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Here is a Facebook page to explain my situation with the downvoting review abuse, which I have been suffering since late last year. This situation has caused me a lot of distress and anxiety, on top of everything else I'm going through this year, it has dented my confidence and I can really do without it. This excessive negative obsession with me for absolutely no reason other than spite and most likely revenge has got to stop and whoever is doing it is on their last chance, stay away from me. I really enjoy reviewing but it has dwindled because of this, I don't feel welcome any more, I don't feel appreciated, I feel taken advantage of and I want it taken seriously and stopped (the non-useful votes removed especially), otherwise this will be my last year on IMDb. I have addressed the reiteration and I have had nothing to do with the helpful votes, and do not know who it is, that a good deal of my reviews have. I do not have a problem about having unhelpful votes, but I do with the ridiculously short period of time they appear after the reviews are approved, the excessive and undeserved number of reviews down-voted each of the 20 plus times it's happened and that I am the only person on each IMDb page for the projects down-voted. Also recently I have had reviews for non-recent projects given 0 out of 10 for inexplicable reasons a couple of hours after the review appears.
Had a major operation on my back in March 2011 to improve my scoliosis. I also have Aspergers Syndrome (hence why I get very overly passionate and hot-headed when something, especially reviewers resorting to condescension and with the inability to tell the difference between fact and opinion, annoys me) and primary epilepsy, both of which I'm coping with but there are also days that are a struggle with the epilepsy getting worse overtime. Also a problem in recent years has been an on and off weight problem, with a lot of losing weight in a short space of time because my insecurities and anxiety have been issues for a while.
Am a massive film, of all genres and decades, animation and classical music/opera lover. All of which helped me relax and kept me going when I was going through rough patches (namely health problems, stress and bullying) and had moments where I felt like giving up.
It is for those reasons as to why I have watched as much as I have and why I have contributed so heavily here. Furthermore, I enjoy it, doing the reviews has broadened my film knowledge significantly and has improved my writing skills and how I express myself.
A lot of my reviews (especially those for concert/opera ballet productions), during particularly prolific years, have been through watching things related to my course and during some lengthy breaks from studying. Just to clarify for those wondering, or even suspicious of (having been accused of being a liar a sometimes, a few of which got personal), how I have contributed as much as I have and why.
Being part of IMDb has not been without its downsides and annoyances, but the friends and admirers I've garnered through being a user has given me a lot of confidence. I also wish to thank everybody who have contacted me, with praise for my reviews and wishing me well, it means a lot. Apologies too for any slow or non responses, I can be very busy to reply or shy, it's not because I'm rude.
Ratings for films:
8. Very good
7. Worth watching
3. Pretty lame
2. Very poor
Mrs White: Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage. (Clue)
Mighty Mouse and the Pirates (1945)
A pirate's life
Terrytoons Studios' quality was very variable from when they first started in 1929, their first cartoon though in 1930 with 'Caviar', to the end in 1971, with the final Mighty Heroes cartoon 'The Big Freeze'. This is in regard to their animated shorts/cartoons though. They did do some decent cartoons, few great (the best of Heckle and Jeckle came close though), as well as their fair share of clunkers, never ones without redeeming qualities though even their worst.
1945 continues this watchable but inconsistent quality, and after a couple of weak cartoons for Mighty Mouse in the latter portion of 1944 'Mighty Mouse and the Pirates' sees a step in the right direction. Proving to be a decent, above average start to the 1945 batch and a good example actually of the Mighty Mouse series being a watchable if uneven and very formulaic one, with a lot of the good things and the not so good things.
A good premise but does very little with it, being basically very standard Mighty Mouse. So if you have seen any of the previous cartoons in the series you will know how it's all going to go and what to expect. No real surprises here.
Mighty Mouse, considering he's the lead character, could have been used better too. Like he can be, he is underused and when he does appear while entertaining it has nothing really new to what he did in his previous cartoons and actually one can question the point of him when 'Mighty Mouse and the Pirates' was doing okay without him, even though pretty non-existent story-wise.
However, the music continues to be the best asset, like it consistently was in all the Terrytoons cartoons at this point of their filmography. It is beautifully and cleverly orchestrated and arranged, is terrific fun to listen to and the lively energy is present throughout, doing so well with adding to the action. Oh and that song is very catchy and the operatic dialogue moving things forward nicely. The animation, having come on such a long way from being a weak point to the most improved component, impresses too and shows how much the studio had advanced on a visual level. It is nicely detailed, lively and colourful without being garish. It is also interesting for a slightly different character design for Mighty Mouse.
There are more gags than in the latter 1944 Mighty Mouse cartoons, not hard to achieve though, and they are well timed and humorous. The pirates are far more interesting than Mighty Mouse and have the funny and compelling personalities that is not quite as strong as with him. The conflict has fun and tension.
In a nutshell, above average but unexceptional. 6/10
The twenty fourth story from the first volume of Brothers Grimm's 'Kinder- und Hausmärchen', 'Frau Holle' may not be one of my favourite stories or fairy-tales, being one that was introduced to me when quite a bit older rather than being one of those growing-up-with stories. It is however a very interesting story from a thematic standpoint and teaches good and important lessons that are valuable and relevant today still. Do like it very much, especially for the titular character who is very memorable and iconic.
'Grimm Masterpiece Theater', or 'Grimm Fairy Tale Classics', is very interesting to see old favourites adapted and being acquainted with lesser known stories, also to see what can be dark stories done accessibly to not be too scary or dumbed down to be too childish. The series does a nice job with 'Mother Holle', with a fair share of recognisable elements while putting enough of its own spin. It is not one of the standout episodes but it is a good way to get familiar with a story that deserves an even wider audience than it does.
'Mother Holle', or at least this episode, has short-comings in my view. The voice acting is uneven with not all the voices fitting the characters, especially the step-daughter whose voice sounded like she had a bad head cold or something. The voice acting in the opening scene with the bird characters are enough to induce ear-bleeding, and with the rooster. The dialogue and mouth movements don't always synchronise, the dialogue goes at a very fast rate and the mouth movements struggle to match up with it.
Both the step-daughter, very unappealingly drawn, and the rooster come over as very annoying. The music doesn't always fit.
Generally though, the animation is quite nice with some beautifully detailed backgrounds especially and the look of the gold coins are the very meaning of magical. The intro and outro songs charm as ever and the dialogue is neither too childish or too convoluted. The story is always engaging when it gets going, the outcome satisfies.
On the most part the characters are written well, with the easily rootable Hildegard and the benevolent and mysterious titular character standing out. The stepmother is suitably beastly. There are some hits in the voice acting, the narrator and Mother Holle especially.
Concluding, quite decent. 7/10
DuckTales: Dough Ray Me (1989)
The duplication of money
Have always considered 'Ducktales' one of my favourite Disney and animated shows, if more the earlier episodes than the later ones. The earlier episodes had smarter writing and more thrilling storytelling, and while the later episodes were a vast majority of the time were colourful, very engaging and entertainingly written there was a little too much focus on not as interesting characters introduced like halfway through the show's run.
