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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perspectives on The Decade (2000 - 2009) in Film

By John C.


It’s been a great decade for film. Plain and simple, the 2000’s have seen many great movies, and the dawning of new technologies that have advanced the film making and film going experiences. It would be near-impossible for me to create an official decade’s best-list, so I am assembling a different kind of decade’s end salute.


This decade has seen many interesting, diverse and excellent films. I’m not trying to list the best ones, (though some of these titles would make my personal list), just some of the moments that stick out in recent movie memory.


This decade alone has seen 6 Harry Potter films. Before this decade, the stories about the boy wizard had barely been written. They immediately became a pop-culture phenomenon. Since 2001, six of the films have been released, and each one was hugely successful and very good.


Peter Jackson has made five films this decade. Most notably the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Each film stood atop the box office, and the third one swept the Oscars in 2003.


In early 2008, Heath Ledger untimely passed away. That summer, his final complete film, The Dark Knight, was released. The film was a modern masterpiece, and went on to make a billion dollars. It was unfairly ignored for a Best Picture nomination at last year’s Oscars, though Heath Ledger did very deservingly win a posthumous award for his brilliant and iconic role as The Joker.


CGI animation, though an earlier creation, finally broke free in this decade. Not to mention the numerous films from different studios, Dreamworks and Pixar each released numerous films, each one very financially successful.


Dreamworks has released 11 CGI films this decade, including 3 Shrek films, 2 Madagascar films, as well as many others including Over the Hedge, Flushed Away, and Kung Fu Panda. The Shrek films alone have grossed over 2 billion dollars.


Pixar has released 7 films, each one excellent and absolutely brilliant in its own right, each one a triumph. They were, Monsters Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), WALL•E (2008), and Up (2009).


James Cameron made only one feature film this decade, and oh what a film it was. Avatar is visually astounding, incredibly entertaining, and groundbreaking in terms of special effects. No matter what you think of the actual film, it was a cinematic moment that will not be forgotten.


Mo-Cap (Motion Capture), was also one of this decade's inventions. Revolutionized by Robert Zemeckis in 2004 with his masterpiece The Polar Express, and fully utilized this year with Avatar. Other Mo-Cap films included Monster House, Happy Feet (which used the technology for the dance sequences), Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf, and Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol of this year.


And finally, the Best Picture winners. 9 Films have won Best Picture, so 45 have been nominated. After this years Oscars, which will feature ten nominees for the first time in 66 years, this decade will have seen 55 films nominated for the title of Best Picture.


While this years winners are still up in the air, here are the 9 films that have won over this decade. Gladiator (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Chicago (2002), Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Crash (2005), The Departed (2006), No Country for Old Men (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008).


Here’s hoping that the next decade is just as important for movies as this one was. My retrospectives on 2009 at the movies will be up closer to awards time. Until then, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

9 On DVD Today

Earlier this year, Alliance Films released the feature film 9. Based on Shane Acker’s Oscar nominated short film from 2004 by the same name, this full-length version builds on the storyline in a visually inventive way.


The film was appropriately released on 9.9.09, where it was met with somewhat mixed reviews, with many preferring the short film. I, on the other hand, enjoyed both. We posted reviews of the film then, which you can read here.


You can also read an interview with Deborah Lurie, who composed the music for the film here, as well as coverage from the Animation festival in Ottawa from October, here and here.


This film is dark, but visually beautiful in it’s execution. It is definitely worth getting on DVD - especially with the nice raised O-sleeve (slipcover). The disc includes several special features, including the original short film, a couple of making-of featurettes, as well as feature commentary with writer/director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin, and editor Nick Kenway.


To finish, our consensus for the film was:

"9 is a visually stunning, darkly beautiful animated film, that's incredibly interesting and unique in terms of storytelling and style. Though not for young kids, for everyone else this is an animated gem. ***3/4 (Out of 4)"


-Erin V.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

One Movie, Five Views would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas, and a happy holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Day to Christmas: The Polar Express

The Polar Express is a stunning modern classic from visionary director Robert Zemeckis. The first feature length film to be created using Motion Capture technology, it should also be remembered as a ground breaker that paved the way to the recent Avatar.


From the outstanding Hot Chocolate sequence, to the bittersweet duet between Hero Girl and Lonely Boy, what works so well about the film is that it all does. Haunting, dreamlike and beautiful, many audiences still remain blind to this masterpiece that Zemeckis has lovingly crafted.

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I also want to give a nod to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, and A Christmas Carol (1951). Four films that I profiled last year, but was unable to find the space to write about this year. Perhaps next December I’ll have to count down for the whole month, in order to make room for all the classics.


For our complete Christmas Gift Guide, please click here.


-John C.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days to Christmas: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Before A Charlie Brown Christmas aired, it’s creators feared it would be a flop for various reasons, including that it was “too religious.” This just goes to show that sometimes you truly don’t know how great something is until other people have seen it.


A Charlie Brown Christmas went on to win awards, and is arguably the best holiday TV special ever made. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.


