Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Very Special Christmas Present to You All!

Hello People of the Interwebs!

Today, I'm giving you a very special Christmas present! That's right, a brand new review, out on Christmas day! Today, I'm reviewing a movie that I find to be a holiday classic, "Love Actually"!

Image Credit to IMDb

This movie follows so many story lines. I'll just outline them all for you in a sentence or so each.
  • A washed up pop star, Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), rewrites an old song to be number 1 on the Christmas charts, a plan suggested by his manager Joe (Gregor Fisher).
  • Daniel (Liam Neeson) helps his stepson Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) find a way to impress the girl he loves, Joanna (Olivia Olsen).
  • Juliet (Keira Knightly) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) get married, and Peter's best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln), is in love with Juliet.
  • Jamie (Colin Firth) goes to France to write after he finds out that his girlfriend was cheating on him. He falls in love with the cleaning lady of the house in France, Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), and he learns Portuguese to try to propose to her.
  • Mia (Heike Makatsch) is flirting heavily with her boss, Henry (Alan Rickman), who succumbs after a little bit, to the dismay of his wife Karen (Emma Thompson).
  • Karen's brother, David (Hugh Grant) is the new Prime Minister, and he falls in love with his catering manager, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon).
  • Sarah (Laura Linney), one of Harry's employees, is in love with the creative director Karl (Rodrigo Santaro). Her attempt to sleep with him is interrupted by her mentally ill brother, Michael (Michael Fitzgerald), who she has to care for.
  • Colin Frissel (Kris Marshall) decides to go to America because English girls don't like him. Colin's friend, Tony (Abdul Salis) thinks it's a horrible idea.
  • Tony is working with the crew on a film shoot, where John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are working as body doubles for a sex scene in a movie of some kind.
  • Rufus (Rowan Atkinson) is... well, he's not really a part of his own story line. He basically is just there to be a hindrance/help to certain characters in some situations. He was originally revealed to be a Christmas angel, but that reveal was dropped from the final script.
The stories interweave very well, and they all connect in one way or another at the very end. They all tell stories of love and hope, in one form or another. The writing is hilarious too! With such exchanges as: "There was more than one lobster at the birth of Jesus Christ?" "Duh!" and "You mean the chubby one?" "Would we call her that?", you'll be rolling in your seat!

The acting is spectacular. Each actor brings something amazing to their performance. There's not much more that I can say about them. Their acting speaks for itself.

This movie embodies everything about Christmas that I love. Hope, cheer, love. Of course there are some painful parts of Christmas, like heartbreak, sadness. All of these are covered in this movie. It's beautifully written, wonderfully acted, and funny as all hell! (By the way, it is Rated R, so don't watch it with young children.) If you don't yet have a Christmas movie tradition, or you want a new one, watch this film! Watching it over and over doesn't dull it; it just seems to get better! You won't be disappointed!

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

Well, one last thing. If you're a Doctor Who fan, you probably know that tonight is the Doctor Who Christmas Special, entitled "Last Christmas." I'm going to be live tweeting/facebooking mini reviews of the special. So, follow me on twitter and like my page on Facebook to get all of the updates! Merry Christmas to you all!

Like The Teenage Critic on Facebook here. You can email the Teenage Critic, at Feel free to send me your suggestions for movies to review, or just to send me your opinions and fan mail. Follow me on Twitter, @Thomas_Pflanz

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas!

Hello People of the Interwebs!

Today's review is of the 1977 Jim Henson TV Movie: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.

Image Credit to IMDb

I was introduced to this movie by my Uncle, who watched this first as a child, and then all through his life. I sat down with him, my Aunt, my 3 1/2 year old cousin, my mom, my dad, and my sister to watch it.

The story follows a family of poor otters, Emmet and Ma Otter. They do laundry and odd jobs for their town, so that they can just scrape by. All they really have left are Ma's washtub and the tools that Pa Otter left them. They find out about a Christmas Eve talent contest where they could win $50. Each of them want to finally buy a Christmas present for the other, which the prize money would allow them to do. Emmet is given the offer to play in a Jug-Band, but he would have to put a hole in his mother's washtub. Ma wants to sing, but all she owns are rags, so she would need to sell Emmet's tools to buy some new fabric. What happens next, you should see for yourself.

The story is very touching, and promotes a feeling that I feel is important in this day and age. It feels very calming, and I feel warmer and closer to my family. It shows how even if you don't have much you have to take chances to get far, and that no matter what happens you still have your family.

The puppetry is classic Jim Henson. They look creative, but not perfect, giving it a more natural and family friendly feeling. The sets are amazing as well. They feel rustic and folksy. It gives a lovely feeling of homey-ness.

All in all, I find it to be a very sweet and warm film. I'd recommend it to everyone in the family. So sit down, cuddle up to your family, and watch this heartwarming film!

