Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2022

Hey all! I saw some good movies in September because some decent ones actually popped up on my services. Yay! 🙂 But life still sucks.

Oh – Happy October! I wasn’t up to doing a Halloween Horror Month this year.

Here we go with what I watched last month…

MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):

The Red Shoes – The Red Shoes is yet another absolutely beautiful piece of work from Powell & Pressburger This is the third film of theirs that I’ve seen. I first saw A Matter Of Life And Death a few years ago & was blown away. That film should as well known as the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life but I’d not even heard of it while living in America. So I then watched Black Narcissus which was also stunning & have been desperate to see The Red Shoes ever since. I was delighted to see it pop up on BBC iPlayer (available 16 more days if you’re in the U.K., FYI. I highly recommend).

I’ve been back & forth on if this or Black Narcissus would rank second after A Matter Of Life And Death for me. I think Black Narcissus has the edge as, quite literally, the visuals of that bell on the edge of that gorgeous cliff will stay with me forever & I loved the overall look and mood of that whole film. The Red Shoes is a very close third, though. The only thing that lets it down slightly is that it’s all about the performance of the Red Shoes ballet in the middle of the film, which is easily one of the greatest dance numbers I’ve ever seen in a film. Maybe the very best. It’s breathtakingly perfect. So I think the rest of the film just doesn’t quite manage to live up to that big moment but the story is still good and there are other great visuals & dance moments to enjoy. And, man, I loved her red hair & how that looked with those red shoes. They truly don’t make them like this anymore… – 8.5/10

Santa Sangre – Where do I start with this?! It’s an Alejandro Jodorowsky film so I guess I got what I was expecting. It’s violent, utterly bizarre, and strangely fascinating. I want to watch every film he’s made (as well as those he didn’t – his Dune would have been insane).

Think I slightly prefer El Topo mainly because it’s even weirder (which is saying something). Santa Sangre has an almost coherent story in comparison – It’s really just an even more fucked-up Psycho. I do absolutely love a circus setting so enjoyed that a lot & really liked the mime/tightrope girl who befriends the main character (again played by a couple of Jodorowsky‘s sons). I liked that part of the story & as always liked watching something so strange & completely unpredictable.

I think this film has grown on me since I watched it. Maybe I actually prefer it to El Topo. It’s one of those films where I want to do a separate full review with lots of images as there are so many interesting ones but I’m too lazy so I’ll just stick two extra images below. I’ll certainly never forget either of the two films of Jodorowsky’s that I’ve seen so far, which is something I appreciate. Guess I need to finally see The Holy Mountain now too. – 8/10

Thor: Love And Thunder – I have serious superhero burnout but I like the content enough to continue to watch all the Marvel films & TV shows. Some are good, some are not-so-good, but I wouldn’t really care if they stopped making them all. With the movies, I prefer when they don’t take things so seriously. I find many of the dark & dreary superhero movies pathetic (but that’s not the MCU). So I loved Guardians Of The Galaxy & I enjoyed when Thor went “silly” with Ragnarok as, quite frankly, the character of Thor was pretty but bloody boring before Ragnarok. But this one looked like it was going to be a little too silly & reviews seemed very mixed so I had low expectations.

I enjoyed this. Ragnarok is still better & this does indeed get a little too silly at times but I liked the villain’s & Jane’s stories. Christian Bale was a fantastic villain (and I’m not a Bale fan). I also thought they handled Portman’s role in this very well without it feeling like forced “girl power” which just doesn’t work. I wanted much more of Thor with the Guardians Of The Galaxy as I think they’re hilarious together but at least we got a little bit. Liked the jealousy thing with Thor’s weapons, too. And the nudity. And all the Guns N’ Roses making me feel like I was back in high school (I’ve just dated myself).

