8/18/17

DUCKTALES THE MOVIE: TREASURE OF THE LOST LAMP - REVIEW


Based on the DuckTales TV series and Carl Barks' comics, this feature-length animated adventure was released near the end of the show's run and, although it didn't perform well enough to guarantee further instalments, it was pretty well received overall.

TV shows, animated or otherwise, tend to be hit-and-miss when adapted for the big screen so Disney probably shouldn't have banked too much on DuckTales The Movie unless they had something very cinematic to deliver. The film follows Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad, Webby, Huey, Dewey and Louie as they travel to the Middle East in order to recover Collie Baba's treasure. From this synopsis alone, you can probably guess how the rest of the film goes as this 1001 Nights homage sees the kids get a hold of an Aladdin-style lamp before getting its Genie to grant them wishes. Throw in an evil sorcerer (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) who can turn into animals and you've got yourself this movie. The main focus is the kids wishing for silly things from elephants to toys coming to life with the villainous Merlock waiting in the wings until he can finally get his hands on the lamp. Of course, the Genie dreams of being a real boy and there are various obstacles for Scrooge and the gang to face. On paper, this certainly sounds like a cool, cinema-friendly Indiana Jones-style adventure.

Unfortunately, as good as the animation is, the movie isn't really all that cinematic and its few action sequences lack the "oomph" needed to make Treasure Of The Lost Lamp a must-see blockbuster. It ticks all the right boxes in terms of fun factor and likability so kids and adults alike should have a great time watching it, I know I did, but this really works as just a solid, extra long episode of the show you rent over the weekend rather than the big movie Disney thought it might be. Perhaps a more original plot would have helped, with bigger and more visually arresting action scenes and some character development added to flesh the whole thing out a bit, thereby differentiating it from the series. It isn't very surprising that it was on home video that the movie really thrived. It's a shame that this film's lukewarm box-office performance prevented further instalments as the potential was definitely there but at least the one film we got worked quite well. Some scenes near the end when Merlock finally gets the lamp hint at the bigger and flashier movie that could have been.

There isn't much more to say about this one except that if you enjoy DuckTales, you'll like it. This is a harmless, very entertaining and well made little movie with enough charm and laughs to keep any Disney fan satisfyingly amused throughout.

Predictable but fun.

BLACK LODGE (ATARI 2600) - RANT N' PLAY


The owls are not what they seem in Twin Peaks-themed, Atari-style game Black Lodge...

8/16/17

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK - REVIEW


Released in early 2017, Justice League Dark was an animated feature based on the DC comics run by Peter Milligan following the likes of John Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman as they battle various demonic/magical beings with some help from Batman and the Justice League.

The prologue is surprisingly grim and more than earns the film's R rating as we see normal people in various cities panicking when they start seeing demons everywhere. They start killing others, even themselves thinking they're defeating monsters when, in fact, those turn out to only be hallucinations. The Justice League has an emergency meeting where they discuss the possible cause of all this and Batman's investigation leads him to John Constantine. The tone switches radically when the trench coat-wearing occultist and his magical pals enter the picture as we first meet Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan) as he engages in a high-stakes poker game in Las Vegas with the Demons Three before a fight inevitably breaks out. Batman (Jason O'Mara) seeks out Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) to ask her questions about Constantine and, soon enough, everyone is gathered in the same place, ready to collaborate on a solution to the unexplained phenomenon that's been taking lives left and right. Don't expect to see a Justice League movie, this is very much about John Constantine and his team with Batman tagging along and other familiar faces showing up here and there.

There's maybe not much reason for Batman to even be in this story but the character does contribute a lot of cool moves during the action sequences, his seriousness is a welcome contrast to the infinitely more jokey Deadman and he represents the JLA so no real complaints there. The plot leads the team to one of Constantine's old friends, who is suffering from a magical cancer (don't ask), the forest where we find none other than Swamp Thing and finally to supervillains like Faust and Destiny. The intrigue works quite well, the characters are likeable and the animation is solid so Justice League Dark is, at the very least, a bit of fun. If you're not familiar with a lot of those characters, this film should make you want to learn more about them and dig deeper into the comics. As enjoyable as the action is and as amusing as our anti-heroes are, however, one would have liked to see an overall darker film in the vein of the aforementioned prologue. Characters do die and some of the fights get a bit rough but this is an overall pretty tame fantasy superhero adventure more akin to Doctor Strange than the Hellblazer comics. A last-minute re-cameo from Swamp Thing makes little sense and the ending is rather anti-climactic but the film itself is still perfectly watchable.

Justice League Dark won't go down as one of DC's finest animated features but it works fine as an introduction to the more occult side of the DC universe and as a one-off viewing. It's an entertaining John Constantine vehicle, Batman's in it and there's never a dull moment so not too bad overall.

Hit-and-miss.

LET'S PLAY BLOOD (DARK CARNIVAL)



The fourth part of my Blood Let's Play.


TASTIN'... CRYSTAL PEPSI



I finally get to try some good old Crystal Pepsi.

8/15/17

DUNKIRK - REVIEW


Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk is a WWII movie following several characters including soldiers, pilots and civilians as they try to survive during an evacuation in the North of France, just before German forces close in.

This story is told from different perspectives and periods of time as a British mariner sails a boat towards Dunkirk in order to help the Allied troops while a Spitfire pilot faces numerous potentially deadly challenges in the air and soldiers on the ground try everything they can to stay alive and make it home. The intensity of the expanding war is captured perfectly by showing the humanity and heroism involved alongside the pain and misery these soldiers face every single minute that goes by. No matter how flawed the main characters are, we still understand them and feel for them since none of what they're dealing with is their fault: they just happen to all be stuck in the grimmest mess. These are people who are so tired and beaten that they forget what they're fighting for and just focus on staying alive when things look particularly bleak. This movie refuses to throw big, corny speeches at us and it succeeds in conveying a lot of emotion with a minimum of dialog.

The potentially confusing structure works surprisingly well as it makes the film feel like one big action sequence with the build-up for each noteworthy event plus Hans Zimmer's relentless (and very good) score keeping us hooked throughout. It's refreshing to see a film skilfully avoid so many overused war movie clich├ęs and presenting a more effective and genuine alternative. We don't know much, or sometimes anything, about some of these character but we still root for them based on their actions and the fact it's easy to relate when you see the carnage that surrounds them and picture yourself in their shoes. The cast is excellent from the, once again, mostly faceless Tom Hardy to the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and newcomer Fionn Whitehead, who plays the candid lead. This is a visually impressive movie with beautiful yet subtle cinematography capturing every disaster in all their horror and panic without, thankfully, making the film feel like a big Hollywood blockbuster akin to the awful Pearl Harbor.

It's a relief to say that Christopher Nolan's gamble, to stray further from the sci-fi/action/mystery genres that made him a household name, has paid off. Dunkirk is easily one of the best movies of the year and it'll be a tough one to beat come Oscar season.

Masterpiece.

TOP 10 DUMBEST LUIGI LINES


Luigi proves he's not the sharpest tool in the plumber tool belt throughout the Super Mario Bros. movie. 

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