Top 12 Festive Movies

It’s that time of year; the time when families prepare for what seems to be the most popular vacation of the year, that is Christmas. People shopping for gifts and decorating their lounges with trees and lights, you name it, and showings of films which represent Christmas.

That’s why this month, I’m going to review what I personally regard as the top 12 greatest Christmas features. Why top 12? Because it’s Christmas!

 

12. Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

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Kicking off this list is the remake of the classic festive film of the forties. You still have the same characters; Kris Kringle, the Walkers, you know the rest, and the similar story, only a little different. The film stars the late great Richard Attenborough as Kris and Mara Wilson as Susan Walker. In this one, Kris is in court for assaulting a rival department store Santa Claus for taking advantage of him. To follow, we witness a really interesting debate on Santa Claus’ existence.

I’m sure we’re all aware that Santa’s existence is a myth (yeah I know); this brings me to one of my top points with this film and that is part of Susan’s introduction. She at one point talks about Santa and states, “he’s not real”. I can so relate to what she’s saying, because not all kids believe in Santa. One of my friends never believed in him and he was only nine when he stated so. Of course, when Susan meets Kris, her beliefs start to rise.

This brings me on my next point; this film demonstrates that one shouldn’t control another one’s rights and I say this from a lefty’s point of view. There’s a heart-warming moment where Kris states how aware he is of Santa’s ‘existence and follows it with “but is it wrong to believe?” which I think is a great question to ask ourselves. I also admire the line from the lawyer Bryan Bedford; “I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear”.

The friendship between Kris and Susan is adorable and I can honestly say if there was a guy who could replace Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle in a remake, Richard Attenborough deserved that role. He’s the kind of guy you want as a department store Santa Claus. He’s the kind of guy the kids would want to cuddle up with. As for Mara Wilson, she’d make a great live-action Lisa Simpson, though I’m glad The Simpsons Movie stayed animated. I doubt a live-action Simpsons would’ve worked much.

 

11. Polar Express

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The creator of Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and Cast Away brings you this animated epic Christmas tale.

The Polar Express is about a young boy who witnesses a train parked outside his house known as the Polar Express, which is due to depart to the North Pole. Curious, he boards the train and comes across a rather commanding conductor, voiced by Tom Hanks, and a few kids each with different personalities; one being a nerdy know-it-all, another a quiet kid who doesn’t have much of a social life and the third, a girl…, and the train sets off to the Pole. During the trip, the lad learns about friendship, bravery and the spirit of Christmas.

What can I say about the Polar Express? It’s a highly visual. The CGI animation is amazing! The Polar Express is in fact the first motion captured animated feature. I often wonder if maybe Pixar ought to have tried out that technique, but oh well. It paved the way for the forever awesome Beowulf. Anyway, I’m drifting off a bit. Not only do I praise the animation, but it’s so cleverly written. The conductor is very dedicated to his scheduling, there are various mishaps with the kids’ tickets and the train is a lot of fun to watch; derailment, skidding across the ice, etc. Too much to say.

 

10. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

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Some of you are probably thinking ‘what the hell?’. Yeah, it’s a B-Movie in a similarish format to Plan 9 From Outer Space, and it’s on IMDB’s Bottom 250 list. But I think there are worse films. SCCTM (I’m using an abbreviation, to keep this short), like Plan 9, is a film I so find hard to hate.

This one portrays a group of Martians who are concerned about their children, because they are watching too much Earth-related TV, in particular, a TV interview with Santa Claus on the North Pole. They believe Santa is corrupting their minds and of course realise the children’s fun and freedom is very limited, so they come with one alternative, kidnap Santa and take him to Mars.

SCCTM is one of the most underrated festive films ever to have been released. We can see both sides of the Martians and Santa; the Martians don’t get much of a festive spirit and know not a lot about earth, hence getting confused with the fake Santas, and ‘Santa’ is just trying to do his annual job. They do inspire each other and the film does give us a laugh now and then. It’s very colorful which adds to the spirit. I recommend at least one viewing.

 

9. It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie

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This is the Muppets’ take on the famous film It’s A Wonderful Life. The obvious difference is that The Muppets play the casting roles. But the names and personalities are also different. Instead of Potter, you have a woman of her late-thirties/early-forties Rachel Bitterman. The setting is the present day. It’s A Wonderful Life was set in the present day too, but the timelines do differ. That’s also the same with Oliver & Company adapted from Oliver Twist and Pretty Woman adapted (ish) from Cinderella.