-John C.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Days to Christmas: Elf

In Elf, Will Ferrell plays Buddy – a human raised by elves – with the perfect amounts of likability, silliness and charm. He is just the first of many actors who get a chance to shine in this charming Christmas comedy.


Since it’s release in 2003, Elf remains a heartwarming, whimsical and very entertaining film, that never once has gotten old.


-John C.

Christmas Gift Idea: (500) Days of Summer

This summer’s excellent romantic-comedy hit arrives on DVD today just in time for Christmas. Distributed by Fox Searchlight, it’s one of the most original rom-com’s in recent memories, and one of the years best films.


(500) Days of Summer features a great soundtrack, and is hugely quotable and highly enjoyable. It’s an honest, believable look at relationships, that tells us that while Summer’s fun, sometimes we’ve got to move on to what comes next. We reviewed the film when it opened in theatres on July 17th, our consensus was:


“(500) Days of Summer boasts a style of storytelling that is a lot of fun to watch. The acting, music, and story are all very good. A unique movie that is really worth seeing this Summer. ***3/4 (Out of 4)”


The DVD includes commentary with director Marc Webb, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and “Lost Days of Summer” deleted and extended scenes.


-John C.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Days to Christmas: Miracle on 34th Street

After the release of Miracle on 34th Street in 1947, Edmund Gwenn deservingly won an Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle. The film remains a quintessential Christmas classic.


There are few who don’t love this magical and brilliantly written film. With wonderful performances and a timeless story about belief, this is a classic that should be watched at least once every year.


-John C.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy (1977 - 2009)

Brittany Murphy, who made her big screen debut in Clueless and starred in numerous films and TV shows, has sadly passed away at the age of 32. She died on December 20th due to cardiac arrest. With roles in such films as Sin City, Uptown Girls and a voice in Happy Feet, she will be missed. May she rest in peace.


This is very sad and shocking news. I wonder what it will mean for her half-dozen films in various stages of production. Take a look back over her long, yet so short, career here.


-John C.

5 Days to Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life

While some people are critical of Frank Capra’s 1946 film, you can’t doubt that this is a classic. It’s also a film that’s become a staple of the Christmas season.


Although released 63 years ago, the story of George Bailey’s realization of the importance of life is just as resonant today. It’s a Wonderful Life is an excellent film that hasn’t aged one bit.


-John C.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 Days to Christmas: Merry Christmas Mr. Bean

I know few people who don’t love Rowan Atkinson’s character of Mr. Bean. Merry Christmas Mr. Bean is not only perhaps his best loved outing as the character, but also one of the all-time classic holiday specials.


There are so many memorable moments packed into this hilarious half-hour that it never gets old from year to year. Whether you’re young or old, this is one worth finding the time to watch.


-John C.

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Days to Christmas: Christmas with the Kranks

One of the most under appreciated Christmas films of recent years, Christmas with the Kranks is a heartwarming and enjoyable holiday comedy.


While most people hated it, we all liked it. Although it’s not going to rank as one of the quintessential classics, the film works well for what it is. This is nothing more than a light and fun film that’s worth watching around Christmas.


-John C.

Avatar Opens Today

One of the most anticipated movies of the year, James Cameron’s Avatar, finally hits theatres everywhere today. We have not forgotten about the film’s release, we were unable to attend the screening, and that’s why our reviews were not published last week.


After attending Avatar Day in Toronto, after hours of trying to get tickets, and witnessing the release of the new trailer with Amelia, I’m anticipating it immensely, and the suspense is killing me right now.


If we catch up with the film this weekend, we will publish our reviews then. If not, we will be profiling the film during awards season. It’s already up for some Golden Globes, and I have a feeling it will be up for some Oscars as well.


-John C.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 Days to Christmas: The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a musical version of the classic story, starring Michael Caine as Scrooge and Jim Henson’s beloved Muppets in the roles of the other characters. The film manages to take creative control in telling the story, yet is still, at times, a pretty much word-for-word adaptation of Charles Dicken’s masterpiece.


Originally released in 1992, this adaptation still holds up as a funny and touching retelling of the story, with an excellent soundtrack of original songs. This would also be a good way to introduce kids – perhaps above 7 or 8 – to the truly magical story.


-John C.


Trailer Watch: Shrek Forever After

In the second new trailer to come out today, Apple now has the exclusive trailer for Shrek Forever After. As it is the fourth and final film in the Shrek series, it's sure to be immensely popular. As someone whose enjoyed all three Shrek films, I think it looks like a worthy follower. I also love Puss in Boots’ new look. For those wondering, the film follows an It's a Wonderful Life type plot, showing how things could have turned out.


-John C.

Trailer Watch: Iron Man 2


Apple now has the exclusive trailer for next summer’s Iron Man 2. The trailer looks amazing. Hopefully it lives up to the 4-star standard set by the 2008 film. Both directed by Jon Favreau, this looks promising for what will likely be at least an Iron Man trilogy. Robert Downey Jr. appears to give another great performance as Tony "Iron Man" Stark.


The trailer’s here, and the movie opens May 7th.


