Thunderbirds [2004 movie]

Excerpts from an interview with Ray “Brains” Hackenbacker.

JE: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very special guest today. He works as an engineer, inventor and scientist for a worldwide organisation which specializes in aiding people from dangerous situations. He was in a very famous British TV programme and, in recent years, did his own adverts. Would you please give a big warm welcome to, from Thunderbirds, Ray Hackenbacker better known as Brains!

[Brains enters]

JE: Good evening Brains.

B: G-good evening Jon.

JE: Now Brains, I’ve been a huge fan of Thunderbirds since at an early age. In fact, that’s also the same with my dad. When he was a kid, that was when the show came out. Would you say you would recommend this show to the next generation of children?

B: W-w-well, i-it may be old, but I-I-I definitely w-would. Th-thunderbirds can t-each people r-really good m-oral values. For e-example; th-at people’s l-ives m-mark and extrem-emly i-important contribution to s-society. I’m also p-proud of all the v-v-v-vehicles I c-constructed. K-kids can even l-learn from m-my various formulas.

JE: Sweet stuff! I also think you made a massive contribution to the programme.

B: Why t-thank you very m-uch.

JE: Now, it’s about ten years since the Thunderbirds movie came out. This one was kinda different to the show. It used actors instead of puppets and was directed by Jonathan Frakes. I didn’t see it when it first came out, because I personally didn’t get the chance. I did see it a few years later. Can you remember much about it?

B: Y-yes I can.

JE: What would your reaction be to the movie?

B: T-to be honest, I w-asn’t a-angry. I never am. B-but I was d-disappointed. I-it was not really w-what I hoped f-f-f-for.

JE: In what way?

B: W-well Jon, the sh-show was a-about the whole team s-saving people’s l-l-lives and f-focused on all c-characters. The m-movie was more a-about kids g-graduating as m-members of I-i-international Rescue.

JE: Come to think of it, there were three of them; Alan, Tin-Tin, what’s the other one?

B: F-fermat.

JE: Fermat, that’s right.

B: That was my s-son. I-I-I never had a s-son in the sh-show. I d-did imagine having ch-children someday, but to c-call my son F-f-f-fermat…

JE: A stupid name I suppose.

B: Y-y-y-you could say that.

JE: They did include the other characters in the movie, didn’t they?

B: Y-y-yes. There was M-m-Mr Tracy and all f-five of his sons. The p-problem was, the producer s-seemed to like A-Alan more than his b-brothers. W-w-we hardly saw m-much of Scott, Virgil, Gordon or J-John, which is a s-shame, because all of them w-were fully focused on, not all a-at the same time, if y-you know what I-I mean.

[small laughs from B & JE]

B: Myself and M-Mr Tracy had p-plenty of screen-time a-and dialogue, but I’m concerned a-a-about our ages. I-I-I don’t think B-Bill Paxton was right for Mr Tracy. H-he looked too young. A-as for Anthony E-edwards, he l-looked too old t-to portray myself. I-I’m aware it’s a remake and h-he has a f-f-fourteen year old son. B-but he didn’t look m-much like me, n-nor that interesting.

JE: What did you think of Lady Penelope and Parker?

B: They were f-fine. I l-loved how L-Lady Penelope spang into a k-kung-f-fu fight. I g-got a l-l-laugh [laughs] out of that.

JE: [smiles] I loved that bit too.

B: My b-b-biggest issue is the c-car.

JE: Come to think of it; I heard the producers could not get an agreement from the BMW company who owned the rights to Rolls Royces, to get a FAB1 built.

B: M-maybe so. But i-i-if this is a Th-thunderbirds movie, p-producers n-need to be strong and r-reason with them.

JE: Do you mean like “look guys, we’re making a movie based on Thunderbirds. You know Thunderbirds, the programme right? Well one of the vehicles is an actual Rolls-Royce and we want to make this  movie as perfect as possible. If we use some random car, we’re gonna totally screw up and people are gonna be like ‘eww!'”?

B: [smiles] I-I wouldn’t get ag-g-gressive with them, but y-yes. Strong persuasion i-i-is the way forward. Plus I f-find the idea that it f-f-flies rather ridiculous. It’s a r-rip-off of Ch-Chitty Ch-Chitty B-B-Bang Bang.

JE: What about the Hood? Is he still a convincing villain?

B: H-he is still a criminal and s-sorcerer. But I admired B-Ben K-K-Kingsley in better role i.e. G-Gandhi and Schindler’s L-l-list. He w-wasn’t p-particularly interesting as the H-Hood. One thing I l-liked was how his b-brotherhood with Kyrano a-affected T-Tin-T-Tin, discovering that Th-the Hood is her uncle.

JE: I know you mentioned FAB1. Were the other vehicles okay?

B: I-I wouldn’t say as brilliant as th-the original ones, but y-yes, they were a-average. My major c-concern is Th-Thunderbird 2. Thunderb-bird 2 was meant to c-carry pods, but no. It j-just releases the vehicles w-without d-d-depodding itself. Even Thunderbird F-four is carried s-s-simultaneously with the M-M-Mole. Thuderbird 4 was a-always carried on i-its own in p-pod 4.

JE: Oh yeah, I remember that. Now Brains, you may be interested to know that some of the fans and reviewers share the same opinions as you on this movie. Many have disliked the new FAB1 model as you have just commented on. And apparently, the movie was a box office bomb grossing $28million out of a $57million dollar budget. Gerry Anderson once stated; “It was disgraceful that such a huge amount of money was spent with people who had no idea what Thunderbirds was about and what made it tick” and that “It was the biggest load of crap I have ever seen in my entire life”. How would you respond?

