Cars 2 (2011, Directed by John Lasseter) English 6

Voices of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard, Bruce Campbell, Tony Shalhoub, Jason Isaacs, John Ratzenberger, Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave, John Turturro, Bonnie Hunt, Joe Mantegna

Cars 2: Film Review | Hollywood Reporter

(6-Good Film)

Silly. Entertaining. Misguided.

Finn McMissile: I never properly introduced myself: Finn McMissile, British Intelligence.

Mater: Tow Mater, average intelligence.

I am a sucker for the “accidental spy” trope in movies, done best by Alfred Hitchcock with such films as North by Northwest or The 39 Steps. It’s to a point that I even really enjoy critically reviled examples like Bill Murray’s The Man Who Knew Too Little or Cars 2, the worst reviewed Pixar offering to this day. Cars 2 shifts focus from the orginal film’s hero, swaggering racecar, Lightning McQueen (Wilson), to his friend, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a tow truck with limited intelligence but a heart of gold. Mater stumbles into a spy plot to sabotage organic fuel at the same time that Lightning McQueen battles in the first ever World Grand Prix. I’m not a fan of Larry the Cable Guy’s schtick and that includes his character here. Mater is far from a charming protagonist. For me, however, the remaining aspects of the film are sufficiently entertaining. The animation is still first-rate Pixar even if the story isn’t. Many consider this the worst Pixar film. I disagree. Cars 2 is a fine movie, and much more satisfying than Brave or The Good Dinosaur.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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From Hell (2001, Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes) English 9

Starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Holm, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng, Susan Lynch, Joanna Page

From Hell" | Salon.com

(9-Great Film)

Sinister. Gory. Lurid.

Abberline: This ain’t killin’ for profit. This is ritual.

Taking very loose inspiration from Alan Moore’s sensational, dense, intelligent graphic novel, The Hughes Brothers have dumbed down the material significantly. This isn’t a police procedural like the book, nor is it much in the way of character study. It is, instead, a big-budget slasher film with high production values. No wonder Alan Moore, the author, despised it. As for the critics, most of them anyways, who dismissed it, I think they were unfair. Depp plays Scotland Yard Inspector Abberline, as London nears the end of the 19th century, assigned to an unprecedented series of murders orchestrated by “Jack the Ripper.” Along with finding a group of prostitutes to be the killer’s targets, he grows close to one of them, Mary Kelly (Graham), while wading his way through what amounts to an epic conspiracy. The plot and the characters are complex without being especially deep or thoughtful. This is what many might hone in on, but I would call that missing the boat. The setting, atmosphere, performances, and stylish direction make this a superior slasher, a beautiful nightmare.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Cars (2006, Directed by John Lasseter) English 7

Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Jenifer Lewis, Michael Keaton, Paul Dooley, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, Katherine Helmond, Jeremy Piven, Richard Kind, Edie McClurg

Lightning McQueen (Cars) #ESTP | Cars 2006, Cars movie, Cars 3 lightning  mcqueen

(7-Very Good Film)

Entertaining. Skilled. Derivative.

Lightning McQueen: Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer.

I know that this is an animated picture, but the world of Cars does not hold up in the slightest. It makes no sense. If they need gas to move, how did the first cars (the Adam and Eve, if you will) start moving? Where did they get the gas? These questions bothered me more this time around most likely because this was my first time watching the film as an adult. It’s also my first time watching Cars after seeing the superior Doc Hollywood, which Cars clearly ripped off. All this aside, I still rather enjoy this movie. It follows Lightning McQueen (Wilson), a hot shot race car, on the way to his big race. After an accident, he finds himself stuck in a small town surrounded by local characters. Eventually though, they win him over and teach him that racing and winning isn’t everything. The animation is exciting and the characters are well-drawn, but Pixar really should have given proper credit to Doc Hollywood for this one.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,068)

Eyes Without a Face (1960, Directed by Georges Franju) French 7

Starring Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Édith Scob, François Guérin, Juliette Mayniel, Alexandre Rignault,Béatrice Altariba

Amazon.com: Eyes Without A Face (Aka Les Yeux Sans Visage) Edith Scob 1960  Photo Print (28 x 22): Posters & Prints

(7-Very Good Film)

Grotesque. Uncomfortable. Unique.