This was fun & a better film than I expected. It’s not gonna win any Oscars. I can absolutely see why some would love it & some would hate it as the sillier side of the MCU isn’t for everyone. I think it helps to balance out some pretty damn depressing stuff going on too. Poor Thor has had a terrible time & watching him go through all this tragedy with absolutely no humour would turn this into the dark & dreary type of superhero movie I can’t stand. At the moment, I’d rank this just outside of my MCU top ten (all ranked here). But I may change my mind & it could move down slightly. – 7.5/10

Cyrano – Liked this much more than I was expecting. I don’t know the story of Cyrano de Bergerac all that well (mainly just the Steve Martin Roxanne version, sorry!) so it’s not a story I mind them messing with as it doesn’t mean much to me. Peter Dinklage is easily the best thing about this & I liked him a lot as Cyrano. Haley Bennett is also good as Roxanne & seemed to be a far better singer than her male co-stars (by the way, I recommend watching her in the great film Swallow). The songs in Cyrano weren’t very memorable but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Overall, Dinklage & Bennett and the unique tragic love story make this worth watching but I’m not sure I loved it as a musical. The film is far from perfect but it still has plenty going for it to give it a watch. – 7/10

No Retreat, No Surrender – Continuing my over-30-years-late JCVD obsession, I found this godawful delight from 1985. A bullied teenage boy is visited & trained by the ghost of his idol Bruce Lee. Seriously. I kind of loved this. Pure ‘80s cheese, which always makes me nostalgic. The only downside is that JCVD is barely in this. Plus he’s a baddie. I like ass-kicking mullet-head sexy-splits good-guy Van Damme. This one deserves two extra images too. Look at the beautiful pure-eighties-ness of that photo with the boombox! And we gotta see JCVD doing the sexy splits again… – 6.5/10

A Walk In The Clouds – A Keanu Reeves movie I never saw?! This was fine. Liked the story & the romance. Not always big on romance films but, man, I love the idea of engaging in some sexy grape-stomping with Keanu. Nice. (It didn’t turn into a full-on grape orgy like in Seconds, though. Sorry Film Miasma & Podferatu!). This movie got so ridiculously dramatic at the end that I had to knock off half a point, though. But I still love Keanu. – 6.5/10

Paddington 2 – Everyone went on about this being the best thing since sliced (marmalade) bread so I figured I better finally watch it even though I barely remember the first film. What are you all on about?! Ha! This movie is fine. It’s very sweet. Very family-friendly. Paddington is a great character & I like the voice work, the animated stuff with the pop-up book is fantastic, the Wes Anderson-y color palette in the prison is fun, and Hugh Grant is a very good villain. Maybe I was just expecting this movie to change my life after all the Film Twitter hype. Nope! Life is still the same. – 6.5/10

Fire Island – This was good, lightweight fun. Enjoyed the two main romances. We had a good “will they or won’t they”, “love/hate” connection between two of the characters which I really enjoyed & a more romantic story with two of the others. This group of friends were a lot of fun & I’d love hanging out & playing games with them. How could that guy not instantly know the answer was Marisa Tomei?! Loved that bit.

I see this movie was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Suppose I should put down the Stephen King for a change & finally read that one someday, huh? – 6.5/10

Do Revenge – I know I’m an old Gen-X lady but, up until just the last couple years, I still enjoyed teen movies. I could still relate to them as we all went through our teens & know how difficult they can be. The Edge Of Seventeen is a good recent(ish) example – I liked that a lot. Am I now finally out of touch? Because I can’t relate to the narcissistic shitbags in this & in Not Okay in any way whatsoever.

I did like how this started out with Clueless vibes at the school. I later wondered if part of the issue was “rich kids” because we’re all meant to hate the rich. Right? Did no one see Pretty In Pink?! But then I realized they’re rich in Clueless too but that movie is great fun and the characters are very likeable. The problem isn’t dark humor, either, as I love dark humor. I just don’t think this movie manages that well (if that’s what it’s going for?). So the most obvious comparison in that case is Heathers. Then I realized everyone is a Heather in this movie. Everyone aspires to be a Heather & assumes the audience does too. And, damn, I guess that’s accurate judging by social media & influencers. When Heathers came out, we all wanted to be Veronica. Sorry, slight spoiler: By the end you realize there’s no Veronica in this movie. So who the hell am I meant to care about in this world full of Heathers?

Oh well. I didn’t “hate” this movie as much as it seems. It had a good idea. I liked the thought of teaming up with someone to go after each other’s bullies. Who doesn’t love a good revenge movie? And the twists & turns were kind of fun up until the end when the character you thought you liked turns out to be kind of a shitbag too. And when the main character who got screwed over at the beginning still doesn’t manage to make you care about her predicament by the end since she’s only slightly less of a shitbag than she was at the start. Actually, come to think of it, the boy she hooks up with was a decent character… Guess he’s the Veronica. Their paint scene was good. And having Sarah Michelle Gellar as the headmaster was a smart move to get us old turds to watch this. Hey – they’re all rich & hateful in Cruel Intentions too but I loved that movie. Because it had one nice character & one who does stop being a shitbag at the end.

