Willow (1988)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Bob Dolman (Screenplay) George Lucas (Story)

Starring: Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Pat Roach

 

Plot: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.


Tagline – A world where heroes come in all sizes and adventure is the greatest magic of all

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure

 

Story: Willow starts as Queen Bavmorda (Marsh) whose evil rule has been hunting for a baby that will one day kill her and end her reign. When the baby is snuck out of her kingdom she ends up floating down the river the dwarf village where Willow (Davis) reluctantly takes her in, but only ends up needing to leave his village to delivery her to a rightful owner.

Willow must team up with lone warrior Madmartigan (Kilmer) to get the baby to safety, with half the kingdom seemingly after them, the true power of the magic inside is about to be released.

 

Thoughts on Willow

 

Characters – Willow is a dwarf farmer that reluctantly agrees to help a baby get to safety, he must go on an adventure unlike anything he has been on before, he will finally get to see if his years of training will unlock his sorcerer ability. Madmartigan claims to be the greatest swordsman in the land, but has been trapped escaping enemies while reluctantly joining Willow on the mission to save the baby. Sorsha is the daughter of the Queen, leading the party to capture the baby, which soon changes when she meets Madmartigan. Queen Bavmorda is the evil ruler of the land and knows the only way to stay in control is to make sure her prophecy doesn’t come true.

PerformancesWarwick Davis is the star of the movie, he must keep his innocence while showing strength through the film. Val Kilmer gets plenty of laughs showing that he could handle both the action and comedy through this film, this showed us just what sort of career we could have seen from him. Joanne Whalley does a good job with what she has but doesn’t get too much time to show u her skills, the same goes for Jean Marsh because we don’t get enough screen time for the evil queen.

StoryThe story is an unlikely hero needing to go on a quest to save the kingdom he lives in from the reign of terror it could fall into under the Queen and her armies. The story does put our hero needing to overcome his own fears, become the strong figure he has been trying to become. It does have moment of fairy tale behaviour but doesn’t reach the levels of the previous years film, ‘The Princess Bride’. This is one that can be enjoyed by all the fantasy fans out there.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy The action is battle sequences which are fun and play out for the characters to get their moments to redeem themselves. The adventure takes Willow on the unlikely adventure for the good of the kingdom while also using his desired magic abilities in the fantasy world.

SettingsThe settings take us to a land of wizard, witches and creatures that could be a threat. It is basic, but it works for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Snow time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Would have liked more of the Sorsha character.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun adventure movie, it sums up the 80’s style with how it unfolds. This is one to enjoy the ride.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Animation – L – The Land Before Time (1988)

Director: Don Bluth

Writer: Stu Krieger (Screenplay) Judy Freudberg, Tony Geiss (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Judith Brasi, Pat Hingle, Gabriel Damon, Helen Shaver, Bill Erwin, Burke Byrnes, Candance Hutson

 

Plot: An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley.


Tagline – The adventure that started it all!

Runtime: 1 Hour 9 minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Family Adventure

 

Story: The Land Before Time starts as we head back to the dinosaurs, we follow Littlefoot a longneck travelling with his family, but when an earthquake separates them, Littlefoot must join forces with fellow baby dinosaurs including triple horn Cera, big mouth Ducky, flyer Petrie and spiketail Spike.

The dinosaurs must use their memories passed down by their parents to head to the Great Valley a paradise for leafeaters, but they are tracked by Sharptooth who is looking for his next dinosaur snack.

 

Thoughts on The Land Before Time

 

Characters – The characters are dinosaurs and instead of using the scientific names, we get names that are going to be easier to relate to for the audience. Littlefoot is a longneck, he watches his mother killed by Sharptooth and needs to get to the Great Valley, he guides the other baby dinosaurs on their adventure. Cera is the stubborn triplehorn, she won’t back down from a fight despite being scared of what is out there waiting for them. Ducky is the fast-talking big mouth that joins the adventure keeping them group together, Sharptooth is the villain of the adventure a meateater meaning he will be hunting the baby dinosaurs and their parents, a threat throughout the film.

