The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) – 7/10 Ray Harryhausen fantasy adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Sinbad: Kerwin Mathews
Kathryn Grant: Princess Parisa
Richard Eyer: The Genie
Torin Thatcher: Sokurah the Magician
Writer: Kenneth Kolb
Special Visual Effects Creator: Ray Harryhausen
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Nathan Juran

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

A sorcerer hatches a cunning plan to get Sinbad and an armed crew to go back to an island inhabited by cyclops, dragons and two-headed vultures to get his hands on a magic lamp with incredible powers.

7/10

The creatures are great, Kathryn Grant is sweet,  Torin Thatcher is treacherous but everything else is average; which makes this jolly adventure one of best films to feature Harryhausen’s incredible effects work. 7th Voyage fills the bits inbetween Ray Harryhausen’s distinctive and rather splendid FX work with humour and treachery instead of dull wooden acting. It makes a nice change to see Harryhausen’s work in an entertaining film. His special effects, while looking rather dated in the late 1990’s, are still special and are a wonderful testament to a master of the art. Too often, though, his work is the only good thing about otherwise dreadful movies. This movie is a nice exception, the bits inbetween the special effects are still reasonably entertaining and involving.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes

The Croods (2013) – 7/10 CG animated adventure movie

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Belt: Chris Sanders
Director and Writer: Kirk De Micco
Nicolas Cage: Grug
Emma Stone: Eep
Ryan Reynolds: Guy

The Croods (2013)

Grug Crood’s world is about to come crashing down around him. His teenage daughter, Eep, is gaining her independence and questioning some of his rules against new things and curiosity. On top of that, the world is about to come crashing down around him. Literally.

7/10

Chris Sanders, with this and How to Train Your Dragon (he also did Lilo & Stitch for Disney which had promise and style but big tonal problems), has moved himself into the list of directors it is certainly worth paying attention to. There are a good number of very funny moments and a generally nice tone. Nicolas Cage provides another great piece of voice work (after Astro Boy). But the title! The title is just awful. I don’t want to see a crude film on the big screen, especially not one marketed at children. This is absolutely not crude at all. (Surprising, given that it is a Dreamworks Animation project.) That said, it’s certainly not without plot or character problems. It promotes rebelliousness and disrespect for your father and the idea that they are less wise and insightful than their children; a bafflingly common Hollywood theme. You can become an independent adult without arguing and fighting and being impertinent and disrespectful but you never get that message from Hollywood. And the parting message seems to be "Follow the sun" which, I shouldn’t have to say, is remarkably nonsensical advice. Anyway, while The Croods is blighted by typical Hollywood morals and a dreadful title, it’s easy to look past that and see a fun, funny, warm-hearted film.

This movie contains comic violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986) – 5/10 Disney animated crime detective movie review

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Cast / crew
Vincent Price: Professor Ratigan
Barrie Ingham: Basil
Val Bettin: Dawson
Susanne Pollatschek: Olivia
Candy Candido: Fidget
Diana Chesney: Mrs. Judson
Eve Brenner: The Mouse Queen
Alan Young: Flaversham
Music: Henry Mancini
Director, Producer and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Burny Mattinson
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: John Musker
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: David Michener
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Ron Clements
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Pete Young
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Vance Gerry
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Steve Hulett
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Bruce M. Morris
Character Animator and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Matthew O’Callaghan
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Melvin Shaw
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Eve Titus
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Paul Galdone
Supervising Animator: Mark Henn
Supervising Animator: Glen Keane
Supervising Animator: Rob Minkoff
Supervising Animator: Hendel Butoy
Animation Consultant: Eric Larson

Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Basil takes on the case of Olivia Flaversham whose toymaker father has been kidnapped by archenemy Ratigan.

5/10

Minor Disney animation which makes up for some slow moving and uninteresting segments with a decent climax inside Big Ben and a couple of good songs ("Let Me Be Good to You" and "Goodbye, So Soon"). It’s also probably the only animated Disney movie where the hero smokes and a character offers to take off all her clothes for you. The Big Ben sequence also boasts Disney’s first blending of CGI with character animation; Ratigan’s run through the gears of Big Ben’s clock mechanisms remains superb to this day. Apart from this final section, though, the animation is merely adequate. Disney animations are generally famed for their smoothness, fluidity and convincing weight and movement. It certainly looks like corners were cut in the frame rate, especially with the Queen automaton.

This movie contains violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Rio (2011) – animated romantic adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Anne Hathaway: Jewel
Jesse Eisenberg: Blu
Jemaine Clement: Nigel
Leslie Mann: Linda
Tracy Morgan: Luiz
Will.I.Am: Pedro
Rodrigo Santoro: Tulio
George Lopez: Rafael
Jamie Foxx: Nico
Director and Story Writer: Carlos Saldanha
Story Writer: Earl Richey Jones
Story Writer: Todd Jones
Screenplay Writer: Don Rhymer
Screenplay Writer: Joshua Sternin
Screenplay Writer: Jeffrey Ventimilia
Screenplay Writer: Sam Harper
Producer: Bruce Anderson
Producer: John C. Donkin

Rio (2011)

Blu, the last male Blue Macaw in the world, is brought to Rio to mate and save the species from extinction but his value doesn’t go unnoticed by local poachers. With hilarious consequences.