The Muppets are in financial trouble when Bitterman takes their theatre. Kermit is depressed and so begins the mission of Daniel, an ‘angel’, to help Kermit. Kermit rejects Daniel’s support and wishes he’d never been born, so Daniel demonstrates how the world would differ if he didn’t exist.

It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is a TV movie, but what the hell. It’s one of the most humorous and dramatic films in Muppet history. We’ll start with the funnies. The show the Muppets put on is awesome, when Miss Piggy nearly loses her singing bit and when Pepe fills in for Fozzie’s monologue. I also love the scene where Piggy joins the cast of Scrubs and they cast her as an extra much to her annoyance. Pepe’s lust for Bitterman is also fun to watch. And I particularly enjoy the scene where Fozzie attempts to deliver the money to Bitterman before the deadline, aside from the ‘Whos’ who mistake him for the Grinch. And did I mention the way Kermit rabbits “I wish I’d never been born!”.

Now the drama; seeing Kermit in a depressed mood and feeling guilty for the financial loss, one would feel really sorry for him. I’d laughed towards the “I wish I’d never been born!” bit, but we can understand Kermit’s problem. Actually, when Fozzie brings the news to Kermit, Kermit gets annoyed and I have to admit, I had never seen him so angry. Well, technically, what I mean to say is that I’d never heard him shout like that. I would of course say the same things for the Thunderbirds puppets, because it is quite hard to make puppets cross eyebrows. Hell, Kermit even snaps at Piggy near the start. Geez.

There is a scene where Gonzo and Kermit sing Everyone Matters. This is easily one of the best songs they had ever performed. John Lennon would turn in his grave! Everyone Matters contains a strong political message and demonstrates the truth about the world, that everyone matters.

Have a look and see for yourself.

 

8. Scrooge

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I’m referring to the 1950s version with Alistair Sim. This version pretty much goes by the Charles Dickens novel. You have Ebeneezer Scrooge (duh!), Bob and Emily Cratchet and of course the ghosts of past, present and future.

And you have the simple storyline; Scrooge starts off as a selfish fat-cat jerk who has an awful history with previous Christmases he was involved in. But then, he learns from the three spirits what life and Christmas is all about, even if they prove haunting.

I dunno about you guys, but Alistair Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge reminds me of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons; mainly due to his voice. Yet, you can definitely relate Mr. Burns to Scrooge. They’re both selfish and rich and own successful businesses and they’re,… old. Sorry, I don’t mean that in an ageist way. But of course, this film portrays solid messages and as Scrooge learns; Christmas is about sharing and caring. Tiny Tim’s famous line ‘God bless us everyone’ says it all too.

 

7. Muppet Christmas Carol

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Another version of A Christmas Carol and another Muppets film. I know the Muppets are quite pantomimic, but I think this is the greatest version of Dickens’ story.

The film does go by the book, same story with Scrooge starting off selfish, then learning from the spirits. But with Dickens himself, well,… Gonzo, contributing to the story, and with Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Cratchets, there’s so much more.

Michael Caine is badass as Scrooge. The way he snaps at Bob Cratchet and his other employees, that got me opening my eyes wide. The histories the Ghost of Christmas Past are rather dramatic and sad to watch and we can see how upset Scrooge gets when he views the visions. The Christmas Present Ghost puts a smile to my face, the way he lives so much in the present, his memory is bad and to see him die is quite dark. But the most haunting part of the story is the bits with the Ghost Of Christmases Yet To Come, who says nothing and just uses it’s gestures, no face, just showing Scrooge the bad things that are about to happen to him, and yes, the death to Tiny Tim (no, not Tiny Tim! The songs are great to listen to as well.

Another reason why I tend to like this version better is due to the nostalgia. It’s the version I’ve seen most times. I’m sure most people my age would agree too. And I’d recommend this to your kids as well.

 

6. Nightmare Before Christmas

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Prepare to be scared, cus ’tis the Nightmare Before Christmas! A film which was made back when Tim Burton made such original masterpieces. Then he turned to remakes, well the majority of his more modern films are remakes; Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland (sighs), but not all of them was bad, hence Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd (smiles).

The film begins in Holiday Woods, a forest with trees containing portals, each to a town that represents a vacation, i.e. Halloween and Christmas. Halloween Town is populated by citizens i.e. deformed monsters, ghosts, witches and skeletons. Jack Skellington is the king of the town and is bored of the same yearly routine, so he decides to explore and enters Christmas Town. He is shocked at first, but impressed. He introduces Christmas to Halloween’s residents, but all fail to understand the tradition. So Jack decides to kidnap Santa Claus and take over his duties.