StoryThe story that follows five unlikely dinosaur friends that must travel to the Great Valley after becoming separated from their parents, this shows the courage they need to make it and survive this time and shows just how unlikely the friendship will help them make this happen. This is a standard and enjoyable journey movie which hits the marks needed for everyone to enjoy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes our dinosaurs across the land in need of safer grounds, which is an easy to follow adventure and one that needs to be experience.

SettingsThe settings show the different worlds that the dinosaurs must travel through to get to their next safety area, the great valley

AnimationThe animation looks wonderful from start to finish, there might be a few issues with colour schemes, but it looks great.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle against Sharptooth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good simple family adventure animation, it checks all the boxes and is short enough for kids to enjoy.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family animation.

Rating

 

 

Big (1988)

Director: Penny Marshall

Writer: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Jon Lovitz

 

Plot: After wishing to be made big, a teenage boy wakes the next morning to find himself mysteriously in the body of an adult.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Comedy

 

Story: Big as teenager Josh (Moscow) is tired of the rules he must face, not being considered big enough to ride fairground rides and not being noticed by the girl he has a crush on. Josh goes to a wish granting machine wishing he could become big.

The next Josh (Hanks) wakes up as a 30-year old man, needing to hide from his parents. Josh moves to New York getting himself a job in a toy company where he gets promoted after befriending the boss MacMillan but deep down he is waiting for information about the machine which could bring him back to his original age. This gives Josh a chance to grew as a person and learn about himself too.

 

Thoughts on Big

 

Characters – Josh is the teenager that grows up overnight, he must learn to be an adult where his innocent charm helps his rise through the toy industry as the adults learn from him not to take things too serious. Susan is one of the co-workers also high up in the company, she learns the most from Josh about relaxing and enjoying life over the stress filled life she had been living. MacMillan is the boss of the toy company that takes a shining to Josh believing he can help continue to make the profits and making the toys fun once again.

PerformanceTom Hanks is fantastic through the whole film showing that he always had the ability to handle comedy and carries this movie throughout. Elizabeth Perkins is good in her role as is Robert Loggia as the friendly boss.

StoryThe story shows us what would happen if a teenager became an adult overnight and having to learn about an adult life. The idea of this must have felt fresh for the time and with the first boom of technology it also works because the teenager would have been just as good with computers as a lot of the workforce. This is a feel good story about growing up fast and not taking life too seriously at times.

Comedy/FamilyThe comedy being played out in the film works because it isn’t this wild over the top which we have seen from the genre before and it is one the whole family could enjoy.

SettingsPutting the teenager as an adult in New York City needing to learn about grown up life.

Scene of the Movie – Piano scene, because it has become an iconic scene in cinema.

That Moment That Annoyed Me As I saw Elf first, I just felt like I was watching the inspiration for that film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic comedy that could and should be placed inside Tom Hanks’ top 5 of all time.

 

Overall: One of the all time classics.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Cocoon: The Return (1988)

Director: Daniel Petrie

Writer: Stephen McPherson, Elizabeth Bradley (Screenplay) David Saperstein (Characters)

Starring: Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Courteney Cox, Hume Cronyn, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg

 

Plot: The old age pensioners that left at the end of the first film come back to earth to visit their relatives. Will they all decide to go back to the planet where no-one grows old, or will they be tempted to stay back on earth?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Forced Sequel

 

Story: Cocoon: The Return starts as the residents who left in the first film return, Art (Ameche), Ben (Brimley) and Joe (Cronyn) get to reunite with old friends and family that believed they had died, but the aliens are back for their own reasons, to rescue the cocoons that they left at the bottom of the ocean that has been disturbed following an earthquake.

