Take 3: Kingdom of Heaven Review

This is my second year participating in the Rule, Britannia Blogathon. In 2020, I reviewed the 2002 adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, a movie I ended up liking so much, I now want to read the source material. For the 8th annual event, I chose to write about another film from the 2000s; 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven. This is a movie I have heard about, but never got around to seeing. Until this blogathon, it had sat on my DVR for three years. Since the movie stars Orlando Bloom, a British actor, the Rule, Britannia Blogathon seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally check the film out. One of the few things I knew about this movie was that it had something to do with the Crusades. This is a time period I know very little about. However, this didn’t stop me from giving the film a fair chance. What did I think of this 2005 title? Keep reading if you want to find out!

Kingdom of Heaven poster created by Scott Free Productions, Inside Track, Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures GmbH, 20th Century Fox, and  Warner Bros. Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, Orlando Bloom’s involvement in this project is one of the reasons why I chose to review Kingdom of Heaven. Prior to watching the film, I had seen the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, where Orlando consistently portrayed Will Turner. While the character of Balian is similar to Will, each role is distinct. To an extent, Orlando’s performance in Kingdom of Heaven reminded me of Vincent Perez’s portrayal of Yanko from Swept from the Sea. While Balian is a masculine character, he also displayed a gentle charm. A good example is when Balian arrives in Jerusalem. He gives his prize horse to the servant of his opponent. When the servant asks why Balian would make this decision, Balian replies how he doesn’t want the horse to suffer.

In Kingdom of Heaven, Eva Green portrayed a queen named Sibylla. Despite appearing in the movie for a limited amount of time, I did enjoy watching her performance! I noticed how fluid Eva’s emotions were. This allowed her to adapt to any situation her character faced. It also helps that she was able to excel, acting wise, alongside her co-stars. Another character I wish appeared in the film more was King Baldwin IV. Portrayed by Edward Norton, this character was a leper. Therefore, he was completely covered and wore a mask. Edward’s use of body movement and expressive eyes make up for the lack of facial expressions. His approach to his role made King Baldwin IV a compelling character to watch!

The scenery: “Sword and sandal” movies are known for featuring breath-taking scenery. Kingdom of Heaven also brings beautiful scenery to the table, showcasing desert, oceanic, and forest landscapes. Toward the beginning of the movie, Balian resided in the French countryside. This area was surrounded by deep green forestry, the ground and trees lightly covered in snow. As Balian travels to Messina, the city is met with a clear, blue ocean. The hue of the water beautifully complimented the warm sandstone of the nearby buildings. While Jerusalem is in the middle of a desert, palm trees brought a pop of color to the environment. These plants helped make Jerusalem appear as an oasis.

The historical accuracy: I’m not familiar with this particular period in history. But based on the limited information I do know, the movie appeared to be historically accurate. Throughout the film, knight’s armor could be seen. Helmets, swords, and other related gear adopted an older style. Some of the swords boasted jewels, with Balian’s sword displaying a giant ruby. Even the attack towers from one of the film’s battles looked as if it came directly from the time of the Crusades. As I’ve said about other period films, details like the ones I mentioned show how much the creative team cared about the presentation of their project!

The 8th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon banner created by Terence from A Shroud of Thoughts.

What I didn’t like about film:

Sibylla’s unclear motives: During Balian’s time in Jerusalem, Sibylla becomes romantically interested in him. But she’s already married, a fact that Balian himself is aware of. Balian’s reason for going to Jerusalem was to seek forgiveness for his and his deceased wife’s sins. After meeting Sibylla, he, more often than not, doesn’t object to Sibylla’s romantic interest for him. I was left confused on what her motives were for wanting to be with Balian. At times, I wondered if Sibylla’s situation was similar to Rose’s from Titanic, simply stuck in a loveless relationship and desperately looking for a way out. Other times, I thought Sibylla was attempting to seduce Balian toward sin. I wish these motives were clarified in the script.

A limited incorporation of religion/faith: Because Kingdom of Heaven takes place around the time of the Crusades, I was expecting religion/faith to be one of the cornerstones of this story. While the topic is included in the film, its incorporation is very limited. Before watching this movie, I thought the story was going to be similar to 1959’s Ben-Hur, with the protagonist trying to live his life as a man of the people and of faith. But we never get to see Balian’s internal struggle with these responsibilities. Instead, the audience sees Balian resolve smaller non-religious conflicts which lead to a much bigger conflict. Even though people can be seen praying, there is more to religion/faith than prayer. The script relied more on who would rule Jerusalem than how religion/faith played a role within that world.

A more episodic story: When it comes to “sword and sandal” movies, there is usually an overarching conflict the characters work to resolve over the course of the story. But in Kingdom of Heaven, most of the story is episodic. As I said earlier, Balian wants to go to Jerusalem to seek forgiveness for his and his deceased wife’s sins. Once he has achieved his goal, he moves on to another conflict that is resolved within a short amount of time. This is how the story plays out for about the first half of the movie. There is a major conflict that receives a lot of attention in the film’s second half. However, it feels more like a climax than an event the characters are working towards.

White horse image created by Gabor Palla at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla.”

