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I recently re-watched Cats Don’t Dance and realized it celebrated it’s 20th anniversary this year, so I decided to do a review or something on it! It’s one of the cult hits of the 1990’s that unfortunately didn’t make a lot of money in the box office.

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Superman (1978)

This film was both a masterpiece and a trainwreck. There were elements to it that were incredibly brilliant, while others were completely moronic. The movie was filled with plot holes and logical inconsistencies. Many things were not well explained and made little sense. Lex Luthor’s logic that Kryptonite would be a weakness for Superman was such an enormous, baseless leap that it could have come from a Dan Brown novel. The worst part was the climactic scene where Lois Lane dies in the earthquakes caused by Luthor’s missile strike. Superman is so distraught that he flies into space and circles the Earth so fast that it reverses direction and, somehow, reverses time itself. As if the inevitable forward march of time is determined only by the rotation of one insignificant planet in what is already established to be a vast and well-populated universe. That alone makes absolutely no sense, but what was worse was that he only reversed time just enough to save Lois, but not enough to stop the attack in the first place, proving Superman only cares about Lois and not at all about the countless other people who must have died.

Lois herself was another major flaw in this film, though she was played well by Margot Kidder, the characterization of her was terrible. Ordinarily, it would bother me that the main female character serves as nothing more than a damsel in distress, but I recognize that it is important to the Superman mythos that he must routinely rescue Lois. What was wrong about it, though, was the way in which she manages to get herself in trouble. My favorite version of Superman and Lois Lane come from the 1996 Superman the Animated Series. In that series, Lois does regularly need to be rescued, but only because she is a great reporter who, like all good reporters, takes huge risks in order to get at an important story. She is bold, daring, and fearless, and that gets her in trouble, which is when Superman comes in for the rescue. Needing to be saved isn’t her weakness, it’s her strength. This is not the case in the 1978 movie. In the film, Lois is a tragic case of unfulfilled potential. Early on, when she is first introduced to the new reporter, Clark Kent, the two are walking down the street and they get mugged. Instead of handing over her purse, Lois attacks the mugger, causing him to shoot his gun and run off. Clark was able to catch the bullet, but not the bad guy. Provoking the mugger was stupid and reckless, but it was bold, and during the entire situation, Lois stayed calm, collected, and strong. Those traits do not survive the movie. Afterwards, whenever she gets into trouble, it’s either by coincidence or her own stupidity, but not because of any bold or strong action she’s taken, and instead of fighting to help herself, she just sits and screams until Superman saves her. She also turns into a vapid, lovesick child whenever she’s in Superman’s presence, totally losing any semblance of strength of character she had left. When Superman takes her flying through the city, her bizarre, out-of-place internal monologue sounds like the musings from a 13-year-old girl’s diary, not a grown woman.

Jimmy Olsen was another case of wasted potential. In the comics and the show, Jimmy is young, naïve, and inexperienced, but he is also intrepid and clever, and important to Superman as a character because Jimmy keeps him grounded in humanity. In the movie, though, Jimmy has maybe two minutes of screen time, if that, and he serves no purpose in the story. Superman occasionally comments on how much he likes Jimmy, but nothing on-screen holds that up. Jimmy is so insignificant in this film that he may as well not been in it at all.

With all that said, there was a lot this film did very well. The first thing that strikes you about this movie was the score. Of course, you can’t watch a film scored by John Williams without mentioning the music. John Williams knocks it out of the park every single time, and Superman was no exception. The main theme pulls you in right from the start. It’s powerful, heroic, and dramatic. It has the perfect feel of hope and righteousness that every good Superman story needs. Throughout the entire film, the music enhanced the good scenes and redeemed the bad ones. John Williams can take a mediocre movie and make it great just from the power of music.

