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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Not your typical Disney, but I love it!
The average person wouldn't expect Disney to make such a dark flick based off such a dark book (which I have read and I will say while it's very good, I have enough room in my heart for both the book and the Disney version), but who knew it would come out to be such a breath-takingly beautiful movie with stunning animation, well-developed (and complicated) characters, and some of the coolest music Disney has made? I still can't stop saying this, but the animation is just stunning and a very good piece of eye candy reminiscent of Lion King and Prince of Egypt (even though it is released after HoND) that gives me the chills every time I see it. From the swooping views of Out There to the images of Paris on fire, it is just phenomenal and some of Disney's best. The characters aren't as simple as you think and do have some very un-Disney subject matter associated with them. While characters such as Quasi and Esmeralda are quite likable, they have very complex feeling, which they express beautifully in songs such as Out There and God Help the Outcasts. The villain, Frollo, is without a doubt one of Disney's best offerings, not to mention certainly the most twisted on the inside. A religious man of the law who thinks his killing of innocent people is right and lusts for Esmeralda, the very thing he despises of and wants to destroy, isn't your typical Disney, but is done incredibly to make one of Disney's most fascinating characters.
Now, the music, which is by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, is something that must be heard to be believed! The songs take on some very un-Disney subject matter themselves, and feature it too. In the magnificent opening Bells of Notre Dame, a mother is killed, a baby is almost killed, and sin is touched upon. God Help the Outcasts, a beautiful prayer, is Esmeralda's asking from God to help her people, who are outcasts in society constantly getting persecuted. Hellfire, a real doozy and my fave from the movie, is all about Frollo's sexual obsession for Esmeralda. Those songs don't sound very Disney, do they, considering the heavy religious subject matter (such as sin, salvation, absolutism, etc.) that goes into each one. Throughout the movie, there's also Latin chanting taken from real chants of the Latin Mass, such as the Confiteor, the Angus Dei, and the Dies Irae. Besides adding an excellent dramatic touch and putting emphasis on the religious portions of the movie, it sounds mad cool! I would've given this a 10/10, but the reason it got a 9 is cause of those Gargoyles! They may be nice comic relief for the kids, but they're just plain irritating. I'm sorry, but when a city's on fire, the last thing we need is a painfully annoying song like A Guy Like You. Putting that aside, this movie, in general, is phenomenal and simply a masterpiece.
Just Friends (2005)
Just plain funny
It's been a while since I've seen a good romantic comedy, but after finishing this one this morning, I think I found a good one. While there was a nice, happy ending between Amy Smart and Ryan Reynolds following some hefty fighting, the humor was excellent. Anna Faris's portrayal of a psycho, Paris Hilton-esquire pop star was excellent and a great source of humor, I found particularly funny the scene when Faris is drugged out on Vicodin and is eating toothpaste. Faris's falling over a railing in a mall and driving away from Smart's house in a fit of anger, dragging her family's Christmas lights with her, were very humorous too. While Faris did have most of the main humor, Reynolds did have, in my opinion, one of the funniest scenes in the movie, in which he's on a stretcher, about to be loaded onto an ambulance when all of a suddenly, he goes sledding down the snowy hill and ends up face down on the frozen lake. I highly recommend this movie to both sexes, even though it is a romantic comedy, but anyone can see this movie is clearly hilarious.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
The last "good" Disney movie
In a region ravaged by nothing but weak, poorly made animated movies, this little gem is a house of refuge, a "return to a simpler time", of sorts. Unlike the cold, harsh, weak, for lack of a better word, CGI animated movies, this hand-drawn flick had all the warmth of a Dinsey flick from the age of Walt or the Musical Renaissance of the 90's. The animation's water color backgrounds and character design made me feel like I was going back to an earlier time, a time in my childhood when animation was simpler and much more enjoyable.
The constant developments in the relationship between characters, such as Nani and Lilo's evolution from a very strained relationship to a much closer one once the possibility of Lilo being taken away to a foster family, and the changes in Lilo and Stitch's relationship from when they first met, helped shape the strength of the movie's plot, something other movies of the time lack. Scenes such as Lilo and Nani sitting on a hammock at night, letting hibiscus flowers out as they sing "Aloha Oe" and Stitch's quote on "Ohana means family, and family means no one is left behind" succeed in the movie's central theme of family, a message that is sent through with great elegance.