The film as you probably can tell combines two holidays; Christmas and Halloween. To me, it makes sense, because for some reason, they seem to broadcast horror films each Christmas. Hell, I remember seeing a stop-motion BBC2 ident and my God was it creepy. I mean that as a compliment. The film’s title is an obvious parody to the famous Night Before Christmas and the characters and backgrounds are very well designed. I have to admit the stop-motion contributes extremely well to the horror theme. I’m not saying all stop-motion is scary. You couldn’t call Wallace & Gromit scary, with the possible exception of The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, though I’d say it’s more humorous. Speaking of humour, The Nightmare Before Christmas is also hilarious. When Jack kidnaps Santa and takes his job, he replaces the gifts with such insanely scary items such as a pumpkin-in-a-box and my God, I can’t cease laughing.

The songs are also enjoyable and I have to say this is the best film Henry Selick directed. He also did James And The Giant Peach and I hated that one. We also see the Halloween residents attempting to understand Christmas, because they’re used to their own town and are curious about the others. The towns are like those attractions you attend each season and are closed for the seasons they don’t represent.

In short, Nightmare Before Christmas is about curiosity on unfamiliar worlds and the right to know these things and respecting the meanings of different holidays.

 

5. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

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You read my brief review of the nineties remake. This version is the original one of Miracle On 34th Street.

The film takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kris Kringle applies for a job as a department store Santa Claus. He befriends Susan Walker, daughter of a divorcee, who is living in harsh reality. Later in the film, Kris is converted to an insane asylum, just for believing in himself as the Santa, causing the town to debate, you guessed it, Santa’s existence.

I know I ranked a version of Miracle On 34th Street earlier on, but I like this version better due to the differences. Natalie Wood is as great as Mara Wilson on the portrayal of the little girl. Edmund Gwenn is amazing as Kris Kringle. I kind of like the story better. In fact, it’s harsher. In the remake, Kris lashes out at a colleague for taking advantage of him. In this one, he believes in himself a bit too much, upsetting certain people and so he’s put in the asylum. We can relate to Kris’ attitude. All he’s trying to do is make an example to the kids and yet certain adults are just paranoid about his behaviour. When he meets Susan, he mentions various stories and fairy tales and Susan’s unfamiliar with those terms, because she’s living too much in the real world. We can’t really blame her for that, due to her mother going through her divorce.

Enough said.

 

4. Gremlins

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The director of Mrs Doubtfire and the first two Harry Potter movies made such an impressive start to his career in the film industry. Yes, this is Gremlins, the first film he worked on, not just as a writer, but in general.

In this film, a teenager named Billy receives an early Christmas present, which is a strange furry creature known as a mogwai. The creature comes with three important rules; don’t feed it after midnight, don’t expose it to bright light or sunlight and ensure it doesn’t get wet. However, one of the rules is accidentally broken, causing the mogwai to produce a bunch of mischievous gremlins which begin to wreck havoc.

Gremlins, like Nightmare Before Christmas, is a festive horror comedy. You fear what’s about to happen to little Gizmo (that’s the mogwai). The writing is great. It demonstrates a brief theme of coming of age and responsibility. When you get a pet, there are rules; you must look after it and ensure it’s fed well and safe and that. Of course, accidents do happen, i.e. when Bill’s friend Pete spills a glass of water on Gizmo, causing him to create a few gremlins. It’s also amazing how a small stupid mistake creates a huge consequence.

With that said, the accidental rule breaking contributes well to the humour. And Speaking of humour, the scene where the Gremlins are watching Snow White & The Seven Dwarves at the pictures is badass. Even when they’re singing Heigh Ho, that’s hilarious! And even Bill is impressed by the sight of it. The fights with the gremlins are absolute exciting to watch. Even Gizmo contributes to the action.

Speaking of Christmas, I’m absolutely fond of this one particular conversation Bill and his girlfriend Kate. Kate confesses the reason why she stopped believing in Santa Claus in the first place; her dad dressed as Santa one Christmas and used the chimney, then he burned to death. I have to say it’s the darkest scene in the film, but it also goes to show that kids may have to learn the truth about Santa some day and it’s a horror film after all.