Also worth noting was the performance of Christopher Reeve. He played Superman the way he was always meant to be played. Many people have commented on how Clark Kent maintains a secret identity with nothing more than a pair of glasses, but it has been established in the comics that he does so much more than that. He changes the way he speaks, the way he holds his body, the way he walks. Clark uses his physical presentation to change the way he appears to other people, even without a mask, and Christopher Reeve does this perfectly. When he is Clark, he stutters and stammers, he slouches and slumps. He is clumsy, awkward, and unassuming. Despite being tall and muscled, he almost disappears into the background. He is nonthreatening, unimposing, and unmemorable. As Superman, he stands tall, he talks clearly, and he dominates any space he’s in. He holds himself with righteous confidence without being arrogant, and he really does become the paragon of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Without knowing ahead of time, you’d never know they were the same person. 

This film also had a number of other details that really made it great. The art direction and special effects were astounding, especially for the pre-digital era. Superman’s flight scenes were both innovative and effective. The film made great use of miniatures and matte paintings, which should be used more often today. My favorite detail was that every scene Lex Luthor appeared in, he was wearing a different wig. The early scenes on Krypton with Marlon Brando as Jor-El were like a great short sci-fi movie on its own, with great effects and a compelling story. Superman had many issues that kept it from being perfect, and it was goofy and ridiculous at times, but at other times it was masterful. It was the first big-budget feature superhero film, and it created an entire genre that we are still enjoying today, so it deserves a great deal of credit for that. It did something totally new, and despite its flaws, it did it well.

Robbie D.
The Directionless Director 

Kubo (SPOILERS)

I just Watched Kubo and the two strings for the first time (late to the game ik) and I just have to talk or rather write about it

1) First of I want to say just how beautifully this piece of art was created! The use of music as visual art, the many many many wonderful themes, and just the overall art style is simply incredible and I am blessed to have watched it

2) Let’s get into some of the themes. The first and most prominent one for me is the example of a broken marriage between monkey and beetle. They start of madly and wildly in love then due to circumstances, out of their control, they lose each other. They grow and transform because of this to a point where they can’t recognize each other and beetle doesn’t even know who he is anymore. But thanks to one small occurrence, not necessarily a positive one either, they are able to recognize each other once more and reignite their love. This very clearly depicts the fact that people change, things and life happen but if you’re able to look past all the crap a relationship and more specifically a broken marriage can still stand.

3) This movie shines a wonderous light on the fact that family is not always healthy. Kubo obviously has a good relationship with his mother showing that family is still important but he has a grandfather who what’s to make him blind! To his grandfather this is right, this is good, this is how life should be lived but Kubo knows that is not right for him. He fights and even, in the end, he doesn’t fully accept his grandfather it will take time and healing but none the less Kubo fought against his grandfather and Aunts because even though they were family they were toxic and in the end would have literally killed him. 

4) HAPPY ENDINGS AREN’T  ALWAYS HAPPY! I was so worried that his parents were somehow going to come back and they would all walk off into the sunset, which would be nice but completely ruin the point of this story. Sometimes people die. Sometimes a child is left an orphan. Sometimes you win but still feel sad in the end and that is ok. In the end we see Kubo pray with all his might for his parents to come back because even though he saved his grandfather he still wanted them. But we see him letting his parents spirits go into the river and saying good bye to them. I mean how much more real can you get. Sometimes we want things SO BAD or we want to change the past or how things happened but we can’t and that hurts but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be happy just that you have to make a new story. And kids need to know this and what a better way than a grade A movie.

over all this movie made me smile and just stare, mouth gapping, in wonder. I am in love and I hope you are too!!

Michael After Midnight: Doogal

Doogal. It’s fucking awful.

I could really just end the review with that; this movie barely deserves acknowledgment. But that’s pretty cheap an unfair, so let’s tell you WHY it’s awful. This is the Amercanized gag dub of the film The Magic Roundabout, which was already in English; they just decided to slap a bunch of celebrity VAs into the film and have them vomit pop culture references all over the place, and even give voices to characters who didn’t speak in the original. The movie is basically an abridged series without the abridging… or the humor for that matter.

So what’s making us out and out on this magic roundabout? Well… Doogal is a dog with a bad sweet tooth. This sweet tooth leads to him inadvertently releasing from the magic roundabout the villainous sorcerer Zeebad, some weird springy guy with ice powers. Now Doogal and his ragtag group of weirdo friends needs to journey across the land, gathering the magical crystals so they can free Doogal’s human owner Florence from Zeebad’s ice. Can they do it? Do you even care?