This movie's strong development of characters and relationships and animation helped make it unique compared to all other flicks of the times. This a gem any fan of hand-drawn animation looking for a pleasant reprieve from the cold, impersonal CGI films of today.
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996)
Great show(well, for the first 3 seasons)
When it comes down to the first 3 seasons of this show, they were simply hilarious and made for great watching. Humorous puns, wisecracks from Salem(the Spellmans' talking cat who once had been a witch that was sentenced to a century as a cat by the Witches' Council for attempting to conquer the world), funny characters, such as Sabrina's aunts, Hilda and Zelda, Quizmaster from season 2, and her school's vice principal, Mr.Kraft, and hilarious scenarios, scenes, and one-liners such as the "Shake your Whammy Fanny" song and Mr.Kraft's receiving of a potion that made him act progressively younger help make it a particularly enjoyable show.
Unfortunately, things began to progressively go downhill at the start of season 4. The introduction of Harvey's friend Brad, who has the witch-hunter gene, Josh, a jerk that works at the coffee house Sabrina works at, and Dreama, the witch Sabrina mentors, and the ending of Harvey and Sabrina's long-time relationship help made the show go downhill. Things got even worse in her college years with the introduction of her college roommates: Morgan, Roxy, and Miles, and story lines began to lose anything related to Sabrina's magic getting tied in. The last 2 seasons were by far the worst, with her aunts getting written out, Aaron, an even bigger jerk than Josh she almost married, and Scorch magazine, which is full of characters that I just hate.
All in all, after season 3, Sabrina was horrible, but once a great show back in it's heyday. At least the finale ended with she and Harvey finding out they were soul-mates and end up riding off into the sunset, a nice back-to-square-one end to a series that once was great.
An x-cellent superhero flick
It's not very often you get an action movie that has exciting action scenes, a strong story, and explanations of stuff without bogging down the entire movie. X-Men is one of those movies. This movie had me engaged from the beginning of a young Magneto going to a concentration camp and discovering his powers of bending metal and Rogue discovering the hard way of her ability to take another mutant's powers(or the life from a non-mutant). The action scenes were extremely exciting and engaging. From the small skirmish Wolverine and Magneto had on board a train to Cyclops and Storm's fight with Sabretooth and Toad inside the train station to the huge climatic duke-out inside the Statue of Liberty, the battle scenes kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting more. Even when Professor X was explaining to Wolverine about his school and mutantism, it didn't bog down the story at all, but kept it going as we got a better understanding of what was to happen. The end was great and left it open for more as Magneto sat in his plastic prison cell, telling Professor X on his way out that the cell can't hold him forever, leaving it open for the sequel.
If you enjoy action movies, Marvel comics, or superheroes in general, this is a must-see movie and an x-cellent kick-off to one of my favorite movie trilogies.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Disney's most beautiful movie and my all-time favorite
I dunno about you, but this flick is without a doubt one of Disney's best and their most beautiful movies, which makes it my all-time favorite. The characters are very well-developed and have multiple dimensions to their personalities, not to mention particularly different to the typical Disney character. Belle's wanting to escape her life to see the world(which is the reason why, amongst other things, she is my all-time favorite Disney princess) and hate for Gaston, the best-looking guy in town, Gaston's vanity and lust for Belle's hand in marriage, and Beast's evolution in his hate for Belle to his love for her, which she experiences too, helped make this movie the beautiful masterpiece it is.
The music, which was by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, is without a doubt the some of the best music Disney has made. From the eerie, yet beautiful twinkling of the "Prologue", the introduction of Belle and Gaston's personalities and wants in "Belle", the the get-up-and-dance fun of the musical extravaganza "Be Our Guest", and the simply magnificent "Beauty and the Beast", amongst the other songs of the film, work together to push the story forward, express characters' inner-most thoughts and feelings, and are just plain entertaining. Menken's scores too were quite beautiful, especially the "Transformation" score, which conveys extremely well a range of emotions, from Beast's dying to the triumphant finale.
