ABC Film Challenge – Animation – P – Pom Poko (1994)

Director: Isao Takahata

Writer: Isao Takahata (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Shincho Kokontei, Makoto Nonomura, Yuriko Ishida, Norihei Miki, Nijiko Kiyokawa

 

Plot: A community of magical shape-shifting raccoon dogs struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Animation

 

Story: Pom Poko starts as we meet the racoons that have lived on farm land for years, but lose their home to the humans whose development has destroyed large amounts of their forest homes. Now the racoons must put their difference behind them to fight back against the humans to keep their homes.

This involved learning how to transform into humans to enter the human world to bring it down from the inside even though this is against their lazy nature.

 

Thoughts on Pom Poko

 

Characters – The characters we meet are different racoons, the have the elders who come up with plans to keep their lands, the young ones that are developing their skills to play the pranks on the humans. We also have the transformation master that are entering the battle in the real world as humans.

StoryThe story follows the racoons that want to keep their land from being taken over by human development. We get a bigger message about taking the land of wildlife for our own development. This works for the story because it has fun at the struggles the racoons must go through and balance this against the serious elements of the film. we do have similarities to The Watership Down too in this one.

Comedy/Family/FantasyThe comedy is typical animated comedy, we get moments of slapstick as we tell of the training in the most part. The family could enjoy this one and learn important lessons too and the fantasy comes from the idea racoons can transform into humans and other creatures.

SettingsThe settings show us the countryside the racoons live in that is being destroyed by the humans and the human world the racoons enter. This keeps the settings simple but effective.

AnimationThe animation fits the typical Ghibli style which works to tell the story well.


Scene of the Movie –
Transformation training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sweet little Ghibli movie, it does send important messages about how wildlife and humans must learn to live together.

 

Overall: Sweet little animation movie.

Rating

 

 

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Natalie Portman Weekend – Leon (1994)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

 

Plot: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Assassin Film

 

Story: Leon starts as we see just how deadly of an assassin Leon (Reno) is, you know the usual easy job to show he can pull tricks to confuse the enemy. Leon lives in a small apartment in New York where he has neighbours with middle child Mathilda (Portman) feeling out of place with her abusive father and sister. When we see how her father has gotten them in trouble with Stansfield (Oldman) he murders the whole family.

Leon reluctantly welcomes Mathilda into his home but they soon make an agreement that Leon will train Mathilda to be a ‘cleaner’ just like him so she get kill Stansfield and the men that killed her family.

 

Thoughts on Leon

 

Characters – Leon is the loner assassin that is brilliant at getting the job done and spends his free time keeping his planet in the sun and watching old movies in the cinema. He has a code, no women or children which is why he takes Mathilda in so he can teach her the ways and help her get revenge on the man who killed her family. Mathilda is the 12-year-old girl that has never fitted in her family and is being abused by her family, she sees her family murdered and her only hope is Leon, she wants to be trained to be like him so she can get revenge. We get a lot of different characteristics from this character that acts a lot older than she should but it makes sense because of her childhood being ripped from her. Stansfield is the cop that killed Mathilda’s family, he is a dirty cop with a love for classical music that doesn’t care who he kills to keep his business alive.

PerformanceJean Reno is fantastic in this role, he plays a character perfectly to make us see his kindness to go against his heartless nature as a killer. Gary Oldman makes for a brilliant villain as we see just how emotionless he can be. Natalie Portman gave us her first performance here and it is one of the best child actor performances you will see which makes you understand why she has had such a long career.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a lone assassin teaming up with a young girl who has become a victim of a dirty cop as their friendship blossoms the revenge becomes personal. This is easily one of the best relationship between two people from different worlds coming together for a common goal without anything needing to get complicated.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the film shows the world of assassins, dirty cops and innocent victims as we are left on edge waiting to see what will be happening to our characters.

SettingsNew York always makes for a wonderful setting as we get to see how the overcrowding can let hitmen get away easily.

