MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)

December 25, 2015

miracle-on-34th-street-poster1947

1947/1985 (Colourised)

sU

CANDLES 10

DIRECTOR: George Seaton

May contain spoilers!

The original and dare I say, the best, Miracle On 34th Street is one of the  Christmas classics. We meet Maureen O’Hara and her daughter, a young Natalie Wood, a cynical pair, the mother divorced and the daughter who only believes in what she sees.

Enter Kris Kringle, aka Santa Claus. The newly hired Macy’s Department Store Santa claims to be the REAL Father Christmas but O’Hara and Wood are too wise to believe this, but this story of believing in Santa is more to do with faith and never allowing life’s hurdles to jade us rather than is solving the controversy as to whether Kris Kringle is Santa Claus or simply a mad man.

Miracle On 34th Street (1947) was actually released in May of that year, despite the fact that it is set between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was apparently due to studio head, Darryl F. Zanuck feeling that more people went to the cinema in summer rather than braving the cold of winter so the publicity, including the theatrical posters were toned down, without any festive artwork whatsoever.

The tone and dialogue are sharp as this light comedy mounts its attack on the ever commercialised Christmas, (and they thought it was it bad in 1947!) but somehow manages to make its string of marketing managers and CEO’s, including fictitious versions of R. H. Macy and Mr. Gimble of the now defunct Gimbles Department Store’s into loveable rogues rather than fat cat villains. This an enjoyable and poignant romp through the Christmas Season as the we follow Kringle’s journey into the heart of commercialism only to be won over by the good nature of people, faith in mankind winning out.

COLOURISATION

In 1985, this film was colourised, a process which I, as many, have a fundamental problem with. I feel that it is unnecessary and as wrong as CGI special editions or post conversions of old films into 3D.

xeyCgEE.640x360.0But whilst I feel there is little need for any of these processes, I am guilty of enjoying the results. It can be nice to revisit classics such as Jurassic Park (1993) or The Wizard Of Oz (1939) after an IMAX 3D conversion, without detracting from the originals, it can offer a new viewing experience of a film which has been watched to death! At the very least, a novelty.

So what a pleasant surprise to discover how good A Miracle On 34th Street looked after the 1985 colourisation process. Granted, the colour is not as rich as Technicolor but it works, breathing new life into a film which looked perfectly fine in black and white but why not have the option to see it colour, certainly with such a light and breezy subject such as this.

The colour complimented the film’s festive tone and whilst not better than the original, it was a nice alternate way to see this classic.


THE SANTA CLAUSE 2

December 24, 2015

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sU

CANDLES 7

DIRECTOR: Michael Lembeck

May contain spoilers!

Evil Santa (Tim Allen) delivers coal: The real Santa (Tim Allen) is about to lose his powers if he fails to enact the second ‘Santa Clause’, ‘The Mrs Clause’: Somehow, this sequel is better than the 1994 original, probably because it does not begin with Santa’s untimely death at the hands our hero, Tim Allen!…

…Who proceeds to take his coat, inadvertently enacting the eponymous ‘The Santa Clause’ and the rest is history.

Well, this plays out many sequel tropes. Allen is established as Santa, his son is playing up at school because he feels mildly but not irredeemably rejected, Santa must find love within just a few days and guess what, succeeds and Christmas itself is about to ruined by a Robotic Santa created to by Santa’s Elves to replace him if he was to fail, only for it to malfunction and decide that all kids are naughty!

I liked this. It was good fun, allowing Allen to play with his established character in peril rather than be ‘the fish out of water’ from the first film, and the plot works and it feels like a Christmas film, its heart is in the right place and as commercial sequels go, this was not half bad.

Merry Christmas from nEoFILM!


FAMILY GUY: STAR WARS SAGA (TRILOGY)

December 23, 2015

AMFGL01lg2007, 2009 & 2011

s15

CANDLES 9

DIRECTORS: Dominic Polcino, Peter Shin & James Purdum

  • BLUE HARVEST (2007)
  • SOMETHING, SOMETHING, SOMETHING DARKSIDE (2009)
  • IT’S A TRAP! (2011)

May contain spoilers!