 

3. Bad Santa

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What if Santa Claus wasn’t a jolly happy soul? What if he doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice? Well Bad Santa is a stylish and unique film which answers them questions through one of the most unique characterisations for a department store Santa Claus.

Willie T Stokes is an alcoholic with a troubled past who works as a department store Santa Claus once every year and is a professional robber working with Marcus (a department store elf) to rob the store each Christmas Eve. One day, during his job, Willie gets himself a bird named Sue and befriends Thurman Merman, an 11 year-old kid, who is constantly bullied for his weight.

If there’s one fictional character who works as a department store Santa Claus and I consider the best one, I’d have to give that point to Willie T Stokes. He is the complete opposite to most Santa Clauses. He gives no damn about Santa’s home town or what he’s all about. In one scene, Thurman asks him what the elves are called and Willie confuses them with the Seven Dwarves. He does ask each kid what he/she wants for Christmas, but is rude to them each time; “get the f**k out of here”, etc. This attitude annoys his friend Marcus, who is much more friendly to the public and makes much more of an example, and this is one of the most humorous things about the movie, but I’ll get there later.

Willie’s alcoholism and bad attitude is relatable due to his back-story. This is a man who as a kid didn’t celebrate Christmas, due to his dad being a violent drunk who even took his frustrations on his own son. I really feel for that guy. I have a friend who has an alcoholic parent and was once beaten up by that parent. You can’t really blame Willie for being an aggressive jerk.

Part of the comedy is due to Willie’s constant swearing. Yeah, that sounds immature, but the joke is that you don’t expect Santa to say stuff like the s word or the f word, both unique and funny. You have his girlfriend who has a thing for Santa-dressed men and her having sex with Willie, even in public and annoying Marcus. Thurman is also a funny character. He’s naive and kind of dumb, obviously not dumb enough to believe that the elves were named after the Seven Dwarves, lol. He actually believes Willie is actually Santa and believes he actually owns reindeer, but he’s only a kid. I especially enjoy the bond between Willie and Thurman, the way Thurman attempts to provide his services to Willie, for he’s an honoured guest, i.e. fixing sandwiches, those scenes make me snigger.

I also enjoy how Willie and Thurman learn stuff from each other and I believe that to not take s**t from anybody is an extremely good moral. Bad Santa is a film about standing up for oneself. It may not be for kids, which is kind of different to most festive films, but it’s hilarious and laid back and contains great messages. It’s just great.

 

2. Die Hard

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Die Hard maybe the last film you want to call a Christmas movie, but in the end, if you think about it, Die Hard is a film with a narrative story that takes place during Christmas Eve. So what more could you possibly want? I shall give you more detail in a sec.

John McClane, who works for the New York police department, must deal with a group of criminals, led by Hans Gruber, who invadea skyscraper in Los Angeles.

And who says an action thriller can’t be Christmas themed? I’d be a hypocrite if I left this film out, just because of the genre. Setting; Christmas Eve, entirely, so clearly, Die Hard is a Christmas-themed movie, or as the Nostalgia Critic quotes “f you, it’s Die Hard!”. The film not only contains a lot of action sequences which are always enjoyable, but because it’s set in Christmas Eve, all John wants to do is celebrate the vacation with his wife, but as a cop, he can’t get much of a break, hence why he’s forced to deal with the terrorists, and it’s like ‘the sooner I can get the terrorists out of the way, the sooner we can have a nice peaceful xmas’ and of course it would be further hell for everybody else if the terrorist attacks carried on through Christmas Day. So what Die Hard is trying to express is that Xmas is about everybody needing the right to celebrate Xmas without any trouble whatsoever.

The closing credits are accompanied by a festive themed song and Die Hard contains some awesome one-liners; “Yippie-yi-yay, motherf**ker”

 

And the number 1 festive movie is…;

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Larry Simms, Jimmy Hawkins, James Stewart, Donna Reed, Karolyn Grimes, 1946

It’s A Wonderful Life

And may God bless us everyone! Some of you were probably guessing that this classic would hit the number one spot. It’s popular with a lot of reviewers, it seems to hit/near the top spot in a lot of film-related lists and I can honestly say, I’m one of them guys who agrees with them people and it ain’t hard to see why.

The film centers on George Bailey, a successful businessman who plunges into a financial crisis and attempts suicide on Christmas Eve, only to be interrupted by an angel named Clarence. Through a conversation they have, George wonders if maybe his family, employees and work colleagues would’ve been better off had he not existed, leading to Clarence to demonstrate over-wise; without George, his hometown, Bedford Falls would’ve been a dump. George eventually regrets opening his big mouth.

