I probably first became acquainted with Clue, the film adaptation of the Parker Brothers board game, due to my interest in Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), who plays Professor Plum. I’ve owned it on DVD for several years, introducing it to various friends who always seem to walk away having really enjoyed it, and for a good reason…it’s too much fun.
The movie opens with the arrival of the butler, Wadsworth, played by Tim Curry, to a giant mansion, followed shortly by all of the characters we’re familiar with from the board game: Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, and Professor Plum. They each had received a letter asking them to attend this sort of dinner party, where a certain “financial liability” will be discussed. When their mysterious host, Mr. Boddy, finally shows up and is killed, the rest of the film becomes a farce in every sense of the word as we watch the guests search for the killer before one of them becomes the next victim.
Aside from an amusing start and an energetic, hilarious ending, this movie actually has a lot of trouble with keeping you interested. After Mr. Boddy dies, the film suddenly loses its jokes and begins to drag a bit as they all split up and search the house. This is a prime example of how films like this rely on the interactions between all of the characters to generate the humor needed to keep the story entertaining. Unfortunately, this was necessary to propel the story forward, and, thankfully, everybody eventually regroups, bringing back all of the fun banter and synergy that makes this film so engaging.
Tim Curry manages to bring most of the laughs to the table; his quirky mannerisms, devilish smile, and comedic timing are extremely funny, especially in the last part of the film when he explains who did it and how. This ending sequence, which involves Curry running back and forth throughout the mansion, spouting off a detailed list of events and observations from the evening’s activities, has always reminded me of a similar scene in comedic playwright Neil Simon’s play, Rumors, in which the main character makes up a story on the spot to a couple of suspicious cops. I can only imagine how many takes it took for Curry to get this scene down…he certainly had the advantage over the play by not having to perform the scene live.
I know that this movie is probably looked down upon by the more well-known critics out there, and that it’s probably not technically a “good” film, but Clue is certainly an exciting one. A brilliant performance by Tim Curry, aided by a supporting cast that plays well off of each other, boosts this film into the top tier of movies based on board games…that was a joke. But in all seriousness, this is a film that I have enjoyed since I was a child, and I hope that you can find something in it that makes you laugh as well.
P.S. – This film is available for instant streaming on Netflix. If you have a Netflix account, click here to check it out!
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
Leave a comment | tags: Back to the Future, board game, BTTF, christopher lloyd, clue, colonel mustard, miss scarlet, mr. boddy, mr. green, mrs. white, mrs.peacock, neil simon, parker brothers, professor plum, rumors, tim curry, wadsworth, Who Framed Roger Rabbit | posted in 3.5, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies
2012 was a good year for movies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see everything – films like Moonrise Kingdom, The Master, Argo, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, etc. are all films released in 2012 that I haven’t seen yet – but I DID manage to see quite a few. Here is my personal list of the best films of 2012 (click on the titles to view my full review):
10. Wreck-It Ralph
This was another film that I had been looking forward to for months on end. I’m not as into video games as some other people, but watching this film was still like revisiting my childhood. The heart of this movie is in the right place, with the main message being “accept who you are because you’re a wonderful person just as you are.” A talented voice cast, a sweet story, candy puns out the wazoo, and a fun score by Henry Jackman make this film everything I wanted it to be…and the animated short shown before the film, Paperman, was just as fantastic.
9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I was late to the whole “Lord of the Rings/J. R. R. Tolkien” party, having only seen Peter Jackson’s film trilogy in the past two years, but I was keen to read The Hobbit and see the movie as soon as I possibly could. While I was disappointed on my first viewing, mainly due to the cartoony special effects that resulted from the higher frame rate (48fps HFR), this film was a faithful adaptation to Tolkien’s original novel, and the return of familiar faces such as Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum is refreshing. The real highlight of the film, though, aside from Howard Shore’s beautiful score, is Martin Freeman, who plays the perfect Bilbo Baggins. While some may find the run time to feel a little stretched, I found it to be justified by the attention to detail to the original novel.