I liked this a bit more than Be Okay, at least. I didn’t find either a waste of time – I just prefer to have fewer shitbags in a movie. – 6/10

Me Time – This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst “dumb comedy” I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous but at least the family are likeable while husband/father Hart does stupid shit with his manchild friend Wahlberg. Not gonna lie – I liked the guy desperate to not go back to Legoland. And the stuff with the tortoise. But I won’t remember a thing about this movie in a few years. – 6/10

Horror Express – I thought this film was awful. I watched it as it stars the almighty horror icons Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing and I badly need to see much more of their work. So I settled for this on iPlayer when what I really want is for the Hammer Horror stuff to be available to me. I did very much enjoy seeing Lee & Cushing but I can’t recommend watching this for any other reason. It doesn’t even manage to be a “so bad it’s good” movie. But maybe I’m wrong – it seems to have a decent rating from other Letterboxd users. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched In September:

The Prestige – Still think this film is brilliant after another rewatch for the first time in years. I’m very much not a Christopher Nolan fan but The Prestige is his one film I do love & it’s an all-time favorite. Absolutely love the story (I don’t know how much credit Nolan can take on that as I’ve not read the book it’s based on). Jackman & Bale have such a fantastic rivalry & the film’s setting in the world of magic is great. And, of course, David Bowie is cool as hell as Tesla. Still love this film. Still hate Interstellar. – 9/10

Rogue One – When I first saw this one in the cinema, I didn’t instantly love it. But I thought I better rewatch it before Andor & I have to say this film has now gone up in my estimation quite a lot. I think that’s partly due to being so disappointed with the final two films in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, which I find I’m growing to dislike more & more as time goes by. Almost to the point where I now wish the sequel trilogy didn’t exist…

So I think I now really appreciate Rogue One as a separate story that does no damage to the original trilogy that I’ve loved since I was a kid. And, so far, I’m really liking the Andor series (more than The Book Of Boba Fett & maybe even the Obi-Wan Kenobi series). I think I’ve just had enough of them messing with beloved characters that should maybe just be left alone. I certainly loved The Mandalorian far more than the sequel trilogy, too. 

But what I’d really like is a Chirrut spin-off. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus were great & are still my favorite characters from Rogue One. Loved K-2SO too, of course. Star Wars droids are always the best. – 8/10

Shorts, Etc:

The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club – Oh wow – I don’t even remember this now. Must have been good, huh?! These Disney Plus Simpsons shorts, especially the ones that are just Disney adverts, haven’t been great…

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN SEPTEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai: Season 5 – Still adore Cobra Kai! Yes, it’s really getting “same old same old” now. But I don’t care. It’s so much fun. And I still love Johnny. I really should’ve rewatched Karate Kid III before this series, though, as I don’t remember it so all of those characters didn’t mean anything to me.

Andor: S1 E1-4 – As above, I rewatched Rogue One because this was starting & liked it way more on a rewatch. I think this show is really good so far. Definitely better than The Book Of Boba Fett. We’ll see by the end if I also prefer it to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E3-7 – Okay. You know what? I enjoy watching this show each week. Yes, She-Hulk twerking was absolute cringe. Yes, the show is silly. It’s a sitcom, people! They’ve gone no more silly with this than with the last two Thor films. I can see why some hate this show as you’re either going to love silly Marvel or you aren’t. But the outrage online is scary. Good Lord. As an OLD woman, I can’t always relate to the very millennial & “woke” take this show often has. But as a woman I can still relate to a lot of it. I liked the wedding episode. I liked episode 7 which reminded me a lot of that great Toy Story short Small Fry where they’re all having that group therapy session. I like She-Hulk especially when she’s Jennifer Walters. She has a fun attitude but plenty of insecurities a lot of women will relate to. Is this show hated because it’s so aimed at women? I assume so. God knows. Don’t get me wrong – it’s FAR from perfect & would get an average sort of rating from me if I rated TV shows like I do movies. I don’t know – maybe 6/10? The effects look bloody awful most of the time but, ha, whatever – I grew up with the ’70s The Incredible Hulk TV show so I think I can handle that. Honestly, though, I’d be happier with some different, big-muscled woman just playing the She-Hulk version of Jennifer Walters instead of weird-looking CGI stuff. But, be honest, Hulk looks pretty shit in the MCU films too so whatever. I’m mostly annoyed that her clothes aren’t nearly baggy enough on her when she goes back to being tiny Jennifer. This show is a fun little throwaway comedy that I find entertaining for half an hour each week. Nothing to get mad about.

