In 2014, Disney (the dark overlord of entertainment that will one day consume us all) released Maleficent. Maleficent was their version of a “What If” story that featured one of their most iconic villains of all time and asked the question “What if the Mistress of all evil was good?” Asking that question netted them over $750 million worldwide and an Oscar nomination, though it received mixed critical praise. This was a film I saw long before I started reviewing so here is a short version of my thoughts of the original film… I hate it with every fibre of my being and cast it into the fiery pits of hell where it belongs.
In 1986, the British TV station ITV began airing a cartoon called The Raggy Dolls. For 9 seasons, children were shown the adventures of Sad Sack, Dotty, Hi-Fi, Lucy, Back-To-Front, Claude, and Princess. For almost a decade people would tune in to watch as the gaggle of rejected toys with various malfunctions went on adventures together and taught the audience to treat those who are different with kindness. It also had the absolute best theme tune of any 80s cartoon (I WILL fight you on this) that was sung by Neil Innes (of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and is a glorious ode to treating people well no matter their differences. It’s legitimately one of the sweetest little cartoons that I remember watching as a kid and a must watch for anyone who wants to get their kids to learn the lesson that people who look different are just as valuable as everyone else… it’s certainly better than this movie was, because I remember the music from Raggy Dolls but good luck with remembering anything from Uglydolls… which I will now force myself to remember in order to explain why it’s forgettable.
One of the most enduring pieces of folklore is that of the Yeti, an ape like creature said to live in the Himalayan mountains. It’s a creature that goes by many names, like Abominable Snowman or Meh-Teh, and stories about it have been around for hundreds of years. Many people claim to have proof of its existence, mostly strange large footprints or even scalps that are allegedly from the creature. To this day there is no actual confirmation that the Yeti exists, but if one did I highly doubt it’d be as adorable as the Yeti presented in this film.
Today I officially pass a milestone, one
I’m genuinely proud of. This is my 100th review for 2019, specifically my 100th
review of a current film that’s in cinemas right now. If we include recent
throwback reviews, editorials and the Drag Race stuff, the number would be
higher but doing 100 written reviews of films from this year feels pretty big,
pretty special. It’s the kind of thing that one celebrates by adjusting their
schedule and making sure the 100th film is in some way relevant to this blog
and my history as a reviewer. Luckily for me, such a film came out. In the
first year of this blog I produced a list of the worst films of 2017 and at the
very top of that list was a little film called A Dog’s Purpose. I will contend that this film is one of the worst
I’ve ever seen and I legitimately loathe everything about it. I also hate its
spinoff that came out recently and now we’re at the official sequel, A Dog’s Journey and I am gleeful to
inform you that I don’t hate it… hate implies feelings, and this film doesn’t
deserve that kind of reaction.
On September 6th of 1969, the first episode of the new Friz Freleng series aired on NBC, a series called Here Comes the Grump. Running for 17 episodes, the series followed a grumpy little wizard named Grump who wanted to make the entire kingdom sad all the time. The princess of the kingdom and her friend Terry would search for the magical key that would undo everything and, this would form the basis of the episodes that lead to a large number of assorted slapstick gags… I assume, I never even knew this series existed until I began some research to find out just why this movie existed and now I’m in actual romantic love with the cheesy theme tune for this series that I will be binging right after I spend a thousand or so words complaining about a bad adaptation of a TV series that everyone forgot.
The first Beatles song that I remember hearing was Octopus’s Garden. I remember it being performed in my grade school class with big pieces of cardboard cut out into various sea animals and painted with fluorescent paint that a bunch of small children would wave around randomly while singing a cover version of the fifth track from Abbey Road. I’m not sure if we were on key, but we were precious children and so everyone claimed to like it because you’d have to be some kind of monster to tell a bunch of kids that they didn’t do a good job of paying respect to one of the greatest bands of all time. I hope we can all agree that telling a bunch of children that they’re bad at doing a Beatles tribute act would be mean… however, if you want to tell a bunch of grown adults making a million dollar film that their Beatles tribute act is bad then that’s OK. I mean, I plan on spending the next few paragraphs saying exactly that, so it’d be a bit silly if I thought it was mean.