Scene of the Movie – Mathilda’s Gift for Stansfield.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing, really.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of all times, it shows how to make a lone assassin movie can be one of the best of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant, masterpiece movie.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Next Karate Kid (1994)

Director: Christopher Cain

Writer: Mark Lee (Screenplay) Robert Mark Kamen (Characters)

Starring: Pat Morita, Hilary Swank, Michael Ironside, Constance Towers, Chris Conrad

 

Plot: Mr. Miyagi is back and he takes a new pupil under his wing; a troubled adolescent girl.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: For the Franchise Fans

 

Story: The Next Karate Kid starts as Mr Miyagi (Morita) is being involved in tribute to his fallen brothers in war, where he spends time with widow Louisa (Towers) of one of his best friends at war. Louisa is trying to raise her granddaughter Julie (Swank) after the death of her parents, but this is becoming difficult as Julie is becoming a rebellious teenager.

Mr Miyagi offers to take Julie under his wing hoping to offer her the discipline in life that she requires. The principal Col Dugan (Ironside) runs a strict regime on the students and soon clashes with Miyagi. Miyagi offers to teach Julie the art of karate to help her express the main she is feeling about her lost parents.

 

Thoughts on The Next Karate Kid

 

Characters – Mr Miyagi is remembering a lost friend from war, one of the first people he taught karate, now he takes his granddaughter under his wing to help her learn to express her pain from losing her parents, he uses karate passing on the discipline he had learnt through his life. Julie is the rebellious teenager that is filled with anger because of the death of her parents. Under Mr Miyagi she starts to learn karate to give her discipline in life. Colonel Dugan controls the students in the high school, he is strict pushing the students too far too often.

PerformancePat Morita is good giving us the same performance we have seen last time out, he doesn’t over play any part of his performance though. Hillary Swank is one of the big plus points in this movie, we know how far she went after this film and it shows us just what potential she had. Michael Ironside is always good as a villain because he is always that twisted when he plays these roles.

StoryThe story follows Mr Miyagi passing on his discipline to accept life a is comes and being prepared to defend yourself and stand up for yourself. While it is strange not having Daniel involved and we do fall into the idea that a young girl would be more interested in make-up, dancing and dresses, does feel degrading to what the film is meant to be teaching. Otherwise this does follow the same trends as the others which will keep the fans happy.

Action/Family/SportsWe don’t get much fighting in this film, sadly most of the high school fights are between boys not the one learning karate, it does feel like a family film again as it does have moments of humour too.

SettingsThe film does have new setting which changes the tone of the training too, it doesn’t have the streets smart feel to the setting being used.

Scene of the Movie – Learnt the kick.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too girly.

Tagline – It’s ancient wisdom against teenage spunk. 1,000 years of karate tradition is about to get a kick in the pants.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the films that you will only enjoy if you have enjoyed the previous three, it sends the same message but cuts down on the karate.

 

Overall: one of the all the fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Susan Shilliday, William D Wittliff (Screenplay) Jim Harrison (Novel)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas, Karine Lombard, Tantoo Cardinal

 

Plot: In the 1900s, three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of Montana are affected by betrayal, history, love, nature, and war.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Life Story

 

Story: Legends of the Fall starts in the wilderness of Montana, Col William Ludlow (Hopkins) moves his family away from the wars which cover America to raise his three sons in the early 1900s. His sons no grown up Tristian (Pitt) the gentle and kind one, Alfred (Quinn) the intelligent one and Samuel (Thomas) the one who has just returned with his wife to be Susannah (Ormond).

With the First World War raging over in Europe the three brothers volunteer to fight which leads to tragedy when Samuel getting killed in action, Alfred returns to his family but Tristian goes in search for answers. As the years pass by Alfred becomes a success in his field while Tristian finds his own success but the family will never be the same as they deal with the effects of the war.