Christiane Génessier: My face frightens me. My mask frightens me even more.

I entered this film overconfident, certain that this french “horror film” from sixty years ago couldn’t bother me, couldn’t get under my skin. I was wrong. It follows a physician, Dr. Génessier, earnest and fanatical in the grand tradition of mad doctors from horror fiction. His grown up daughter’s face is horribly disfigured and he’s vowed to restore it to its original beauty. To do this, he resorts to kidnapping and stealing unblemished faces off of unsuspecting women. Eyes Without a Face is a beautiful film in shimmering black and white. It’s also a bizarre fairy tale perverted into an effective horror. What shocked me was the surprisingly graphic surgical scenes. Its a fairly unsurprising narrative that hearkens back to Frankenstein and the novels of H.G Wells, but the imagery is unique and unforgettable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,066)

Pinocchio (1940, Directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske) English 10

Voices of Dick Jones, Cliff Edwards, Christian Rub, Clarence Nash, Walter Catlett, Charles Judels, Evelyn Venable

A 'Pinocchio' Live-Action Movie Is Coming, So He'll Finally Become A Real  Boy

(10-Masterpiece)

Simple. Brilliant. Imperishable.

The Blue Fairy: A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.

I truly believe that this version of Pinocchio (with respect to Carlo Collodi), will last as long as the Earth has people on it. Given the chance and an audience, it is as simple and powerful as the ancient myths created by the Romans and the Greek that we’re taught in school. Pinocchio is a wooden puppet created by the lonely Geppetto and brought to life by the kind blue fairy. His task is to become a real boy by proving himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, a task that I think would be difficult for anyone, let alone a wooden boy with a day’s worth of life experience and a cricket for a guide. The world Pinocchio dwells in is forever ingrained in my mind-scary, dangerous, magical, beautiful-but the genius of Disney was to mix it all together; the joy and the tears. He also knew that kids enjoy a controlled amount of fear. There are images of boys turning into donkeys and a lifeless Pinocchio face down in a pool of water that stick out to me. And, of course, the animation is first-rate. The sequence of the whale, Monstro, swallowing Pinocchio’s raft and then sneezing it back out again is incredible.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,065)

Speed (1994, Directed by Jan De Bont) English 9

Starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Alan Ruck, Richard Schiff, Richard Lineback

Speed (1994 film) - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

(9-Great Film)

Taut. Exciting. Proficient.

Stephens: Did you have any luck with the bomb?

Jack: Yeah, it didn’t go off.

In terms of intention and execution, Speed is basically a perfect movie. Keanu Reeves (the ultimate action star) plays a cop, Jack, that becomes the target of a maniacal bomb-expert, Howard Payne (Hopper). After Jack and his partner, Harry (Daniels), foil Payne’s plans for terrorizing the city of Los Angeles into paying him millions, Payne comes back with a vengeance. This time, he’s rigged a bus to explode if it drops below 50 mph or if anyone attempts to get off. Bullock plays a cute girl thrust into the action. Speed is a brilliant example of Hitchcock’s famous bomb theory. The suspense of knowing there’s a bomb is much more thrilling than the bomb actually going off. Speed is relentless in pace. The stakes are well-established. The stunt-work is incredible. Reeves and Bullock’s chemistry is dazzling. The film, a classic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,064)

Casablanca (1942, Directed by Michael Curtiz) English 9

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, S.Z Sakall, Dooley Wilson

Casablanca (1942)

(9-Great Film)

Classic. Immaculate. Beloved.

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.

