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Category Archives: Fantasy

Returning to the Yellow Brick Road

Oz-the-Great-and-Powerful-to-be-released-in-March-2013           The Wizard of Oz is by far one of the most enduring and best-loved films in cinematic history. Seen by generations of children, it continues to delight and entertain even 75 years later. My own five year old grand-daughter has recently become a fan of Dorothy Gale and her band of travelers off to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.
Needless to say when I heard that Disney was releasing a prequel to the greatest fantasy film and story of all time, I was eager to see it and find out all I could. I was there on its opening day, March 8th and sat in the theater with both young and old and revisited the yellow brick road.oz-great-powerful09

After watching the film I sat in the theater as everyone left and studied their responses and actions. When the film ended, the theater goers began to applaud, and rightfully so. And as they departed I heard words like, “awesome movie”; “So visual”; “perfect prequel”; and from one young movie goer, of about 7 or 8…”Mommy I want this movie!”

What I saw and felt was a little mixed. Awesome movie? Not what I would say awesome, but I would say it was very good. The story was true to the 1939 classic, in that it didn’t over tell the story or use difficult characterizations to tell its story…or did it? It moved quickly and didn’t have a slow pace, but a continual flow to the film and action, as well as the story.  A young Oscar Diggs, a small time traveling magician, played by James Franco, wants to be more than just a man, his dream is to be a great man, however his ways of getting there are lacking to say the least. When he is swept away in a hot air balloon by a swirling tornado he lands in the land of Oz and his life is changed forever. Sound familiar? Using the technique reminiscent of the 1939 classic, the films starts in black and white and once in Oz, the world takes on Technicolor.  Once he lands, he is met by the young and beautiful witch, Theodora, played very convincingly by Mila Kunis. She explains to him that he is the prophesied Great Wizard that is to take back the throne of Oz and save it’s people. He on the other hand looks at her as another one of his beautiful trophies and steals her heart. Literally. As the film develops, you begin to feel for young Theodora and when you meet her sister Elvanora, played, again expertly by Rachel Weisz you realize very quickly that she is the evil one…or is she? Michelle Williams, as Glinda the Good also shines in this role and can see through Oscar but believes he can still save Oz and it’s people, but she has to convince him.

hr_Oz_The_Great_and_Powerful_211    One of the best parts of the film for me was when Theodora begins to realize she was duped by this “Wizard” and her sister takes this opportunity to capitalize on her misery and brings about her sisters transformation to evil. I felt a little of Margaret Hamilton in her performance as she became the Wicked Witch of the West.

The film was very well made and I see it being nominated for special effects, cinematography, costumes and make up. The computer engineered graphics are at it’s best, but then this is Disney, so it should be. The world of Oz is faintly reminiscent of the Oz that I remember as a child. Even the little jokes regarding how the Munchkins,love to sing was enjoyable. Unfortunately, due to Warner Bros. owning the rights to the Wizard of Oz, some things were not used or replaced, such as the ruby slippers were reverted back to their orignal color from the books of Frank Baum, to silver. Other things we carefully placed such as Oscar’s troupe being Baum Brothers Circus, the horses of a different color in the fields. the poisoned poppy fields and even the Wizards Throne Room. There was even a lion…

Overall I really enjoyed the movie, from beginning to end.  Does it match up to the classic? No, not in the sense of what the Wizard of Oz has come to be cherished as, but it is a good match for its prequel. Sam Raimi did an excellent job of directing, and the characterizations were well done, my favorite being Mila Kunis.  I really enjoyed returning to the yellow brick road.   I plan on seeing it again this weekend in 3D, which I am sure will even be more visually stimulating. Like the young movie goer, who told his mother he wanted this movie, I too want this movie for my library.

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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in 2013, Current Movie News, Fantasy, Reviews

 

#1 ~ Favorite Films 1993

#1 ~ Philadelphia

Philadelphia

When I first saw this film, I was so moved that I watched it again the next day and it soon became one of my favorite films of all time. Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett a senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia, Antonio Bandaras plays his partner Miguel Alvarez. Beckett takes on the firm when he is wrongfully fired, the company says for misplacing a complaint, but it is obvious he was let go due to his condition, as he is suffering from AIDS.