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I saw Rock Dog, a Chinese/US film animated by ReelFX, the same people that animated Book of Life. How could they make something so bland?

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IHE’s “I Hate Sing” review

Todday I’m going to be doing something a bit different; I’ll be reviewing another reviewers video review. Now, this may seem odd, but I have very good reason for criticizing this.

I’m a big fan of I Hate Everything’s YouTube channel. In general, I think he makes some pretty good content, though I don’t always agree with his opinions. I especially like most of his movie reviews, with Search for the Worst being one of my favorite things to watch on YouTube, with the Suicide Squad video being the only exception to SFTW videos I like. But one of his latest videos, “I Hate Sing,” is perhaps the absolute nadir of anything he has ever done on his entire channel. It’s not even that I disagree with his opinion that I hate the video; I disagreed with him about Suicide Squad but that video is still okay, just not one I particularly like. No, the problem is that his entire argument for why the movie sucks is based on absolutely faulty logic and his own rabid hateboner for Minons.

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Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999)

MoM’s 2015 October Movie List: October 25th

One of my favorite animated Scooby Doo movies, Mystery Incorporated goes to Oakhaven, Massachusetts with a famous horror writer to investigate the ghost of a witch who is terrorizing this small town. It’s the second in a 4 movie series, the first being Zombie Island, third and fourth being Alien Invaders and Cyber Chase, respectively. I owned all but this one on VHS when I was younger. This is the one with the Hex Girls - their name is a link so you can go listen to the beauty that is their self titled song from the movie. Apparently, the Hex Girls still exist on some version of Scooby Doo, but I don’t like the idea of that so I’m rejecting it.

Rating: A. I love when Scooby Doo’s monsters are real.

Michael After Midnight: Once Upon a Forest

In the 90s, animated environmentalism was the really in thing to make. We had stuff like FernGully and Captain Planet, which are two of my favorite cheesy guilty pleasures, beating us over the head with eco-friendly lessons that, to be honest, we kind of needed, even if they weren’t always handled well. And then you have Once Upon a Forest, which is quite frankly an odd and incredibly obscure film whose one claim to fame is getting a review from the Nostalgia Critic. These days it apparently has something of a cult following, but why?

Well, let’s see the story first: We’ve got a forest full of cute little critters. One day, these cute critters find the forest becoming polluted and dying; as it turns out, a broken glass bottle caused a chemical truck to crash, causing the forest to become flooded with toxic gas. A small child, Michelle, ran into some gas and is now on the brink of dying; it’s up to her little friends to find her the cure, but can they get it in time?

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Here is a request from one of my patrons on patreon that pledged the highest tier last month. He requested for me to do a review or something on The Lorax from 2012. I actually saw The Lorax in theaters back when it came out.

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Michael After Midnight - FernGully: The Last Rainforest

Ahhh, FernGully: The Last Rainforest. This movie is absolutely a guilty pleasure of mine, though one I have very little guilt in admitting I love. This is pretty much the absolute peak of cheesy 90s environmental movies, and it featured Robin Williams AND Tim Curry in its cast, so surely it’s gotta be a blast. AND… it is! I hold it up with Captain Planet as the ultimate in heavy-handed moralizing 90s animation. It’s fun, cheesy, and yeah, it’s kind of a message we need to hear, even if it was delivered in an awkward way.

So what is the story? In a magical fantasy land known as Australia, deep in a rainforest is the kingdom of FernGully, a place where fairies live in harmony with nature. All the fairies think humans are extinct, until one day the super hot fairy Crysta ventures forward and finds a logging operation that seems to only employ non-Australians (as no one has an accent). She accidentally shrinks a human named Zak and then meets an insane fruit bat named Batty Koda, they team up to defeat the evil lord of pollution that was unleashed from his imprisonment: Hexxus. His goal: to turn all the world into a toxic wasteland. Can they stop him in this 90s environmental anti-pollution save-the-Earth movie? Take a wild guess.