8. The Hunger Games
I read Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed Hunger Games trilogy just a few weeks before I saw the film, and I was hooked from the get-go. The film did a wonderful job of adapting the novel, perfectly capturing the dystopian society introduced in Collins’ literary world. Jennifer Lawrence did a particularly outstanding job as Katniss, and the scenes added by the filmmakers to show the control that the Capitol has over the people of Panem and over the Hunger Games do nothing but add to the story in a great way.
Robert Zemeckis, director of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, released his first live action film in more than a decade this year. Flight was something I had anticipated for months, and it quite lived up to what I had in mind for it. Denzel Washington gives a powerful performance as a pilot struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, and the film explores topics such as love, recovery, lies, and responsibility. Zemeckis proves that he still has what it takes to direct a top-notch film that focuses on character and story just as much as it does on visual effects.
6. Life of Pi
This is a film that I sort of went to see just on a whim, and I’m glad I did. With gorgeous visuals that looked fantastic in 3D (something I don’t say often), Life of Pi excels the most in its storytelling. While the ambiguity of the ending may not appeal to some people, I found the film to be a thoughtful exploration of faith and of religion in general, leading me to look at my own relationship with God. It sort of melds the biblical Book of Job with Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 film Cast Away, and it definitely sparked my interest in reading the book it was based on.
In anticipation of this film, I first watched Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, which was entertaining in its more muted kind of way, and Quantum of Solace, which was pretty disappointing. I still had high hopes for Skyfall, though, and it exceeded every expectation I had set for it. The action was fun, Javier Bardem as the villain sent chills up my spine (and also brought a couple of laughs), and Daniel Craig and Judi Dench both gave outstanding performances in their respective roles. The length wasn’t an issue to me because I was too caught up in the entertainment of the film to care.
Does Spielberg make bad films? I’d answer that with a “no” (I have an argument in favor of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). With 2011’s War Horse and his newest film, Lincoln, he has taken a step back from the typical sci-fi/action/fantasy films he is known for and has focused more on period dramas – both of which were fantastic. If Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor, I won’t know what to think. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones also deliver standout performances in a film that is just as engrossing and fascinating in its exploration of politics as a good action film is in its exploration of shooting and blowing things up. Spielberg is a true master.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan set the bar high with 2008’s The Dark Knight, and this conclusion to the acclaimed trilogy did not disappoint. Tom Hardy as Bane was sinister and terrifying, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both welcome new presences, and the return of the familiar faces – i.e. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman – was satisfying and well-done. The Dark Knight Rises perfectly concluded Nolan’s trilogy.
2. The Avengers
There are so many ways that this film could have gone wrong. I mean, think about it – they took four characters from four separate films and brought them together into one super-film. In the hands of a less-capable director, it could have easily been one of the worst movies of the year, but with Joss Whedon at the helm, it ended up being one of the best. Smart dialogue with exciting action and a great story, The Avengers proved that an ensemble cast like this could work just as well in a film as it does on television.
Well-choreographed action sequences meet a smart script in this film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. As a time travel movie, it explores the consequences of our actions and the true cause of evil, and it spends just as much time in contemplation as it does making you sit on the edge of your seat.
Well, there you have it. My top ten films of 2012. What were your favorites of 2012?