My overall impression:

Two years ago, I reviewed 1959’s Ben-Hur, a classic “sword and sandal” film. Despite seeing it for the first time, I was over the moon by the strength of the movie’s quality. With Kingdom of Heaven, I didn’t feel the same way. Yes, the 2005 title is a fine, well-made production. But there were times I was confused as I followed along with the story. Like I mentioned in my review, Sibylla’s motives for being romantically interested in Balian were not made clear. However, this is one example of my confusion. Even though this movie was released over ten years ago, I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. But I will say that something happens toward the end of the film that left me wondering if everything the characters worked for was worth it. As someone who knows very little about the Crusades, I was hoping to use my movie viewing experience as a learning opportunity. While I did learn some information, I feel there’s far more I need to discovery. I’ve heard there is a director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven. If this information is true, maybe I’ll check it out and see which version I like more.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Kingdom of Heaven? What is your favorite “sword and sandal” film? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Twentieth Century vs. Queen of the Damned at the Against the Crowd Blogathon

I’ve been participating in blogathons for three years. For most of those events, a variety of content was welcome, highlighting the broad nature of a chosen theme. The Against the Crowd Blogathon is a different type of event for me, as editorial style articles are preferred. I discovered this blogathon on the blog, Realweegiemidget Reviews, as Gill included it in a list of upcoming events. When I looked at past entries, I knew I could bring something new to the table. This blogathon asks their participants to share two movies; a movie you love that everyone hates and a movie everyone loves that you hate. For my entry, I chose to talk about two films I have reviewed before. While I will bring up points I brought up in my reviews, the purpose of this post is to explain why I like or don’t like a movie. This article is not meant to be disrespectful or mean-spirited. Everything I say will be solely based on my opinion.

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2021 banner created by Dell from Dell on Movies

A Film Everyone Loves, But You Hate

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.
Twentieth Century Rotten Tomatos score created by Rotten Tomatos

Remember on Seinfeld, when Elaine was the odd one out for not liking The English Patient? Well, the way she feels about that movie is the way I feel about Twentieth Century. Receiving a “fresh” critic score of 86% and a 7.4 out of 10 on IMDB, this film is considered beloved among cinephiles. Even legendary critic Leonard Maltin likes Twentieth Century. In his 1989 edition of TV Movies & Video Guide, Leonard not only gave the movie four out of four stars, but also called it a “super screwball comedy”. But the genre classification of this particular title is one of the reasons why I found this movie so bad, it was appalling.

When I reviewed Twentieth Century last November, I pointed out how the movie was labeled a “romantic comedy”. As someone who has watched my fair share of Hallmark Channel productions, I know the typical components of the “rom-com” genre. With the 1934 title, it doesn’t feel like a “rom-com”. That is because it is missing one key ingredient: likable characters. All of the characters are horrible to varying degrees. But the worst one is Oscar. He is so selfish, from “firing” his friends on multiple occasions to trying to break up an established relationship. Oscar is also abusive toward his girlfriend, Lilly. Throughout their relationship, Oscar is possessive and controlling. He goes so far as to physically hurt Lilly, even using his mortality as a manipulation tactic to keep her with him. To me, none of that screams “romantic” or “funny”. It is actually downright despicable. By placing Twentieth Century in the “rom-com” genre, the awfulness of the characters and their situations are completely undermined.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

A Film You Love, But Everyone Hates

Queen of the Damned poster created by Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/queen-damned

Isn’t it ironic how, for this blogathon, I chose two movies that feature a predominant abusive relationship? While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love Queen of the Damned, I do enjoy it for what it is. In fact, I wrote two editorials related to the film, with one of them becoming my most popular editorial I’ve ever written. That article is about how unhealthy Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is. Unlike Twentieth Century, the characters surrounding this relationship realize how terrible it is. Akasha, who I explained in my editorial as the reason for the relationship’s problematic nature, also faces accountability for her behaviors and choices.

In my review of The Karate Kid Part II, I talked about how the sequel didn’t feel like a carbon copy of the first film. Despite having only seen the Interview with the Vampire trailer, I can tell Queen of the Damned’s creative team tried to give their project its own identity. As I said in my review, the 2002 project focuses on the new-school/modern gothic style. It also presents Lestat as a more likable protagonist. I did like how voice-overs from both Jesse and Lestat could be heard throughout the story. Like I said in my review, they provided depth to the script. To me, this movie is better than its soundtrack, an opinion that I’m sure is very unpopular. I also like Lestat and Jesse’s relationship.

Take 3: Queen of the Damned Review (Halloween Double Feature Part 2)

Toxic Valentine: Why Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is very problematic in Queen of the Damned (2002)

What is the Net Worth of the Characters from the ‘Queen of the Damned’ film?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Willy Wonka to Receive a Prequel + Hallmark’s ‘One Winter Wedding’ will Finally Go into Production

As I said in a Word on the Street post last September, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to write about these days. So, when I stumbled across this story on Twitter, I thought it would make a perfect topic for the first Word on the Street article of 2021! According to Aaron Couch from The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is creating a new film titled Wonka. The movie “hails from Paddington director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman”. Aaron also says of the script that “Simon Rich wrote the original draft, with Simon Farnaby and King penning the current draft”. As of January 2021, the film is scheduled for a March 17th, 2023 release. It is also about Willy Wonka’s life before his beloved candy factory came into the picture.

While everyone involved with this project is busy creating their next cinematic project, they are forgetting one major detail. Back in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka’s backstory was revealed. Through a series of flashbacks, the audience learns that Willy created his candy factory in spite of his strict father, who forbade the chocolatier from eating sweets when he was younger. Because of this, it makes Wonka seem like it is using rehashed material and trying to pass it off as new. What would have been more interesting is a movie about Ronald Dahl and how he created one of his most iconic stories.

Bakery image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/pattern”>Pattern photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Back in 2019, I mentioned that Taylor Cole announced a third film in Hallmark’s One Winter series; One Winter Wedding. However, the reality of the project seemed distant at the time. This was because two of the series’ stars, Jack Turner and Taylor Cole, were working on separate film projects. Now, two years after Taylor made the aforementioned announcement, One Winter Wedding is finally going into production! On the website for UBCP/ACTRA (Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the movie will start filming on February 1st and end on February 20th. With this production schedule, I predict One Winter Wedding will either be a Christmas film or a 2022 ‘New Year New Movies’ presentation.