"Dough Ray Me" had a very cool idea, one of the more intriguing ones of the later episodes, but could have gone further with it and had more fun with it. Is it a bad episode? A long way from it. Is it a 'Ducktales' high point? No way Jose. Still consider it a quite good episode that does entertain and it is good in teaching younger viewers in inflation in a way that's accessible (not easy to do if this sort of thing goes over your head, the more complicated sides of finance always has confused me). Just that there was room for doing more with the premise.
It does get silly in spots with moments that even for animation suspend disbelief a bit (like not giving a clear enough reason for how the implosion caused that much destruction and although medical costs are expensive that cavity figure was excessive). The climax did feel rushed.
Also, as said "Dough Ray Me" didn't need to be seemingly afraid to have a little more fun with the premise in the latter stages after showing a lot of promise in the early ones. Inflation is a serious subject but this is a rarity for 'Ducktales' where it deals with its story a little too seriously.
On the other hand, the animation is bright and colourful, the backgrounds having very nice attention to detail. The music is never at odds with the action and the theme song is one of Disney's catchiest and best. The writing does have enough moments of amusement while also doing its best making a serious current issue accessible for whole family friendly viewing, not executing it perfectly or to fullest potential but engagingly enough.
The story has energy and while it is not always even in execution it is entertaining and makes one think. The characters are as engaging as ever, love the Beagle Boys and Scrooge is his usual self. Really appreciated that the writers played to Fenton's strengths as a character and didn't overplay his flaws, he plays a prominent role but not to too much overkill effect. The voice acting is great.
Summing up, enjoyable enough if not fully realised. 7/10
Who cannot help loving 'The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends'? While wonderfully made in every single way on its own merits, it is also one of those rarities that all the episodes of a series/show are of a consistently high standard. All of the series' adaptations of Beatrix Potter's timeless tales are great, and even that word doesn't do the series or the episodes justice, and are very faithful in detail and spirit to the original stories, a rarity.
Personally love all of Beatrix Potter's stories to bits, some a little better than others, but all of them are timeless, with simple and charming stories and colourful characters. It is a shame that not all of the stories were adapted, but all of the adaptations included in 'The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends' do their stories justice. All of the episodes do the stories justice and are remarkably faithful, without faithfulness bogging things down but actually working in their favour.
Even the animation adheres very closely to Potter's illustrations. To me "The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny", "The Tailor of Gloucester" and "The Tale of Samuel Whiskers" are the best of the series (may be some bias here, because they're my favourites as well as "The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck" and "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher" of Beatrix Potter's stories), but as said all the episodes are great and all the stories are timeless in their own way. "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and Mrs. Tittlemouse" is no exception.
It's wonderful on a visual level. Not just the animation, which are as said like Potter's illustrations come to life, being colourful, quaintly charming and carefully drawn, but also the charming and exquisitely filmed book-end live action scenes (though there is a preference for the other introduction), complete with splendid period detail and the scenery is just wondrous.
Forgot to say this but also love the use of animals that were clearly inspirations for Potter's stories, in the other introduction she directly calls a rabbit Peter, a dog Kep and a duck Jemima, and you see for examples a frog that one is reminded of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, Mr. Tod for a fox, Mr. Brock for a badger, and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle for a hedgehog.
Music is equally memorable, being lushly orchestrated, understated, quaint, whimsical and melodic. The music accompanying the introduction and the exquisitely sung (by Miriam Stockley) rendition of "Perfect Day" particularly stand out, though all the music matches the action and visuals flawlessly and even enhances the impact.
Dialogue is beautifully written and again sticks very closely to the writing of the story, with a cosy, sweet and relaxing atmosphere. One is fully immersed in Beatrix Potter's world, and also some tension in "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies". And the characters are as colourful as ever, especially in "The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse", with the intentionally repulsively loathsome and somewhat annoying Mr. Jackson standing out in particular.
Voice acting is very good, especially from Anna Massey and Richard Griffiths. Niamh Cusack is perfect as Beatrix Potter, and narrates soothingly and articulately.
Overall, 'The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends' is a consistently beautiful series and "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and Mrs. Tittlemouse" doesn't disappoint. 10/10
"Like madness is the glory of this life"
'Timon of Athens' is a long way from being one of Shakespeare's best plays, to me like many it seems it is something of a lesser work. Some great lines, some powerful scenes and a very interesting (if not likeable) titular character, but on the odd side structurally, not always riveting dramatically and in some way there is an incomplete working-draft feel (which is what it essentially was). It still interests and lesser Shakespeare, as cliched as this sounds, is a lot better than most things.
One of the early National Theatre Live transmissions and the fifth Shakespeare one, this 'Timon of Athens' is as good a production of this lesser-known play as one is going to get. It is really quite great and much better than Nicholas Hytner's previous Shakespeare production of the National Theatre Live series 'Hamlet', much more appealing visually and there aren't any staging misjudgments that perplexed rather than intrigued.
Did think though that the first act is done with a lot more of vitality which is not always there in the second. This is not the production's fault though entirely, as it is a fault of the play itself as well. Reminds me of the National Theatre Live production of 'All's Well that Ends Well', which didn't overcome the play's problem of Bertram's conversion being too rushed and abrupt.
However, it is a visually striking production that doesn't try to do anything too complicated and elaborate, nor does it become cheap. Loved the first act's stylishness and then the more desolate look of the second perfectly fits Timon's state of mind and change of fortune. Was very unsure as to whether the concept of the modern-day world-wide financial crisis would work, thinking initially before watching what's the point and what was it that was intended, but it is very intelligently done and is not at odds with the play's themes.
Nicholas Hytner's stage direction is dramatically very involving in the first act particularly and doesn't have anything that comes over as questionable. It is not self-indulgant, cluttered or stagy, and succeeds in making the comedy funny and never too broad (thank goodness Poet and Painter are not over-played, a danger with those roles) and the drama poignant, unbearably so at times in Act 2.
Simon Russell Beale is somebody who does Shakespeare extremely well, love his Falstaff for example in 'The Hollow Crown' series. Timon is a different role far removed from that, and Beale does a wonderful job, the generosity and later bitterness both brought out with equal intensity, vigour and pathos. The rest of the cast are very good if not quite on Beale's level, the standout being Hilton McRae's steely Apemantus.
Overall, great production of one of Shakespeare's lesser plays. 9/10
City Kitty (1952)
Home not so sweet home
Know Katnip the cat best from his pairing with Herman (who doesn't feature here to save misleading), will admit to quite liking both characters and their chemistry when the material is good (which it not always was). Their earlier cartoons were better and entertained enough, did find that too many of their later efforts showed a decline in animation quality and gags which was true for Famous Studios in general.
As said 1952's 'City Kitty' just has Katnip with no other recurring character pitting against and contrasting with him, and while it is worth a peek for curiosity's sake there is not an awful lot to recommend in 'Citty Kitty's' favour. Consider it one of Katnip's weakest cartoons personally and am not saying that with malice, more like regret. Also a lesser early-50s Famous Studios cartoon and sees them (quite) badly off-form, a period where they were not really in their prime but not declined properly drastically yet, some foreshadowing of it though with it having most of the things that were weak in their later output.
