DreamWorks Animation has a bit of a problem. When it has a hit movie, its share price goes up and they make a lot of money, but if they have a flop, things go bad very fast, which eventually led to a lot of layoffs. To try and stem this boom and bust cycle, they’ve gone heavily into sequels that should be sure-fire winners and more recently tried to take their product to TV, in the hope it can ensure they have a healthy bottom line at all times. After a Kung Fu Panda series comes Dragons: Riders Of Berk, based on How To Train Your Dragon. [Read more…]
Through the tail end of the 70s and the early 80s, Disney Animation was floundering. Movies like Basil The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company and The Black Cauldron looked pretty but weren’t drawing in the crowds, largely because the company had lost its storytelling magic.
Then along came 1989’s The Little Mermaid, kicking off a remarkable run of critical, commercial and audience success that included Beauty & The Beast, The Lion King and Aladdin. While Disney Animation is perhaps most often thought of for its fairy tale movies, this was actually the first film the company had made based on a bona fide fairy story (this time one by Hans Christian Anderson) since Sleeping Beauty in 1959. They also threw a lot more money, time and effort at it than they had for years, even opening new studios to handle the artistic challenge, not least hand-drawing millions of bubble. [Read more…]
This is one of those films that grown-up critics almost shouldn’t be allowed to review. It’s not for them. However the eight-year-olds who’ll probably love this aren’t known for their ability to write reviews and so it’s left to us oldies.
Okay, let’s start with the snooty film critic review: All Stars is derivative to the point that it almost feels like they took scenes from about a thousand other movies and merely changed the names. There is nothing in this film that hasn’t been seen many, many times before, which will have many people rolling their eyes at how unimaginative and predictable it is. [Read more…]
Since he was a baby, Mowgli has been raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. When the local animals hear that the fierce tiger, Shere Khan, is nearby, they decide Mowgli must be sent back to his own kind. However panther Bagheera has trouble getting him there, as Mowgli doesn’t want to go, which isn’t helped when he meets carefree bear, Baloo.
It wins nearly every poll of people’s favourite Disney film, so it’s a good job that for its first appearance on Blu-ray, the movie has been given a really great HD transfer, which is pin sharp and has virtually no noise. Indeed it’s impressive what can be done with these older animated movie, as while nearly every other film from before about 1980 has obvious signs of degradation, Disney has managed to ensure their films look as good as the day they were made. [Read more…]
As a lover of old Hollywood films, especially those made during the film industry’s golden age – because in my opinion the films were just better as they had a type of mystical Hollywood gloss painted over them – I was excited at the prospect of reviewing a film from 1930. This was in part to see a film from this era that I’d not heard of. It was also because the film was made not long after the transition into the talkies and, of course, it features film legend Marlene Dietrich. [Read more…]
Tooo-marrow, tooo-marrow, I luv ya, tooo-marrow, you’re only a daaaay, aaaawaaay. It’s been 30 years since Annie first erupted onto cinema screens, and now it’s back in HD form. On its initial release it got rather mixed notices, which was partially due to the fact that after huge amounts of hype and vast amounts of cash were spent on making the film (including a then record $9.5 million paid just for the rights to the stage show), it had huge amounts to live up to. When it was just a pretty fun film and not the second coming of Jesus on celluloid, it came in for a bit of stick from critics, even if audiences quite liked it. [Read more…]
How does Santa deliver presents to all the children of the world in one night? It’s a conundrum we’ve all pondered and while spoilsport scientists have tried to say it’s impossible as he’d have to go faster than the speed of light, the fact is he can do because he’s magic. However he might also have a lot of technology on his side, which is what Arthur Christmas suggests. [Read more…]
I’m still surprised how much better classic animation can look on Blu-ray compared to earlier DVD editions. It helps when they’ve gone through a good restoration and remastering process, which is just what Peter Pan has gotten. The result is a great looking, almost pristine release for one of Disney’s best films.
I’m sure you know the story – Wendy Darling is on the edge of adolescence and her father wants her to give up her fanciful stories about Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. However Wendy knows better, as she’s got Peter’s shadow. That evening, when her parents are out, Pan turns up looking for his shadow, and agrees to take Wendy and her brothers, John and Michael, to his home in Neverland. [Read more…]
Writer and director Marcel Pagnol died in 1974, but since the mid-1980s, movies based on his works have probably done more to create the popular image of Provence than virtually anything else. In 1986 Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources were huge hits, followed in 1990 by La Gloire De Mon Pere and Le Chateau De Ma Mere, which now come to Blu-ray for the first time in a set that includes both movies.
Based on Pagnol’s memoirs of his youth, the two films cover everything from his birth to what happened to his family in later life, but mainly concentrate on a time during his early adolescence. Both films are rather episodic, looking at different stories from Marcel’s youth, most of which highlight the difficulties of growing up and the conflict between the old ideas on religious and class authority, and a new republican sentiment that was sweeping France in the early 20th Century. [Read more…]
It’s not often that being hated by Winston Churchill was a good thing, but it probably was for 1943’s The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp. The wartime leader refused to allow Laurence Olivier out of service to star in the film and along with the War Office was adamantly against the film, which they apparently worried would undermine the war effort. However it probably helped publicise the movie and went some way to making writer/directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s names.
Colonel Blimp was originally a 1930s comic strip that parodied the kind of jingoistic, pompous, old-school, army gent (which was one of the reasons Churchill and others were wary of the movie), although the film itself is a totally original tale not based directly on the comic. It follows Clive Candy, who we first meet as a stodgy old man in a Turkish bath, who’s horrified when uniformed men storm in to capture him, even though he’s adamant that “War begins at midnight!” [Read more…]