7 Comments | tags: 3D, 48fps, Academy Awards, andy serkis, anne hathaway, Back to the Future, bane, bilbo, bilbo baggins, book of job, bruce willis, BTTF, casino royale, cast away, christian bale, Christopher Nolan, daniel craig, daniel day-lewis, denzel washington, flight, gandalf, gandalf the grey, gary oldman, gollum, henry jackman, hfr, Howard Shore, Hunger Games, ian mckellen, Indiana Jones, indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull, j. r. r. tolkien, javier bardem, jennifer lawrence, job, joseph gordon-levitt, joss whedon, jrr tolkien, judi dench, katniss, katniss everdeen, life of pi, Lincoln, looper, Lord of the Rings, lotr, martin freeman, michael caine, morgan freeman, oscar, Panem, paperman, peter jackson, quantum of solace, Robert Zemeckis, Sally Field, skyfall, Suzanne Collins, The Avengers, the dark knight rises, the hobbit, the hobbit: an unexpected journey, The Hunger Games, time travel, Tolkien, tom hardy, tommy lee jones, top 10, top ten, top ten films, War Horse, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, wreck it ralph | posted in Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies
With films like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump under his belt, as well as my favorite Christmas movie, The Polar Express, Robert Zemeckis has long been my favorite director. However, his exploits in the field of motion capture animation over the past decade, while memorable and still of great quality, left a little more to be desired. When I saw that he would be directing Flight, his first live action venture in over a decade, I knew it would be on my list of must-see films. Now that I’ve seen it twice, trust me: it should be on your must-see list as well.
Flight has very little to do with actual flight, though it does feature a rather fantastic (and sobering) crash sequence. Focused around an airline pilot who successfully crash-lands a doomed plane, saving 96 of the 102 people on board, the film focuses more on the pilot’s substance addiction and personal growth than on anything else. Denzel Washington stars in his best role (my opinion) as Whip Whitaker, who, after landing the plane, is thrown into the middle of an investigation to see whether it was his actions that caused the plane to fall out of the sky in the first place or whether it was simply an equipment malfunction within the plane itself.
The stress of the investigation worsens Whitaker’s already bad reliance on alcohol, and we watch his world fall apart as a result. He is divorced from his wife and estranged from his son, and even his new friendship with a recovering heroin addict, Nicole, becomes strained when his over-drinking becomes a threat to both himself and to those around him. In the end, Whitaker is given an opportunity to make a decision…his choice will surprise you and is highly reflective of the change inside of him.
Flight is about love, recovery, lies, and responsibility. Denzel’s all-star performance, as well as excellent performances from Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, and a particularly fun one from John Goodman, make this film more of a character study than anything else. It is yet another high-quality film at the hands of Robert Zemeckis, who appears to step right back into the swing of live-action as if he never left it. It is thoughtful (and the ending is very Forrest Gump-esque, if I may say so) and makes you want to question your own character: do I do anything like this that alienates me from the people I love? The ending is one of my favorite endings of any film I’ve seen in quite a while; Denzel’s final monologue is one of the best I’ve ever heard.
It’s so good, everyone. Go see it!
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
MPAA: R – for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence
1 Comment | tags: Back to the Future, denzel washington, don cheadle, flight, Forrest Gump, john goodman, kelly reilly, live action, motion capture, plane crash, Robert Zemeckis, the polar express, Who Framed Roger Rabbit | posted in 4.5, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies
I was only 4 years old when Space Jam was released in theaters, so I don’t remember seeing it for the first time, but I do remember times spent watching it on VHS as a child. Looking back on it now, the film still has the same fun and charm that it had upon its initial release 16 years ago (my goodness…has it really been that long?!), but I’ve come to realize that it’s far from what could be considered an “excellent” film.
First, the good: for the most part, Michael Jordan does a great job and is pretty likable. Though he’s certainly not an Oscar-worthy actor, he holds his own, doesn’t try too hard, and entertains us. Seeing him alongside Bugs Bunny and the other Looney Tunes characters is amusing because their cartoon-y rules now apply to him and to any other humans who make appearances in their world; throughout the film, we see humans getting sucked through holes like a drink through a straw, squashed flat against the ground, and stretched in ways that only cartoon characters can. The Monstars – the aliens who threaten to enslave the Looney Tunes – have some funny moments as well, such as when they are fooled by Bugs into thinking that there are rules that they have to follow before they can kidnap anyone. Perhaps my favorite moment in the film is when Bill Murray shows up at the game and the Monstars’ boss says, “I didn’t know Dan Aykroyd was in this picture!” (a Ghostbusters reference, for those of you who needed help) There are several laugh-worthy jokes, including jibes at Michael Jordan’s actual career (“I’m a baseball player now!” “Right…and I’m a Shakespearean actor.”), and the second half of the basketball game is the best part of the movie.