BOOKS READ

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This book isn’t very “me” but I have to put down the Stephen King books & the lightweight thrillers & the YA stuff and read something different occasionally. It’s a good story that would make for a really good movie so I’d like to see that happen. Man, Evelyn Hugo is a pretty hateful character, though. I normally hate that but she’s an intriguing character & I of course really went for the fact that she’s a huge movie star telling a writer her life story & it’s all about her glanorous life in the world of Hollywood filmmaking. I’ll always like movie-related stories so I liked that. Why don’t they just make a movie like the story in this book based on a fictional movie star instead of using Marilyn Monroe & making up a bunch of untrue crap about her? – 3/5

Here’s the ballet in The Red Shoes but I’d really recommend watching the whole movie instead:

The Lord Of The Rings (Full Trilogy) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from James of Slate The Silver Screen. Thanks for the review, James! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, IMDB ranks 9, 13 & 21 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is adapted from J.R.R. Tolkein’s incredible books. These films take you on an epic journey through the detailed and beautiful cinematic universe of Middle Earth and the arduous battle between good and evil., The films are widely regarded as one of the most critically and financially successful franchises of all time, spawning a highly divisive prequel trilogy (The Hobbit) that could never live up to the success of the original.

Wait…this is an exact description of Star Wars…You sure?…alright fine. Anyway!

So without further a do, here is a trailer for the LOTR trilogy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnf4h5HT4dc

FUN FACT: The word Frodo is said 116 times in the trilogy. This is a rate of 0.208 Frodo’s per minute.

BEFORE I START THIS, TRILOGY IS A DEFINITE MUST SEE!

The LOTR franchise is split into The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Towers and Return Of The King. I will not go into too much plot detail, as this is a review, not a PhD thesis.

Frodo (Elijah Wood), a young, inquisitive hobbit, comes into possession of a mysterious ring following the disappearance of his uncle, Bilbo (Tom Holms). Gandalf (Ian McKellan), an aging, powerful wizard discovers this is ‘’The One Ring’’ of power that belonged to the Dark Lord Sauron. Thus begins a chain reaction which sees Frodo on a quest to destroy the one true ring and save middle Earth…COME ON…THIS IS JUST STAR WARS SET IN THE MIDDLE AGES…THERE IS DEFINITELY SOME COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT GOING ON HERE…FINE…I’LL DROP IT

[SIGH]

Frodo, accompanied by Sam, his closest friend and gardener, sets off to meet Gandalf in the village of Bree so that he can get the ring somewhere safe. En route they bump into Merry and Pippin, while they’re stealing crops, who join them on their journey. Incidentally, Merry and Pip are the least qualified saviours in the history of everything…during the course of the trilogy they make blunders of such utter stupidity that I wonder how they made it this far in life. When they reach Bree Gandalf is not there and instead they find Stryder, a mysterious ranger, who helps them evade Sauron’s Black riders. Something they only had to do because Pip blew Frodo’s cover.

The group reach the Elven stronghold of Rivendell where they are reunited with Gandalf. Here a Fellowship is formed to aide Frodo in his quest. The Hobbits, Gandalf, Stryder (now called Aragorn), a bitter man called Boromir. And finally Legolas and Gimli, an elf and dwarf who are constantly bickering.

Plot wise that is about all you need to know. What follows in a 558-minute epic that takes you through highs, lows, battles, betrayal, love, immortality, obsession, mental illness and emotional connection. (By the way there is a 683 minute extended cut, which is also worth a watch).