B: Personally, I-I-I don’t blame them. I think Gerry h-has a point. He w-was after all the show’s c-creator and I thank h-him. I l-liked the occasional j-j-jokes, but the experience s-s-seems hardly worth it. I-it’s more like a Spy Kids m-m-movie rather than Thunderbirds. If the c-company had let Gerry i-in on the production, i-it would’ve been d-different.

JE: Any words for anybody unfamiliar with Thunderbirds in general?

B: Y-yes. St-stick with the TV show. I w-would also p-p-point out there’s another c-couple of films; Th-Thunderbirds Are G-Go and Thunderbird S-six. I would recom-m-mend those two, b-but start with the sh-show. St-stay well clear of the l-live-action m-movie.

JE: Well Brains, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.

B: I have e-enjoyed it v-very much.

JE: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Brains!

The Worst-to-Best live-action Movies produced by Walt Disney Pictures

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Since I have reviewed Disney’s animated movies (apart from the Pixar ones, I still have yet to do them), I’m going to review the live-action ones;

32. James and the Giant Peach (1996)

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One film has to be the worst. In this case, it’s James & The Giant Peach. I remember seeing this movie when it came out and I have no memory of enjoying it back then. The second time; I had forgotten about it and then it all came back to me, but then I began to question the rhino bits. The third time; dreadful!

I mean dreadful! The parent eating rhino who appears from nowhere literally makes no sense whatsoever. The dialogue sucks and Randy Newman’s songs are just as yucky as them songs out of that Winnie The Pooh film. Even transferring James to a stop-motion model is pointless.

Paul Terry was so much better as Joe Parker in Microsoap, Joanna Lumley was better as Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous and as Mrs. Everglot in Corpse Bride and Miriam Margoyles was better as, er, the voice of Fly in Babe. Richard Dreyfus, Susan Sarandon and David Thewlis also had better roles and Roald Dahl wrote better stories. I don’t care what other people think, James and The Giant Peach is not only my least favourite Disney film, but also the worst adaptation to one of Dahl’s novels.

31. Return to Oz (1985)

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I remember seeing this film once, but unfortunately, I don’t remember much detail about it. Exactly, it’s forgettable compared to the awesome 1939 film.

30. The Santa Clause (1994)

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This is the film we once saw at elementary school. It was nearing to Christmas at the time, so I guess it made sense to show a Christmas-related feature. But looking back to The Santa Clause now, it ain’t the best one. Seriously, there are some badly acted one-liners, it attempts to go for the cutesy style for the sake of looking cutesy. Did I mention the special effects; they so need improving!

29. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

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As I once said when I reviewed one of Tim Burton’s movies; just because a film’s a gigantic blockbuster, doesn’t mean it’s that good. Titanic and Pearl Harbor both sucked. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrode certainly can’t compare much to Jurassic Park, or Jaws, or Lord Of The Rings. It’s just boring. Scenes drag and nothing truly exciting happens in that film adaptation to the ‘famous book’.

28. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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And speaking of blockbusters and Tim Burton (bearing in mind, I did not say that he directed Narnia, because he didn’t), here is another plop-buster that I really want to strangle. I have already reviewed this film, so if you want to see details, please check this link (https://johnno74.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/the-worst-to-best-movies-directed-by-tim-burton/).

27. Inspector Gadget (1999)

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I probably liked this film as a kid, but now, I think it’s a pretty lacklustre remake to the cartoon, which I also enjoyed as a kid. Kids, if you want to familiarize yourself with Inspector Gadget, stick with the cartoon. It’s better than some live-action remake with horrid sound effects that were made for the sake of making the film obnoxious. The same goes for Garfield and Scooby Doo and probably Alvin and The Chipmunks, Yogi Bear and The Smurfs; I never saw them three and I don’t intend to. The Flintstones, fine, but just avoid the sequel by all means.

26. Muppets From Space (1999)

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So what if a Muppet related movie is on a list of live-action movies? It’s still got actors on-screen. No other comment.

Okay, out of every film I’ve seen from the Muppets franchise, Muppets From Space is kind of the least memorable. I saw it once and can only remember certain parts i.e. the opening which is just plain strange. I do give it credit that it tried something new. For instance, it is the only non-musical film of the franchise. Apparently it was also Frank Oz’s final film role with the Muppets. But I feel there’s something I’m missing.

25. Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)

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Jungle 2 Jungle is a fine film to enjoy once in a while. It has it’s moments and a strong father-son bond and deals with parent separation, which is the result of the son feeling so used to the wild. Basically it’s a sort-of remake to Crocodile Dundee, not as strong, but still a pleasant viewing.

24. Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

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Geez, how many versions of Treasure Island have I seen? Let’s see, there was the amazing animated sci-fi version retitled Treasure Planet. There was that dreadful one by Filmation. Muppet Treasure Island is no exception. It’s a bit more memorable than From Space. The antics and parodies are always fun to watch, but it’s ages since I last saw this one.

23. The Kid (2000)

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Did we ever imagine an adult-action-and-psychological-movie actor like Bruce Willis starring in a Disney movie? I don’t think we ever did until we saw The Kid, also known ironically as Disney’s The Kid. I find the screenplay really interesting; The Kid is basically a viewing of one’s own inner child. Russ, that’s Bruce Willis, meets Rusty, the kid in question, who is the kid Russ was. Get it? While the bond between the two is relatable, Rusty is rather annoying at times with his constant whining and his over-repeated one-liners and it’s like; “kid, shut up!”. But I think The Kid is worth a view.