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Here’s my review or something of The Boss Baby, a Dreamworks animation film based on a kid’s book. While it’s not the worst thing Dreamworks has done, it’s definitely not the best.

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Seriously though, this is a very bizarre, extreme, but still enjoyable movie.

It’s weird to think that a story written by the legendary horror author H.P. Lovecraft could spawn such an exploitative, grind-house, blood fest. This doesn’t make the movie bad, but it does make it an acquired taste. It might not appeal to all the fans of Lovecraft because it bastardizes the original text to make a B-Movie out of it, and it might not appeal to all B-Movie fans because of its highbrow origins.

Fair warning though, it is pretty violent. Okay, scratch that, it’s really violent. It doesn’t save on the gore, shock, horror and disgust departments so those of you with weak stomachs and faint of heart might want to skip this one. If you like horror movies with tons of gore and black humor then this is for you.

I will say this, though. The character of Herbert West is fascinating, and Jeffrey Combs is having a riot playing him. I think any other aspiring scientist could get infected by his personality alone.

And speaking of which, and if you excuse me, I need to take Twilight away from that needle before she hurts herself. Or someone else.

Sing review

Sing. What a simple title. It’s short, sweet, to the point, and a perfect summary of what you’ll get: there’s singing, and lots of it. And this simplicity doesn’t stop there! The plot we’ve got is your standard ‘save the theater’ sort of plot, with lots of miscommunications and characters going through very standard arcs you’ve seen a million times before, it’s all been done to death in a million other films.

So then why was this movie so fucking good?

Despite all odds – Illumination’s spotty track records, some iffy trailers including one that spoils, some questionable talent in the cast, some songs – this movie is a charming, fun, and fantastic experience. This movie is great and… well, let me not blow my load so soon, let me summarize the plot first:

Buster Moon (played by Matthew McConaughey) is an overly optimistic koala who, in a last ditch attempt to save the theater his father worked so hard to get him, decides to put on a singing show to draw in a crowd. The reward is only supposed to be $1000, but his secretary accidentally made a typo, causing the flyers for the event to read $100000 instead. And so we are introduced to a ragtag group of talented wannabes: Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) a frazzled pig housewife who just wants a break from constant housework to show off her pipes; Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a jerkass mouse street performer who is only in it for the fortune; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a teenage gorilla delinquent who is stuck working in his dad’s gang but who aspires to be a singer; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk rocker porcupine who is being held back by her lame boyfriend and teen angst; and Meena (Tori Kelly), an uber-shy elephant who is afraid to show off her astounding singing due to fear. Will things work out for all these folks? That’s a rhetorical question, you know they will somehow.

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One of the most recent animated films I saw was Smurfs: The Lost Village. I didn’t really grow up with the smurfs because it was a little bit before my time, but I know it has a pretty dedicated fanbase. The last two smurfs movies were live action hybrids that weren’t really what fans wanted, but this new movie by Sony Pictures Animation seems to be a lot more faithful to the look and feel of the source material with Smurfs: The Lost Village.

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Fandom Fridays Spotlight: Zootopia

This week’s spotlight is on Disney’s new movie Zootopia and how it explains to children an always relevant lesson: discrimination, in a really honest way. Warning major spoilers ahead!

Originally posted by disneygetsgradschool

The movie balances playing into stereotypes and deconstructing them. On the surface there is the element of animal stereotypes for comedic effect like the ridiculously slow moving and talking sloths. Then on a larger scale there is the issue of predators and prey making stereotypes about each other. More importantly, we see both types of animals asserting dominance over each other, foreshadowing that the prey are not all “docile and innocent”. 

Originally posted by cast-away-my-doubt

The movie brilliantly shows prey characters that are strong and powerful and predator characters that are clumsy and weak, through visuals like body language character nuances and well developed personalities. Consequently the plot doesn’t have to rely on cliche dialogue to get kids to understand this dichotomy. This subtle approach allows a children audience to naturally relate the characters to people and recognize how we often group each other into invalid categories. 

Originally posted by floppy999

The protagonist Judy Hopps is also relatable with the flaws she has. Her character teaches children that someone can have good intentions, be a moral upright person but that doesn’t mean they are  incapable of behaving negatively. Nick’s character also demonstrates that the most trustworthy people are those that are honest about their flaws. 

