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… 😉

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The Giver (2014) Review

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The Giver (2014)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Based on The Giver by Lois Lowry

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Alexander Skarsgård
Odeya Rush
Katie Holmes
Taylor Swift

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Jonas is an 11 (soon to be 12) year old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

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My Opinion:

I’ve just read & reviewed this book HERE (and was lazy & used my same plot synopsis). As always, THE BOOK IS BETTER! I mean, sometimes the film adaptations are okay. However, I was really disappointed with this one so, seriously – please read the book if you have any interest in this story! It’s a quick read. They changed A LOT of details for the movie & made a fairly simple story too over complicated.

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As yet another teenage dystopian film, The Giver is okay. It will probably seem boring to teens, though, as it’s not exactly as exciting or action packed as The Hunger Games. I knew they’d do this but it still pissed me off – they added loads of action that wasn’t in the book and gave small characters WAY bigger and more important roles (Meryl Streep’s character has a small part at the start of the book then you never hear from her again plus the two friends aren’t all that significant). It annoyed me as it’s so obvious they’re trying to compete with Divergent, etc, but the book is a lot more subtle and I think the story works much better without all the movie’s added drama (and romance that every teen film seems to require).

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Okay – Focus! Just talk about the movie…

Let’s see – I did like the Pleasantville black & white thing with added bits of color as the story went on. Don’t think that’s a spoiler as it’s obvious from the trailers (yes, it’s that way in the book too). I was looking forward to that aspect (I did love that in Pleasantville) but I didn’t think the movie handled it quite right all the time. The boy isn’t at all what I pictured & they changed an important thing about his looks as described in the book. Jeff Bridges is okay but more “gruff” and bitter than I’d expected. I hated Katie Holmes’ character and hated how they turned it into a story more about Jonas & his two friends whereas in the book the focus is much more on his family unit & the child they’re taking care of (Gabriel). Dammit! This is impossible. I clearly can’t discuss this movie without constantly comparing it to the book. I give up. JUST READ THE BOOK! 🙂

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Summary:

The Giver has a simple yet powerful story that I felt got lost in all the extra scenes they somehow felt necessary to add into the movie to keep teenage audiences interested. Give teenagers a LITTLE credit & don’t just assume they can’t think for themselves. The movie takes the one main theme & shoves it down the viewers’ throats whereas the book presents things in a way that gives the reader the ability to make up their own mind about things. I feel that the movie leaves no room for discussion afterwards and the ending of the movie is a big disappointment compared to the excellent ending in the book. I really have no idea what to rate this movie as, if I’d NOT read the book, I think I’d have quite enjoyed it. However, knowing that the story is told in a much better way in the book does annoy me. Hmm. The movie is decent enough, I guess. Just do me a favor & read the book first? Please??

My Rating: 6/10

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Sorry – this was a rubbish post! I was actually planning on taking a short break from blogging & leaving My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies as my last post for a while. Go read that HERE instead – that was fun to put together! I’ll start up the reviews again through October with as many horror movies & scary films as I can manage. 🙂

TRON: Legacy (2010) Review

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TRON: Legacy (2010)

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Garrett Hedlund
Olivia Wilde
Bruce Boxleitner
Michael Sheen

Music by Daft Punk

Running time: 127 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A sequel to the 1982 science fiction film Tron, the story follows Flynn’s (Jeff Bridges) son Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam, his father, and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) stop the malevolent program CLU from invading the human world.

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My Opinion:

Let’s keep this short – I’m extremely behind on reviewing things (6 books & 23 movies. Ugh). I enjoyed this movie. Quite a lot! I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything (I don’t even remember it that well). My hubby is the expert on these films. He loves the original and, oh my god, when he found out there was going to be a sequel AND that Daft Punk would be doing the soundtrack?! He was in HEAVEN. He should be writing this! Oh well – you’re stuck with me and my total lack of TRON knowledge.