22. George of the Jungle (1997)

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I used to watch George Of The Jungle a lot as an elementary school student and yet back then, I had very little idea it was based on a TV programme. The nostalgia still remains and I really think the lead part suited then-newcomer Brendan Fraser. He certainly was ready for the action! But there are certain things that almost bring this movie down to earth; first of all, I really think the producers should’ve ditched the fat-beaked narrator. Plus the woman who plays Ursula overacted. But I like how George attempts to familiarize himself with human civilization and I especially love his interaction with the animal residents, especially when he fights that lion.

21. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

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Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a bit like Mary Poppins, except a little different. I mean it’s the same director, Robert Stevenson (no, not the guy whose son built the famous Rocket locomotive!), and song-writing gods namely the Sherman Brothers, and some of the cast; David Tomlinson, Reginald Owen (as Sir Brian Teagler), you name it. There’s still the live-action/animation mix. And of course, there is a similar-ish storyline; only it’s about a group of kids who are evacuated due to the butt-kicking second world war and they meet, not a nanny, but in fact a witch named Ms Price. Wait a minute, isn’t Mary Poppins also a witch? In fact, Price is also a mature college student whose principal Professor Browne is a con artist. Browne joins the crew in search of a missing spell book that should eventually battle against the Nazi’s in one of Disney’s most awesome showdowns ever! The songs ain’t as memorable as the ones in Mary Poppins, but they most certainly beat the ones in (sighs) that awful Winnie The Pooh movie(!). Bedknobs & Broomsticks is a pleasant experience.

20. Song of the South (1946)

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Warning! This part of the review contains language which may be unsuitable for younger and sensitive readers. Unless you’re used to that stuff, I’d advise you to skip this part and move to the next film. You have been warned.

Okay here we go; Song Of The South. Whenever I think of Song Of The South, I can’t help but think of the racial prejudice the film has faced from certain r****ds, excuse my language, for long enough. This is the film that has probably been labelled the most racist Disney film in history. Most people automatically assume it’s racist, just because a black guy happens to be the lead character. Oh for god’s sake! Family Guy wasn’t called racist, just because Cleveland’s black, was it? Is the word ‘n****r’ mentioned in the film? No! Is Remus (that’s the black guy) rejected permanently? No! Is he called any offensive names? No!

Guys, you’ve got to be more mature about this. I don’t think you even know what the word racist means. Anyway, Remus is a former slave. It doesn’t mean he still is. The only thing racist about the film is Johnny’s dumb mother. She rejects the friendship between Johnny and Remus for no good reason. She’s totally a racist b**ch (sor-ry!)! But she does learn her lesson.

19. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

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The third film in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, At World’s End may not be as memorable as the first one. But if you like action, there’s plenty of that involved. I saw this film once when I was coming home from a field trip to Saltzburg; ya know, where they filmed the Sound Of Music. Er…, er…, what was I gonna say? At World’s End,… er…, oh screw it. Next film!

18. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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Pirates Of The Caribbean, as we was just talking about right now. Yes, Curse Of The Black Pearl is the first one. Johnny ‘Edward Scissorhands/Ed Wood/ Victor from Corpse Bride’ Depp is the leader of the pirates. Keira Knightly, who you may remember from that episode of The Bill (she was only so young back then), is the woman who needs rescuing. Good amount of action and lovely atmosphere. Anybody could enjoy this.

That’s all I can say right now.

17. 101 Dalmatians (1996)

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There was three Disney movies I saw at the cinema when I was six; The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, that was and always will be awesome, James & The Giant Peach, the total opposite, but I’ve already yacked on about it, so moving on. What was the third? The live-action version of 101 Dalmatians of course.  I would place this film in the middle. At the moment, I don’t have a particular preference between that or the cartoon. Cruella DeVille remains a badass villain, cartoon or live-action. Yeah, you still have the same characters, but this version is a little different. Roger was originally a musician, but in this film, he’s a video game designer. Swell. I wonder if Sega would hire him. The dogs don’t talk in this one, but who cares? Tom & Jerry never had much dialogue and they still should be hailed messiahs.

The film’s a little clichéd and some lines are ridiculous, but it’s guilty pleasure (dunno how to reword this). I could laugh at Hugh Laurie & Mark Williams all the way through.

16. Flubber (1997)

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Another film with a bit of not-so-brilliant slapstick, Flubber demonstrates another part of guilty pleasure. I first saw this film at elementary school at age 8, so there’s a sense of nostalgia. Wilson could’ve been a more interesting villain rather than some guy who’s like; “this is Wilson, planning to steal your bird” etc. The fight scenes look like the director has tried too hard to choreograph them; I would need to show a clip to show you what I mean, but I can’t find one right now.

What do I like about this movie?; the special effects used to make Flubber itself are fine. I can easily snigger along to the scenes with the frightened little kid. And of course Robin Williams, who ought to be named the king of, or rather, the emperor of American comedy, strikes a cool difference to this film. If there’s a choice between Flubber and Happy Feet, Flubber is the answer. I have yet to see the original version.

Oh Robin. I still can’t believe you ain’t around no more.

15. Herbie Rides Again (1974)

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Again? Has Herbie rode already? Well, we’ll get there later. Herbie Rides Again is the 2nd film in the whole franchise about a car with a mind of it’s own. No, I ain’t talking about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I’m talking about Herbie. I’ve only seen this film once. I don’t remember it as much as another couple of movies, but if I was to re-watch it, things are certainly likely to drive back to me. The zaniness, the subtlety, the car’s persona; it kinda reminds me of Gromit. Ya know, reactions without having to say a word. After all, a car doesn’t need dialogue, does it now.

