Around the World in 80 Days (2004, Directed by Frank Coraci) English 6

Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile de France, Jim Broadbent, Kathy Bates, Ian McNeice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Rob Schneider, Ewen Bremner, Mark Addy, Will Forte

Around the World in 80 Days (Review) | Tars Tarkas.NET

(6-Good Film)

Goofy. Fun. Spectacle.

Phileas Fogg: One day, I will build a machine that will allow a man to fly!

Hollywood’s first big-budget adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel came in 1956 and boasted over 40 cameos from major stars including: Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, and Marlene Dietrich, to name a few.  Hollywood’s second adaptation came in 2004 and may not come anywhere near its predecessor in terms of cameos, or success for that matter, but I think it’s better. Instead, it weaves in a goofy plot involving Chinese mercenaries so Jackie Chan can be the star and I say, “yes.” I love Jackie Chan and all of his adventures including his lesser, sillier exploits although I do think Around the World has some merit apart from any Chan devotion on my end. It’s a big-budget adventure with lots of colorful settings for one thing and it might not have made me laugh but I smiled throughout.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(913)

The Mighty Ducks (1992, Directed by Stephen Herek) English 6

Starring Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith, Heidi Kling, Josef Summer, Joshua Jackson, Elden Henson, Shaun Weiss, Brandon Adams, Matt Doherty, Marguerite Moreau, Vincent Larusso, Danny Tambarelli, Brock Pierce, Aaron Schwartz

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(6-Good Film)

Fun. Goofy. Endearing.

Gordon Bombay: A team isn’t a bunch of kids out to win. A team is something you belong to, something you feel, something you have to earn.

Misunderstood by critics, given cult status by the ’90s youth, The Mighty Ducks is something of a mediocre classic. Mediocre in terms of filmmaking and storytelling but a classic nonetheless. It’s fun, it strings together a host of memorable characters including Goldberg and Averman, and it’s a satisfying underdog tale. Gordon Bombay (Estevez, anchoring the film with a genuinely strong performance) is an unscrupulous lawyer who’s forced into community service after a number of driving violations catch up to him. This takes the form of him coaching the local youth hockey team, the worst in their league. He’ll turn them around of course and become a better person along the way.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(905)

The Cat Returns (2002, Directed by Hiroyuki Morita) Japanese 7

Voices of (English version) Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle, Elliot Gould, Tim Curry, Judy Greer, Andy Richter, Kristen Bell, René Auberjonois

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(7-Very Good Film)

Lovely. Light. Captivating.

From the powerhouse of Japanese animation, or really just animation as a whole, Studio Ghibli, The Cat Returns follows a high school student named Haru (Hathaway) who saves a meandering cat from becoming roadkill only to learn that the cat is royalty in a far off kingdom inhabited exclusively by cats. In danger of being whisked away to said kingdom and forced into marriage, she enlists the help of the cat bureau led by Baron Humbert (Elwes) and the portly cat Muta (Boyle). This is a wonderful, light, oddball fantasy with truly fine voice work by its English cast. Not quite on the level of Hayao Miyazaki’s work but that’s no real indictment.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(901)

D2: The Mighty Ducks 2 (1994, Directed by Sam Weisman) English 6

Starring Emilio Estevez, Joshua Jackson, Kathryn Erbe, Michael Tucker, Jan Rubeš, Joshua Jackson, Carsten Norgaard, Elden Hensen, Shaun Weiss, Kenan Thompson, Marguerite Moreau, Matt Doherty, Vincent Larusso

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(6-Good Film)

Nostalgic. Satisfying. Appealing.

