Muppet Treasure Island (1996, Directed by Brian Henson) English 6

Starring Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, Frank Oz, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Bishop

Muppet Treasure Island (1996) - Titlovi.com

(6-Good Film)

Irreverant. Vibrant. Enjoyable.

Rizzo: He died? And this is supposed to be a kids’ movie

Legendary creator, Jim Henson, had already been dead for several years but The Muppets were in good hands with his son Brian Henson. Muppet Treasure Island is a fun romp and musical mixed in with Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. A young boy, Jim Hawkins (Bishop), sets sail on an adventure to find a long lost treasure with the help of his newly acquired map. The problem is, when there’s treasure involved, it’s hard to know whom you can trust. Along for the voyage are Long John Silver (Curry) and the crew he recommended. Kermit the Frog plays the ship’s captain. It’s all a lot of fun. If you love the characters of both the Muppets and Treasure Island as I do, then Muppet Treasure Island is a slam dunk. Not to be outdone, Tim Curry never holds back no matter how ridiculous the material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(914)

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)

Splash (1984, Directed by Ron Howard) English 6

Starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Jeff Doucette, Howard Morris, Richard B. Shull

Splash (1984) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

(6-Good Film)

Silly. Appealing. Light.

Allen: I don’t understand. All my life I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s… she’s a fish.

A hopeless romantic, Allen Bauer (Hanks), meets the girl of his dreams, later named Madison (Hannah), but he doesn’t know that she’s a mermaid. In my opinion, this may be the dumbest good movie ever made. The director, Ron Howard, the writers, and his cast that includes John Candy and Eugene Levy somehow pull it off. They took this lightweight, silly material and made a hit comedy (a classic in many people’s eyes). I like Splash and I certainly like the actors. It’s an interesting twist on The Little Mermaid. Instead of the female perspective, it’s The Little Mermaid turned into a male fantasy. However, I’ve never been able to get past the ending. Spoiler alert: Tom Hanks becomes a merman. The film cuts out but how long do you think he’s down there before he regrets everything. How boring? What is there to do? Nothing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(910)

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)

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

Image result for the last unicorn

(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 sets out to find out the truth and 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)

Big Trouble in Little China (198, Directed by John Carpenter) English 7

Starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Carter Wong, Suzee Pai

Image result for big trouble in little china

(7-Very Good Film)

Chaotic. Bizarre. Cool.

Jack Burton’s (Russell) just a truck driver looking to collect on the money his friend, Wang Chi (Dun), owes him. Led into San Francisco’s famed Chinatown, Burton’s tossed in the middle of a plot formed by an evil ghost, Lo Pan (Hong), to marry a green-eyed girl and break an ancient curse put upon him. Is this cultural appropriation? I’d argue that it makes fun of the white savior trope more than anything. Russell obviously looks the part- cool, tough, handsome-but often in this film, he has no idea what he is doing and its the supporting Asian cast that are in control. Much of Carpenter’s bizarre humor comes from the idea of this white guy trying to take control of the situation. The story is chaotic and not overly serious. It’s best to appreciate the various parts (the humor, the effects, the setting) and follow Carpenter down whatever weird path he wants to take.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(892)

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

Image result for the dark crystal age of resistance

(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)