14. Condorman (1981)

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This is what I like to call the Plan 9 From Outer Space of Walt Disney Pictures; that is Condorman. I call it that, because clearly it ain’t brilliant and reviewers gave the films thumbs down. Was they right? Well, yeah but, I don’t know, I think there’s some creativity to Condorman. The dialogue may be corny, but Michael Crawford, being a badass actor, does his very best. I should know, I’ve seen him in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. I’ve also seen him in that lousy live-action version of Alice In Wonderland (no, not the one that Tim Burton directed!), but how can that possibly compare to good old Condorman? Pro-point number 2; costumes and that car, cool and colourful designs. Pro-point number 3; the synopsis certainly sparks a sense of originality. You see, the Condorman in question is a comic book designer who performs his own stunts in order to come up with ideas for his next strips. I guess Mike’s portrayal of Frank Spencer really paid off and I bet the creators of Batman are turning in their graves. Pro-point number 4; the music! What more do I need to say? It’s Henry Mancini. His music is and always has been neat, sweet and petite!

13. The Muppets (2011)

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Jim Henson’s legendary creations return on the big screen after over a decade’s absence, though they did make a cool TV festive movie in-between. They bring you The Muppets. And yes, that’s what the film is all about, the Muppets returning in business. And to do that, they hold a live fundraiser. Not only will long time fans enjoy this movie, but there’s also plenty for the newer generation. The reason why I place this lower on the list is because I remember watching this and missing a chunk out in the middle. I did manage to catch up with it though and it got me invested.

12. Snow Dogs (2002)

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Here is another movie many people hate, but personally I love. Snow Dogs! Okay, what’s the story?; a dentist learns from his adoptive mom that he is to inherit seven Siberian Huskies and a Border Collie. As he travels to Alaska, he experiences trouble with blizzards thin ice, a grizzly bear and, of course, Demon, one of the huskies who happens to be inconvenienced. I have to admit, I always get a laugh each time I see Demon attempting to kill Ted. Even the dangerous stuff is fantastic, and the music helps so much.

11. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)

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Herbie rides once again in the third installment to the Herbie series. Out of all the Herbie films that have followed the first one, I consider Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo the best prequel. Yeah, yeah, spoiler, but I still have yet to see Herbie Goes Bananas and Herbie: Fully Loaded. I think this one contains an adorable synopsis; Herbie falls in love with another racing car. Aww, ain’t that cute. Normally I don’t care for cutesiness much, but at least the film don’t go overboard with it. And yet, this is Herbie doing what he does best.

10. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time (2010)

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Mike Newell, director of the boring Mona Lisa Smile and fourth Harry Potter film and the okay Four Weddings And A Funeral, improves his career with the more exciting film version of the game franchise, Prince Of Persia. I’ve never played Sands Of Time, but I know what an impact the prince had on many people and I have to admit video game movies are always fun to watch, yet a similar impact superhero movies seem to have on movie-goers. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time contains some fantastic imagery and fight sequences, stuff that never gets boring.

9. Cool Runnings (1993)

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Cool Runnings is based on a true story about a group of Jamaican sports-guys who form the first Jamaican bobsleigh team to compete for the 1988 Olympics. The forever great John Candy marks a splendid performance as Irv Blitzer, who mentors Derice, Sanka, Junior and Yul. Being that Cool Runnings is a sports movie, we get some incredibly cool racing sequences. But by far my favourite scene is where Junior receives a visit from his dad some time before the big race, who being such a big authority figure is planning to take him home; Junior then stands up to him stating that he’s moved on, is now a mature Olympian and has an important race to compete for. In my opinion, a very inspiring scene.

8. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

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The Muppet Christmas Carol is by far my favourite movie from the Muppet franchise. I also call this my favourite version of Charles Dickens’. It does go by the book, but there’s plenty of room for the Muppets’ various antics and breaking-the-fourth-wall elements, in particular when Gonzo contributes to the story with his narrations and his sidekick Rizzo just being himself. And of course we have some great songs. It’s a pleasure to watch during the Christmas period, so much better than The Santa Clause!

7. Old Yeller (1957)

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Many fat-gobbed people who remember Old Yeller as kids always ruin the ending for those who ain’t seen the movie yet. Not to worry. I won’t. I’m wise, innit. Old Yeller is one of the most powerful dramas ever to be produced by Disney. It’s also directed by Robert Stevenson, the same bloke who directed Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Herbie Rides Again and a couple more films which I have yet to mention. The film depicts a stray dog (that’s Old Yeller) who is eventually claimed ownership by the Coates family. Travis, at first does not trust him, considering his meat stealing habit, but soon begins to adore him after a bear almost kills the family. Soon however, the dog becomes fierce and dangerous causing problems for the family. Old Yeller is a lot different to other Disney movies. Like I say, I won’t give the ending away, but the producers do not sugar-coat it. Old Yeller is definitely one that’s worth checking out.

6. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

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Directed by Joe Johnson and produced by Steven Spielberg, Honey I Shrunk The Kids is a pure sci-fi and comedy masterpiece. A struggling inventor named Wayne invents this shrinking device which shrinks his kids down to only quarter of an inch tall. The same happens to two of their next-door neighbours. They end up on the front yard thus beginning an epic adventure back to their house. The set design and props are amazing! They’re also literally to scale; giant ants, giant bees, you name it. The lawn is built like a jungle and even the rain drops are enlarged to make it look as if the rain is attempting to destroy the children. The scene where Wayne searches for the kids while attempting not to touch the lawn demonstrates caution, but is also hilarious! The cinematography is also terrific – there’s a point-of-view shot from the bee at one point. There’s so much to enjoy from Honey I Shrunk The Kids I just can’t complete the list!

