be an afterthought within the film’s first half. The heist itself took place in the second half of the movie. But this doesn’t make up for the weak nature of the previous segment.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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.

My overall impression:

As of late June to early July 2020, I have reviewed four live-action Disney films from the ‘60s. Three out of four of these movies have been ok or “middle of the road”. Never a Dull Moment was one of them. I will say this is a better heist movie than Logan Lucky. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I had expected it to be. The film is titled Never a Dull Moment, but the first half of the story is just that: dull. It also doesn’t help that there was a small amount of urgency. But the movie did contain elements that I did like. Some of them includes the acting and the set design. As weird as it sounds, Never a Dull Moment doesn’t feel like a Disney movie. It’s understandable for a studio to try new things and think outside the box. Never a Dull Moment, however, seems like belongs to a different studio. Like my Follow Me, Boys! review, I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of Dick Van Dyke’s films? Which live-action Disney film from the ‘60s do you like or dislike? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Follow Me, Boys! Review + 205 Follower Thank You

Two days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 205 followers! I want to thank all of my followers for making this accomplishment a reality! Currently, there are several movies on my DVR. In fact, some of these films were recorded over a year ago. So, I decided to choose one of these movies for this review. As the title reads, this movie is Follow Me, Boys!, which had sat on my DVR since early 2018. Every film studio has their hidden gems. While it’s impossible to watch every one of these projects, I try my best to talk about them on this blog. Follow Me, Boys! is a movie I had never heard of prior to recording it. However, there have been some enjoyable live-action Disney films from around the release of Follow Me, Boys!, such as The Moon-Spinners and Mary Poppins. Did I enjoy this film as much as the two aforementioned pictures? Follow me through this review as we’re about to find out!

In case you’re wondering, this is a screenshot of the film’s poster I took from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching this film, there were some performances that I was pleasantly surprised to see. One of them came from Lillian Gish. Last year, I reviewed one of her movies, which was The Whales of August. A similarity between Lillian’s role in that movie and Follow Me, Boys! is how pleasant it was to watch! Even though she was only in the film for a limited amount of time, I liked the moments when her character, Hetty Seibert, showed up on screen! What helped Lillian’s performance was her on-screen personality and the on-screen chemistry she had with her co-stars. I was also surprised to see Kurt Russell’s performance in this film, even though, prior to watching Follow Me, Boys!, I was aware that Kurt had starred in several Disney productions. The one aspect that stood out to me was the emotional strength Kurt carried through his portrayal of Whitey. This especially helped during the more dramatic moments of the story, such as when Whitey was dealing with his father. Kurt’s performance worked in his favor for not only this film, but also for his career long time.

The historical accuracy: The story of Follow Me, Boys! spans a total of twenty years, from 1930 to 1950. During the movie, I noted how good the historical accuracy looked! One aspect of this that serves as proof is the vehicles that are used. Toward to the beginning of the film, Hetty can be seen driving a car that looks like a Ford Model T. Because it’s 1930 at this point in the story, it would make sense for this kind of vehicle to be shown. At the end of the movie, when the story takes place in 1950, Lem and Vida are riding in a Plymouth automobile. These vehicles also helped show the transition between these time periods. It’s details like this one that show how much the creative team cared about the delivery of their project.

The camaraderie among the Boy Scout troop: Because this story spans a long period of time, the members of the film’s Boy Scout troop come and go. However, a consistent element was the troop’s camaraderie. While watching the troop’s evolution, the boys appeared to get along with one another and enjoy each other’s company. More often than not, the troop’s members work together during activities. They also promote the ideas of friendship, teamwork, and respect. The actors delivered the believability through their performances, which helped increase this group’s likeability.

Illustrated image of Boy Scout troop created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Banner vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: A film’s run-time can make or break that production. If a movie feels too long or short, it could affect the movie-viewing experience. This element definitely impacted my perspective of this film. I watched Follow Me, Boys! on television and the run-time was listed at 2 hours and 33 minutes. On IMDB, the movie has a run-time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. This story did not warrant a run-time this long, with situations being placed in the film for the sake of satisfying this run-time. The movie would have been more enjoyable if it was an hour and thirty or forty minutes long. That way, the overall story wouldn’t feel drawn out.

Little to no adversity: One of the over-arching narratives of Follow Me, Boys! is the formation and existence of a local Boy Scout troop. Despite how much of the story revolves around this group, they don’t experience many obstacles. When the troop does experience a conflict, it becomes quickly and easily resolved. This is different from a story like Troop Beverly Hills, where the troop faced several obstacles that last longer than a few minutes. Because of this choice, it seemed like situations in Follow Me, Boys! happened way too conveniently in the Boy Scout troop’s favor.

Situations happening too quickly: Despite the film being over two hours, some situations in this movie happened too quickly. A perfect example is Lem and Vida’s relationship, with no smooth transitions during each stage. In one scene, Lem and Vida are having their first major argument. A few minutes later, they are seen getting married. I know the film was supposed to show time progressing. However, the poor transitions caused some parts of the story to feel rushed.

Law school textbooks image created by Peter Skadberg at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Peter Skadberg.”

My overall impression:

The way I feel about Follow Me, Boys! is the same way I feel about Summer Magic: it’s just ok. This film did have its merits and it felt like the creative team had their hearts in the right place. But the project does have a big flaw that I cannot overlook. The run-time of Follow Me, Boys! is too long, making the movie feel like it’s dragging its feet through the mud. This was the root of other flaws within the movie, like situations happening too quickly and scenario placements that only serve to satisfy the run-time. I had to, occasionally, pause the film just to check how much time was left. While I can’t fully recommend this movie, I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

Have you seen Follow Me, Boys! Are there any Disney films from the ‘60s you’d like me to review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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