It’s A Wonderful Life was ranked at number 1 by the American Film Institute for 100 Years 100 Cheers, a well-deserved position. I say this, because if you think about it, the film demonstrates that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. As you can clearly observe through the flashback from George’s childhood to his early adulthood. For example, he once saved his brother, Harry, from drowning in an icy pond. He also talked a druggist out of suicide. Through Clarence’s introduction to the world in which George is never born, you see events that have occurred otherwise; Harry has drowned, because George was not there to save him. The druggist he comforted is in jail. As a result of Harry’s death, all the servicemen who fought in the war and all of whom Harry could’ve saved have been killed. These are among the parts George eventually rethinks that maybe to wish he was never born was a selfish mistake and selfishness is the one thing you want to avoid during a time like Christmas.

We can understand how stressed George is when he finds out his business is hitting rock-bottom after his uncle Billy has misplaced the money (which is taken by Henry Potter), the way he lashes out at his uncle, which I have to admit is quite an outburst, and when he makes outbursts in a local bar and even in front of his family, which upsets them. Of course, the real villain is Potter, the guy who has attempted to make dodgy deals with George involving his business, all of which George has rejected, because he’s too smart to fall for Potter’s capitalist plans. Losing a business is often a sad day for the owners and we can understand how depressed they can feel as a result.

But of course, It’s A Wonderful Life ends with a happy one, which may sound clichéd, but if you look at it this way, George gains optimism on the fact that things may turn out better for the future. I have to be honest, when I saw the ending, I was in tears, not in a negative way if you know what I mean. I personally regard the ending as one of the best movie endings of all time. I’d also the same thing about the opening; if this film was being made now, the film would probably use CGI ghosts instead of flashing star-lights, but I can live with that. It is an old 1940s film after all. And the film contains some of the greatest lines in history; “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings”.

It’s A Wonderful Life is not only my favourite Christmas-themed movie, but one of my favourites, period. I’ve seen it several times and it’s one I would definitely show to my children. It’s a highly recommended classic.

 

So this was my top 12 list of my personal favourite festive movies. Feel free to leave your comments in the tab below. And merry Christmas to all of you.

Syria in Shatters

Most of you have probably heard the recent news that David Cameron has won his chances to bomb Syria. This follows the events in Paris when ISIS carried an attack during a gig performed by Eagles Of Death Metal. The death toll rate in the venue was 89. This event shocked a lot of us, including myself, and prompted a debate whether or not Britain should arrange an air strike against Syria. There were many people against the idea, even protests were arranged, one outside the clock tower in Leicester. I can honestly say I was one of those people who was against that idea. And now that Britain has started their attacks on Syria, I can quite frankly say how appalled I am of this situation.

I’m not a journalist and I always try to make clear that I’m unafraid to voice my opinions. At first, when I heard that Cameron planned an air strike against Syria, I was unsure what to think. But then I heard Jeremy Corbyn stating his reasons against attacking Syria. This made me think really hard and I knew Corbyn had a very valid point. The reason why I hoped for the ‘no’ vote on the air strike against Syria was because I remembered Tony Blair’s futile and reckless mission to seek the weapons of ‘mass-destruction’ back in the early noughties, which led to the 7/7 attacks in London and had a feeling that this event would lead the same impact. First of all, the Conservatives don’t even know where ISIS’s headquarters are, and second, those who are members of ISIS are likely to be scattered all over the place. None of them are likely to be wearing badges labelled ‘ISIS’. How the hell can Cameron assume that all the terrorists are based in Syria? I apologise for my language, but Cameron’s plans disgust me. For those reasons, I just know that Britain is just going to end up killing any innocent Syrians who are not members of ISIS. Most of us are upset about what ISIS have done last month and I personally don’t approve of the death toll they carried out. I also wouldn’t want to get involved with the organisation myself, for they are nothing, but discriminative people towards other religions. I’ve said this before in one of my previous blog posts, My Views On Religions; I accept all religions, but I don’t like it when they start fighting against each other. I do want ISIS to end their acts on terror, but Cameron’s bombings won’t improve anything. They’ll just make things worse. Even Tony Blair knew the risks when he got involved with the Iraq war.