Ski lodge during winter-time image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ski-station-background_3423830.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 are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Do you plan on seeing any of the films I mentioned? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links to the articles I referenced in my post:

https://www.ubcpactra.ca/whats-shooting/ (click on the words “Current Film and TV Production List”)

Take 3: To Grandmother’s House We Go Review

For the last Genre Grandeur of 2020, the theme is ‘Alternative Christmas Movies’. Whenever I think of this term, films where the story doesn’t rely on typical Christmas elements always comes to mind. After watching and reviewing If You Believe, I remembered another ‘90s Christmas movie I hadn’t seen in years: To Grandmother’s House We Go. However, when I thought about this film, it didn’t seem to focus on the Christmas holiday like other titles, such as those found on either of Hallmark’s networks. Sure, both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are wearing Santa hats on the movie’s poster. You can also see Christmas lights behind the Olsen twins in the aforementioned image. But the story itself is not one that is exclusive to the Christmas movie genre. In fact, the idea of siblings running away to another family member’s house can be found in a plot from any time of year. Even the title, To Grandmother’s House We Go, doesn’t contain any Christmas references. Now that this introduction is almost over, I’ll take another trip down memory lane by reviewing this film from 1992!

To Grandmother’s House We Go poster created by Jeff Franklin Productions, Green/Epstein Productions, Lorimar Television, and Warner Bros. Television.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The appeal of any Olsen twins production is watching Mary-Kate and Ashley’s characters go on adventures that most of the audience will never experience. Though it has been years since I’ve seen any of their movies, I remember Mary-Kate and Ashley giving their characters a sense of likability, no matter the situation. This is what happened in To Grandmother’s House We Go, as Julie and Sarah were a delight to watch as the story progressed! Despite their young ages, Mary-Kate and Ashley had good comedic delivery. A good example of this is when Julie and Sarah give a street musician chicken drumsticks, using the edible item as a tip instead of money. It should also be noted that Mary-Kate and Ashley’s characters came across as genuine throughout the story. In a scene where they overhear their mother, Rhonda, telling her friend her daughters are a handful, the looks on the twins’ faces display feelings of sadness and betrayal that immediately makes the audience feel bad for Julie and Sarah. It also helped that Mary-Kate and Ashley worked alongside actors who can, acting wise, stand on their own! One of them is Cynthia Geary, who portrays Rhonda. When Julie and Sarah are missing, genuine concern can be seen on Rhonda’s face. Because the twins’ journey lasts the majority of the movie, it allows Cynthia’s performance to contain a good amount of consistency.

The inclusion of western movie scenes: Eddie is a delivery man who frequently visits the convenience store Rhonda works at. When something happens in Eddie’s part of the story, scenes from various western movies are shown to visualize how Eddie views his life. Usually, these scenes mirror what Eddie is doing in the “real world”. An example is when Eddie is taking a short cut to the convenience store, as a scene of Roy Rogers riding off the beaten path is presented while Eddie is driving his truck. The reason why these western scenes were included in the film is because Eddie loves westerns and dreams of owning his own ranch. What I liked about this element is how it provided a unique way to present a character’s perspective that isn’t usually seen in Christmas films. In movies of this nature, dream sequences or flashback scenes are given to a character when the story needs to share their point of view.

The messages and themes: A common component in family-friendly movies is the messages and themes that can be found in the overall story. This is especially the case for productions involving the Olsen twins. In To Grandmother’s House We Go, Julie and Sarah overhear their mother say her daughters are a handful and that she’d like a vacation. This causes the twins to run away to their grandmother’s house, in an attempt to help their mother. When all is said and done, the overarching lesson is how our words can, for better or worse, affect the actions of others. Doing the right thing is a theme that can also be found in To Grandmother’s House We Go. Harvey, one of the bandits in the film, helps his wife, Shirley, steal Christmas presents in order to sell them for money. As Harvey and Shirley spend more time with Julie and Sarah, Harvey starts to wonder what his life would be like if he wasn’t a criminal. While I won’t spoil the movie for anyone, Harvey does take the film’s aforementioned theme to heart.

Christmas Tree with boxes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-tree-out-of-gift-boxes_1448089.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:

Rhonda and Eddie’s inconsistent relationship: At the beginning of the film, Eddie wants to go on a date with Rhonda. No matter how many times he flirts with Rhonda, she politely declines, as she’s only interested in being his acquaintance. After Eddie finds out Rhonda is a single parent, he gives up pursuing her as a potential significant other. For the rest of the movie, Rhonda and Eddie go back and forth between liking and disliking one another. Their disagreements are resolved rather quickly and they get along for a short amount of time as well. While Cynthia and J. Eddie Peck work well together as actors, the inconsistency of their on-screen relationship prevented me from becoming fully invested in it.

The lottery subplot: Throughout the movie, Eddie is convinced he will win the lottery. He frequently purchases lottery tickets, hoping to win the jackpot so he can afford his dream ranch. This wasn’t a bad subplot, as it effectively connected to the main plot. However, with the majority of the plot revolving around Julie and Sarah’s journey, as well as Rhonda and Eddie’s search for the twins, the lottery subplot felt like it was included to provide an extra conflict. To Grandmother’s House We Go has enough going on to satisfy the run-time, so this specific part of the story didn’t necessarily need to be there.

A drawn-out story: Even though the main plot of To Grandmother’s House We Go is straight forward, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the plot going. But some parts of the story do cause the overall project to feel drawn-out. In an attempt to raise $10,000 for a kidnapping reward, Rhonda and Eddie plan on selling other people’s Christmas gifts, with the intention of buying those gifts back after the twins have been returned. The entire process of their plan is shown in the movie, lasting for several scenes. This part of Rhonda and Eddie’s subplot could have limited to one or two scenes, as to help tell the story in a shorter amount of time.