4/10

Blue Sky Studio’s cash-grabbing sequel to PDI’s Madagascar is entirely perfunctory and never engaging for adults; this is one parents will have to sit through patiently. Given that it’s set in Rio de Janeiro during the world famous Rio Carnival, the use of songs is hopeless. Every original song tells you nothing, moves nothing forward, elucidates nothing. That said, there are a couple of strong moments for Lionel Richie. Rio is very bright and very colourful and I remembered the names of the two main characters, indicating that the technical story-telling is entirely adequate; it’s just that nothing interesting, informative, entertaining or exciting happens throughout the entire movie. There’s no dramatic value in the story and that leaves two or three decent quality gags to hold everything up. It doesn’t. Additionally, this is another American movie that thinks that horrendous dog drool is hilarious; it’s not, it’s repulsive. Movie-makers: please stop doing that.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Bambi (1942) – 9/10 Walt Disney animated coming-of-age movie review

Cast / crew
Producer: Walt Disney
Story Writer: Felix Salten
Supervising Director: David Hand
Sequence Director: James Algar
Sequence Director: Bill Roberts
Sequence Director: Norman Wright
Sequence Director: Samuel Armstrong
Sequence Director: Paul Satterfield
Sequence Director: Graham Heid
Supervising Animator: Frank Thomas aka Franklin Thomas
Supervising Animator: Milt Kahl aka Milton Kahl
Supervising Animator: Eric Larson
Supervising Animator: Ollie Johnston aka Oliver M. Johnston, Jr.
Thanks Our sincere appreciation for his inspiring collaboration: Sidney Franklin

Bambi (1942)

Bambi is a little fawn born into a world of wonder where his unbridled curiosity will lead to fun, new friends, uplifting experiences and tragedy – all on the way to adulthood.

9/10

Oddly, I find Bambi to be an easy-to-overlook Disney masterpiece – lost among Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo – but masterpiece it most certainly is. I wonder if this is due to what feels like a very simple story. (Bambi gets born, Bambi gets friends, Bambi gets orphaned, Bambi gets antlers, Bambi gets twitterpated, Bambi gets into a fight, Bambi gets fawns.) It may be a simple story but it is told with an assured, delicate, master’s touch. The animation is, it probably goes without saying by now, brilliant. The combination of recognisable human characteristics and animal locomotion is reference quality in the character design (spoiler, deers don’t have a face like Bambi), animation and, importantly, music.

This movie contains some distressing and intense scenes

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Hugo (2011) – 5/10 adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Writer (Book) “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”: Brian Selznick
Producer: Graham King
Producer: Tim Headington
Producer: Johnny Depp
Ben Kingsley: George Méliès
Sacha Baron Cohen: Station Inspector
Asa Butterfield: Hugo Chabret
Chloë Grace Moretz aka Chloe Moretz: Isabelle
Ray Winstone: Uncle Claude
Emily Mortimer: Lisette
Christopher Lee: Monsieur Labisse
Jude Law: Hugo’s Father

Hugo (2011)

“This might be an adventure.” A orphan tries to repair an automaton which is his only connection to his Father but it will upset his precariously balanced existence.

5/10

Another flat Scorsese movie that glides from start to finish and features a great central performance from Asa Butterfield but never connects emotionally and is too full of actors waving at their mums and saying ‘Look! I’m in a Scorsese movie.’ (Butterfield and Jude Law excepted.) There is a horrendous lack of magic when the movie is trying to soar, the adventure neglects to suspend your disbelief and the comedy and romance are painfully clunky; Scorsese simply does not have the light touch, the finesse needed for whimsy and humour. In the making of, producer Graham King says ‘who better to do this than Martin Scorsese?’ Every frame of every second of this movie you’re thinking: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Hayao Miyazaki, Stephen Spielberg maybe Woody Allen; categorically, emphatically not endlessly revered "greatest director ever" "master" Martin Scorsese.

This movie contains mild peril, mild unpleasant scene

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) – 6/10 stop-motion animated adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Animation Supervisor: Loyd Price
Senior Animation Supervisor: Jay Grace
Co-Director: Jeff Newitt
Producer: Julie Lockhart
Director, Additional Voices and Producer: Peter Lord
Producer: David Sproxton
Original Book and Screenplay Writer: Gideon Defoe

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)

Desperate to win Pirate of the Year competition, Pirate Captain redoubles his effort to steal as much gold as he can but the key to unrealised treasure is much closer to home.

6/10

I do not understand why pirates are held up as aspirational heroes. This is a film designed for all ages yet promotes stealing, murdering and self-interest. The film’s positive message that friends are worth more than gold, even worth more than ham, is clearly presented but overwhelmed by a finalé that emphasizes the magnitude and awesomeness of Pirate Captain’s law-breaking reputation. He wins by being branded, essentially, an international terrorist; he is labeled as a pirate Osama Bin Laden. Hmm. That said, the film is quite entertaining, has a couple of nice gags and is paced very well. With a bit of luck, all that stealing, murdering and selfishness will go over your child’s head in favour of growing a luxuriant beard. Even if they’re a girl.

This movie contains bad language, violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.