The fault does not lie with Katnip. He is one of the reasons as to why 'City Kitty' is not considered a must-avoid. He does have comic timing and did find it easy to root for him, he goes through a lot in this cartoon.
Other good things are the animation and music, with the latter being the cartoon's best component. Lush, characterful and action-enhancing. The animation is not amazing as such but it is vibrant and detailed enough even if the finesse is not always there. As far as the material goes, the ending is by quite some way the best part.
Because generally the gags are far too few and most of them are stale and struggles to reach amusing let alone funny. Found some of it a bit mean-spirited too, and the mice characters have little personality and are neither likeable or fun. The chemistry between them and Katnip is tepid at best.
Like has been said for quite a few cartoons seen recently, the story is best forgotten. What there is of it, which is really not much, is paper thin and very routine, with momentum severely flagging in the middle where the cartoon was especially predictable and the material particularly tired. The writing tends to be very corny. The voice actors try but have done better elsewhere when they had far superior material to work with.
Summing up, lacklustre. 4/10
The Mild West (1947)
Love animation, always have done from an early age and don't see signs of that stopping any time soon or ever, and really like to love many of the Noveltoons cartoons from Famous Studios. If more the better made/animated with fresher material 40s ones than those from the 50s, which was true for Famous Studios' overall output (which was seldom less than watchable and never really irredeemably bad, the worst of their 60s work was weak though) in general too.
'The Mild West' is watchable enough, primarily down to the animation and music (both of which were consistent strengths in the 40s for Famous Studios), but it is not an awful lot more than that and is more mild than wild. For a cartoon made in Famous Studios' best decade by far (it ran from 1942 to 1967, this is from 1947 which was not a bad period at all for the studio), 'The Mild West' disappoints somewhat and tends to be on the bland side, among the middling Famous Studios' screen-songs which agreed were a mixed bag.
It's the animation and music that save 'The Mild West'. Especially the music, which was consistently of a high standard throughout the studio's run even in lesser efforts. The orchestration has a lot of energy and there are some truly luscious sounds throughout. The song is very catchy and doesn't get annoying. The animation was not as consistent for the studio overall, with the quality declining when the studio did but throughout the 40s to mid-50s it was a strength. As one can tell, to me it was one of the compensations here, gorgeous colours and the attention to detail in the backgrounds is worthy of admiration (also fitting the gags and the song arrangements beautifully).
Also felt that 'The Mild West' started off very promisingly, setting things up in a visually striking and amusing way. The ending is the best part though, one of the very few parts in the whole cartoon that is halfway amusing or inspired. The voice acting is competent though all involved did much better in other cartoons previous and after.
Most of 'The Mild West's' material is however neither of those things. For a cartoon that is essentially a series of blackout gags, it is very worrying when most of them do not work and come over as badly fatigued and very corny. Some like the transition into the sing-along being downright odd. The story is best forgotten as it is non-existent, it's just a series of gags with a sing-along cobbled together (which sums up the cartoon well too).
Would have perhaps forgiven 'The Mild West' for having such a weak story if there was any energy. Like the tepid material, the momentum just isn't there and it all feels very dull. The same can be said for the lack of any interesting let alone endearing characters. This is all what is meant by me saying that the cartoon felt bland, which was present throughout and brought things down significantly with little making impact.
Concluding, alright and well made visually but dull with little to it, at best mild. 5/10
Much Ado About Mutton (1947)
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Famous Studios did agreed do a lot of very good work in the 40s, before tighter time constraints and lower budgets contributed a lot to some of their 50s and most of their 60s output underwhelming (namely the mid-late years). Of the Noveltoons series, some are better than others with the 40s output tending to be in the better half due to higher production values, more care put into all the different components and feeling fresher.
The last of four cartoons to star Blackie and his encounters with the Big Bad Wolf is a very good one and one of the best of the four in my view. It is not a masterpiece in animation and it is not quite one of the best Noveltoons cartoons, but it is lightyears away from being one of the worst. As well as being very well made and scored (both typical for the Noveltoons series so that wasn't a surprise), 'Much Ado About Mutton' is also entertaining and the two lead characters are a delight.
'Much Ado About Mutton' is flimsy narratively and the lambs have very little to do other than being a plot device.
However, the lush and lively music score, that not only doesn't jar but enhances, more than compensates. As does the animation, some of the backgrounds are just gorgeous and the colours practically pop out at you. Despite the flimsiness, that doesn't stop 'Much Ado About Mutton' from never being dull.
It is hardly devoid of humour, and what there is is genuinely funny. The third act is especially well executed, regardless of any predictability there are some genuinely rib-tickling moments and the timing is crisp throughout. The ending is also a highlight. The chemistry between Blackie and the wolf really drives 'Much Ado About Mutton' and has a lot of energy and tension. While Blackie is likeable, the wolf makes even more of an impression in the personality (full of it) and comic timing (often hilarious) stakes. Arnold Stang and particularly Sid Raymond, best known to me as Herman and Katnip, are solid with the voices and did detect a chemistry between them.
Overall, very enjoyable. 8/10
Sweet Bird of Youth (1989)
Twilight of youth
Consider Tenneessee Williams one of the greats when it comes to play writing. 'Sweet Bird of Youth' is not quite 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof', 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'The Glass Menagerie', but it is nonetheless classic Williams and one of his best. Due to many things, the powerful emotional impact, challenging themes daring and ahead of the time to tackle back then, richly drawn characters and intelligent, realistic dialogue.
There are two filmed versions. One being the 1962 feature film with Geraldine Page and Paul Newman. The other being this 1989 television film. While neither are in the same league as the play, there is no doubt in my mind that the former is the better version. The bold themes may not have had their full impact, but they were intact still (more so than other film adaptations of Williams' work at that time that, although with much to recommend on their own terms, not just toned down the material but ommitted content which the film didn't do as badly), the chemistry was electric and the performances powerful. In the 80s and 90s, there were a number of television films made adapted from Williams' work and most of them were more faithful in detail and content (if not always in spirit) than their feature film counterparts. This 1989 'Sweet Bird of Youth' is an exception.
In that while Williams' intentions are clear this felt like 'Sweet Bird of Youth' re-ordered and re-invented, which it actually essentially was. It contains revisions made by Williams himself and a wider range of his writing, but a large part of me felt that it was not for the better, while its dilligence is admirable it is somewhat too on the academic side. The chemistry isn't on the same level here than to before, the steam generally is missing and personally thought that Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Harmon didn't quite sizzle enough together all the way through. Pace-wise, it feels rather staid, needed more edge, and the action could have opened up more because there can be a filmed stage play feel here and don't think that was quite the intent.