However, the plot is just awful. While “cartoon characters kidnap a former basketball star to aid in defeating aliens in a basketball game that decides their fate” may work for kids, it’s an incredibly ridiculous premise. While some may argue that it’s allowed to be ridiculous because it has cartoon characters and humans interacting with each other, I’d like to point out that Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Mary Poppins before it did the same thing in a hugely successful way without having terrible story lines. Another problem I had with the film was the inclusion of Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park), who plays Jordan’s bumbling publicist/assistant, serving no purpose other than to provide some physical comedy. If his character had been excluded from the film, it would have made it that much better.
Fortunately, Michael Jordan acts with an ease that overcomes much of the film’s downfalls, interacting well with these animated characters – an impressive feat for a non-actor, especially when you realize that, from the moment he enters Looney Tune Land, he is almost completely on his own…cartoon characters aren’t added in until after the scene is filmed. For me, it’s the combination of Jordan and the nostalgic memories watching this as a child that makes this film worth the watch – despite the things that aren’t so great. Space Jam might not appeal to adults, but kids will love it, and – who knows? – maybe even the kid in you will like it too.
Rating: 3 (out of 5)
MPAA: PG – for some mild cartoon language
2 Comments | tags: Bill Murray, Bugs Bunny, chadadada, chadlikesmovies, Dan Aykroyd, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Looney Tunes, Mary Poppins, Michael Jordan, Monstars, Space Jam, Wayne Knight, Who Framed Roger Rabbit | posted in 3, Entertainment, Film, Film Reviews, Movies
Really, if I chose any soundtrack other than Alan Silvestri’s Captain America: The First Avenger for today, I don’t know if I could call myself an American.
The score to Captain America is one of my favorites of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, helped along by the fact that Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump) is also one of my favorite film composers, and nothing quite says “America” like the Cap’s main theme (as far as film themes go, that is).
Most of the Captain America score is pretty excellent, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hear lots of Back to the Future and Night at the Museum throughout. For example, compare the opening seconds of “Hydra Lab” with “George to the Rescue – Pt. 1” from Back to the Future (click titles for YouTube links). Captain America’s “Farewell to Bucky” is the track that sounds especially like some bits of Night at the Museum. Sure, it’s a little disappointing, but the theme itself takes away a lot of that disappointment for me…it’s just too darned American/fun.
I really don’t have too much to say about this one; it is what it is and it does it well. Sure, it borrows freely from Silvestri’s other scores, but it still manages to be one of the better superhero soundtracks that I’ve ever heard…certainly not the best, though. But with a main theme like this and a song composed by famed Disney composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Tangled), called “Star Spangled Man”, how can you go wrong?
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
1. “Captain America Main Titles” 0:56
2. “Frozen Wasteland” 1:53
3. “Schmidt’s Treasure” 3:01
4. “Farewell to Bucky” 2:50
5. “Hydra Lab” 1:54
6. “Training the Supersoldier” 1:08
7. “Schmidt’s Story” 1:59
8. “Vitarays” 4:25
9. “Captain America “We Did It”” 1:59
10. “Kruger Chase” 2:55
11. “Hostage On the Pier” 2:46
12. “General’s Resign” 2:18
13. “Unauthorized Night Flight” 3:13
14. “Troop Liberation” 5:06
15. “Factory Inferno” 5:06
16. “Triumphant Return” 2:16
17. “Invader’s Montage” 2:16
18. “Hydra Train” 3:27
19. “Rain Fire Upon Them” 1:39
20. “Motorcycle Mayhem” 3:05
21. “Invasion” 5:09
22. “Fight on the Flight Deck” 3:30
23. “This is My Choice” 3:26
24. “Passage of Time” 1:35
25. “Captain America” 1:08
26. “Star Spangled Man” 2:53
27. “Captain America March” 2:36
Total Length: app. 74 min.