The first instalment, The Fellowship, serves as an introduction to Middle Earth, its inhabitants, its history, the horrors of the previous war and the malevolence that once again threatens Middle Earth. At its core is the journey of our Hobbits and the bonds of the fellowship. The violence and hardships are personal, the losses are intimate and the battle is for the life of you and your friends. The film never drags and is a great first entry and, although not small by any stretch of the imagination, it is on a smaller scale than its sequels.


The second film, Two Towers, shifts away from Frodo and Sam and more towards the realms of men and Saruman’s fall from grace, the white wizard who Gandalf initially considered a friend. This film is really about redemption; the bonds of the fellowship following their breakdown, the waning strength of men and of those lost to evil. There are a myriad of new characters, however, the standout is Gollum, played by Andy Serkis using motion capture CGI. Gollum was once a hobbit who was corrupted by the ring and is obsessed with it. His ‘’precious’’ fills his every waking thought since he lost it to Bilbo Baggins (see prequel trilogy for clarification). He exhibits serious symptoms of a nearly dozen mental illnesses and disorders that I would not wish on my worst enemy. But grudgingly he develops a fragile relationship with Frodo and agrees to help him find his way into Mordor. Serkis is exceptional in every scene, he is nuanced, he is over the top and he is captivating. It truly is a remarkable performance!

Everything is bigger this time around. The battles, the castles, the enemies, the stakes. Sauron grows more powerful each day, and as such the second film should feel more charged and deadly. It all serves to increase the tension and completely draw you in.

The final instalment, Return Of The King, is the big finish. Everything is stepped up to another level. This time we are not fighting for our home or friends. This could be the end of everything and you can feel it through every second of the final confrontation with Sauron’s army.


You cannot discuss LOTR without discussing the visuals, it is basically a giant tourism piece for New Zealand, where it was filmed. The beautiful landscapes are combined with CGI and set pieces and in doing so become the most important character in the trilogy. The Shire is green and tranquil and captures the innocent, simple life of Hobbits. The grandiose pomposity of the Elves is captured by Rivendell. The realms of men are impressive and foreboding but have been neglected and miss repaired, much like the fading strength of men maligned at the beginning of the series. Then there is Mordor, explored deeply in the final film, a putrid landscape so foul and toxic that it could only breed pure evil. These backdrops are all encompassing, detailed and beautiful and draw you in. You become part of Middle Earth, this is a fight for your home and your people! Without this the series would have not been the success it is!

Furthermore, they provide the huge scale that makes the series so impressive. Even the first film, with its much smaller set pieces and action, takes you on a journey across half a world: the Shire, Bree, Weathertop, Rivendell, mines of Moria, Woods of Lothlorien, the woods of Parth Galen (the final action sequence is here)… This is a complete world of such magnitude and detail that it paved the way for modern cinematic franchises. Before this film no one even attempted something of this scale. The Marvel cinematic universe wouldn’t have been possible without LOTR blazing a trail.

But a series of pretty pictures do not a film make. The film needs heart, you need to care about the characters and believe their relationships. And you are not let down. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, Frodo and Sam, provide the emotional core of the film as they go through hell and back. Their relationship is heart-warming and it is difficult to watch their burdens way heavy on it. Interestingly they haven’t delivered performances anywhere near this level since. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf is fantastic, his stage background was perfect to produce the gravitas and presence needed. He received the trilogy’s only acting Oscar nomination. Viggo Mortensen delivers a strong turn as Aragorn. And I’ve already mentioned Gollum.

However it is not all sunshine and rainbows; the rest of the cast do a great job but for the most part they are replaceable and not memorable of their own accord. The screenwriting and dialogue is generally great, but there are some scenes that come across as quite cliché. There also seems to be an undercurrent of sexual tension between Sam and Frodo, although I could be reading too much into this. There are lots of longing glances, intimate dialogue and a slow-mo scene towards the end where Frodo’s laughing turns into a deep, sensual stare as Sam enters the room.

Alas, with praise also comes criticism:

  • The female characters are strong, powerful and interesting but underused. Most of the time the women serve to propel their male counterparts forward in the plot. And they do not once interact with each other, although with this being a book adaptation maybe this wasn’t possible within the confines of the story. The exception maybe Eowyn but even she falls for Aragorn who cannot return her love.
  • The entire cast is white. I know this is a fictional place so we don’t have anything to base racial proportions on but that’s sort of my point. Would it have really mattered if some of the characters were played by non-white actors? No. This is less of a problem with the film itself than the industry as a whole but it is still worth mentioning.