Christmas snowman image created by Freepik at freepik.com  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas-tree”>Christmas tree vector created by Freepik</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/set-of-pretty-christmas-tags_1337932.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image created by freepik.com

My overall impression:

Calling To Grandmother’s House We Go an ‘alternative Christmas movie’ is tricky. On the one hand, there are scenes in the movie that rely on typical Christmas elements more than others. One of them is when Julie and Sarah are building a tiny snowman in front of their apartment building. But, as I said in the introduction, the story itself could be found outside of the Christmas season. For the sake of this review, I’ll call this film a “partial alternative Christmas movie”. As for the movie itself, To Grandmother’s House We Go is a fine, harmless, family-friendly title. Similar to what I said about The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, the 1992 picture will be more appealing for a younger audience, as the main story revolves around young children going on an adventure. Personally, I have no desire to re-watch it. Despite this, I am glad I was able to revisit the film.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Do you remember watching any of the Olsen twins’ movies? If so, which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun on Christmas!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: House of Wax (1953) Review

For KN Winiarski’s 1st Annual Spooky Classic Movie Blogathon, I chose to write about a film that was recommended to me by one of my fellow bloggers. As the title states, I will be reviewing the 1953 film, House of Wax, which was suggested by Patricia from Caftan Woman. This is a movie I’ve heard of, but had never seen. Since the film was released between 1920 and 1960 (one of the blogathon’s requirements), it gave me a good excuse to check it out! Even though I have seen and reviewed three of Vincent Price’s movies, only one of them was released during the Breen Code era. Because House of Wax premiered in the early ‘50s, it allowed me to view more of his films from that time period. Based on the synopsis, House of Wax is considered a “revenge film”. It made me curious to see how this type of story would work within the Breen Code era. I was also interested in comparing House of Wax to a project like The Crow, which I reviewed back in May.

House of Wax poster created by Warner Bros.

The acting: House of Wax is the fourth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen. While I enjoyed his acting performances in The Whales of August, House of the Long Shadows, and Shock, I really liked his performance in the 1953 film! When his character, Henry, is talking about his wax figures, the passion he has for his craft can be seen on his face and in his eyes. Vincent makes the audience feel bad for Henry when these figures and the museum burn to the ground. As time moves forward, Henry evolves into a man of sophistication. Through the power of his acting talents, Vincent makes this transition feel believable. Prior to watching House of Wax, I was not familiar with Phyllis Kirk as an actress. However, I really liked her portrayal of Sue Allen! The emotional intensity Phyllis brought to her role is what made her performance stand out! When she is chased through the city by a murderous criminal, the audience can see and feel the fear Sue is experiencing. This helped raise the intensity of that scene. After she reaches the safety of a neighbor’s house, she immediately bursts into tears. Sue’s emotions show just how emotionally exhausted she is from constantly looking over her shoulder.

The wax figures: Because this film is called House of Wax, a showcase of various wax figures is to be expected. What was unexpected for me was the overall quality of these wax figures! All of them were so well-crafted, they looked like real-life individuals. In fact, there were times when I was waiting for at least one of them to start moving on their own. Throughout the film, facts about the people these figures were representing and the artistic process were shared within the dialogue. One example is when Henry is explaining how he created his Marie Antoinette figure. He tells a potential investor that Marie’s eyes are glass and were inserted through a hallow part of the head before it was attached to the neck. I found this part of the story fascinating! I also wish there was a documentary about this particular art form.

The historical accuracy: House of Wax takes place during the early 1900s, with the time period influencing every aspect of the film. What works in this movie’s favor is how the visuals looked and felt like the time period the film’s creative team was striving for! As Henry’s wax museum is burning, a fire truck appears to put the fire out. A noteworthy point is the model of the truck resembled one from the early 1900s. Another way the time period was reflected was through the set design! The exterior of the House of Wax museum looked like a movie palace from decades past, commanding the attention of passers-by. The beige and red marble alcove leading to the museum reminded me of an outdoor market, with the museum itself selling a form of entertainment to potential customers. These design choices made the overall film feel immersive!

Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The 3D effects: One of House of Wax’s claims to fame is featuring one of the earliest forms of 3D in cinematic history. Any poster of the film and the movie’s opening credits boast this detail enthusiastically. However, the 3D in this movie stayed in 1953. In the scene where Henry opens his House of Wax museum, a spokesperson uses paddle-balls to get patrons’ attention. During his routine, the spokesperson breaks the fourth wall and tells a man in the audience that he is trying to hit his popcorn bag with one of the paddle-balls. When the paddle-ball moved toward the audience, the moment itself looked like it was filmed in 2D. The 3D in House of Wax comes across as an outdated gimmick that felt awkward and out of place.

A protagonist I can’t root for: More often than not, “revenge films” feature a protagonist who represents the opposite of the horrors committed against them. Eric Draven from The Crow is a perfect example. While he kills the villains who have wronged him and his fiancé, Shelly, Eric is fighting fire with fire when his city’s justice system is ineffective. He also chooses to keep his moral compass intact by helping those who are innocent. I won’t spoil House of Wax for those who haven’t seen it yet. But all I’ll say is that as time goes on, Henry throws away his moral compass and takes his mission too far. Because of this, I couldn’t bring myself to root for this character.

Scares that aren’t consistent: There are several moments in House of Wax that are truly unsettling to watch. Seeing Henry’s wax figures burning is just one of them. However, I expected the film to be much scarier than it was. The most terrifying moments happened toward the beginning and end of the movie. Everything in-between felt like a juggling act of darker and lighter moments. Right after Henry’s wax museum burns down, a happy dance party is shown. This feels like a major tonal shift from the ominous tone that was set up in the film’s opening scene.

1st Annual Spooky Classic Movie Blogathon banner created by Kristen from KN Winiarski Writes.

My overall impression:

As a movie, House of Wax is good! It is a horror title that relies more on tone and atmosphere. But as a “revenge story”, I feel a film like The Crow does a better job at expressing that type of narrative. One major difference is how the character of Henry is not worth rooting for, as he abandons his moral compass within the course of the film. I found this to be a surprising choice for a Breen Code era film. While it doesn’t overpower the movie, the 3D aspect of the project did not work. It was obvious that 2D filmed moments were waiting for the 3D effect to kick in. Sadly, the 3D failed to show up. I would say House of Wax is an interesting choice for Halloween viewing, as it utilizes wax figures to provide elements of horror. It eliminates the use of blood/gore and has the ability to put the audience on edge.  