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I kind of didn’t know WHAT the hell was going on in this thing. I’m sure the hubby was sick of me asking him questions as we watched this. In the end, I decided to just enjoy the ride & not worry about the story. I’m not saying this was all style over substance – I’m saying I was probably just too stupid for it. It really was fun to watch, though. I loved the look of the whole thing (and the look of Garrett Hedlund, yes…). Olivia Wilde was also absolutely gorgeous in this & I’ve never thought that about her before – this look really suits her. Look at these beautiful people!:

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So… The movie looks awesome and the people are beautiful and there’s crazy sci-fi shit going on and I love sci-fi more than anything even though I’m a complete idiot and it’s always over my head. But then, to top it all off, we get the DAFT PUNK SOUNDTRACK. Yes! Loved it. Loved it so much! The music in a movie is very important to me and, when it’s right, it makes me love the movie even more. Yeah, I’m probably going to give this movie a higher rating than it deserves thanks to Daft Punk…

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Summary: (sort of)

You know what? I don’t know what to say. Woohoo! Worst review EVER! Basically, I thoroughly enjoyed TRON: Legacy even though I know it’s not a very good movie overall. Oh well – we all have our guilty pleasures. Plus Garrett Hedlund is a hottie.

My Movie Rating: 7/10

My Soundtrack Rating: 8.5/10

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The Big Lebowski (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on The Big Lebowski, IMDB rank 131 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.

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Directors: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazarra, David Thewlis, Jon Polito, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges, Aimee Mann, Mark Pellegrino, Philip Moon, Jack Kehler, Jimmie Dale Gilmour, Leon Russom, Ajgie Kirkland, Asia Carrera.

This film has such a massive cult following that it has even spawned a traveling, annual festival called “The Lebowski Fest“, at which fans congregate dressed as their favourite characters. It has also amassed a new belief system called “Dudeism” of which you can be ordained as a Dudeist priest. Now, this might be going a bit far but it’s all in the name of fun, of which, this Coen brothers tale supplies plenty of.

Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a cannabis smoking throwback from the seventies. He minds his own business, enjoying “bowling, driving around and the occasional acid flashback”. One day, two thugs break into his home and urinate on his rug – “which really tied the room together”. As he looks for answers, he finds that he has been mistaken for his namesake Jeffrey Lebowski, the Passadena millionaire (David Huddleston). Otherwise referred to as “The Big Lebowski”. Looking for compensation for his rug, he pays the millionaire a visit and finds that his absent, trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid) owes money all over town – including known pornographer Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazarra), who sent the thugs (to the wrong house) to collect on the debt. But the thugs aren’t the only ones who have gotten their Lebowski’s mixed up. A trio of Nihilists threaten “The Dude” for a ransom of $1 million, claiming they will kill his wife. Reluctantly, “The Dude” gets involved, with his crazed Vietnam veteran buddy Walter (John Goodman), in trying to get the bottom of all the confusion. Does this make sense? Don’t worry, “The Dude” doesn’t get it either.

Trying to even give a synopsis of the plot in this complex tale, is hard enough, but that’s to the Coens’ credit in concocting this elaborate modern day private detective story. In the past, the Coens payed homage to crime writer Dashiell Hammett with “Miller’s Crossing” and here, they pay homage to Hammett’s contemporary Raymond Chandler. It has all the elements of a classic private-eye yarn but masquerades as a zany comedy. It’s so much more than that. It’s a film that relies heavily on consistently sharp dialogue and each word, pause and stammer are delivered perfectly by an exceptionally brilliant cast; Bridges is a very fine actor but this is his moment of glory, in a role that is perfectly suited. He has received numerous plaudits throughout his career – for his more serious roles – but this is his most iconic. Coens regular John Goodman is also at his maniacal best as his loyal buddy, Walter. Sam Elliott is wonderfully endearing, as “The Stranger”, in cowboy attire, that narrates the whole wacky tale and a scene-stealing John Turturro is simply unforgettable as Jesus Quintana, a latino, sex-offending bowler. In fact, it’s very difficult to single out a specific performance, there are so many great appearances: from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara, Jon Polito and the always marvellous Philip Seymour Hoffman. The entire cast are just sublime and deliver their, razor sharp, dialogue under the most creative guidance from the Coens. It’s not just the performances that stand out though; usual Coens cinematographer Roger Deakins works with a rich and colourful pallet and the choice of music throughout, accompanies the scenes perfectly. I could go on and pick out every perfect detail of this classic but then I’d just be ruining it for you, even if you’ve already seen it. It’ll do no harm to see it again – with a spliff and a beverage – and allow your “casualness to run deep”.

I have tried to find the words that do this film justice but I still don’t think I have. Rest assured though, this is the most enjoyable Coens movie to date and an instant cult classic that wll take one hell of a film to topple it from my #1 spot.

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Mark Walker

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