The underdog, the arrogant superstar, the training montage, the final fight–we’ve seen it all before. It’s a pretty typical setup, and Rocky wasn’t the first to use it. So why did people go to see it? And why would people want to see Creed, the newest installment in the series? Because of the passion. Take any story, even the most clichéd or overused, tell it with genuine passion and the audience will be moved every time.
Continuing on with this month being a look at some classic animated films, let’s take a look at another classic animated film that I somehow went 20 years never seeing (kind of a funny coincidence, since the main character of this film spends 20 years never being a part of the world just beyond his home); the film I’m talking about is, of course, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And while I think it’s a great movie, I did have a few problems with it, from a storytelling standpoint, an animation standpoint, and just some general gripes I had with it. But let’s not dwell on the negative; that’s for later. For now, let’s take a look at The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Also, some spoilers ahead; you have been warned.
Over/Under: “Zoolander” (2001) and “Starsky and Hutch” (2004)
Although they were at their prime in the early to mid 2000s, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson remain an iconic comedy duo (icomic, you might say) alongside the likes of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, Jay and Silent Bob, and Harold and Kumar. With the upcoming release of Zoolander 2, it’s worth looking at their origins and the original. Zoolander (2001) may not have been the first movie starring the duo (it was preceded by The Cable Guy (1996) and Permanent Midnight (1998), neither of which I recommend), but it was certainly the movie to put them on the map.
Since the release of its first movie Dr. No in 1962, the James Bond / 007 series stands as the longest running cinema franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be coming out this December, but Ian Fleming scoffs that it took Lucasfilms almost forty years to churn out a meager seven movies. Four generations of my family have grown up watching the adventures of James Bond, spanning Barry Nelson and Sean Connery’s era to Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s. A franchise so ancient, especially in today’s ever-changing landscape of Hollywood, naturally begs the question: is it still relevant?
This film makes for a nice transition review for me: it’s Halloween-related, to finish up my Halloween reviews, it’s Christmas-related, to get myself excited for Christmas far too early, and it’s an animated film, which fits with November being my animated movie month (still trying to come up with a better name for this month, but we’ll figure that out later). Thus we come to a film that bears Tim Burton’s name, but was only conceived and produced by Burton, and directed by Henry Selick; this is, of course, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is still dripping with Burton’s signature surreal and dark imagery. And for many years, people have wondered: is this a Halloween movie trying to be a Christmas movie, a Christmas movie trying to be a Halloween movie, or is it something to be enjoyed in the in-between time? I’m inclined to say that this movie is a late-Halloween movie, something to enjoy when you’ve depleted all of your candy reserves, you start thinking about throwing out your Jack-O-lantern, and the department stores start to promote Christmas way too freaking early. This is a Halloween movie with a few Christmas tendencies, and, above all, it’s a fun, musically-inclined, and darkly cute animated film.
Tim Burton; just hearing his name probably brings to mind images of Michael Keaton in the Caped Crusader’s first modern film, Johnny Depp as a man with blades for fingers, or just basic black-and-white surreal imagery. And while I haven’t seen all of Burton’s films, I can say that the ones I have seen are ones that I enjoy immensely. Such is the case for Burton’s 1999 horror flick Sleepy Hollow, which, while not as scary as some would like it to be, still has some good scares and thrills to it, as well as a fun mystery involving witchcraft, political maneuvering, and an undead Horseman who rides again.