 

Thoughts on Legends of the Fall

 

Characters/PerformanceTristian is the wild child, he keeps things to himself, prefer the quiet life that only he could enjoy. He travels to discover himself but knows his heart is back in Montana on the ranch. Col William is the father of the house, he was tired of the battle between the natives and modern Americans, he wants the best for his three children as long as they keep to the right morale paths. Alfred is the smartest of all the brothers, he uses his intelligence to become a political success, the opposite to Tristian. Susannah enters the life as the youngest brother’s wife to be but soon after he passes has feelings for them all.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt shows us here just how good of an actor he was going to be, he goes toe to toe with the always incredible Anthony Hopkins. Aidan Quinn, Julian Ormond and Henry Thomas all give fantastic performance too.

StoryWatching a film about this one family becomes very interesting, we have the brothers that go in different directions as the father is left waiting hoping they return the successes they plan. This is something that is a good watch that can be enjoyed by all the people, it does have slight issues when it comes to understand the full timeline but otherwise flows nicely.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film is brilliant because we get to see how love can be broken when you must wait for it but you will always have the feelings for that person in your heart. The war side id brief but is the reason why everything goes in the direction it does for the two remaining brothers.

SettingsThe remote location is great to see which is why our characters are away from the world and the settings continue this trend as we see how the brothers go in directions which bring them into different worlds.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film with heavyweight performances, the powerful story and a look at one of the most difficult times that America faced.

 

Overall: Brilliant coming of age tale.

Rating

 

 

Vintage Franchise – Star Trek VII: Generations (1994)

Director: David Carson

Writer: Rick Berman, Ronald D Moore, Brannon Braga (Screenplay) Gene Roddenberry (Characters)

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Malcol McDowell, William Shatner, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton

 

Plot: Captain Picard, with the help of long presumed dead Captain Kirk, must stop a madman willing to murder on a planetary scale in order to enter an energy ribbon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining But Confusing

 

Story: Star Trek Generations starts when the Enterprise is having its first outing without Kirk (Shatner) as the captain, he is there as a guest for the grand launch along with the press who take the ship on a small galaxy tour only to find themselves needing to respond to an emergency call, do the best he can Kirk saves the day but is believed to have been killed in the incident.

78 years later, Picard (Stewart) is now captain of the Enterprise with his new crew including Riker or Number One (Frakes), Data (Spiner), Geordi (Burton) Worf (Dorn) and Beverly (McFadden) who answer another distress call from Soran (McDowell) a survivor from the opening incident. Soran has a plan to destroy a star to head back to Nexus a place where his people were taken from and only Picard must stop him from cause a devastating effect on the galaxy.

 

Thoughts on Star Trek Generations

 

Characters – Picard is now the captain of the enterprise, he is less flamboyant that Kirk but equally as strong in a leader role, but the problem with everything involved Picard and his crew is that unless you have seen the series most elements just seem to be continuing life aspects we learnt from them. Kirk only gets involved in the opening and final moments of the film, this gives us a chance to see the big leaders a chance to be on screen together. Soran does seem to become the most intense villain since Khan, he is a broken man wanting his peace in life but it will cost millions of lives to get.

PerformanceThe performances from Stewart and the rest of the crew are good even if Brent Spiner is trying too hard for comedy. Malcolm McDowell makes for a good villain with a constant look of menace in his eyes through the film.

StoryThe story does feel like an extension of the Voyager television show, we have the new established crew taking on a villain who wants to put his personal gain over the lives of the many. The idea works fine if you are a fan of the television show but if you have never seen the show you will be left wondering why Data acts the way he does, why suddenly Picard has a family he is caring about and a few other dynamics between the crew.

Adventure/Mystery/Sci-FiThe adventure the crew goes on does take the crew to a new species of aliens in the galaxy to save but otherwise it is more of the same, the mystery comes from what Soran wants from the Enterprise crew and his great plan in the mission.

SettingsThe settings once again offer us nothing new, spaceship and dusty planet, been here seen this.

Special EffectsThe effects have improved since the last outing and actually look like part of a sci-fi film now.

Scene of the Movie – The Nexus vision for Picard.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understanding the characters personal backstory.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the franchise that is mostly for the hardcore fans of the show and films though.

 

Overall: Clash of captains worth watching.

Rating