Due to the re-work and re-interpretations, some of the story is rather jumpy and can feel confused, and some of the characters that were major before are abridged to extended cameo-like. Taylor looks beautiful but unlike the out of this world portrayal of Geraldine Page in the 1962 film (am really trying not to compare but it is inevitable rather in this aspect because the difference in quality is so wide) her performance is uneven. There are some intensely moving moments, but also some overwrought ones and those that show a lack of energy. Surprising seeing as she was experienced in Williams, especially good in 'Suddenly, Last Summer'.
Mark Harmon though is good and has the right amount of intensity, his chemistry with Taylor has moments. This is a case though of the supporting cast making more of an impression than the leads. Ronnie Claire Edwards and Cheryl Paris make a lot out of their rather abridged roles and Valerie Perrine is heavenly as Miss Lucy. The best performance comes from Williams specialist Rip Torn, and also the cast member being most familiar with the play so knows it inside out, as a malevolent with a pinch of subtlety Boss Finley.
'Sweet Bird of Youth' is pleasing to look at, with Taylor's costumes looking ravishing. Williams' dialogue has lost none of its order despite the nature of how the play has been adapted. The direction is respectable if never properly distinguished and there are parts that have tension and poignancy (just wish there was more though). If there is one thing this does better than the feature film, it is the ending which doesn't feel as tidy or as odds with the mostly bleak tone.
Altogether, interesting and worth a peek but somewhat bland. 5/10
There is just so much to love about 'Law and Order: Criminal Intent' and it is hard not to wish that it lasted longer. Vincent D'Onofrio, the character of Goren and his wonderfully unorthodox methods and way of thinking, his chemistry with Eames, the compelling cases, the thought-provoking and entertaining writing are all major reasons as to why, and even the premature obviousness of most of the perpetrators isn't that much of a problem.
"Semi-Professional" is not quite on the same level as the previous episode "Homo Homini Lupis" (very hard to watch for one scene especially but very powerful with beautifully done character writing and interaction), not having that episode's unforgettable emotional power. With that being said, "Semi-Professional" is still a great episode in its own way and a more than worthy effort for the show, with such a great idea for a story and such interesting themes to tackle.
Not an awful lot wrong, but the naiivety of the victim for being used for so long can be called into question. The same with a smart, ambitious character not seeming to realise that they could still be ratted out regardless of wherever they put or what they do with the person in question, that was a heck of a risk.
However, Goren is still a fascinating and entertaining character and just love how he works, unconventional that his methods may seem, and how he contrasts with the softer-in-personality Eames. Vincent D'Onofrio clearly has a lot of fun here and a more understated Kathryn Erbe works beautifully with him. Michael Murphy and George DiCenzo are particularly good in support, important as they have the two characters that "Semi-Professional" centres namely around. DiCenzo's Sabatelli being the more interesting character.
A couple of not so believable moments aside, the story is absorbing with it not being obvious too early where it's all going to go and who's responsible and its themes of rivalry, corruption, lies and betrayal add enormously to the intrigue. There are a few particularly good moments, like the semi-professional killer profile, the beginning with Goren, the "underlining the dirty parts" part with Goren and Eames and how the perpetrator is caught, not the most innovative way but cleverly done all the same. The writing entertains and provokes thought, while the episode looks good and is appropriately scored. The main theme is not my favourite of the franchise but is still memorable.
On the whole, great. 9/10
Have always found a lot to like about all three of the three best known and popular 'Law and Order' shows (the original 'Law and Order', 'Special Victims Unit' and 'Criminal Intent', the others are more variable). Although 'Special Victims Unit', great in the earlier seasons but less consistent in the latter ones, has topped the original as the longest-running of the franchise in terms of seasons, my personal favourite is the original, if more the Briscoe years and before.
"Entitled" is an interesting episode for being something of a cross-over episode and is also a very well done one, indicative of the solid quality of 'Special Victims Unit's' first season and how good it was in its earlier seasons. Will say though that somehow "Entitled" didn't feel like that much of a 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' episode. More like one from the original 'Law and Order' with the 'Special Victims Unit' cast guest-starring. Am not saying necessarily that there is anything wrong with that, just an observation/thought.
Did feel though that the underuse of Stabler and Olivia was criminal, with them being the usual lead characters and the most interesting ones on the team. Both have little to do, other than one amusing sarcastic line Olivia is pretty wasted.
Also "Entitled" for my tastes sort of petered out at the end, with a sense of incompleteness.
On the other hand, Munch and his dry humour are always a pleasure (although his professionalism comes into question, like with Jeffries and with Pruitt) and Richard Belzer really sinks his teeth into some of "Entitled's" best lines. It was not only great to see Cragen having the most to do all season here, and reminds one fondly of how he was written when the original 'Law and Order' was in its early years, but to see prominent roles for Briscoe and Green (the early seasons of 'Special Victims Unit' running simultaneously with the original 'Law and Order' in its prime era). And seeing more of the trial aspect with two of the original's best prosecutors McCoy and Abbie Carmichael, after that being missing in some previous 'Special Victims Unit' episodes in favour of the police investigation work and personal lives.
The case is mostly compelling, referencing very niftily a Season 4 episode of 'Law and Order' "Mayhem", with enough twists and turns to satisfy where it is not too obvious who the perpetrator is. The trial aspect balances well and the moral dilemmas the case poses that was so good about when the franchise was in its prime are handled well. The script provokes thought and is taut and all the acting is great across the board, with the 'Law and Order' cast making more of an impression with there being more of a focus on them. The production values are as ever slick and the music unobtrusive and appropriate.
In summary, very nicely done though not the show at its best. 8/10
Mob and disorder
Season 1 of 'Law and Order', the first show in the 'Law and Order' franchise (so the original) and my personal favourite (despite it not feeling the same post-Briscoe) was a very solid one, with even the weakest episode "Everybody's Favourite Bagman" still being pretty good. Outstanding, ones rewarded my highest rating, episodes were not many, with most of the episodes getting the very good to great ones. The outstanding episodes were there though in Season 1.
"The Torrents of Greed: Part 1" is one of the outstanding episodes. In fact, both parts of the "The Torrents of Greed" two parter are pretty outstanding, with a slight preference for the more tension-filled Part 2, and among the best episodes of the season. Perfect examples of why the early seasons of 'Law and Order', so pre-Briscoe and the early Briscoe years, are worth watching and not deserving of being forgotten in favour of the more frequently aired Season 7-onwards episodes.
All the cast are on top form here. George Dzundza and Chris Noth are as hard-boiled as ever and Michael Moriarty squeezes out every bit of juice from Stone (a character that the writers always seemed to have fun with). Christina Baranski made Katherine an increasingly interesting and strongly developed character, but it's Charles Cioffi's truly sinister Masucci (one of the early seasons' most formidable opponents based on John Gotti) that dominates. They are helped by a tautly structured and thoughtful script and well drawn characters, it doesn't get much more threatning than the Mob and mob bosses and Masucci proves that.
Furthermore, the story is ceaselessly compelling and piles on the tension. The conclusion makes one shocked and angry as ought. The slickness in the production values still remains, as do the stick-in-the-head-fast theme tune and appropriately placed and understated background scoring.