As the for resident spend their time on Earth they start to fall back into old ways be it sickness or mentoring roles being left with the question of whether they want to stay or not. The aliens must find a way to rescue one of their own that has been found by scientists led by Sara (Cox).

 

Thoughts on Cocoon: The Return

 

Characters – Art, Ben and Joe all return to Earth where they get to meet old friends and family, Joe gets caught up in needing to battle his old illness, Ben wants to help his grandson who is struggling with growing up and Art finds his wife pregnant at her age. The three get to look at the life they have missed for the last 5 years and need to make the decision whether to stay or not. Sara is one of the scientists which discovers the cocoons and works with the alien inside even though the rest of the government want to take him away. We do have plenty of other characters in this film but they do seem to take away any focus on enough characters.

PerformanceThe performances do feel like a step back from the first film, the older actors do seem to have a lot of fun with their roles.

StoryThe story does feel like a forced sequel, it brings the aliens back to Earth to rescue the ones they left behind with the elderly characters getting to look at the life they left behind. It does go against what we learnt in the first film with the elderly characters now facing the same question of can they stay or not because of what they missed. The alien side of things does fall into every single one we have seen, the government finds one and what to learn more about it now.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery side of this film comes from the idea of the aliens returning and what the humans will do with the ones they have discovered.

SettingsThe settings do feel the same which is fine but we do have the additional inclusion of the science base working on things.

Special EffectsThe effects here do feel like a step back too where we clearly see any addition used in the film.

Scene of the Movie – Basketball.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact it makes no sense transporting the cocoons after the first film made a point that they couldn’t.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very forced sequel that doesn’t accept the points it made in the first film, the effects are weaker and the performances are just not on the same level.

 

Overall: Disappoint sequel that was forced.

Rating

 

 

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult to Watch but Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Mississippi Burning starts by taking us to 1964 Mississippi where we see a group of civil rights activates executed on the road. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Dafoe) get assigned to the case where they must work with local Sheriff Ray Stuckey (Sartain).

In the middle of the racial tension the colour divide is still strong here with the Ku Klux Klan ruling the neighbourhood, Agent Ward is open to anyone for information, race isn’t an issue for him, Agent Anderson is similar but also knows how to handle the tension by being more discreet. When the agents find themselves targeted the inexperience Ward calls for more agents starting a full task force in the town as they search for the missing civil rights activists.

The case becomes difficult to investigate for the agents as they find themselves being shunned by both races but also needing to investigate the law in the town as they look for the answers to this case.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Burning

 

Characters/PerformanceAgent Rupert Anderson is an experienced FBI agent that knows how to deal with racial tension in towns and knows how to get people to talk. He gets frustrated having to work under Ward as he feels like he knows how to work this case better. Agent Alan Ward comes into this case with no experience in the field, he is used to everyone being treated equal and takes time to learn that his by the book methods aren’t going to get the answers required. He does learn from Anderson as the case continues and the two make a brilliant team. Mrs Pell is one of the most important witnesses in the case but it is whether she can be honest about her husband’s Deputy Pell’s where about. Nearly all of the white authority characters are suspects in this film, we literally just don’t know who is the leader but they are all single minded in their cause.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are fantastic together in this film, you can see in their performances the difference in characters but not in motives. Frances McDormand is also great through the supporting role and the cast is filled with stars that show their skills.

StoryThe story is based on a real event that happened, so you would have to be sensitive when considering this story too much. The truth is shown to us what the biggest problem in American modern history, the failure of certain states to give up the racial divide. The story is driven by the racial tension which keeps the story on edge from start to finish which makes the story fly by.

Crime/History/MysteryThe crime side of this film is full of all the tension need as we know early on just what has happened but we are left to wonder just how long until the mystery if fully solved. It also shows us the history of these cases that show us just how backwards people’s mindsets were.

SettingsThe film is set in Mississippi which gives us a look at the locations the crimes would have taken place.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to watch in places but is also one of the tensest thrillers you will see.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all thriller fans.

Rating