Family Guy is all about spoofs. But none better than the passionate take on the original Star Wars Trilogy. The love for this franchise is oozing out of every crevice of this foul mouthed, over sexualised yet witty, smart and on the nail spoof.

Combing the best of Family Guy’s comedy with an incredibly accurate retelling of the saga, complete with nit picking commentary, observational humour which fans will recognise and understand instantly, with a well edited digest of the trilogy, Seth MacFarlane’s team capture the essence of the films in much short running time.

family_guy_blue_harvest_star_wars_spoof_episode__8__0My main complaint though is that these are not suitable for children though many of the gags are child friendly. This is a real shame as if this had been toned down a bit it could have served as a magnificent introduction to the saga for a young audience but as it stands, with paedophile jokes, frequent bad language and sexual humour that is incredibly close to the bone, this is squarely aimed at adults.

But it is what it is and it is executed brilliantly and is tremendous fun, communicating with its audience well, never patronising yet a detailed and insightful critique of the much loved saga, mocking without malice, a loving homage and spoof.

Highly recommended.


STAR WARS: REBELS: SEASON 1: EPISODE 1 “SPARK OF REBELLION”

December 23, 2015

STAR WARS REBELS2014

sPG

CANDLES 8

DIRECTORS: Steve Lee & Steward Lee

May contain spoilers!

Opening with Darth Vader’s (James Earl Jones) head looming over The Inquisitor (Jason Issacs) sets the tone from the opening of this, Disney’s answer to The Clone Wars. Set between Episodes III and IV we finally get a series which delves into the “Dark times”, the rise of the Empire and the Rebellion, along with Star Destroyers, Tie Fighters, remnants of the Jedi and the characters and settings from the original trilogy.

The era of the Prequels dominating the franchise may well be over. Rebels finally returns us to the pitch that created the phenomena that is Star Wars in the first place. Good and evil, black and white, Rebels vs. The Empire.

sw_mli_rebels_character-genericThis episode is good start but how the series will progress throughout the first season is yet to be seen, by me at least, but off the back off this, I am defiantly interested.

The first thing I noticed, besides the decent script and intriguing characters, was the production design. The design of the Tie Fighter for example is that of the Kenner toy rather than the live action version and though I am skipping to a later episode, the Imperial Troop Transport which was an original toy that never appeared in the films has made an appearance here. Clearly with an eye to reisuue old toys for a new series/generation.

This tactic is reminiscent of Droids (1985-1986), a series either created or perverted to sell the remains of the Kenner toy line in the late 80’s. They had versions of the toys which were made as toys only, such as the Mini-rigs, included in the show simply to market them for the toy aisles.

But the difference here is that so far the focus does seem to be the on story and the production values are high, with uses of John Williams themes and Ben Burtt’s Oscar winning sound designs.

Overall, I was impressed with what I have seen so far. Finally telling stories from the era of Darth Vader before Luke, Han and Leia come on to the scene is something to get exited about… right?


STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: SEASON 1, EPISODE 1 “AMBUSH”

December 22, 2015


Star_Wars_The_Clone_Wars2008

sPG

CANDLES 7

DIRECTOR: Dave Bullock

May contain spoilers!

The first episode of the hit Cartoon Network series, The Clone Wars, not to be confused with the earlier 2003-2005 Genndy Tartakovsky Micro Series Star Wars: Clone Wars which tells the story of the titular conflict between Episodes II and III much more succinctly, focuses on Yoda and his efforts to win over the support of the Toydarians, Watto’s race from Episode I.

Ambush_Yoda_clonesHe is challenged to prove the Jedi’s strength and prowess in battle by single handedly taking down a Droid army on the planet by Count Dooku and his apprentice, Asajj Ventress.

This is Yoda so he of course succeeds, though with a little help from three Clone Troopers who have accompanied him to the surface. Delving in to concept that there is more to the Clones than meets the eyes, something which I know from later episode will be a major theme of the series and the importance of proper, motivational leadership, there is in fact more to this series than you may expect from a Cartoon about Star Wars.