Overall, outstanding. 10/10
Georgia O'Keeffe (2009)
Not the work of art it could have been
Have a high appreciation for art, despite never being particularly good at it myself. Of which Georgia O'Keeffe was one of the twentieth century's best and most important female artists. Regardless of any historical liberties, also really like to love a lot of biographical films. And then there is Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in the lead roles of O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, regard them highly as actors (especially Irons, who is one of my favourites). So there was a good deal that made me want to see 'Georgia O'Keeffe'.
'Georgia O'Keeffe' was a decent film and does intrigue, with the two leads and their chemistry being the main reason really to see it. At the same time it was a little disappointing and somewhat superficial and under-explored. As far as biographical dramas about artists go, it's not one of the best or most illuminating, enough to recommend it but what could have been a work of art in the right hands doesn't have enough of a flourish and was a slight missed opportunity.
There are good things that are done well in 'Georgia O'Keeffe'. Allen makes a big impression as O'Keeffe, very nuanced with a lot of bold honesty. Irons gives his absolute all as Stieglitz, not as subtle as Allen (the way Stieglitz is written plays a part in this) but the charisma and intensity are there. A very good effort is made making both look like O'Keeffe and Stieglitz and it's a successful one, with some very well-crafted prosthetics/make-up, while Allen and Irons' chemistry is quite magnetic. O'Keeffe and Stieglitz's relationship features prominently here and it is actually very interesting, it's tempestuous but the film allows some more intimate moments to stop it from being over-the-top.
Alongside the depiction of their relationship, what also stands out in the story is the conclusion which is really quite moving, it is in the conclusion too where we most see the too fleeting moments of how O'Keeffe saw human nature. The scenery is stunning and complemented by some nice photography. Tyne Daly and Ed Begley Jr are particularly admirable of the competent if not always remarkable supporting cast in somewhat under-explored roles.
Do think though that despite the central relationship being done very well it could have featured less and there could have much more of how O'Keeffe saw human nature, her as an artist and how she worked. We never properly get to know her properly as a person and there is not enough illuminating about her work, art itself or her as an artist. 'Georgia O'Keeffe' too would have benefitted more from more show and less tell, would loved to have seen more of her work and creative talents shown and less of the film telling us about it.
Especially, like primarily in the voice over, when it doesn't always add much and has too much glossing over. The voice over over-explains, is rather superficial cliff-notes-like and wasn't really necessary when what is said could easily have been shown. O'Keeffe's art is beautiful and so vivid, and should have featured more.
Summing up, decent but could have been better. 6/10
Le Great Dane Robbery (1968)
The tiny dane robbery
Between 1964 and 1976, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises did several theatrical original cartoon series with various characters. After the most popular one The Pink Panther, the second most prolific theatrical series of theirs was that of The Inspector. Not every one of the thirty four cartoons in the series was great, or good, but on the most part The Inspector series was one of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises' better theatrical series.
1968's 'Le Great Dane Robbery' to me really isn't one of the best The Inspector cartoons. Despite being among the higher rated later The Inspector cartoons, again from personal opinion it's one of the weaker ones. Not that 'Le Great Dane Robbery' is a terrible cartoon, it's not. It s well made, with a few amusing moments, a good opponent and there are some of the great things that makes me like the The Inspector series as an overall whole. Just that there are far funnier and more imaginative outings in the series and there is next to nothing original here.
'Le Great Dane Robbery' is well animated on the whole. There has been more finesse in the drawing elsewhere, but the vibrant colours are still attractive and the backgrounds are simple but never cheap or uninfished looking. The music is appealingly orchestrated and jaunty without sounding stock or being too loud and constant.
There are moments of charm and amusement, though they don't come consistently. The ending being one of the better parts. The Inspector may be one-dimensional but still is amusing and easy to root for. Tiny has a big personality and is actually even funnier and more interesting than The Inspector, reason alone to see the cartoon for. Pat Harrington Jr could not be better for The Inspector.
Sadly, the amusing moments are too few and between. There is very little original here in the story or the gags (physical and verbal), with a lot of familiar ground with significant lesser impact, and it shows in the tired feel in most of 'Le Great Dane Robbery'. Nothing is imaginative and the humour is only mildly amusing at best on the whole, nothing hilarious.
As indicated, the story is very predictable, can lack energy and does nothing new with a premise that is not a new one. The physical comedy could have been sharper, the bumbling at times could have been toned down and the verbal humour lacks wit and irony.
Overall, alright but nothing special. 5/10
The Borgias: The Prince (2013)
"Is God served well by the papal elections? Is the College of Cardinals mentioned in the gospels?"
Was not sure at first whether to write this review for this final episode of 'The Borgias', with my enjoyment of reviewing having dwindled by quite a bit overtime and especially recently because of feeling that all my hard work, with a lot of care and thought, has gone to waste and has been for nothing. But decided to do so anyway, then the person/people responsible for making me feel this way are ordered to leave me alone, having done nothing to warrant their persecution of me.
Even though it may not have been perfect, am still immensely fond of 'The Borgias' and it is one of not many shows where more than one episode has been watched in one night. That's how addictive it has always been for me and how easily it got me hooked. So much about it is great, and any other fans of Jeremy Irons should find themselves more than satisfied, despite not being a close physical resemblance to the real Rodrigo on the dramatic front it is to me one of Irons' best roles.
"The Prince" is a great episode on its own, as an episode of 'The Borgias' and an episode for anything, and quality-wise it is one of Season 3's best episodes. It works well for a season finale, as there are things that have a sense of resolution, like the Forli battle and Micheletto. But for a show finale one can't help feeling that it could have been more and wishing that it had lasted for another season like intended, but with production costs being too expensive and the show being aired alongside stiff competition that were given more accessible time slots and marketed more that wasn't to be.
It didn't have any problems for me until the very end, where one can see that this was not intended to be the final season and it does make me mad that 'The Borgias' wasn't given enough of a chance and didn't last longer. It was not fair for it to end on this abrupt and incomplete a note with too many loose ends with only Caterina, Micheletto and Lucrezia having anything as close to character arc closure, whereas everybody else was left unresolved or completely neglected. Sorry about it sounding like a big song and dance, not intended, but just can't help feeling annoyed.
Visually, "The Prince" looks wonderful as always for 'The Borgias'. Love the costumes and scenery, while the larger-scale/battles don't look cheap and there is a beautifully shot and lit scene where Rodrigo talks of the want to get rid of what got him into power in the first place, which is pretty shocking also to hear. The music is as fantastic as ever, so stirring and haunting with the main theme being the very meaning of hair-raisingly epic.
Writing is thought-provoking and intriguing, with enough tension and pathos. The story feels a little rushed in spots with so much to pack in, but it never felt dull to me with lots of tension in the battle of Forli, with scintillating chemistry between Cesare and Caterina (living up to her "tigress of Forli" nickname) reminiscent of that in "The Choice", emotional power with Lucrezia. And that scene with Cesare and Micheletto, talk about bittersweet. There is some clever direction from Neil Jordan, especially that aforementioned scene with Rodrigo. Machiavelli is a wry-humoured joy in this episode as well, and will admit to having a good laugh at Rodrigo's "we address an empty bed! We have never realized it would provide such sport".