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

Have you seen House of Wax? Which film of Vincent Price’s is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Day for Night Review + 250 Follower Thank You

October’s theme for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is French New Wave Films. Because I’m not as familiar with this particular genre as I am with others, I had to look up potential titles for this review. One of the films that appeared in my internet search was the 1973 French film, Day for Night. When I read the movie’s tagline, “A movie for people who love movies”, I felt it was the perfect choice for the movie blogger I am! MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is not the only reason why I’m reviewing this film. Day for Night is also my choice for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s 4th Annual Great Breening Blogathon! When I participated in this specific blogathon last year, I reviewed Vampyr, a movie released before the Breen Code was created. As I already said, Day for Night was released in 1973, two decades after the Breen Code era. Like my Vampyr review, this current article is going to be a blog follower dedication review. Last week, 18 Cinema Lane received 250 followers!

Day for Night poster created by Les Films du Carrosse
PECF, Produzione Internazionale Cinematografica, and Warner Bros.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve said before one of my favorite Hallmark films is An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving. The acting performances are a great part of it, especially Jacqueline Bisset’s portrayal of Isabella. In Day for Night, Jacqueline portrayed American actress, Julie Baker. Her on-screen persona was a pleasant surprise, as it was down-to-earth and kind. This was very different from the “diva” attitude that some lead actress characters are given in stories of this nature. Valentina Cortese is another actress that gave a memorable performance in Day for Night! She portrays Severine, an older actress looking for a come-back. One scene shows Severine turning to drinking as a way to get through the scene and cope with personal issues. Valentina effectively showed the emotional transition her character was experiencing; starting out confident but slowly turning to sadness as the scene continues. Jean-Pierre Léaud portrays Alphonse, a fellow actor who works alongside Julie and Severine. His performance came across very natural on screen, making it look effortless. A scene that shows Alphonse having a bad evening is a good example of this, the look on his face appearing defeated and his body language showing the audience how he was walking aimlessly in a hotel hallway.

The film-making process: The story of Day for Night revolves around a director making a movie alongside his cast and crew. A behind the scenes lens is how the film is presented, with the production process being the primary focus. As someone who loves movies, I found this part of Day for Night fascinating! Seeing the different ways film-making related problems were solved was interesting to watch! The director of the film’s movie, Ferrand, is looking for a car for an upcoming scene. Because of the movie’s budget, he ends up using a car from one of the crew members. Later in the production of “Meet Pamela” (the movie being filmed in Day for Night), the cast and crew are struck with a tragedy. Ferrand decides to cut some scenes from the movie as a result of this event. He discusses these decisions with a script writer named Joëlle, as well as talking with investors.

The cat scene: While filming “Meet Pamela”, the cast and crew want to include a cat drinking milk from a food tray. At first, a kitten is placed in the scene. However, the kitten doesn’t take direction very well. After several failed attempts, the director decides to use a “studio cat” instead. To me, this scene was hilarious because it was a good use of the “comedy of errors” style of humor. It also highlights the idea of animals being difficult to work with in film.

The 4th Annual Great Breening Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

What I didn’t about the film:

Thinly written characters: Day for Night features an ensemble cast, showing their audience how multiple people are responsible for the creation of a single movie. However, all of these characters are thinly written, as they were defined by the main issue they were dealing with in the film’s story. For example, Julie experienced a breakdown prior to the events of Day for Night. Because of this, Julie is known as “the woman who experienced a breakdown”. Throughout the movie, she does talk about her marriage to her doctor and her working hours as an actress. But her personal situation is highlighted the most.

Too much going on: As I just mentioned, this movie has an ensemble cast. This means there are a lot of characters involved in the overall story. It also means Day for Night contains several subplots. Personally, I found it difficult to keep up with the characters, as I thought there were too many to focus on. Even though this happened briefly, there were moments when I forgot who was who. The subplots were not interesting to me, as they revolved around situations I just didn’t care about. It felt more like a bland soap opera than a compelling part of the behind the scenes of “Meet Pamela”. Honestly, I wish this movie had put more emphasis on the film-making aspect of the narrative.

The director’s dreams: On three separate occasions, the dreams of the director, Ferrand, are shown. These scenes are filmed in black-and-white and contain no dialogue. I thought the inclusion of the dreams were random, as they didn’t seem to have anything to do with the overarching story. It also doesn’t help that no explanations are provided for what these dreams could mean. If anything, they were simply there to satisfy the run-time.

Image of vintage movie camera created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I said in the introduction, the tagline of Day for Night is “A movie for people who love movies”. While I do love movies, I did not love this film. Sure, there were things about it I liked, such as the acting and the film-making process shown. But if you’re going to make a movie, you need to provide your audience with interesting characters worth watching. The characters in Day for Night were thinly written, defined by their personal situations. Even though it can be intriguing to see how characters overcome their obstacles, they have to have other qualities about them. Because of the poor writing for the characters, their subplots were not interesting. Issues among them were basically at a stand-still, not really getting resolved to a satisfying degree. What would have helped this story is if were presented in a mockumentary format, giving more emphasis to the behind the scenes aspect of film-making. Before I end this review, I want to thank all 250 of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! The success this blog has received would never have happened without you!

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen Day for Night? Are there any movies about film-making you’ve seen? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ocean’s Eleven (1960) Review

Peter Lawford is an actor I was not familiar with prior to my participation in the 1st Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon. But, like I’ve said in past blogathons, I didn’t let this stop me to joining Kristen’s event! As I was looking through Peter’s filmography on IMDB, I discovered he had starred in the original Ocean’s Eleven. This is the movie I chose to review for the blogathon because of how rarely heist films are talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. Two years ago, I wrote a review for Logan Lucky when I participated in my very first blogathon. Anyone who has read that article would know how I did not like that film. Another point I’d like to make is how Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Cesar Romero (who all appear in Ocean’s Eleven) starred in another movie I reviewed for a blogathon; Marriage on the Rocks. Like Logan Lucky, I was not a fan of the 1965 movie. With my review of Ocean’s Eleven, however, I’m hoping my luck will start to turn around!