The relationship between Legolas and Gimli is interesting as they overcome, generations of tension and animosity between their races to become close friends. This obviously has some current relevancy as we have a long way to go with racial equality. But again they are both white…so see above.

  • Even Nazgul, Sauron’s minions, whose only drive is their primal need to find the ring still fall victim to, ‘’Bad Guy Monologue-ing’’. We’ve all seen it. The good guy is done for all the bad guy has to do now is just get on with it. Instead he wastes just enough time explaining his plans that the good guy can escape. And while the Nazgul do not monologue they do waste time and get distracted. Or, more frustratingly, just aren’t very good at finding things. This happens at least 7 times during the trilogy.
  • Multiple endings! This has been the films biggest criticism. The final film takes about 40 minutes to end including: eagles, two weddings, book writing, narration, a whitewash reunion and a boat trip. There are at least five different places where the film could have feasibly ended without causing any problems.

There is no denying Tolkein’s genius but here are some of my issues!

  • THE FUCKING EAGLES. Whenever Tolkein ran out of ideas on how to solve a problem he just called in the eagles. Gandalf’s trapped. Eagles. Outnumbered in battle. Eagles. Frodo’s trapped. Eagles. The entire prequel Hobbit trilogy. Eagles. Why not just give them the bloody ring and let them fly to Mordor? It’d certainly be much quicker.

  • This one is more of a niggle. Dwarfes and Elves hate each other. SO why, in the name of all that is holy, is the password to get into Moria an Elvish word?
  • This series is black and white. Good vs Evil. The characters are either one or the other. I suppose it makes sense in this story but it does leave some of the characters a bit flat. I suppose everyone has the same enemy so maybe they put all other duplicitous plans on the back burner for now? I mean if you exclude Sauron the biggest dicks in the series are men. But even then that’s only because there are two evil men and the rest are good. The only character with any level of grey is Boromir, but his grey is negated by the fact that his actions are part of a misguided plan to do the right thing for his people by fighting the enemy with his own weapon.

All that being said, this series is not just an exceptional cinematic achievement but is an all-encompassing, engrossing and enjoyable watch. Do yourself a favour, set aside 9 hours and watch it!

VERDICT:

PS/ If you want to make a good movie, cast Sean Bean and then kill him. It just works…Patriot Games, Golden Eye, The Field, Game Of Thrones. It’s not worth the risk of letting him live, just ask Jupiter Ascending or The Silent Hill franchise! Although he does still die in some bad movies…trust Michael Bay to ruin a good thing!

PPS/ As a reward for reading all that here are some fun facts.

Number of times Legolas stands and stares at something : 7

Number of moments of intense sexual tension between Frodo and Sam: 9

Number of times you hear the ‘’Shire’’ music: 32 fucking times!

The Last Unicorn (1982) Review

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The Last Unicorn (1982)

Directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin, Jr.

Based on The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Starring: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, René Auberjonois

Running time: 84 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A brave unicorn and a magician fight an evil king who is obsessed with attempting to capture the world’s unicorns.

My Opinion:

As the parent of a young child but also a movie lover, I’m often on the lookout for kids’ films that I may actually enjoy as well. I’ve sat through enough crappy movies for kids that I think it’s okay to sometimes get to watch one that interests me as well. Right?! 😉 Enter the 1982 film The Last Unicorn which, apparently, is something of a cult classic, has a very high IMDB rating (for its age & the fact it’s animated) of 7.5/10, AND it’s from RANKIN/BASS plus the animators who went on to form STUDIO GHIBLI yet I’d somehow never even heard of it before?!? Holy shit – I was all over this thing when I read about it! It sounded like something that couldn’t be more ME!!! So we got the DVD & for about two months I said to the hubby & kid “Let’s watch The Last Unicorn!!!!” until they finally agreed (probably to shut me up).