All the performances far from disappoint, with a typically darkly intense Francois Arnaud and Gina McKee perfectly cast as Caterina. Cannot find anything to fault Irons for either, although he is a little underused here. Almost forgot to mention what one of "The Prince's" biggest strengths is how one sees the strength of the Borgia family, along with the beginning "The Face of Death" this is the episode where that has been at its strongest, after usually seeing a lot of tension and strain between them.
Summing up, a great episode but also one that disappoints because of its incomplete feel. 9/10
House of Cards: Chapter 44 (2016)
"When my father died, it destroyed me, but when I think about Mother, I feel nothing"
Season 4 started off more than promisingly, with two very good episodes ("Chapter 40" and "Chapter 42") and an excellent one ("Chapter 41"). Then there was the episode where Season 4 hit its stride with the incredible "Chapter 43", which for me is one of the standout episodes of 'House of Cards' back when it was good to brilliant in its quality and not the quality that that disgrace of a final season Season 6, the worst final season of any show in my view, had.
"Chapter 44" is not quite up the same standard of "Chapter 43", but that would have been such a tall order and it would have been very difficult to equal or better that episode. It is still a great, excellent even, episode on its own and a more than very worthy 'House of Cards' episode, even without Frank for a vast majority of the episode. Actually consider it one of Season 4's better ones even when taking that into account or overlooking it, and the second best Season 4 episode up to this point. If anybody disagrees though that's fine.
Frank's near-total absence is noted and is deeply felt, an example of when such a strong character isn't there one can see how important they are in making it work. Having said that, there is that feeling while not leaving so huge a hole that it comes to be too much of a distraction that it ruins the episode. That may not be the case for everybody but it was respectfully for me. Not like the whole of Season 6. If this sounds like too much of a contradiction and it will look that way to some, it is down to at this point being conflicted on what my stance is on it, with Season 6 it was much more certain though as the quality was considerably lower so it was much harder to forgive.
Enough of talking about that and lets talk about what "Chapter 44" does brilliantly. And that it a lot. Standing out are the character writing and character interaction. Claire continues to have that icy demeanour, like when she talks about her coldness towards her mother and Frank (showing how strained their relationship had become at this point), and there is that master manipulator dynamic between her and Blythe, where he is like a puppet on her strings and she is the puppeteer of the action. Do agree that Doug, who is proving to be more interesting than in Season 3, and Seth have some great moments and the return of the formidable Tusk adds hugely.
Robin Wright shines like the brightest of stars here in "Chapter 44". The episode is as ever stylishly shot and edited, and the direction is particularly striking when Claire and Blythe are together. The story is never less than compelling, even when not there Frank's influence and presence is very much dominant regardless of whether he is referred to by another character or not. The dialogue is thought-provoking and has bite.
Overall, excellent even when without Frank, which sounds like a disaster but the exceptionally high quality of everything else more than compensates. 9/10
Far from bad or bloodless
Am a big fan of murder/mystery/detective shows and dramas, and jump at the opportunity when a new one comes along, re-watching classics is also a joy. Prime-'Taggart' (the Taggart-era and the first half of the Jardine-era). Although remaining watchable and there were good episodes, the show didn't feel the same in the period where Burke was in charge, particularly when the episode lengths became shorter (too short).
"Bad Blood" is one of the good episodes. Actually think generally that it is very good and the best 'Taggart' episode since "Death Trap", was mixed on the first five Burke episodes while finding the previous two episodes improvement. While it is not one of the best 'Taggart' episodes, there is plenty of intrigue and plenty to keep one guessing. The improvements seen in the previous two episodes still remain in "Bad Blood".
Did think that the truth about Fairchild was too obvious too early, or at least the sentiment that she wasn't who she seemed. Felt that it was the case as early as the second murder and was convinced of it when there was concern over her reaction to it, then there is everything with the report where it could only have been her.
While it wasn't as obvious, though it also was not a surprise in both the who and why, the ending did feel rushed and underdeveloped.
On the other hand, the production values have the necessary grit and moodiness and Glasgow is like its own character. The moodiness is present in the music and the main theme as always is unforgettable. The improved and increased chemistry and teamwork within the team is here too and am continuing to have less of a problem with Burke, who now gels better and is less of a bully.
Regarding the script, that's intriguing and there's more bite and dryness that were missing when the Burke-period first began. The twists and turns did surprise on the whole without being too many, original the story may not be but it didn't feel too tired. The acting is good.
Concluding, very good. 8/10
A large part of me was fascinated into seeing 'Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8' by the catchy title alone, hard not to resist a film with a title like that. Have a high appreciation for comedy (have always tried to like all the different types of it) and also have a high appreciation for horror (again trying not to have a certain preference for how to do horror and dismiss any other way), with there being numerous examples of comedy and horror together in the same film done (very) well.
It does regret me to say this, as someone who tries to be encouraging and doesn't actually like being critical, but 'Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8' just didn't work for me on the whole. There are far worse films out there, of comedy individually, of horror individually and films that combine both genres together. Although this combination has been done well numerous times, there have been just as many other times that combine them badly and 'Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8' is one of them. Great title, decent concept, bad execution.
There are a few unsettling moments that raise 'Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8' up a point, but they are too far and between.
On the most part, the comedy doesn't work. It just comes over as limp in timing, over-worked to an over-the-top degree that it feels forced, the sharp bite and wit just aren't there and never is it remotely amusing, let alone funny (anything that is is all unintentional). The film fails in the horror too, the lack of tension and suspense take away from any creepiness as does the dreary pacing, over-silliness, the gratuitous overuse of CGI blood and excessive predictability. The vampires are not scary at all and come over as rather goofy to unintentional humour degree.
'Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8' is riddled with cheese and awkwardness and the photography is amteur hour level. None of the characters are worth engaging with, the direction has no real focus and tries to do too much and the acting is a bad mix of camp and robotic.
Concluding, one film that is nowhere near close to being as interesting as its title. 2/10
Asylum, the Lost Footage (2013)
Should have stayed lost
That review summary was in no way intended to be mean (and am aware it sounds very derogatory), being somebody who has always aimed to not be mean and learn from the mistakes they made in school where social interaction was a big obstacle and attitude was affected. It also these days believe it or not take a lot for me to give anything my lowest possible rating, being generally encouraging and sometimes in some people's minds over-generous.
'Asylum: The Lost Footage' just didn't work on any level, and despite being quite angry at myself and while and after watching there is going to be a serious intended refrain from saying anything insulting as that's not fair. Am not going to hold anything against anybody that found some sort of worth in this, but 'Asylum: The Lost Footage' just didn't do anything for me, am going to have to agree with the other negative reviews here, and didn't even feel like a film. More a series of poorly shot barely connected scenes cobbled together in a very muddled way.