Gordon Bombay’s (Estevez) playing career is officially over. As he looks on to the next chapter of his life, he receives the offer of a lifetime to coach Team USA in the Junior Goodwill Games. Bringing back his players from the first Mighty Ducks and mixing in an assortment of new ones, he’ll have to get them playing together if they’re going to have a shot at beating Team Iceland. There was a time when I viewed this as the greatest movie ever made, the apex of the mighty Mighty Ducks trilogy. It’s impossible for me to detach myself completely from those memories and see the film objectively, nor do I really want to. It’s a nostalgic goldmine. There are memorable characters, imposing villains, and plenty of goofy antics to go along with the sports action. Maybe don’t watch this for the first time if you’re over twenty.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(898)

The Last Unicorn (1982, Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass) English 4

Voices of Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Jeff Daniels, Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, Tammy Grimes, Paul Frees, Keenan Wynn, Brother Theodore, Robert Klein, René Murat Auberjonois

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(4-Bad Film)

Dull. Strange. Absurd.

This film is nonsense. Imagine my surprise then to find that it was actually well-received and, to this day, highly regarded according to IMDB. It follows a unicorn (Farrow) who learns that she’s the last of her kind but, still optimistic, sets out to potentially find more just like her. Along the way, she gets help from a bumbling wizard named Schmendrick (Arkin) and a random woman named Molly (Grimes). Eventually, she’s turned into a human, becoming Lady Amalthea, and falls in love with a Prince. There aren’t many animated films that I don’t enjoy at all and this film has such a strong pedigree. The filmmakers, Bass and Rankin, made so many classic Christmas shorts. The voice cast is excellent and yet, this movie is dull, strange but not interestingly so, and baffling in how it moves from one plot point to another. I actually did like the music, with the dumbest lyrics the great Jimmy Webb ever wrote, performed by America, but they certainly didn’t take away from the bizarreness of the picture.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(896)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019, Season 1) English 8

Voices of Taron Edgerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel, Harris Dickinson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jason Isaacs, Mark Hamill, Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Simon Pegg, Helena Bonham Carter, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Theo James, Alicia Vikander, Lena Headey, Eddie Izzard, Natalie Dormer, Caitriona Balfe, Andy Samberg, Ralph Ineson, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, Keegan Michael-Key

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(8-Exceptional Show)

Stunning. Absorbing. Grotesque.

The legendary puppeteer, Jim Henson, was a true visionary. Getting close to forty years ago, he devised a serious film, a dark fantasy, told entirely with characters rendered by puppetry. The result, The Dark Crystal, is infamous as one of the creepiest movies ever made; certainly among the creepiest kids’ movies. This brand new prequel series takes seriously his vision but also expands the works and updates the technology. It’s as breathtakingly beautiful as it is grotesque. The world of Thra is held captive by the evil, sadistic Skeksis, led by the tyrant Emperor (Isaacs). A castle guard named Rian (Edgerton, a gelfling-which is the oppressed species that makes up the majority of Thra’s population-witnesses something that he wasn’t supposed to and from then on, he becomes a danger to the Skeksis dominant way of life. Now a fugitive, he teams up with Princess Brea (Taylor-Joy) and Deet (Emmanuel) to expose the Skeksis’ plans.  This show sacrifices none of the original film’s creepiness. It’s over-the-top gross, violent, dark, and ultimately deeply absorbing. It’s even superior to the film in storytelling.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(889)

That Darn Cat (1997, Directed by Bob Spiers) English 5

Starring Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug, Dean Jones, Peter Boyle, Michael McKean, George Dzundza, Bess Armstrong, Dyan Cannon. Mark Christopher Lawrence, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Parsons, Rebecca Schull, Tom Wilson, Brian Haley

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(5-Okay Film)

Charming. Intriguing. Underdeveloped.

With its charming host of characters, quaint setting, and nostalgic score, That Darn Cat had the potential to be much better. Christina Ricci plays Patti, an antisocial teenager stuck in a small town in New England where, in her view, nothing ever happens. When her cat, D.C, comes home one morning with a watch that may or may not have “HELP” written onto it, Patti connects it to a nearby kidnapping and goes into sleuth mode. Doug E. Doug plays an FBI agent looking to cut his teeth. I enjoyed much of That Darn Cat but the mystery really falls flat by the end. The solution is completely obvious and should have been taken more seriously. The last twenty minutes dissolves into an uninteresting car chase.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(888)