And yet what appals me further is the various statements Cameron has made in response to those who oppose the Syrian air-strikes, i.e. myself and Jeremy Corbyn. One statement he made is; “Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria will lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism (4/10/2015). And yet, he’s talking about sending his troops to do some the action? That stupid hypocrite! The next statement I hear from him is; Those against Syrian bombings are ‘terrorist sympathisers’. This is absolutely absurd! From what I’ve just said, do you think I’m a terrorist sympathiser? Would you assume that the fact I express my concern for those who are having nothing to do with ISIS makes me a terrorist sympathiser? Cameron can say that term right to my face, but yet he’s terrorising Syria. I care what happens to any innocents who get killed as a result of Cameron’s predictably reckless attacks and what will happen next as a result. Those who aren’t members of ISIS may eventually declare war on Britain. How would Cameron like it that way? Well neither would any of the non-ISIS members in Syria.

Speaking about Tony Blair earlier on, I’m a member of the Labour party and I know Tony Blair was as well. But I do wish he didn’t go with this business on the weapons of mass destruction. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly the best leader for Labour standards. His leadership kind of destroyed the left-wing standards. Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband were improvements compared to Blair, but now that we have Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader, things are much more improved among the party. I may have drifted from the subject of the air-strikes against Syria, but I just wanted to mention what I thought of Tony Blair, because I did compare his actions with Iraq to David Cameron’s air-strikes against Syria.

What you’ve just read may seem like an angry outburst and I realise some of you readers may have felt uncomfortable reading this post, but being a lefty, I felt I should express my opinions. I really am praying for the soldiers who were sent to carry out the air strikes, but I mostly pray for any innocent civilians who happen to fall victim of any careless bombings.

David, if you’re reading this, I stand by for what I’ve just written. You’ve created an appalling situation which is about to get worse. Think about it, innocent people are going to die as a result to your attacks. I’m as upset about ISIS as you are, but you ain’t going to find their headquarters. Think of any of the non-ISIS members who fall victim. Please, please, please, look into your heart.

Originality – Where Has It Gone?

Do you ever feel that certain film-makers/production companies are running out of ideas and turning to nothing but remakes? Well I certainly do sometimes. There’s one particular film company which I feel is totally losing originality – Walt Disney Pictures.

Walt Disney Pictures, in my opinion, is one of the greatest production companies of all time. It’s most certainly popular among film fans worldwide and has produced some of the finest films the industry has to offer; Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Up, etc. Yet it did bring out some bad films as well. These include The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, Bolt, James & The Giant Peach, Fun & Fancy Free. However in recent years, Disney has seemed to run out of ideas for new films, hence turning animated features into live-action films. Though they would come up with an original project now and then i.e. Into the Woods, which I have yet to see. But all I hear about is live-action remakes to cartoons.

The first live-action animated feature Disney released was an adaptation to 1961’s 101 Dalmatians which came out in 1996. That film was okay. There was some originality to it; the dogs did not speak, the casting was impressive, though I wish the producers didn’t have to make an excuse to add an unnecessary fart joke. Then there was the sequel 102 Dalmatians which I haven’t seen, but oh well. Then I hear Tim Burton has directed a live-action sequel to Alice In Wonderland for the company; an obvious reference to the 1951 film. I saw it and it sucked! Last year, we saw the release of Maleficent; obvious spin-off to Sleeping Beauty and this year, a live-action version of 1950’s Cinderella. The two latters, I did not see and didn’t feel I needed to. I saw Doug Walker’s review of Maleficent and I don’t blame him for expressing his negativity. I didn’t think it would be that good anyway.

But now I hear that Disney is extending their resume on live-action cartoons; The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Beauty & The Beast, Mulan, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, the latter which I couldn’t care less about, because I never enjoyed the film anyway. But what really gets to me is that another film they plan to live-actionize is my all-time favourite one of them all. Yes folks, it’s Pinocchio. I’ve loved that film ever since childhood, so to see a live-action version of the film sickens me. There is no way one of them could compete with the animated masterpiece. Pinocchio is like the symbol to awareness of all aspects of evil around the world. To me, it was an awesome way to demonstrate that people can sometimes scam you into things, as I once stated in one of my previous blogs (The Worst-to-Best Movies Produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios). A live-action version will be an obvious repeat. God knows what Dickie Jones would think if he was still around.

I mean, what’s going to be next? What other cartoons could Disney possibly live-actionize? The Sword In The Stone? Atlantis: The Lost Empire? The Emperor’s New Groove? To tell you the truth, I should like to see Disney try and live-actionize The Lion King and Robin Hood. In case you probably couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic.