The world of animation in 1995 was a very different place. Hand drawn animation ruled the land, the Disney Renaissance was in full swing and the only CGI you ever saw was used to enhance 2D work. This was mostly because CGI was still early in its development and no one really knew what to do with this toy. Sure there were little short films popping up, but no one really tried to make a feature-length film with this brand new tool until a little company called Pixar told the story of a pull-string cowboy who had to deal with an astronaut coming into his space and propelling him on an adventure. Toy Story set a standard that every CGI animated film would have to try to compete with for years to come, it became the highest grossing film of 95 and spawned two sequels. The second film would be the third highest grossing of 1999 and then in 2010 the third film would come out and be top of the box office. Every film in the franchise has received overwhelming critical acclaim, part three even taking home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Of every franchise that Pixar has done, this is the one they’ve gotten right every time and the ending of part three felt like a nice end to the series. The toys were given to a girl named Bonnie in a sequence that was designed to make everyone watching cry like a baby and we were sure that we’d only see Woody and Buzz in the occasional cameo or TV special… and then the company realised that they really liked money so they went and made the fourth film because they wanted to make more money. Luckily, they actually put in the hard work to make sure that they would actually deserve the money they were going to be earning.
Released: 24th October (General Release) Seen: 17th June (Sydney Film Festival)
It’s been said before, I shall say it again, there is no element of pop culture that has been used more often than the Zombie. Maybe Jesus has been used more often, but not by much. Everything nowadays has a zombie element to it. One of the most popular TV series right now is a Zombie show, every 4th game released has a zombie mode in it, you can buy zombie-shaped slippers for crying out loud. Zombies are everywhere nowadays and they’ve been done in so many ways that a truly original take on them is almost impossible to find. The last real original Zombie movie I saw was one called Anna and the Apocalypse; I never got around to reviewing that film but it was a Christmas Zombie Musical Comedy set in England and it’s every bit as glorious as that combination sounds. I bring that film up because it’s a great example of what happens when you have several film ideas (a Christmas film, a zombie film and a high school musical comedy) and make them work together. The Dead Don’t Die however is what happens when you have several film ideas, smash them together violently, hold them together with Scotch tape and present it as a complete work. Weirdly, it kind of works… kind of.
Since 1954 the world has had a repeated fascination with the Japanese movie monster Godzilla, a gigantic sea creature that was spawned by the nuclear radiation that would also regularly spit fire like it was nobody’s business. Godzilla is possibly one of the most iconic film characters of all time and for years he was a metaphor for nuclear war, natural disasters, basically anything that could best be embodied by a giant nuclear sea creature. Appearing in 35 films that span the gamut from iconically bad to some of the most fun you’ll have watching men in dinosaur suits slap each other, it’s a series that everyone has at least heard of and that Hollywood has tried to make on multiple occasions. The first time Hollywood got their slimy hands on Godzilla was in 1998 with Roland Emmerich decided he was going to make a Godzilla film even though, turns out, he didn’t even really make a Godzilla movie since he basically just made a movie with a weird dinosaur. It was a movie that was so bad that Toho, the company behind Godzilla, trademarked the new design as “Zilla” because there was nothing godly about that mess (except, perhaps, a godly amount of fish). Then in 2014, we got another Godzilla film and while that one was a step up from what came before, it also had maybe 10 minutes of Godzilla in it and spent a ton of time with the humans that no one cares about. So now, here we are, the third time that Hollywood would take on the king of the monsters and… god damn it, they finally got the damn point.
When we think of the Disney Renaissance we think of this brief period between 1989 and 1999 when Disney was putting out hit after hit, some of the best films that appear in their catalogue. Right in the front end of that list, dropping in 1992 is the film Aladdin. Based on the Arabic folktale, Aladdin remains one of Disney’s most beloved films. It’s a simple love story, enchanting tunes and, of course, its legendary performance by the late Robin Williams has cemented it into cinema history. Even today the original film holds up with great comedy and award-winning songs that everyone knows. A Whole New World, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali, these are some of the best songs ever put on film. The movie was such a hit it led to two direct-to-video sequels (one of them is actually good) and a TV series that everyone who was a child in the 90s watched. There’s even an adaptation of the show on Broadway but one thing that there will never be is a live-action film remake… at least, that’s what I thought until we inexplicably let Disney think that it would be acceptable to plunder their vaults and turn their classic animated films into subpar live action drivel, but apparently we’re allowing that now so guess what I have to do right now? That’s right, weep and cry because I had to watch this bland lifeless thing that alleges to be a movie.