Tom Hanks is brilliant, as is Denzel Washington who portrays his attorney. This was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia and it brings it out in full force.  However some parts of the film were edited, including a scene were Hanks and Bandaras were in bed together, but was later added in the DVD release. Other amazing actors portrayed unforgettable characters in this film, such as Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward and Mary Steenburgen.

Few films have affected me the way Philadelphia did. A powerful film, a must see!

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in 1993, Fantasy, Fav Films of 1993

 

Charlotte’s Web ~ 2006

Take a classic children’s book by E.B. White, and a classic animated feature film add in Dakota Fanning and some CGI animation that looks almost so real you think they are real…well until they start singing and talking of course and a great score and musical number “Ordinary Miracle.  Put all of that together and what do you have? An award winning, box office smash.

Well sort of.  It wasn’t the biggest draw to theaters in 2006, but it was one of the biggest.  Dakota Fanning is adorable as the young Fern who befriends a young piglet she names Wilbur.  She can talk to him along with all the other farm animals. 

A classic story put into a believable film that will live on for many ages.  Sure to be a classic as it’s Animated forerunner. B-

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2008 in 2006, Children's Film, Fantasy

 

The Butterfly Effect ~ 2004

This movie freaked me out, much like Donnie Darko did.  The premise of this film is, if you could change something about your life what else would it change?  Something we all wish we could do, change something we did, or the outcome of something that happened in our lives.  But after seeing this film, I’ve decided I have no regrets, and if I could change something I wouldn’t!  Starring Ashton Kutcher (his best role ever) this movie shows a young man just how different his life could have been if he had done one little thing differently, but sometimes the results could be worse than he ever expected.

If you like sci-fi films, or even if you don’t you should watch this film, it will make you thankful for the way your life has turned out.  Fate is nothing to mess with. B+

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2008 in 2004, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer ~ 1992

Kristy Swanson was the original Buffy in the poorly received film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was brought back to life (much like the title charecter was in several of the TV episodes) by the long running TV show in which Sarah Michelle Gellar made famous.

This film has become a cult-classic, and now that I watch it again after years of the TV series, I actually like it!  Kristy Swanson starts off pretty slow but halfway through she actually pulls of what Buffy was all about.  Another soon to be star is also in this film, two time Academy Award winning actress, Hilary Swank!

A good fun film with Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) and Rutger Hauer as the bad vampires and the great Donald Sutherland as the “watcher”.  And who could forget sexy Luke Perry as Buffy’s love interest? B

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2008 in 1992, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

 

Brother’s Grimm ~ 2005

I am not sure why I bought this DVD.  It probably was due to the fact that it starred Heath Ledger and Matt Damon.  This film is a fantasy tale about the fairy tale authors, the Brother’s Grimm.  It was poorly written, poorly filmed and poorly acted.

Wilhelm (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) are famous for vanquishing witches and demons for a price. They have been earning their living for years by traveling around Germany from village to village defeating supernatural fiends. They usually arrive in a village when they hear that villagers are being attacked. What the villagers don’t know is that the pair are con men who stage the attack with their two cohorts. They make a deal with the villagers to drive away the evil spirits for a bag of gold. Unfortunately for them, the French army, which is occupying Germany, discovers what they have been doing to the villagers and arrests them. General Delatombe (Jonathon Pryce) will let them go if the brothers help him find the people kidnapping young girls from one village. The brothers go to the village only to find that they have encountered a cursed forest with real magical spells and real evil spirits.

Unfortunately this film is just grim… D-

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2008 in 2005, Fantasy

 

Beetlejuice ~ 1988

beetlejuice.jpg

Michael Keaton takes this role and creates one of the most zaniest, craziest, kooky characters ever made for film.  He is phenomenal as Beetle-juice. Keaton is an actor that has never been appreciated for his versatility and superb acting skills.

This movie also stars the great Geena Davis, and remarkable Winona Ryder, Alex Baldwin and the forever wonderful Cathrine O’Hara, another under-appreciated star. Jeffrey Jones plays his typical character as he has since Ferris Bueller.

Geena Davis and Alex Baldwin are a couple in love with each other and their simple home town, so much so that when they die unexpectedly they want to remain in their home, however in order to do so they have to call on Beetlejuice to help them out.

Tim Burton directed this Oscar winning film, yes it won a Oscar for best make-up.  It has now become a cult-classic. B+

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2007 in 1988, Comedy, Fantasy