Ocean’s Eleven (1960) poster created by Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/18360/Ocean-s-Eleven/#tcmarcp-196918.

Things I liked about the films:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, I have seen and reviewed Marriage on the Rocks. Three of the film’s stars, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Cesar Romero, reunite in Ocean’s Eleven! The 1960 picture allowed Dean and Cesar to work with acting material that was different from Marriage on the Rocks, with their performances appearing more dramatic. Meanwhile, Frank’s portrayal of Danny Ocean contained the same ease he displayed in the aforementioned 1965 movie. Ocean’s Eleven also introduced me to talent that I had never seen before, such as Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. What I liked about Peter’s performance was how he was able to adapt to any situation placed in his character’s path. Even though this was the first time I’ve ever seen Sammy act, I was impressed with the smooth confidence he consistently carried throughout the story! One thing that stood out to me was the on-screen chemistry among the cast! Every actor appeared to work well with each other and compliment their co-stars.

The differentiation among the casinos: In a movie showcasing five casinos, it’s important to differentiate these locations for the audience. This choice avoids confusion and prevents the casinos from blending in with each other. The various New Year’s Eve parties feature creative ways these facilities were able to set themselves apart! At the party in the Flamingo casino, pink balloons served as party decorations. Down the street at the Sands casino, blue balloons could be seen. The costumes of the on-stage performers also highlighted the differences between each location. Dancers wearing burnt orange and white checkered costumes were found at the Desert Inn. Meanwhile, black costumes were worn by dancers at the Sands.

The dialogue: For the most part, the dialogue in Ocean’s Eleven was smartly written and sounded clever! One example takes place during a conversation between Danny’s ex-wife and Sam Harmon. When she is talking about her relationship with her ex-husband, Sam responds by saying how Cloud 9 must have been boring. Another example of smart writing happens when Josh Howard to talking with one of the members of Danny’s group. In their conversation, they talk about bravery. Josh shares that being brave doesn’t make someone invincible. These two examples I shared show how there was effort placed in the script.

The 1st Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon banner created by Kristen from KN Winiarski Writes. Image found at https://knwiniarski.com/peter-lawford-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A dialogue heavy first half: Every heist movie sets aside time to lay out the plans for the heist. While the first half of Ocean’s Eleven does feature these plans, it also included explanations of why the members of Danny’s group wanted to pull off the heist. The first half of the story featured explanations of the characters’ personal issues as well. This caused the movie’s entire first half to be dialogue heavy. If some of these explanations had been shortened or cut, it would have presented the heist sooner.

A “bait and switch” third act: With a movie titled Ocean’s Eleven, the audience expects a good portion of the story to focus on the heist itself. While the planning and execution of the heist was shown, the story transitions its focus to Duke Santos and his investigation after the heist takes place. This creative choice made the third act seem like a “bait and switch”. It also caused this part of the story to drag a little bit, preventing the film from ending earlier than it did.

Too many characters: Despite the film containing an all-star cast, I felt there were too many characters in this story. There were times when I had difficulty keeping track of who was who. The large number of cast members also caused some actors to receive less screen time than others, with Red Skelton being one of them. When I saw his name on a casino marquee, I was given the impression he would perform a comedy sketch on the casino’s stage. However, Red was briefly featured in one scene where he was seen arguing with a casino employee. I wondered why this film’s creative team would recruit such a well-known star for such a small part, especially when Red Skelton’s claim to fame, comedy, wasn’t utilized?

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My overall impression:

Ocean’s Eleven is the first film of Peter Lawford’s I have ever seen. But I have not seen the “Ocean” movies from the 21st century, so I cannot make a comparison. Despite all this, I found the 1960 movie to be a fine first impression! Unlike Logan Lucky, Ocean’s Eleven showcased a heist that was interesting, exciting, and even suspenseful. Clever dialogue and creative set design at each casino were worth seeing and listening. Even the acting was solid, not just from Peter, but from the cast as a whole! However, there are factors that held Ocean’s Eleven back from being a stronger film. While I liked the dialogue, I found the movie’s first half very dialogue heavy. There were also too many characters and the third act felt like a “bait and switch”. But I still thought it was better than Logan Lucky and Marriage on the Rocks. If Kristen brings this blogathon back next year, it’ll be interesting to see what I choose!

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of the “Ocean” movies? Which film of Peter Lawford’s would you want to check out? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Release the Tim Pope Cut of ‘The Crow: City of Angels’

In recent days, the news about the release of the infamous “Snyder Cut” of Justice League has taken over the internet. Multiple Youtube videos have covered this story and the discussion of its arrival has been rampant on social media. It has even gone so far as to make Paul Feig consider releasing a new cut of his version of Ghostbusters. But among the articles, videos, perspectives, and comments, there is a cut of one movie that was left out of the conversation: the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering “What is the Tim Pope cut?” “Didn’t this film already receive a director’s cut?” In this editorial, I’ll answer those questions. I will also be sharing a list of reasons why now is the perfect time to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. This isn’t the first time I’ve brought this subject up. In my Sunshine Blogger Award post from this April, I said that one of my greatest wishes for cinema was for the full version of The Crow: City of Angels to be released. However, I honestly never thought I’d write an editorial about this subject. Since many people are not talking about the Tim Pope cut, I decided to do so. Besides, when life gives you lemons, it’s better to write a blog post about it while everyone else is making lemonade.

The Crow: City of Angels poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Crow_2.jpg.

What is the Tim Pope cut?