And what would this movie be without the animation? The sweeping of the camera to Belle and Beast dancing in the ballroom during "Beauty and the Beast", which gives me the chills every time, to the ominous darkness of Belle's trek into the forbidden West Wing, along side with the music, make it a treat for both the eyes and the ears.
All in all, the movie is a pure masterpiece in many ways and forms and it clearly deserved all the awards and nominations it received, including the nomination for the Best Picture Oscar. This is a movie all Disney fans should watch and I guarantee you'll enjoy it.
I Am Legend (2007)
Don't expect it to be a cinematic legend
As a fan of Will Smith and sci-fi/action movies, this movie was just plain utterly horrible for a myriad of reasons. First off, the script was horrible. I mean, Robert Neville (Smith) spent his time talking to mannequins for no apparent reason. Yes, mannequins, like the kind you'd see in stores such as Macy's. When Neville does have human contact with a girl named Anna, their conversations are poorly written, not to mention their interactions with one another was of equal lacking and just painful to watch.
Second, the mutant-vampire things or whatever they were had been a fine example of excellent computer animation, but there was never enough explained about them. For example, every time there was something explaining the virus that caused their mutation was either a quick flash from a paper or garbled out by other sounds, with became very annoying. There was also numerous inconsistencies in the story, too. If the vampires had lost all human intelligence and were just a bunch of wild monsters, then where did they get the intelligence and cunning to make a trap that was identical to one Neville had set up earlier in a different spot and to move one of the mannequins to the spot of the trap? A story flaw in the raw is how I see it.
Third, although I'm normally not a nit-picker on camera angles and sound effects, but they were just utter garbage. When a vampire would be shown, the camera would all of a suddenly go into jerky camera movements that made it impossible to see what was going on and even left me dizzy. As for the sound effects, one second it would be so quiet you can hear a pin drop, but then, out of no where, the sound would be booming with vampire roaring or explosions so loud it's enough to make you jump out of your skin.
Finally, to put the frosting on the cake, the ending ranks with one of the worst I've seen yet. Besides Neville killing himself, which I found pointless, Anna and her son went up to the refugee camp in Vermont she had spoken about earlier and walking into the walled-in small town. Then, the screen went black. I found it to be highly dissatisfying and I can see exactly why I said in the silent theater when the credits began to roll "Wow. This movie was bad." All in all, this movie was just a waste of my time. I do own a copy of and plan on reading Richard Matheson's novel in the near future, which I believe will be much better than this piece of garbage called a movie. If you want a good Will Smith sci-fi flick, go for I, Robot or Independence Day.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
It was different from what I expected (and not in a good way...)
Normally, I'm quite the fan of chick flicks and I expected it to be pretty good, but boy was I in for a surprise.
This movie, which is about a plain girl working as an assistant to the owner of a fashion magazine, seemed to have many similarities to one of my favorite TV shows, Ugly Betty, but was no where as nearly as good. First off, Merryl Streep's character came off as annoying instead of nasty. Her constant sarcasm would prevent us, the viewer, from actually knowing what she was thinking, thus making Streep's acting appear almost nonexistent. Anne Hathaway, whom I had enjoyed watching in Princess Diaries, didn't have many redeeming values herself. Besides letting her job rule her life, thus preventing her from seeing her friends, she couldn't even reconcile with her boyfriend after she had quite her job, partly cause she was cheating on some other jerk that was full of himself. They just decided to go their separate ways and just left it like that, which made me even more annoyed because they could've simply worked it out and gotten back together, but their splitting up just left me annoyed. On the note of her boyfriend, he didn't have much redemption himself. Sure, he was a nice guy, but was an extremely annoying sap that got all angry at Hathaway because she was working too much, which was ridiculous.
As you may already know, Devil Wears Prada was actually based off a novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger. As practically always, the book is better than the movie, but this time much stronger. The end was totally differ en, there was different characters, and was overall superior to this poor excuse for a chick flick.
In conclusion, this movie was funny at times, but generally unacceptable. I suggest you should ditch the chick flick version and read the original chick lit version of the same name.