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

Like The Teenage Critic on Facebook here. You can email the Teenage Critic, at Feel free to send me your suggestions for movies to review, or just to send me your opinions and fan mail. Follow me on Twitter, @Thomas_Pflanz

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Batman Returns: A Batman Christmas Movie!

Hello People of the Interwebs!

Today's review is of Tim Burton's "Batman Returns".

Image Credit to IMDb

First, a little story. When I hurriedly tried to find a movie to review, I was looking for a holiday themed one. I gave up after about five minutes, saying to myself, "Eh, screw this. I'll watch Batman Returns instead." Well, it turns out, that I did find a holiday themed movie after all.

Now, I'm gonna go at this a little differently this time. I'm gonna start with the acting. Michael Keaton reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He once again does a fantastic job at being the dark, brooding Batman, where we learn very little about him. Our villains are: Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin played by Danny DeVito, Selina Kyle/Catwoman played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and Max Shreck played by Christopher Walken. DeVito is hilarious as the Penguin, bringing an awkward and creepy movement and feeling to the character. Pfeiffer is a great Catwoman, and while she's sexualized a tad too much, I think that's more the fault of the production crew. Walken is brilliant as Max Shreck, a corrupt business man, who only cares about preserving a legacy for himself and his son. All of these actors did a phenomenal job with the roles they were given.

The visuals are beautiful. Tim Burton is know for his magnificent sets and visuals, and these are no exception. They're mysterious, they're just the right amount of dark. And they are very visually pleasing.

Now, the story is fun. It really is. It very comic book-y, and really enjoyable. My main problem is the writing of the film. It's bad. Cheesily bad. I understand the intent, with it being a Batman film, but it's truly a ridiculous thing. And it's entirely sexist. The most feminist line is the penguin talking about how men and women are equal... when their genitals are blown up. Wow.

All in all, it's cheesy, sexist, but really fun. I'd recommend it, but don't take it too seriously.

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

Like The Teenage Critic on Facebook here. You can email the Teenage Critic, at Feel free to send me your suggestions for movies to review, or just to send me your opinions and fan mail. Follow me on Twitter, @Thomas_Pflanz

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Miserable Movie

Hello people of the Interwebs!

Today's review is of Tom Hooper's Les Mierables. (Sigh. Let's just get this pain over with...)

Image credit to IMDb

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

Don't get me wrong, I love this musical to death. In fact, I was in a production of it over the summer! It is my favorite musical of all time. But this movie just sucks. The only good aspect is the acting ability of most of the cast. (Note: most.) Also, there are a few good voices, but I'll get to that later.

Les Miserables is the story of a fugitive turned, I dunno, saint? named Jean Valjean, who is constantly being hunted by Inspector Javert. Valjean ends up adopting the daughter of a dead female factory worker turned prostitute, named Fantine. Her daughter, Cosette, lives with the Thenadiers, a couple of unpleasant people with a lust for money. A few years later on, Cosette falls in love with a student named Marius, who is plotting a revolution with his best friend, Enjolras. Eponine, the daughter of the Thenadiers is also in love with Marius, but he doesn't notice. I don't have much to say on the story. I really, genuinely love it. (Well, the love at first sight thing between Cosette and Marius is a bit, you know, cliche.)

The actors in this movie are amazing. (I'm not discussing the singing; that comes later.) The passion with which the actors perform is astounding. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean has so much power and depth in him, and he portrays Valjean beautifully. The same can't be said for Russel Crowe as Javert. I've been told that he's a good actor, but he just doesn't act. It not that he acted badly, it's that he didn't act at all, However, there is one scene in the "Second Act" where he does show some emotion. Anne Hathaway was amazing as Fantine. She captured that role perfectly. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bohnam Carter are the Thenadiers. As usual, they bring out the crazy, funny characters very well. Cohen does have some good moments where he seems genuinely... evil, as the character is supposed to end up. Amanda Seyfried as Cosette wasn't a bad choice. It's just that the character is so bland, so there's not much to work with, and I think that Seyfried has quite a bit of acting talent. Eddie Redmayne as Marius wasn't a bad option either, he did the role justice. Arron Tveit was a great Enjolras, and Daniel Huttlestone was a great Gavroche. Last, but not least, we have Samantha Barks. She's the only principal in this movie to have played that role before, and she does it beautifully.

The music. I love the music. But that's just a general note about the musical itself. So let me move onto...

The singing! By god, do I loathe the singing. However, I did mention that I liked some of the voices. Those voices belonged to Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche), Arron Tveit (Enjolras), and Samantha Barks (Eponine). They all have fantastic voices; especially Samantha Barks. However, the rest aren't good. Russel Crowe can hold a tune, but his voice doesn't fit with the theater style. Hugh Jackman cracks too much, as does Anne Hathaway. Amanda Seyfried's voice is just annoying, as is the voice of Eddie Redmayne. The ensemble's not bad, but the soloists in the ensemble are slightly cringe worthy. Colm Wilkinson is a sort of saving grace at the beginning as the Bishop of Digne, but they changed quite a few of the lyrics for him, so it sounded wrong.