5. TRON (1982)

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Tron is a freshly visual experience about a computer programmer (Kevin Flynn), whose ideas for video games, were stolen and plagiarized by another engineer (Ed Dillinger) he works with. Kevin threatens to sue Ed, but is stopped each time by an artificial intelligence, MCP, created by Ed. Kevin decides to deal with it himself; his hacking abilities soon lead to a climatic and epic game he ends up in. There is simply nothing bad I can say about this film whatsoever. Either that or the smooth visual effects in Tron are irresistible. It’s like playing a Commodore 64 game, only with developed 3D graphics. It’s also like attending one of them cinemas similar to the Motion Master. You feel like you’re really there. Forget the need for 3D glasses and take a relaxing view of Tron.

4. The Love Bug (1968)

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Another one of Robert Stevenson’s works. And speaking of Herbie, The Love Bug is the first film in the franchise. Mirror, mirror on the wall, which Herbie film is the fairest of them all? Answer; The Love Bug, which is also the most memorable of them all. We are introduced to Herbie, the car with a mind of its own, who needs no expressions and no dialogue to express feelings and emotions. Just actions, even controlling his own steering wheel and throwing people out of him. Almost like Gromit. I even remember the bit where Herbie attempts to throw himself off a bridge, because he feels rejected after Jim plans to sell him to Thorndyke in order to solve the financial issues, and the drivers struggle to stop him. That scene may be fairly witty, but it’s still so dark. And in-between, Herbies proves himself dedicated to the various races he takes part in. David Tomlinson is fantastic as the villainous glutton Thorndyke. He’s fairly relaxed for a villain as well. It’s not like “Haw-haw-haw”, because it doesn’t have to be. The Love Bug is witty, fast-paced, and musical, not that there’s songs in it. Does there have to be?

3. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

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If you didn’t enjoy The Santa Clause or James And The Giant Peach much, surely there’s another live-action Disney movie from the 90s right? Darn right! Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a powerful and emotional animal related drama about two dogs and a cat searching for their home after they worry their owners have abandoned them. Along the way, they cross a dangerous river, dodge a grizzly bear and mountain lion and look after a lost girl; this was a scene which shattered me almost to death. In fact, out of all the films I have listed in this blog, Homeward Bound is the one I cried at the most, even if one of the scenes was a happy one, which I can’t give too much detail about. The themes are awesome; Shadow’s old age and Chance’s youth signal an important theme and demonstrate importance throughout this movie. The dialogue is fairly witty. In fact, there are also a few comedic moments to have a good laugh at. There’s plenty of adventure – did I mention Sassy managing to dodge a speeding train? My god, that scene made me cringe. Homeward Bound is an extremely underrated flick which I would seriously recommend. Hell, I also want my kids to grow up with this one.

2. Mary Poppins (1964)

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Some of you was probably guessing that I was going to rank Mary Poppins near the top. Well, you guessed affirmatively. Now before you say anything, my pleasure for this movie simply has nothing to do with the fact that it was nominated for the most Oscars and won the most Oscars out of every Disney movie that has ever been broadcast. Having said that, I love Julie Andrews. She most soitenly deserved that Academy Award for Best Actress. She’s incredible! Don’t get me wrong. I like My Fair Lady too, but that’s number two for me. I would’ve preferred Mary Poppins to win Best Picture. Oh well. And another thing, PL Travers, the original author, can’t always be right. She once insulted the glorious songs that was included; Sister Suffragette, Life I Lead, Feed The Birds, Fidelity Fiducialy Bank, Let’s Go Fly A Kite – which is my favourite one, etc, all badasssss songs, written by a badasssss songwriting pair! It’s the same two guys who wrote songs for The Sword In The Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Bedknobs & Broomsticks and so forth. If only Robert was still with us (sniffs). Them songs will remain with us forever and I’ll never get tired of ’em. Mary Poppins is also perfectly casted; there’s David Tomlinson as the conservative banker George Banks, Hermione Badderly as the maid and of course Dick Van Dyke who plays two parts; Bert, Mary’s best friend, and George’s 137-year old villainous boss Mr Dawes Sr. Many people whine on about Dick’s attempted accent. Am I the only guy who doesn’t think it’s that bad? Moving on, Mary Poppins also contains a set of liberal messages and values, mainly liberal. It’s anti-poverty, it supports charity, hence Feed The Birds, Sister Suffragette attacks the unfair treaty against women which occurred around that time, even the chimney sweeps briefly join her protest during the Step In Time sequence. I can’t name one person who ain’t never even not even seen Mary Poppins in their life. Folks if you ain’t watched this movie in your life, do it before it’s too late. C’mon, do it.