Wow. The Last Unicorn is a strange one. I kind of sort of loved it. I can see that, if I’d watched it as a kid, it may now be as special to me as the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. No, it’s not as good as Rudolph and it certainly doesn’t beat any of the Miyazaki Studio Ghibli films but there’s something kind of special & “magical” about it in the same way I feel there is about the Ghiblis. Hmm… How should I put this? This movie is so “1982” which, to me, is a great thing while to others it’ll be a bad thing. I’d only recommend this one to certain people who like things such as Studio Ghibli, Ralph Bakshi’s work, Heavy Metal (1981), The NeverEnding Story, and… maybe Labyrinth? I’m struggling to describe this but if you hate all the things I’ve listed, you should probably steer clear of The Last Unicorn. Oh – I’d also recommend it to any bronies! Bronies would love it.

I can’t really get into the plot too much and there are pictures I have to avoid posting that would contain massive spoilers. In the movie, a unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow) discovers she’s the last unicorn in the world & goes on a journey to find out what happened to the others. She’s joined along the way by a magician called Schmendrick (voiced by Alan Arkin). Talk about an impressive voice cast, we also have Jeff Bridges as a prince, Angela Lansbury (always a favorite of mine) as a witch, and the amazing Christopher Lee who is of course perfect as the evil king who tries to capture all the unicorns in the world.

This movie has so many things that fantasy lovers will like: magic, wizards, witches, kings & princes, mythical creatures including a harpy and a rather scary, demonic Red Bull, talking butterfiles, etc etc. Oh yeah – and a unicorn! I have to say that, although unicorns have come to be seen as a “girl” thing, this movie is every bit as much for male viewers as for female – it’s not aimed just at one sex. In fact, when I mentioned this on Twitter, the response I got was from adult males saying how great this film is. I can see why it’s a cult classic – it’s very unusual and the animation is stunning. The story takes a very unexpected turn (the spoiler I’m avoiding) which I now love but took getting used to at first. It’s nice to not be able to predict what will happen like you can with most kids’ films!

As I mentioned, I found the animation stunning. I was happy just looking up images of this film to be included in this post. I think I may have to change my work computer’s wallpaper from My Neighbor Totoro to this!

Yeah, I’m a mature adult. Give me a break – I literally had a big poster of a unicorn jumping over a rainbow over my bed for years as a young girl. God I was girly for a while! Anyway, as I mentioned, the studio responsible for animating this film (Topcraft) were later hired by Hayao Miyazaki to do my other favorite Studio Ghibli movie (along with Totoro), Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. The studio’s main members then formed Studio Ghibli. (Thanks for that info, Wikipedia!). Anyone who has been around here for a while will know what a big fan I am of Ghibli & how much I love Nausicaä so you can see why I had to see The Last Unicorn after I read about it.

My six-year-old’s opinion:

I’ve started including my daughter’s opinion on kids’ movies so that I don’t appear as some crazy old person rambling on about “cartoons”. So, I’ll include it again this time but I think it’s pretty obvious by now that this one was more for mommy. 😉 

We watched this a few months ago & the movie held her attention well but she’s not really mentioned it or asked to see it again. I asked last night what she thought of that Last Unicorn movie we watched & the reply was “It was better than I thought it would be!”. lol – What does that mean?! I think she was humoring me when she agreed to watch it, then. How sweet! I do think she’s a little too young for it as some of the themes at the end are too grown-up to fully be understood. There’s nothing I’d consider “inappropriate” but it’s a bit “out there” if your kid doesn’t like weirdness plus the Red Bull may be too scary for the very young who scare easily. I can see it being one she’d rediscover & possibly love in two or three years so I’d maybe recommend it to kids of 8 or so. She does love the young Studio Ghiblis, though, (Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service & of course My Neighbor Totoro) so she was probably better able to handle any strangeness.

Summary:

Hopefully I’ve given a bit of an idea as to what this movie is like – I’m going to include a clip of the opening at the end of this post to give you a better idea. This is one of those movies I’m hoping to “introduce” to people here but it’s definitely not going to be loved by anyone who isn’t into this sort of thing or the other films I mentioned in the review. I also think being over 35 & under 10 would help. This is exactly the type of animated movie that obsessive film lovers my age who have young kids look for. I forgot to mention that this movie includes songs by America that are the very definition of late 70s/early 80s “easy listening”. If you like K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies, you may be able to handle this film. Or if you’re the type to get that reference.

My Rating: 8/10

**I’m including a clip of the opening of this film to give you an idea what it’s like. If you can’t make it past the song by America at 2 1/2 minutes in without gagging, this movie may not be for you… 😉