It looks cheap, even for a film not high in budget. There is just no sense of style or much cohesion to the editing. It actually made me physically ill, which is not something commonly said by me these days. The audio is never harmonious with what's going on and any feeble attempts at suspense or surprise is ruined by the over-obviousness of this aspect. The direction is barely there, like it was directed in a single day's work with next to no passion or heart.
Nothing illuminating, natural or engrossing in the film. Had a who care's vibe throughout, it feels stilted and rambling and nothing is learnt from what is said. The story is non-existent, other than right at the start when things are set up, and basically what was said in my second paragraph. No tension. No suspense. No engagement value. No coherence.
Instead 'Asylum: The Lost Footage's' story is very muddled and disconnected, with an interminably dull pace, dreary atmosphere and full of overlong scenes dragged out endlessly. Those in front of the camera give off the sense that they had been bribed to appear and that they didn't care for what was happening or being said or shown.
Overall, awful. 1/10
Wake the Dead (2017)
Not completely dead, never becomes alive though
Have said more than once about me not having any bias against anything low budget. It may seem like that when critical about low budget monster films and horror especially, but that is not the case in case anybody is wondering. Am not one of those that thinks that anything modest or less budget is immediately terrible, have never tried to be that close-minded and am aware that a lot goes into making a film and that it's difficult.
There are films though that actually do well with limited resources and manage to be above average or more. So in my eyes, saying a film is low budget shouldn't be that much of an excuse for the overall quality in any film etc. to be bad. There are certainly far worse films than 'Wake the Dead' as there was a little degree of effort seen here which has not been the case with a lot of low budget films seen recently. That degree of effort is still pretty small in a film that had a decent if familiar concept but never really gets off the ground.
'Wake the Dead's' best asset, or should that be least bad asset, is the acting. Actually though the actors did acceptably considering what they were given. They at least had presence and nobody was obnoxious, inexperience inevitably shows but have been infinitely worse acting recently.
Some nice eerie scenery here and there and there are sporadic moments of creepiness.
Aside from all that, there is not much else to recommend 'Wake the Dead'. Aside from the scenery, the film looks very amateurish, with afterthought-like effects and dreary and chaotic photography that indicated inexperience and indecisiveness (that may not be the case, it just came across that way to me). The audio overbears, does not add to or enhance anything (jars if anything) and is used too obviously. The direction is characterless and fais to generate much out of the horror elements, which contributes to why that aspect lacks a lot and why the film overall is as bland as it is.
From beginning to end, 'Wake the Dead' is burdened by a clunky and badly underdeveloped script that never flows and by the characters never being worth investing in or particularly interesting. Even more so by a story that has no tension or suspense and on top of that is quite dully paced and has very little freshness. The horror never really horrify or unsettle, because again it's bland and it looks cheap.
Not a complete waste but is lacking in many areas. 3/10
While a fan of the original 'Criminal Minds', neither of its spin offs did anything for me. Especially 'Beyond Borders', while 'Suspect Behaviour' never really got off the ground despite marginally improving very late into the run it never reached offensive or condescending levels like 'Beyond Borders' did. The first four episodes were very, very poor, "The Harmful One" being extremely so.
While not a good episode still, "The Lonely Heart" was a very marginal step up. Likewise with the sixth 'Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders' episode "Love Interrupted". Still not a good episode, but actually it's the case that brings it down. Whereas the show showed signs of getting a little somewhere with character development within the team in the episode, something sorely lacking before. So as one can guess from this review, "Love Interrupted" is one of the show's better episodes up to this point, or at least it was that way to me.
Credit is due, as said already, in finally making an effort in making the team interesting. Still find most of them sketchy (especially Mae and have never been able to stand her) and still don't care for enough of them properly, but the episode did a good job with Simmons in the first time he's properly shone or had anything close to worthwhile. The ending especially. The team interaction is a little more coherent here, though still needing more spark.
Usually credit Alana De La Garza as the show's best actor (by default), but actually found the best performance here to come from Daniel Henney who allows one to feel sympathy towards Simmons.
Didn't care for the case though. Again it is very standard, with not enough to keep one guessing, and lacks suspense or really any real kind of atmosphere. When the unsub's motivations are revealed too, prematurely, it should have been twisted but even most 'Criminal Minds' episodes with quite over-the-top motivations didn't have behaved or methods this extreme considering what it was to drove the unsub to committ the crimes in the first place. It was a pretty "they behaved like that for that?" situation. It did undermine the unsub from having more impact, one of the potentially creepiest unsubs spoiled by that, being revealed too early, featuring too much and by that the victims didn't seem afraid of them enough (personally would have been terrified if in that situation).
Also am not impressed by the writing yet. It doesn't flow particularly naturally and sounds awkward, talks down to the viewer and comes over as insensitive. One example being Garrett's mis-use of "polygamist", he and the writers should have known better than to throw around that word and interpret it as something different to what it actually means as that was just sloppy. The visuals again are choppy and obvious and the music is overbearing and could have done with being used less, it is also at odds with everything. One never really feels like they are in the setting, so much the lack of authenticity. The acting has not really improved all that much, the Hotel Manager's acting was pretty atrocious and her character and the writing for her were just bizarre.
In a nutshell, much better than the first four episodes but weak. 3/10
Dealing with Elmyra
If one wants an animated show with fine animation that has visually inventive moments, a hip and infectious theme song, smart and wonderfully wacky writing, fun storytelling, characters that engage and entertain and great voice acting from some of the best and most prolific voice artists in the business, 'Tiny Toon Adventures' more than fits the bill. Am not going to say that every episode is great, but most range from good to wonderful.
"Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow", interesting for being the first episode sent into production, is one of the very good episodes of 'Tiny Toon Adventures' in my view. Not one of the show's best episodes by any stretch, and one has to not mind Elmyra to like it (as is the case for a fair share of episodes that centres primarily around one certain character, the Furrball-centric ones are an acquired taste). There is a lot to like about "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow" and it has pretty much all of the above cited elements that the show is more often than not so good in.
Maybe it took a little time to get going and there is a very distracting frequent goof with Elmyra's pants constantly changing. Am aware that there are always goofs in animation, but up to this point of 'Tiny Toon Adventures' the animators weren't usually as sloppy as that.
Otherwise, the animation is bright and colourful with the backgrounds being richly detailed. Continue to love the very inventive and wonderfully crazy facial expressions and reactions. The music is dynamic and never discordant with what's going on, and the theme song has not lost any ounce of its hip coolness or memorability.
The writing could have veered on the wrong side of cutesy and been annoying, but actually it is still typical 'Tiny Toon Adventures' razor sharp wit and wackiness worthy of classic Looney Tunes. Some nifty references to 'The Wizard of Oz' (Babs as Glinda), The 57th Academy Awards (when Buster presents Hamton with the Oscar) and 'ET' (that film's most iconic moment) Likewise with the story when it gets going, the wilder it gets and things do get wacky later on the more entertainment value there is.
Elmyra rarely was a problem for me on 'Tiny Toon Adventures' (she was on 'Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain' though and one of that show's main problems), though can understand why some find her annoying and there are more interesting characters on the show. She isn't a problem here, she isn't too cute and her personality, which is purposefully not likeable, fits the premise. Of the characters, my favourite is Buster. All the voice actors do a fine job, Charlie Adler and Cree Summer having the lion's share.