1. 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

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And we have ignition! Some of you readers may not have expected a film-adaptation of a classic Jules Verne novel to hit number one. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a neat, pleasant experience for all ages to enjoy a viewing of. It’s the sort of film that treats children like adults, it’s kinda an adult film and I don’t mean to say that there’s swearing or nudity included. But the dialogue is quite grown up and most of the characters are adults. Even some of the themes are mature; for instance, Captain Nemo is sick of humanity, hence the reason why he takes residence in a submarine. To make matters worse for him, ships are disturbing his atmosphere, therefore making him the prime suspect of being the ‘monster who attacks ships’, which is the mystery Ned Land and co intend to solve. Guys, if Gerry Anderson got away with including mature themes in Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and so forth, surely Disney could do the same with 20,000 Leagues. Kids, if this ain’t enough for ya, how about that epic fight with the giant squid? There’s also a cool musical number, sung by Kirk Douglas himself! Speaking of which, did you know he’s 97, going on to 98? Long live Kirk Douglas! James Mason is also awesome as the Captain and a very unique Disney villain. I mean, he’s more misguided than evil. He doesn’t detest the crew he captures and he insists on showing them around his vehicle and the ocean. And in-between, we receive an exciting adventure through the Pacific Ocean. 20,000 Leagues is an underrated, thrilling, colorful, mature, awesome, badass, terrific, creative and unique yarn which I urge any fan of Disney or general movie fan to try out. Trust me;

All you want to do is see it, big girl, big girl

All you want to do is see it, big girl, big girl

All you want to do is see it, big girl, big girl

big girl, big girl, big girl, big girl, big girl!

Yet-to-see;

The Reluctant Dragon (1941)

Treasure Island (1950)

Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier (1955)

The Great Locamotive Chase (1956)

Davy Crockett & The Pirates (1956)

Darby O’Gill & The Little People (1959)

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The Absent-Minder Professor (1961)

The Parent Trap (both versions)

Babes In Toyland (1961)

Son Of Flubber (1963)

The Incredible Journey (1963)

That Darn Cat! (1965)

L.T. Robin Crusoe U.S.N (1966)

The Gnome Mobile (1967)

The Happiest Millionaire (1967)

Never A Dull Moment (1968)

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)

The Million Dollar Duck (1971)

Escape To Witch Mountain (1975)

One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing (1975)

Freaky Friday (1976)

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Return From Witch Mountain (1978)

The Black Hole (1979)

Midnight Madness (1980)

Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)

Popeye (1980)

Flight Of The Navigator (1986)

The Rocketeer (1991)

Newsies (1992)

Honey I Blew Up The Kid (1992)

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Hocus Pocus (1993)

The Three Musketeers (1993)

Homeward Bound 2: Lost In San Francisco (1996)

102 Dalmatians (2000)

The Princess Diaries (2001)

The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Holes (2003)

Freaky Friday (2003)

Around The World In 80 Days (2004)

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)

National Treasure (2004)

Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)

Sky High (2005)

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

The Santa Clause 3: Escape Clause (2006)

Enchanted (2007)

National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)

The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

High School Musical 3 (2008)

Race To Witch Mountain (2009)

G-Force (2009)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Maleficent (2014)

Yes it’s a long list and I’m sure I’ll probably never get round to watching all of ’em, but until I’ve seen any of them, they will remain unranked.

Jurassic Park 3

Hello, this is Jon Ellison and welcome to my first film review on WordPress. I’ve written reviews on IMDB and there are reviews on this site, but this is my first individual review.
Last Sunday, I was watching Jurassic Park 3 with my brother whilst gouging on our dinner. This was the first time I saw the third installment to Steven Spielberg’s famous blockbuster in a few years and, while I don’t think it’s better than the first one, it’s better than I remember it.
Jurassic Park is one of my favourite movies of all time. I have long obtained an obsession with the movie since childhood. I love the storyline, I love how the sound plays its part (i.e when Tim hides from the raptors under hanging spoons; a spoon falls to the ground and its crash attracts the raptors’ attention), I love the humour and characters and of course visuals. Out of many films containing CGI effects, Jurassic Park obtains the most realistic look I’ve ever seen. But we ain’t talking about this one. We’re talking about Jurassic Park 3.
I didn’t see JP3 when it came out at the cinema. I wanted to, because I’m such a huge fan of Jurassic Park, but we didn’t get round to it. A year later, one of my neighbours, who used to child-mind me, owned a DVD copy and thus began my first viewing of the film. My god, I loved it! I have to admit it ain’t brilliant, but we’ll get to that later.
The film begins near, Isla Sorna, a remote tropical island where tourists Eric Kirby and Ben Hildebrand are parasailing, but end up stranded when their boat crew is killed by an unseen species of dinosaur. Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Grant, who you may remember from JP1, is seeking funds for his research. He has become famous for the experiences and near investments on John Hammond’s first dinosaur-themed park. He reluctantly accepts a mission to Isla Sorna, considering an offer from Eric’s parents that they will make if he gives them a tour. Once they arrive, Dr. Grant discovers the betrayal; Paul and Amanda are only here to rescue their son. It is too late for objections when their plane is ambushed by a hungry Spinosaurus, leaving the crew stranded on the island.
And so the synopsis is simple; a crew, including a scientist and a wealthy mother and father, end up stranded on a dinosaur-populated island and must find a way to save the kid and escape the island. It’s kind of like Jurassic Park 1, except with much less architecture and the island is more like a dinosaur sanctuary than a DNA generation zoo. JP3 does have a reasonably small cast, which is what made the first film so great. There’s Alan Grant and there’s Ellie Sattler, both from the first film. Plus, there weren’t too many locations (another comparison to the first one), unlike The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Yeah that’s the second one, I just thought I’d say so in case anybody asks. With so many locations, JP2 was fairly hard to keep up with. Having said that, the dino-action was still fun to watch and that was the film I saw at the pictures. Yeah I’m sorry, that was irrelevant. But I just wanted to say so anyway.
Speaking about the dinosaurs and visual effects, this is one of the elements that brings JP3 down a bit. Sure, the effects can’t be anywhere near worse than on the Garfield live-action movies, yeeeugh! But some of the dinosaurs look a bit more like some of the creatures from Dreamworks’ CGI-animated movies, like the dragon from Shrek. Not that Shrek’s bad, because it ain’t, but JP3 is so live-action, not animated. But not all the effects are bad. The spinosaurus is fine, as it the famous T.Rex. Joe Johnson could’ve done a bit more work with the raptor’s growls though.
Also, the dialogue is a little cliched. It’s like seeing a live-action version of an animated feature made by Filmation. There’s a chance you would forget how some of it sounds, but there’s repeated lines i.e. “that’s a bad idea” and “Let’s go home”. I won’t give away too much detail, but it’s not as cleanly structured compared to the first film.
What do I like? Well, I like the theory Grant susses out when he comes across a bone which he can use to communicate with the raptors. Some of the plot points i.e. this one are awesome, The small cast, the laid back use of location, I already explained. I even like how they recaptured some of the humour from previous movies; the scene where Amanda uses her megaphone to call for Eric and Ben somehow cracks me up.
Some people hate this movie, but I can’t hate it at all. JP3 is a guilty pleasure for me. Somewhere in/near the same boat as Plan 9 From Outer Space and other B-movies. Is it as awesome as JP1? Well no. But I like this one better than the second one. I don’t hate any of the films. If you’re familiar with Jurassic Park, I’d give this film a viewing. If not, I’d suggest you start with the first one, then the second, then the third.
I wonder what Jurassic Park 4 will be like.