Rick (Bogart), as I’m sure you know already, sticks his neck out for nobody. Heartbroken after a lost love affair in Paris, he’s become the enigmatic owner of a happening bar in Casablanca during World War II. While all around him people are scrambling and killing and stealing for a means of getting out of town and over to ally territory, Rick seems in his element. That changes when an old flame, Ilsa (Bergman), the one who broke his heart in Paris, shows up with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Henreid), a hero to the resistance movement. Casablanca is often proclaimed the best-loved or most cherished of Hollywood classics. It’s a strong testament to what the old studio system could do. Premier production values, invisible editing, great dialogue, and a terrific cast of characters matched with the right stars and character actors. Of course, Bogart and Bergman are immaculate but think about how invaluable the supporting cast is, right down to Sakall in his brief moments (The studio system had the best character actors). I resisted Casablanca for many years, perhaps partly due to my innate contrary nature, but also, I think, because its so famous and influential, so often imitated, that its components are almost cliche. It’s impossible for it to feel fresh at this point, but watching it again, I found myself admiring every aspect of its storytelling. It’s a great film, but you probably didn’t need to be told that.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,063)

Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005, Directed by Jon Favreau) English 7

Starring Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005) Review |BasementRejects

(7-Very Good Film)

Solid. Surprising. Restrained.

Walter: Don’t push that button.

I’ve put off every opportunity that I’ve had to watch Zathura for many years now. The spin-off of a popular childhood favorite, Jumanji (1995), I saw its cover and judged it to be an unnecessary, special-effects laden rip-off. Finally, having watched it, I was happily surprised. Following bickering brothers, Walter (10) and Danny (6), the two stumble upon a gaudy board game called Zathura, a sci-fi version of Jumanji. In other words, a game with drastic consequences and much too much excitement for its players. If it was left up to the action, this film wouldn’t make much of an impression, though the special effects are excellent. A matter of preference, Jumanji’s animal adventures and urban jungle mash-up is considerably more exciting to me than this minor space escapade. Also, despite comparable runtimes, Jumanji felt epic while Zathura feels intimate. What Zathura does well, though, is establish a dramatic relationship between the two brothers and build an adventure around it. It’s well-acted, intriguing material with an especially strong ending.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,062)

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021, Directed by Carlos López Estrada and Don Hall) English 7

Voices of Kellie Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Alan Tudyk, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Lucille Soong, Benedict Wong

Raya and the Last Dragon movie review: Disney animation inspired by  Southeast Asian culture | South China Morning Post

(7-Very Good Film)

Fun. Beautiful. Engaging.

Raya: My whole life, I trained to become a guardian of the Dragon Gem. But this world has changed, and its people are divided. Now to restore peace, I must find the Last Dragon. My name is Raya.

There aren’t many people left after an apocalyptic storm blows through, turning bodies into stone. Raya (Tran) lives in its aftermath; a world of five kingdoms at war and little to defend against the darkness quickly spreading. She’s still fighting though, searching for Sisu (Awkwafina), a legendary dragon that might be the world’s only hope. The plot and tone are reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender (my favorite show) and if Raya and the Last Dragon was a television series, I would say I can’t wait for season 2. The characters are charming and distinct, the world is beautifully animated. I wanted to stick around. But Raya and the Last Dragon is a movie, Disney’s latest animated production and their 59th overall. The chances for a follow-up are pretty slim. Disney has made less than a handful of theatrically released sequels in their long history, so I have to look at Raya as a stand-alone piece, and on that score, it suffers a bit in my estimation. I wanted more which is both a compliment and a criticism. The world is so epic. The story, while solid, is less so.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,061)

Lady Snowblood (1973, Directed by Toshiya Fujita) Japanese 8

Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, Masaaki Daimon, Eiji Okada, Miyoko Akaza, Takeo Chii, Kō Nishimura, Noboru Nakaya

Lady Snowblood: Blizzard from the Netherworld

(8-Exceptional Film)

Glorious. Simple. Resplendent.

Narrator: People say you can’t wash away the mud of this world with pure white snow. You need asura snow – stained fiery red.

Yuki Kashima, deadly assassin, righteous avenger, and the basis for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, is the product of a savage beginning. Her mother’s husband and son were murdered brutally by four bloodthirsty schemers-Takemura Banzō, Shokei Tokuichi, Tsukamoto Gishirō, and Kitahama Okono. Her mother, then, raped and passed around before dying in prison, giving birth to Yuki. Yuki, also known as Lady Snowblood, was born with vengeance in her heart. Consumed by violence and anger, is there any room for anything else? Yuki meets and falls for a young writer, Ashio, in the pursuit of killing her mother’s tormentors. Great pulpy material married to awesome visuals, Lady Snowblood is a gorgeous action flick with over-the-top violence and several twists.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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