Summing up, very enjoyable. 8/10
Rocket to Mars (1946)
1946 started off the post-war Popeye period quite well. None of the cartoons from the series that year were classics and they had pretty much similar strengths and flaws. They did suffer from not being particularly original, with some previous Popeye cartoons being remade and somewhat too faithfully and Popeye had a temporary voice change that never quite clicked with me, plus Olive was wasted. They were though well made, scored and were entertaining enough.
That is the case with 'Rocket to Mars'. Notable for being the first animated cartoon to depict alien invaders and the theme of alien invasion, it is an enjoyable Popeye cartoon but there is not an awful lot mind-blowing. Loved the setting and the premise which sounded different, but an opportunity was missed to do something more with them and do something more origjnal. Promising set-up but becomes too standard Popeye territory, don't get me wrong standard Popeye is not a bad thing but one does wish for something fresher once in a while.
'Rocket to Mars' is very well animated, do think it is one of the best-looking 1946 Popeye cartoons. The landscapes especially are so vibrant and atmospheric and the shots help make them even more impressive, especially in the first half. Every bit as good is the music, lots of merry energy and lush orchestration, adding a lot to the action and making the impact even better without being too cartoonish.
Popeye himself is easy to like and has good comic timing. Bluto, in martian form (another reason to see the cartoon for, am not kidding) is a funny and formidable adversary and the two sparkle in their chemistry together. The martians have the right amount of amusement and creepiness. 'Rocket to Mars' is amusing, Popeye and Olive's chemistry is charming and the set up is promising. Jackson Beck voices robustly.
Unfortunately, didn't find that everything worked here in 'Rocket to Mars' here. The conflict tends to be too predictable and easy, basically Popeye vs Bluto in space with martians, with the outcome never in doubt and things resolve too on the convenient side. Olive has next to nothing to do.
While Harry Welch gives Popeye a good go and did so for all the cartoons he voiced the character while Jack Mercer was serving in the military, it always felt strange without Mercer having so closely associated the role with his voice. Mercer fits the character design much better and has more energy.
In summation, decent but nothing exceptional. 7/10
Madagascar: Island of the Monsters
Loved all of the previous episodes of 'Wildest Africa'. Was past caring really as to whether the series was ground-breaking, what was much more important was something that was well made, informative, charming, entertaining, worth investing in emotionally, well written and well presented. Found 'Wildest Africa' to be all of those, while it is not one of my favourite nature documentaries it is really very much a must.
"Madagascar: Island of the Monsters" may not be unfamiliar territory, being set in one of the most famous African environments and having been covered a lot in other documentaries that broke new ground more, like with David Attenborough. It may not be as illuminating as the first two episodes and "The Virungas: Land of Ice and Fire", which had a lot of content not known to me before, but that doesn't stop the episode's quality from being excellent with many fantastic things.
The episode does a great job bringing out the weirdness and wonder of Madagascar and its locations. Likewise with how everything regarding the life there evolves, which did educate me, and the animals and plants also have that strangeness and wonder, with how they adapt and became more diverse focused on a lot and never less than intriguing.
Writing and delivery is entertaining as well as informative, even though there is familiar territory that didn't stop me from still learning a lot. Colin Salmon narrates with enthusiasm and sensitivity, his narration adding to any tension and emotion.
Visually, "Madagascar: Island of the Monsters" is nothing short of remarkable. The scenery and habitats are beautiful yet also cruel (much more than gorgeous imagery with cutesy animals, and a long way from either and the same goes for the whole of 'Wildest Africa'). The photography is vivid and it was amazing to see so much of such impact so close. The music is dynamic but never intrusive.
Summing up, another fine episode of a series deserving of more attention. 9/10
Jealousy, thy name is Spike
First of all, as it now seems to be the only way for them to get the message (apologies for the temporary irrelevance as it has to be said with me not being able to deal with it any longer), can the person/and now it seems group who has been excessively serially down-voting a big number of my reviews on and off since late last year in a ridiculously short period of time after the reviews being written (sometimes), for reasons inexplicable to me as of now, please stop it right now and stay away!
As somebody who is feeling targeted, and with autism and anxiety, every time it has happened, this has been very distressing, especially when what seemed to be annoying people when it started (repetition and not for accumulative reasons, and sincere apologies for this) has been addressed, or at least enormous effort that is still continuing has been made. If it's anything to do with the useful votes, that is nothing to do with me and it's called having unaware-of-identity fans most likely. Anyway, back to reviewing "Owl's Well That Ends Well", one of the least liked 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' episodes with many fans for good reason. Have been watching 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' ever since it first aired nine years ago and very quickly became a big fan (if not quite die-hard "brony"). It seemed on paper to be a shallow and cutesy show, but to my surprise it became from personal opinion one of the best and more addictive animated shows in recent years. Am not going to say that every episode from Season 1 was great because that's not the case, but overall it was a solid start.
It is a shame though that with "Owl's Well that Ends Well" Season 1 of 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' went from one of its top five episodes in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", a perfect example of how to do an origins story focusing on more than one character well (brilliantly in this case), to one of its two worst episodes. Two of my least favourites of the show too. The other being the show's first majorly major disappointment "Over a Barrel", which started off well but fell apart fast and never recovered. Don't know which is worse between the two, both are not well written at all and the character writing is not on par in either episode to put it lightly, despite starting off well, but this episode had the better executed moral.
"Owl's Well that Ends Well" is not a complete abomination. The animation is as ever bright and colourful, with beautifully detailed backgrounds and expressive character designs. The music fits beautifully and the best of it is quite infectious. The episode does start off and end well (the latter being an improvement over "Over a Barrel") and who can't help love Spike in Dick Dastardly mode?
The voice acting is fine from all, though all have done better before and since when they had better material (Tara Strong deserved better).
Conversely, like "Over a Barrel", "Owl's Well that Ends Well" quickly goes downhill and doesn't recover. It was great to have an until now underused character have more prominence and have an episode centering around him, but they could have come up with something much better and more interesting than here. Spike is completely unlikeable in this episode, once the "green eyed monster" character trait comes in and quite out of nowhere he becomes out of character and mostly comes over as a jerk. Wanted to well up when he started crying but this is one of the few times in Season 1 where an intended emotional moment did nothing for me, feel really bad about saying this.
Furthermore, the story was executed poorly. The idea of jealousy is so old hat in film, television and cartoons and "Owl's Well that Ends Well" does nothing new with it. It is muddled in which character should be the centre of attention, first Spike which is introduced far too suddenly and then to the owl. The other characters are not written very well either, with the owl not being an interesting character and actually becomes rather annoying and Twilight is almost as unlikeable as Spike, coming over as uncharacteristically ignorant. The dialogue ranges from okay to awful, those who jokes just grate.
In conclusion, one of Season 1's worst and we are not talking by a margin. Sorry too for the heated way the review was started off. 4/10