Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Director: Tim Burton
Writer(s): Linda Woolverton, Lewis Carroll (books)
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
It's been a while since Alice has graced the silver screen and it shouldn't be a surprise that it was Tim Burton who decided to return her there. Part remake of the Disney animated film and part sequel, the film is entertaining as both, though there are things lost in translation. Without the source material (Carroll's books) fresh in mind, many of the nuances and homages to the original works will come and go without so much as a blink. Still, the production design and art direction are delights, Johnny Depp is eerily eerie as the Mad Hatter (who, following a recent trend in Wonderland interpretations, is elevated to a primary protagonist), and I can't think of a better director for a live action Alice in Wonderland than Tim Burton. The 3D, while competent, seems mostly unnecessary.
Verdict: SEE it. Just make sure to re-familiarize yourself with the original stories before you do.
The Last Word (1995)
Director: Tony Spiridakis
Writer(s): Tony Spiridakis
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Joe Pantoliano, Michelle Burke
Also known as Cosa Nostra because of a ridiculous subplot involving the Mafia, this film's ridiculousness only starts there. Starring a surprisingly excellent cast (including Tony Goldwyn, as well as Chazz Palmintieri, Richard Dreyfuss, and Cybill Shepherd in scene-stealing cameos - which wasn't hard to do in this film), I had high(er) hopes for this one. But a script rife with ridiculous dialog and a convoluted plot killed any chance of it being good. Overdirected, overacted, and painfully disjointed, there's quite literally nothing to see (or speak of) here.
Verdict: SKIP it.
Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003)
Director: Sylvain Chomet
Writer(s): Sylvain Chomet
Starring: Er... nobody, really... just cartoon characters and some singing voices
As a fan of animation in nearly all of its forms, I was remiss in not catching this when it was released. It is truly a wonderful and weird film. I can't think of five French cartoons I've seen, but if they're typically like this, I'll be watching quite a few in the near future. Practically a silent film (many sound effects, some singing, no dialog), the script is absent logic and the style of the animation is low on realism. And what a fantastic combination that makes. I won't explain more, partially because it needs to be seen to be understood and partially because there's actually nothing to explain. Notable for the strangest and most charming chase scene in animation history.
Verdict: SEE it. Its weirdness demands a view.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer(s): Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Japanese voice actors you don't know
One of Miyazaki's (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) earliest theatrical efforts, it's quite a thing to learn that the formula he uses in his storytelling hasn't changed much over the years... and still doesn't seem stale. Though his more recent films are arguably better, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is an excellent film. Based upon Miyazaki's own manga, the transition from page to screen is unnoticeable to a casual observer. Always on the cutting edge of fanstastical conceptual design and full of environmentalist commentary, this one can be enjoyed on several levels.
Verdict: SEE it. Miyazaki films are practically always must-sees.
Robin Hood (2010)
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer(s): Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff (story), Cyrus Voris (story)
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong
As wth Alice in Wonderland, it's been a while since we've had a film version of Robin Hood. Ridley Scott, following in his own footsteps, decided to present us with a historical look at Robin Hood, much like Hollywood tried with King Arthur a few years ago. The result is a good movie (one rife with historical inaccuracies) that is decidedly not a Robin Hood movie. While Russell Crowe pulls off the outlaw better than most expected (or give him credit for), the fact that the legendary Robin Hood that everyone knows and loves is almost completely absent from the story will undoubtedly hurt it. That stated, it's an interesting interpretation. Perhaps viewing this as a continuation of Scott's Kingdom of Heaven will allow you to appreciate it more than you will appreciate it as a Robin Hood film.
Verdict: SEE it. A different enough take on the Robin Hood mythos to warrant a view.
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