Actually, that brings up and important point. A lot of the lyrics and songs are changed into speaking or just plain silence. While I think that it's fine in some cases, in others, it lengthens the scene. They cut quite a few of the student solos, which was a blow to my happiness with the movie, since in my production of Les Mis, I played one of the students whose solos they cut. 

This movie sucks. Just plain sucks. Even with some redeeming qualities, I wouldn't particularly recommend it. If you really are dying to see Les Miserables, go see a staged production of it.

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

Like The Teenage Critic on Facebook here. You can email the Teenage Critic, at Feel free to send me your suggestions for movies to review, or just to send me your opinions and fan mail. Follow me on Twitter here, at @Thomas_Pflanz

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BURTON!

Hello People of the Interwebs!

I'm back! After my unsuccessful attempt at NaNoWriMo, I'm back to my old ways of watching and reviewing movies. This week, I'm reviewing Tim Burton's 'Batman'!

 Image credit to IMDb

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

The story of the 1989 adaptation of Batman centers around the Joker. Weird, right? Okay, 'centers around' may be a bit of a stretch. Let me put it this way. In this story we don't find out much about Batman himself, or even Bruce Wayne. Not until later in the movie, anyway. Rather, we see the evolution of Jack Napier, a higher-up in a gang, into the Joker, when he falls into a vat of toxic waste during a confrontation with Batman. This was a really interesting way to format the story, focusing more on the creation of the villain, and leaving the back story of the main hero a mystery until near the end.  This is very different from Christopher Nolan's movie, 'The Dark Knight', where we know everything about Batman's back story, and know nothing about the Joker.

The story follows a photographer named Vicki Vale, as she and a reporter, named Alexander Knox, try to prove that Batman is real. Meanwhile, a mob boss, named Grissom sets up his second in command, a man by the name of Jack Napier, who has been seeing his boss's mistress. Grissom tells Jack to go to a chemical plant, to remove some evidence which connects the plant to the mob. Grissom tips off the police, and they show up to take on Jack's men. A large figure, dressed in a black costume swoops in; Batman has come to save the day! Jack tries to escape but he ends up falling into a vat of toxic waste, and gets flushed out into a river. Napier's face is dyed white, his lips are dyed cherry red, and his hair is dyed green. He goes insane, and kills Grissom.

Okay, I just tried to type out a short synopsis of the story, and it took up two more paragraphs, so, I'll try again. Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale start dating. Jack Napier takes the name 'The Joker'. The Joker "falls in love" with Vicki, and sets up a trap, which Batman saves her from. Vicki Vale releases a list of beauty products that the Joker had infected with his 'Joker Venom', which makes people die laughing. Bruce tries to tell Vicki that he's Batman, but is stopped by the Joker. Bruce realizes that Jack Napier was the one who killed his parents. Bruce tells Vicki that he's Batman.  The Joker entices the public out of their homes in order to kill them off with Joker Venom in gas form, by offering $20 million in cash. Batman stops him. The Joker takes Vicki Vale up to the top of a clock tower, and has a confrontation with Batman, which ends when the Joker falls to his death from his escape helicopter. 

The cast is pretty good. Michael Keaton's portrayal of the caped crusader is classic, and is very well done. I really enjoy the mysterious vibe he lets off. Jack Nicholson plays the Joker, the best known Batman villain. His performance is of a very cheesy Joker. I really enjoy it, but at times he seems more like a cheesy cartoon-ish version of the Joker, like Cesar Romero's Joker. I may be a bit colored, considering that my first Joker was Heath Ledger. who played the Joker in a very dark and gritty way, leaving an impact on many, including me. The supporting cast is fine, but they're not really anything to hoot at. Vicki Vale is played by Kim Bassinger, and Alexander Knox is played by Robert Wuhl. Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent are played by Pat Hingle and Billy Dee Williams respectively. 

The action is fun and cheesy, and that's about it. It reminds me of the 1960s Batman action scenes, in the complexity of the action. It's fairly simple. Punch, kick, throw, choke, etc. Really nothing special about it.

TIm Burton's 'Batman' has an interesting take on Batman and the Joker. It's much grittier than the Adam West Batman, but still has the cheesy comic book-y feel to it. And I think that that's fine. I enjoy the Christopher Nolan film more, mainly because of Heath Ledger's amazing performance as the Joker. He provides what I consider a much more "realistic" Joker, with a more psychotic and frightening feeling. Nicholson's Joker felt funny. He wasn't intimidating, but he was fun. And that's mainly my opinion. It's a damn fun movie to watch and enjoy, with plenty of cool visuals and interesting portrayals of classic characters. 

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

Like The Teenage Critic on Facebook here. You can email the Teenage Critic, at Feel free to send me your suggestions for movies to review, or just to send me your opinions and fan mail. Follow me on Twitter at @Thomas_Pflanz