Originally posted by elephantfan

The movie realistically has characters change. Judy’s bully from Bunny Burrow has become less ignorant and apologizes for his mean behaviour as a kid. Does this make him a hero? No, he’s just grown into a mature adult who takes ownership for his actions. Judy does not become friends with him because she forgives him, they just show each other mutual respect. This incident also helps Judy realize that someone is not inherently all good or all evil. The same way her bully assumed she was a pathetic weak prey animal, Judy believed predator animals are biologically inclined to revert to being savage. When Judy admits she was wrong to Nick, it is not the typical “I’m apologizing because I realized I’m in love with you and now I wish I hadn’t said those things.” It’s a genuine apology for her discriminating and for being a bad friend. 

Originally posted by cast-away-my-doubt

Another clever aspect of the movie, is the prey animals being prejudiced against the predator animals in Zootopia, forcing the audience to realize the elitist  animals are the ones they assumed would be victimized like those in Bunny Burrow. Also the clever reversal of the power dynamic between Bellewether and Mayor Lionheart, (the lion and the lamb…well sheep, a lamb is a baby sheep though, so same animal). Bellewether is the one manipulating the city with the prejudice against predator animals and Mayor Lionheart is oblivious to his secretary pulling the wool over his eyes…sorry I had to, perfect set up. This relationship easily deconstructs the stereotype of a lion being the king of the animal kingdom, and shows someone assumed to have power does not mean they are always powerful. Bellewether and Judy’s character shows that animals, or people, assumed to be weak can be powerful, and that power won’t always be chosen to be used for good. 

Originally posted by disneyanimation

Zootpia explains to children that we all develop biases and make assumptions, but what’s important is that we learn to think for ourselves and question everything we take for granted as “normal.” The movie acknowledges that every generation will deal with the issue of discrimination in some form. Moreover, it’s important to discuss this problem with children in a way that does not talk down to them or lessen the significance of the issue.  

Originally posted by teamstarfox

Also on a side note, the movie did a fantastic job of having romance in the story as a complimentary element instead of being the main focus of the plot. There was chemistry between the protagonists without taking away from the story itself and the development of their relationship was genuine. 
Thank you to the blogs I shared gifs from!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Beat Sequelitus

You know how most sequels are just crappy versions of the first film? The filmmakers know you’re going to come anyways, the director and actors know people will see it, and they just sort of walk through the whole thing basically sleeping?

Well, How to Train Your Dragon 2 didn’t catch sequelitus. It was just as good as the first one, and that’s a wonder within itself.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 follows our hero Hiccup five years after dragons have befriended the people of his village and he lost part of his leg. It follows him as he learns that the world is bigger than he thinks, that more than just his village knows of dragons and dragon training, and delves into different types of relationships around Hiccup.

Sure, there was some dumb stuff. The dragon race in the beginning wasn’t particularly fantastic. But for the most part, this film was spectacular.

Dreamworks hasn’t moved away from animating female characters in great ways, which is unfortunately a bit of a quirky thing in this world. They allow characters like Ruffnut to be expressive, and that’s just so cool.

They’ve kept with the pulling realism that actions always lead to consequences. They took away part Hiccup’s leg during the first movie. They took away his dad in this movie. Sad, but I like that they keep with their consequences, they don’t step back and say “Wait, there’s an amulet that can bring back the dead!”. Hiccup’s mother feels guilt for her years away, and feels even more when she only had so little time with her husband.

I love that there was no love triangle with Hiccup. It was great that he was allowed to have a well established, strong relationship with his girlfriend of five years and they kept it at that.

Speaking of love, I was pleasantly surprised with how they dealt with Ruffnut and her love triangle - or should I say square? I think that was just so great of them to make her uninterested in the average animated girl’s problems, yet interested in something else other than the ones pining for her.

What I’m hoping for now is a How to Train Your Dragon 3 that’s five years into the future once more, where Hiccup has a daughter or son and they have some adorably fantastical journey with each other. That would be the best thing ever, if they keep up this level of awesomeness.