I do have yet to see Maleficent and the live-action version of Cinderella, so I can’t say whether they’re good or bad until I’ve seen them. I was reluctant to watch them when they came out. First of all, those two sorts of things are usually aimed for a female audience and I’m not female. Second, the reluctance relates back to when I saw Tim Burton’s version of Alice In Wonderland and I predicted I would get the same cheap result from the films. The fact that I did not enjoy any of the Despicable Me movies certainly put me off seeing Minions. Plus, the fact that now Disney is turning to remakes of their own material; the films that most of us grew up with. Some of those films are among the ones I want my future children to grow up with and I wonder what impact the remakes are going to have on today’s kids. For instance; if Pinocchio‘s going to be ‘live-actionised’, are children going to think about the remake, each time they think of the title, and ignore the original? This, I personally find disturbing. I don’t mind remakes as long as they’re good ones, but that seems to be all that Disney’s doing now. Some of my friends are giving up on Disney as a result, and for that I don’t blame them.

On the recent news that I hear Tim Burton is to direct a remake of Mary Poppins for, you guessed it, Disney;

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Okay, this is the very last straw. Disney have overstepped the mark. I’m never watching a new Disney movie again.

I just feel as betrayed as certain fans of the company do. Disney, I ain’t angry, but I’m very disappointed. They produced some of the best quality work in history and now they’ve clearly run out of ideas.

A Roller-Coaster through The Alton-Rations

What’s happening to British theme parks nowadays? I ain’t saying they suck, because they don’t. Theme parks in general are always great fun. But there’s some pretty lame sections added to them. For example, I know now it has occurred last year, but I had recently heard that Alton Towers has introduced CBeebies Land. What? A section whose theme is based on a god-awful British TV channel which broadcasts god-awful TV programmes? Programmes with unoriginal and forgettable episodes?

Guys, think of the wide audiences. If you want to introduce something to all ages, why not include a Disney-themed part or something? Oh wait, there’s already numerous Disney Lands across the globe. I so would like to check at least one of them out. Or what about a section with a theme that links to Steven Spielberg’s movies? Oh wait, there’s already a Universal Studios-related theme park in America. But there’s plenty of other things to think about.

It was bad enough when the long defunct American Adventure had its most exciting rides, i.e. The Missile and the Twin Loop-De-Loop, closed down to make way for more kiddie rides. No wonder the theme park closed down eventually. Lack of audience figures can lead to a lowering business, equalling eventual extinction. Or what the time when one of the surprisingly oldest British parks, Drayton Manor, introduced Thomas Land. Yes folks, the section of the park whose theme is based on one of the lousiest and most overrated kids’ shows in TV history, need I say what it’s called? The one about the trains with large gobs, and that’s pretty much it, it’s about trains that can talk. As the Nostalgia Critic might say, (yawns) Adventure ho. Though technically, it was based on a series of novels, then got made into a show. I personally wouldn’t care, but it was. Okay, maybe the idea for Thomas Land was to get more younger children invested, but if you think about it, most of the general rides in Drayton Manor are amateur and rather lousy, exceptions including the Apocalypse, Shockwave and Flumes. But there are very few of those rides that still stand.

Now a couple of years ago, Alton Towers just had to introduce CBeebies-Land! This is the sort of thing which does not appeal to me whatsoever. I didn’t grow up with CBeebies. I was in my pre-teens when the channel was launched and I was way too old for the nonsense they broadcast. I am familiar with some of the shows they broadcast or used to broadcast i.e. Teletubbies, which I’ve long expressed my strong dislike within. Some of the shows were broadcast sometime before the channel’s launch. And yet, I’d be disturbed if certain rides were closed to make way for CBeebies-Land. I personally believe it was wrong to shut down the Corkscrew and the Submission, because they were epic! Plus the Corkscrew was apparently one of the very first rides in Alton Towers. If the manufacturers wanted to create some baby-themed section, why couldn’t they get rid of the Hex?

If there’s a section of a theme park with a theme based on Gerry Anderson’s shows, I would be up for it. Not only am I a long time fan of his works, but his productions are known to appeal to all ages. I’d say the same for a Hanna/Barbera themed-section or one based on Aardman or Nickelodeon. These producers/production companies are more likely to extend their audiences compared to CBeebies.

That’s my opinion anyway.