Whilst still action packed, there is a concerted effort to flesh out the universe, focusing on characters in away not seen properly since Episodes IV and V.

I also like the fact that this has been filmed in 2.35:1, though I understand that it was shown on TV in some cases in 1.77:1 but still, the commitment to the theatrical scale of the project is appreciated, as is the high quality of the production on the whole.

The music, whilst not being composed by John Williams, the series’ composer, Kevin Kilner manages to work the classic themes in when necessary and Ben Burtt’s sound design is till present too.

Overall, reviewing the opening episode alone, I would say that it was a bold choice to focus on Yoda rather not Anakin or Kenobi and whilst it sets the tone for the series well, it was not as enthralling as I would have liked.

It felt more for fans than casual viewers. I am a Star Wars fan but I am not someone who follows the franchise 24/7 and in fact it is only now, after the show has finished and seven years after this episode first aired that I have taken to time to sit down at what it properly.

I have seen later episode casually and the opening feature film but again, only recently. This animated series just did not appeal to me as much as I wanted it to and maybe it is because yet again, we are in the prequel era. I was raised with the original trilogy and it seems that this time period is left solely to the theatrical films.

But so far so good and on the back of this I will certainly be watching more so in that sense, “Ambush” was a success.


STAR WARS: TOP 10 MOVIES

December 21, 2015

Star-Wars-Logo

STAR WARS FEATURE FILMS RATED

(Only films which have had a theatrical release)

  1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) Irvin Kershner 10/10 “Dark, deeper and the model of a progressive sequel.”
  2. A NEW HOPE (STAR WARS) (1977) George Lucas 10/10 “Derivative but kinetic adventure in which we are taken along for the ride to a galaxy far, far away…”
  3. THE FORCE AWAKENS (3D) (2015) J.J. Abrams 10/10 “Old school film making for the 21st century. The tarnished armour of the Star Wars Saga has been restored”
  4. RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) Richard Marquand 8/10 “A solid movie but overtaken by it’s own spectacle at times…”
  5. REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) George Lucas 7/10 “The best patch-up job possible for the failed Prequel trilogy”
  6. THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999) George Lucas 5/10 “Whilst sporting the weakest story of the franchise, The Podrace and Darth Maul are two outstanding elements and that is two more than appeared in Attack Of The Clones” 
  7. ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) George Lucas 5/10 “Mediocre story telling, a botched love story and self plagiarism dismantle this movie from within; a film saved only by John William’s score and some epic visuals”
  8. THE CLONE WARS (2008) Dave Filoni 7/10 “An action packed but televisual start to a TV show. Not worthy of a theatrical release.”
  9. CARAVAN OF COURAGE: AN EWOK ADVENTURE (1984) John Korty 5/10 “80’s fantasy parading itself under the Star Wars banner”
  10. EWOKS: BATTLE FOR ENDOR (1985) Jim Wheat & Ken Wheat 5/10 “A darker sequel but still nothing to write home about”

STAR WARS: EWOKS (TV)”THE CRIES OF THE TREES”

December 21, 2015

star-wars-ewoks-20081001020100191-0001985

sU

CANDLES 5

DIRECTOR: Raymond Jafelice

May contain spoilers!

Never being a fan of this cuddly cartoon about even more cuddly teddy bears which would both defeat the Galactic Empire and kiddify the Star Wars universe in a way would lead to the Prequel Trilogy 15 years later, I returned to this childhood pariah with trepidation.

Being about eight years old when this aired on childrens TV here in the U.K. in the late 80’s, I just wanted more Star Wars. Instead we were given this, Droids and two life action Ewok movies which I have only just gotten around to watching last month, 20 years later!

There is not too much to say about these really. Ewoks has a lot in common with other 80’s cartoons such as The Smurfs and Furngully etc… and I suppose this is perfectly harmless. But it also offers little else. Yes it is a cartoon as a functional one but a classic, no. A testament to Star Wars? Equally, no.

For those of us old enough to remember these from the time it might satisfy your nostalgia but for anyone else, I would not bother. Nowadays there are plenty of ways to get your Star Wars fix and this probably will not satisfy it.


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