If I Was A Contestant On Room 101

It’s easy to know what things you dislike, but you have to think; “Why don’t I like this/that?” and figure out the answer. Otherwise, what’s the point of hating the item/media product/place/other things? Some people have demonstrated their reasons for hatred on Room 101.

For those of you that don’t know, Room 101 is a British TV show made by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The programme was made for the guests to express their dislikes about three certain things, each. The programme was first presented by Nick Hancock, then Paul Merton, now Frank Skinner and it continues to run.

I have always imagined myself appearing on Room 101 myself, but all the guests were celebrities, so you had to be a celebrity to appear on the show. It’s kind of a shame, because I despise keeping all opinions to myself as I feel that it is not very sociable. Okay, maybe being negative isn’t very sociable neither, because it could lead to loosing respect from certain people. But as I demonstrate my opinions, I’ll try to be as positive as possible.

So here are some of the following three things I dislike. I have to narrow it down to three to keep this post short and sweet;

  1. McDonalds restaurants.

I have to admit, even when I was a kid, I have never been a fan of this company. It’s not that I don’t like fast food. I don’t dislike chips or burgers or fish fingers and what not. It’s how McDonalds makes the food that I don’t like. If you compare their burgers to, say, the burgers from Burger King, Burger King has produced good quality burgers; nice taste, reasonable shape. The burgers in McDonalds feel minuscule when you pick them up with your hands and they’re over-greasy. Even the top bun feels soggy. The chips are fine, the hot drinks are fine, but each time I pick up a burger, I feel like it’ll slip out of my hands.

Speaking of quality, another thing I don’t like about McDonalds is the hygiene within the whole restaurant. Yet, this is also the good reason why the food is rather cheap. Not only does the food lack quality, but I heard that dirty food products are still used. A college friend of mine told me that he used to work in McDonalds and that each time a food product falls on the floor, it still gets used. It’s no wonder customers get McDonalds poisoning.

And here are a few minor things what I don’t like about McDonalds. The Happy Meals. Yeah I know, they’re meant for kids, but they seem to come with pretty lousy toys, which even if I was a kid, I doubt I would be playing with them later. Also, I’m not fond of the adverts. The way each advert ends (ba-da-ba-baa, I’m loving it) irritates me. It sounds like it’s sung by a snooty young person who is trying to please person by pretending she’s a pop star; “ooh look at me, I’m brilliant / don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me”. I am of course aware that the singing has been replaced by whistling, but the “I’m lovin’ it” line which is subtitled is still so big-headed. It’s like a whole restaurant is showing off, saying “I’m the best restaurant in the world”. My response would be “yeah right!”

2. Coldplay

I said before that I am a left-winger and am proud to be one. Coldplay are also a left-wing band, so why don’t I like them like most people do? Well, as much as I admire their politics, there’s one word which sums up my thoughts on their music; boring. Actually I take it back, Clocks is great, The Scientist is fine, but the majority of their songs can’t seem to uplift my spirit. Speed of Sound, not my cup of tea. It’s the way the music sounds that I don’t like. To me, it sounds like an orchestral lullaby with lackluster lyrics. It makes me feel like I want to sleep through some domestic job I am doing.

Another thing is, being that Coldplay are one of the most popular bands in music history, I can only remember very few songs, hence the two songs from A Rush Of Blood To The Head. But Clocks and The Scientist are the only ones from that album I can remember off by heart, plus Speed Of Sound out of the rest of the band’s discography. To cut a long story short, most of Coldplay’s material are pretty forgettable. Their music doesn’t invest me enough to want to listen to their music again. Clocks and The Scientist, probably, but Speed Of Sound, not for me. The lyrics may be fine, but their music doesn’t help. They’re not the worst of all bands, but personally, I’d give Coldplay a pass.

3. Baz Luhrmann

If there’s one film director whose films I loathe, it’s Baz Luhrmann. I’ve seen Romeo ‘plus’ Juliet, I’ve seen Moulin Rouge, I’ve seen Australia, neither of these movies keep me invested whatsoever. Well, Australia was alright when I first saw it, but I can’t remember very much about it. I can certainly remember a lot about the other two films of which memories keep flooding back.