iTunes Album Link
Leave a comment | tags: 4th of July, Aladdin, Alan Menken, Alan Silvestri, America, American, Back to the Future, backtothefuture, Beauty and the Beast, BTTF, Bucky Barnes, Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger, chad hopkins, chadadada, chadlikesmovies, Forrest Gump, Fourth of July, Independence Day, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Merica, Night at the Museum, soundtrack, Soundtrack of the Day, soundtrackoftheday, United States of America, USA, Who Framed Roger Rabbit | posted in 3.5, Entertainment, Film, Movies, Music, Scores, Soundtrack Reviews
Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis (my favorite film director), has been one of my favorite movies since I first saw it as a child several years ago. A technical breakthrough as well as a critical success, the score by regular Zemeckis collaborator Alan Silvestri also ranks among my favorites.
Since the film takes place in the year 1947, Silvestri was faced with the challenge of composing music that fit well with the period. He succeeds beautifully, delivering laid-back tracks such as “Valiant & Valiant” and “Eddie’s Theme”. He also manages to capture the sort of fun and wackiness found in the classic cartoons of the period, such as the Tom & Jerry cartoons of the early ’40s. This wackiness can be heard in the tracks “Maroon Cartoon”, and “Toontown”, as well as in a few other spots throughout the score.
Perhaps the most appealing part of Silvestri’s score is the smooth jazziness of it, which, for me, feels typical of the classic film noir genre, a category that the movie (roughly) falls into.
However, the score for Who Framed Roger Rabbit is not without its faults. My main complaint is that there are chunks here and there that are hugely reminiscent of Silvestri’s earlier score to Back to the Future, another Zemeckis film (and my personal favorite). The similarities between these two film scores are particularly evident in the more suspenseful moments. The themes, obviously, are completely different, but it is in these moments when Silvestri is illustrating the unfortunate predicaments of the characters onscreen that it becomes harder to distinguish the two.
Despite its faults, Alan Silvestri’s score to Who Framed Roger Rabbit is hugely fun, whimsical, and relaxing at times, with one of the best “End Credits” tracks out there. Silvestri is a wonderful composer who succeeds in drawing his audience further into the world of the movie.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
1. “Maroon Logo” 0:192. “Maroon Cartoon” 3:25
3. “Valiant & Valiant” 4:22
4. “The Weasels” 2:08
5. “Hungarian Rhapsody (Dueling Pianos)” Tony Anselmo, Mel Blanc 1:53
6. “Judge Doom” 3:47
7. “Why Don’t You Do Right?” Amy Irving, Charles Fleischer 3:07
8. “No Justice for Toons” 2:45
9. “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down (Roger’s Song)” Fleischer 0:47
10. “Jessica’s Theme” 2:03
11. “Toontown” 1:57
12. “Eddie’s Theme” 5:22
13. “The Gag Factory” 3:48
14. “The Will” 1:10
15. “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!/That’s All Folks” Toon Chorus 1:17
16. “End Title (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)” 4:56
Total Length: app. 47 min.
iTunes Album Link
Leave a comment | tags: Alan Silvestri, Back to the Future, chad hopkins, chadadada, chadlikesmovies, crime, film noir, jazz, jazziness, jazzy, Robert Zemeckis, Roger Rabbit, sotd, soundtrack, Soundtrack of the Day, soundtrackoftheday, Tom and Jerry, whimsy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit | posted in 4, Entertainment, Film, Movies, Music, Scores, Soundtrack Reviews