Before I talk about the reasons why the Tim Pope cut should be released, I need to explain what the cut itself is. The Tim Pope cut is the 160-minute version of The Crow: City of Angels that was purposefully intended to be different from the first film. Unfortunately, this version never saw the light of day because the movie was heavily affected by “studio intervention”. In a video titled “Exploring The Crow City of Angels,” Cecil, the creator and narrator of the video, explains how the studio’s decisions prevented the film’s creative team from telling the story they wanted. It got so bad that the movie’s director and writer, Tim Pope and David S. Goyer, disowned their project because of the changes. While the film did receive a director’s cut, “it’s mostly just extended scenes,” according to Cecil. The original version of this movie is not officially called “the Tim Pope cut.” Supporters, including myself, gave it this name to make it sound more official.

Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

Reason #1: The “Snyder Cut” Opens the Doors for a Winning Cycle

In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Borys Kit reported that “a growing movement of fans, rallied around the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, had called, agitated, petitioned – even bought a Times Square billboard and chartered a plane to fly a banner over Comic-Con – for Snyder’s version to be released.” The reason why people wanted to see Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League is because the director had to leave the project due to a personal situation involving his family. This caused a different director, Joss Whedon, to step in and change Zack’s intended vision. Because of how vocal and passionate these supporters were, HBO Max is finally granting their wish. Borys says, in their article, the streaming service “will debut the project in 2021.” They also state that “whether it will be released as an almost four-hour director’s cut or split into six “chapters” has yet to be decided.”

Since the “Snyder Cut” is going to see the light of day, it opens the door for other films that have been creatively damaged, like Justice League, to receive the proper treatment they deserve. It also sets a precedent for a cinematic cycle where everyone wins. I provide an image of this cycle to give a visual for what I will be discussing. The following bullet-points show each part of the cycle and why its important.

  • Movie’s Creative Team – Given creative freedom, allowed to make the films they want, has option to incorporate fan feedback and source material if IP is used
  • Fans/Audience Members – Greater chance they’ll spend money on movie ticket if creative team and studio respected and listened to them
  • Studio – Will see good financial results on projects where creative team was given creative freedom and fans/audience members are respected
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen

Reason #2: The Person Responsible for The Crow: City of Angels’ Destruction is No Longer in Control of This Film

In the aforementioned video, “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”, Cecil discussed how the film was a victim of “studio intervention.” They mention on several occasions how Tim, David, and even The Crow’s creator, James O’Barr, had always planned on creating a new story for the sequel. This decision was made to show respect toward the predecessor and its devoted fans. After the film had already been finished, “studio intervention” took over. Harvey Weinstein, who was a producer at Miramax at the time, “demanded the film be edited to be more like the first movie,” as Cecil says in the video. This choice single-handedly stopped the creative team of The Crow: City of Angels from making the film they wanted.

In 2005, Harvey left Miramax in order to create The Weinstein Company. This means that he gave up control of the studio. At the time, Disney had ownership over Miramax. It was the result of an acquisition that took place in 1993. Over the years, the studio has changed hands among various companies. On April 3rd, Jill Goldsmith, from Deadline, reported that ViacomCBS “closed on the acquisition of a 49% stake in Miramax.” This allows Paramount, which is owned by ViacomCBS, “an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s film library and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax IP.” What this means is Paramount/ViacomCBS is now in control over the potential restoration and release of the Tim Pope cut.

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Reason #3: Paramount has Respected a Pre-Existing Fanbase Before

When Paramount chose to acquire Miramax, they purchased projects related to The Crow. With those projects comes a pre-existing fanbase. However, this is not the first time the studio dealt with a project where a pre-existing fanbase was a part of the equation. Last year, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog were not pleased with the way their favorite character looked in a trailer for a movie based on the famous blue protagonist. After backlash over Sonic’s design, Jeff Fowler, the director of Sonic the Hedgehog, announced plans to change Sonic’s look. In an article from SlashFilm, Ben Pearson shares the director’s tweet, which says “Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be…”. This choice caused the film to be delayed until February of 2020.

When Sonic’s re-design was revealed, fans and potential audience members praised Paramount and the creative team behind the film. Two of those people were Kneon and Geeky Sparkles from Clownfish TV. In a video called “Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks GREAT!”, Kneon and Geeky marvel over Sonic’s drastic change. They also approve of Paramount’s decision to put customers first. Geeky asks, “Look, if it looks really bad and the fans say it looks really bad, you want people to come to your movie, right?” She quickly answers that question by stating “So, um, you’re going to need to, uh, do things that make the fans happy.” Kneon says, “The Sonic fandom is very, very vocal. Ok, they’re a very passionate, vocal fanbase”. He and Geeky express interest in seeing the film due to Paramount’s efforts to make a better product. Because Paramount and Sonic the Hedgehog’s creative team took the time to show the Sonic fans respect, the film went on to, so far, become the second highest grossing movie of 2020! While a part of its ranking at the box office was affected by the Coronavirus, acquiring a domestic receipt of over $300 million is something Paramount should be proud of.

In this chart of 2020’s highest grossing films, Sonic the Hedgehog is currently in the top three. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Reason #4: Fans of The Crow are a Dedicated Group of People

The Crow has a pre-existing fanbase that spans more than a decade. Whether drawn to the comic or a fan of any film, fans who love The Crow are dedicated, vocal, and passionate about their favorite IP. They will find an opportunity to talk about the story and have even pushed The Crow into cult classic status. One of these fans is Lee from the Youtube channel Drumdums. In his video, titled “The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic,” Lee says “I have been obsessed with this movie, really, since I saw it, in the theater, opening night, uh, in May of 1994.” He shares his personal experiences with the film, as well as praising the project. He even created a live commentary video dedicated to the movie. Another fan is Pale Writer from the blog Pale Writer. Last Halloween, Pale Writer published a review titled “Rain and Revenge: The Crow (1994).” They say in their article, “I first watched The Crow with my older brother when I was in my mid teens, and I’ve loved it ever since. I was an emo teenager with a love of the gothic, and my brother knew that.” Throughout the article, Pale Writer explores many different components related to the film. Because of how well-written and passionate the review was, it encouraged me to watch The Crow for the first time this year.