Romeo & Juliet is one of my least favourite movies of all time. The reason is because of the film’s whole layout. A modernised version of a Shakespearean play sounded like a promising idea. But when you look at it, it’s very clumsily scripted and frankly, not very original. Although the producers had modernized the props, costumes and settings, they kept the original Shakespearean dialogue. Frankly, they do not gel up. Take the opening scene for example; this is the fight between the young Montagues and Capulets; Gregory, Sampson, Abram, Benvolio, Tybalt, you name it. There is too much laughing, immature acting and I hate how Benvolio says “Put up your swords” when technically, they are using guns. I happen to know the difference between a gun and a sword. I’m not stupid. There are random shots of Sampson being kicked in the head and him shooting the sign in the gas station. It is not very cleanly choreographed. Another thing about this film is that it relies too much on the cinematography. The editing in-between scenes is too quick and there’s too many pointless zoom-outs. It’s like; “where the hell did this come from?” And it makes it so obvious that it’s a modernized version of a Shakespearean play. It’s like “Oh look, helicopter,” “oh look, apartment buildings,” “oh listen to this rock music”. Get over it! In short, I hate the acting, I hate the melodrama, I hate the editing, I hate the choreography and most of all, I hate the scripting.

As for Moulin Rouge, it’s a little better than Romeo & Juliet, but still nowhere near that good. There’s still the over-melodrama; I’ve seen Ewan McGregor in better films i.e. Trainspotting and Black Hawk Down, as goes for Nicole Kidman. I don’t care if Moulin Rouge stars high profile actors. It’s still not enough to save the film. It’s too over-melodramatic and the soundtrack is very badly structured. Just because there are pop songs in the soundtrack, doesn’t make it brilliant. It’s like the actors are running out of ideas for songs to sing each time they finish a bit of one. I’ve heard their version of Roxanne and I hated it. It’s so forgettable, compared to the Police version. And I hated Spectacular Spectacular – the lyrics destroyed my spirit of Can-Can. The film would’ve been better, had it not relied so much on the soundtrack and the bad acting.

I’m sorry, but I’ve seen works from better directors. Baz Luhrmann will never be my favourite. I’ve never seen Strictly Ballroom nor the Great Gatesby and I don’t have much intention to see them.

And here are some others I would’ve mentioned had I not filled up the three choice limit; Marijuana, Hey Jude, right-wing parties, the Hannibal franchise, teen programmes…

My thoughts on Guy Fawkes Night

With Halloween done and Guy Fawkes Night drawing near, I shall write this blog expressing my thoughts on the British vacation which takes place on the 5th November and is often referred to as Bonfire Night.

As most of us know, the origin of Guy Fawkes Night started back in 1605 when twelve Roman Catholics planned to destroy both King James Stuart along with the Houses of Parliament. The event was known as The Gunpowder Plot. Their motive was due to the king’s broken promises in regards to tolerance towards Catholicism. The plan was that when midnight struck on the 5th November, Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators, would light the fuse, ready for Parliament’s destruction. However this attempt failed when another conspirator Francis Tresham knew a friend of his who worked there and warned him of the event, therefore betraying the gang. As a result, Guy was captured around that time, but most of the conspirators were not executed until January the next year. Since then, the vacation has been celebrated as the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ capture, rather than his execution. He wasn’t incinerated on a bonfire as some people would think. He was hung, drawn and quartered. People tend to make Guy Fawkes dolls and put them on the bonfire, because bonfires kind of relate to what could have occurred if Guy did blow up Parliament.

Although I celebrate Bonfire Night myself, I personally don’t blame Guy Fawkes for what he tried to do. This may sound controversial, but speaking as a lefty, it actually was the fault of James I (VI in Scotland). James I, who was a Protestant, literally promised a fairer life to Catholics, but left them disappointed and contributed to the long-lasting intolerance by Protestants towards Catholics which had occurred since Tudor times. The rivalry still seems to last which annoys me, because I for one know that religions are not that hurtful. If James I showed more tolerance, Robert Catesby would not have planned the Plot in the first place. This is what some people forget; Robert Catesby was the guy who organised and directed the gang to perform the Plot. Guy Fawkes did definitely take part and he supported the idea, but he did not direct anybody into further actions. All he had to do was to gather up the ingredients, including the wood and powder, and light the fuse at the stroke of midnight. In a way, there is a sense of innocence within him. Guilt would more likely hit Robert Catesby for the organisation. Maybe the destruction of Parliament was not the best idea, but if there’s one person I would blame for the incident, it’s James I. His laws were almost as bad as Adolf Hitler’s. If I were a monarch, I most certainly wouldn’t make any particular religion’s life a living hell, would I?

Despite my political views, I have long celebrated Guy Fawkes Night ever since I was a kid. For most times, me and my family attended local firework displays. My God, they were amazing! When I was an elementary school kid, the music was awesome! They played John Williams (theme tunes to ET The Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Star Wars), the Thunderbirds theme tune, Star Trek, you name it. However, more recent displays seem to play music which is in the charts, which doesn’t seem to interact with the atmosphere, compared to what they used to play. Oh well, they’re still public events which is always a good thing and it’s always a pleasure to see fireworks lighting in the dark sky. We sometimes used to have home-based firework displays. However I think the public displays are better, considering that there is a larger area and the fireworks are louder, more artistic and much more interesting. However, I think the best thing about home-based displays were any Katherine wheels we had.

As the famous rhyme goes;

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

This may be a few days early I state this, but just in case I don’t get round to it, here it is; Happy Bonfire Night Everybody!