Within any fanbase, people have their own perspectives and opinions. The Crow’s fanbase is no different. There are people who are vocal about their love for The Crow: City of Angels. Take, for instance, the video, “1. City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels.” Looking through the comment section will show how fans care about this film. One commentator says “I loved City of Angels.” Another person shares “This is the only sequel I liked.” When talking about a piece of lost media, Jorge from the Youtube channel blameitonjorge, says, “It was something that a lot of people wanted to see.” This mindset is similar to the “Snyder Cut’s” journey. Fans wanted to see Zack’s vision come to life, so their desire drove that campaign. I’ve seen comments from fans of The Crow saying how they wish they could see the original version of the sequel. Even Cecil from GoodBadFlicks expresses an interest in finding it.

The Crow poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crow_ver2.jpg

Reason #5: Studios Can’t Make a lot of New, Live-Action Projects Right Now

2020 has become the year of Coronavirus. Many practices have been put in place to stop the virus’ spread. One of these practices has been “social-distancing.” This has resulted in many businesses temporarily closing their doors, including those from the entertainment industry. Kate Aurthur and Adam B. Vary, from Variety, reported how Hollywood is planning on returning to work. They say that one of the plans is obtaining “medical-grade cleaning equipment and PPE.” This, along with other new procedures and practices “will balloon the hard costs of production.”

A studio like Paramount needs to make money. At the same time, they also want to move forward as safely as possible. While ViacomCBS has generated revenue from their streaming service, CBS All Access, their incoming funds are more limited than normal. The Tim Pope cut could give the studio content to release. There is an audience for it, so fans are willing to pay for this version of the film. Paramount could either place the movie on the streaming service or release it on physical media. No matter how this film could be released, it would give Paramount something to create.

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.

Reason #6: People Need More Entertainment Options

As I already mentioned, the Coronavirus has forced people to “social-distance” and “self-quarantine.” Streaming services, cable, and the internet have provided instant entertainment for consumers as they are required to stay home. Because new content is not as common as usual these days, The Crow: City of Angels could become a newer entertainment option. I also mentioned that Paramount could either release this movie on the streaming service, CBS All Access, in a digital format, like Xfinity on demand, or on physical media. Earlier in this editorial, I said that HBO Max was planning on releasing the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League in 2021. If Paramount wants to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels next year, it gives fans something to look forward to during this stressful time.

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The road to the “Snyder Cut” was met with perseverance, determination, and ambition. While this journey lasted for a few years, the fans’ efforts proved worthwhile. This situation shows how studios, cinematic creative teams, and fans can work together to form a situation where everyone benefits. It also shows that the sky’s the limit for other films that have gone through a similar situation to Justice League. If Paramount doesn’t release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels, it makes the studio look hypocritical. If they could go the extra mile for the Sonic fans, it would only be fair for them to go the extra mile for The Crow fans as well. This is why we need to let Paramount hear our voices. If you are a fan of The Crow, someone who approves of studios putting customers first, support consumer advocacy, want to see creative teams receive creative freedom, someone who loves movies, or want to help set a “wrong thing right” (yes, Sarah’s quote was intentional), then please consider joining the movement to encourage Paramount to release the Tim Pope cut. I created an official image with the hashtag that you are welcome to use. The most important point is to spread the word, so please let others know about this cut. All I ask is to please be respectful while sharing this message.

The image I created with the hashtag, #ReleasetheTimPopeCut. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sources:

Videos:

Paul Feig Thinks Ghostbusters 2016 is Next Snyder Cut from Odin’s Movie Blog (this video contains some language)

  1. City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels from Jared

Exploring The Crow City of Angels from GoodBadFlicks

The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic and The Crow LIVE Commentary | “Can’t Rain All The Time” from Drumdums

Lost Media Case Files Vol 1. | blameitonjorge (this video contains some language and sensitive material)

Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks Great! from Clownfish TV (this video contains some language)

Articles:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/justice-league-snyder-cut-plans-revealed-it-will-be-an-new-thing-1295102

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

https://www.slashfilm.com/sonic-the-hedgehog-redesign/

Extras on $et: Inside Hollywood’s Pricey Plans to Restart Production

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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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.

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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

My Conclusion to the Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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It’s now been a week since I published my reviews for this double feature. Since that time, I’ve been able to ponder over the films I have seen and my thoughts on both of them. In the conclusion of my double feature, I will reflect on what I learned, as well as the three questions that I sought to answer. These questions were the following:

 

Is there any aspect of either film that could be seen as relevant today?

Besides having young actors as the leads, do these films share any similarities?

Do the socio-economics of each film’s world affect the characters or the story?

 

As I was watching Rich Kids and Over the Edge, I was surprised to discover that there was nothing about either film that could hold it back from standing the test of time. No bygone pop cultural references or lingo plagued the scripts. By having each story focus on a simple concept, it helps each film achieve a sense of universality. I was also surprised by how little influence socio-economics had in both films. Before watching them, I thought socio-economics would be an overarching theme. But Rich Kids and Over the Edge put an emphasis on the exact same thing: its characters. Speaking of characters, there were two similarities I noticed when writing my reviews. The first one is how the youth in both films desperately needed guidance in their lives. Because they weren’t receiving any from their parents, they chose to find it somewhere else. The second similarity is how the young characters turned toward their friends for advice and help, showing how youth need to spend time with their peers. After everything is said and done, I ended up liking Rich Kids more than Over the Edge, giving the former 7.1 and the latter 6.1. Despite this, I can now recognize that they share important similarities as well as differences.

Have fun at the movies!
Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to read my articles related to this double feature, here are the links to those posts:

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

Take 3: Rich Kids Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 1)

Take 3: Over the Edge Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 2)