-John C.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Days to Christmas: Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

No matter how you celebrate the season, I hope you’ll find the time amidst all the holiday movies to watch Dr. Seuss’ TV classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This animated short film from 1966 was created with a first-rate production and still holds up just as well today.


In my opinion, you can ignore Ron Howard’s 2000 “revamp” and just spend 25-minutes watching this brilliant classic on DVD. It’s worth it for the whole family.


-John C.

Trailer Watch: Alice in Wonderland

Apple Trailers has now made available a second trailer for Disney and Tim Burton’s upcoming adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. This looks to be a bizarre, visually stunning ride. Let's hope it's good.


It opens March 5th in 3D and IMAX, watch the trailer here.


-John C.

Toronto Film Critics Association 2009 Awards Winners

Today, the TFCA (Toronto Film Critics Association), has announced their picks for the best movies of the year. The 2009 TFCA Awards will be presented at a gala dinner on January 12, 2010, hosted by Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival. Below are the 2009 winners in the TFCA’s annual awards:


BEST PICTURE (TIE)

Hunger (Maple Pictures)

Inglourious Basterds (Alliance Films)

Runner-up:

The Hurt Locker (Maple Pictures)


BEST PERFORMANCE, MALE

Nicolas Cage - The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Runners-up:

George Clooney - Up in the Air

Michael Fassbender - Hunger

Colin Firth - A Single Man

Viggo Mortensen - The Road


BEST PERFORMANCE, FEMALE

Carey Mulligan - An Education

Runners-up:

Arta Dobroshi - Le Silence de Lorna

Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia


BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, MALE

Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds

Runners-up:

Christian McKay - Me & Orson Welles

Timothy Olyphant - A Perfect Getaway


BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, FEMALE

Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air

Runners-up:

Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air

Mo'nique - Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire


BEST DIRECTOR

Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker

Runners-up:

Steve McQueen - Hunger

Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds


BEST SCREENPLAY (TIE)

Inglourious Basterds - written by Quentin Tarantino

Up in the Air - written by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, based on the novel by Walter Kirn

Runner-up:

A Serious Man - written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen


BEST FIRST FEATURE

Hunger - directed by Steve McQueen

Runners-up:

District 9 - directed by Neill Blomkamp

(500) Days of Summer - directed by Marc Webb


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fox Searchlight)

Runners-up:

Coraline (Alliance Films)

Up (Disney-Pixar)


BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

The White Ribbon (Mongrel Media)

Runners-up:

Police, adjective (filmswelike)

Summer Hours (E1 Entertainment)


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Cove (Maple Pictures)

Runners-up:

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (filmswelike)

The Beaches of Agnes (E1 Entertainment)


BEST FIRST FEATURE

Steve McQueen - Hunger


ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FEATURE AWARD (Winner TBA, Jan. 12th)

The Necessities of Life - Benoît Pilon

Polytechnique - Denis Villeneuve

Pontypool - Bruce McDonald


CLYDE GILMOUR AWARD FOR ADVANCING THE APPRECIATION OF FILM

Mark Peranson - editor and publisher of the internationally acclaimed Cinema Scope magazine, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.


JAY SCOTT PRIZE FOR EMERGING TALENT

Winner TBA, Jan. 12th


Some interesting choices here, as these are the opinions of 34 Toronto film critics. Brian D. Johnson, president of the TFCA said in a statement: “Toronto is home to a diverse and astute community of film critics. This year’s lack of clear consensus reflects the spirited discourse that’s vital to our profession. Our awards represent a vote of confidence in cinema that breaks new ground with passionate performances and audacious vision.” Indeed so. Many interesting and unique choices here.


-John C.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days to Christmas: Disney's A Christmas Carol

With ten days left until Christmas and the film still in theatres, it’s certainly not to late to go see director Robert Zemeckis’ excellent adaptation of Charles Dickens classic masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. Here’s a link to our reviews from November 6th. Our consensus was:


“A stunning new achievement from Robert Zemeckis and ImageMoversDigital. This is a visually amazing, close adaptation of Charles Dicken’s famous book. See it – in 3D or IMAX if you can. **** (Out of 4)”


Like Zemeckis’ previous film, The Polar Express – also criminally underrated – this one will go down as one of my favourite Christmas films. If you haven’t already, then go see this film as soon as you can. It truly is a darkly wonderful and hauntingly beautiful adaptation of Dickens’ classic story.


As Tiny Tim astutely observes, and Andrea Bocelli so beautifully sings over the closing credits, “God bless us everyone!”


-John C.

The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards Nominations

The nominations were announced this morning for the 67th Golden Globe Awards to air on January 17th. Full list of nominees here, below is a partial list:


BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

Avatar

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Up in the Air


BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

(500) Days of Summer

The Hangover

It’s Complicated

Julie & Julia

Nine


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Coraline

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Princess and the Frog

Up


BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE

Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker

James Cameron - Avatar

Clint Eastwood - Invictus

Jason Reitman - Up in the Air

Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE

Michael Giacchino - Up

Marvin Hamlisch - The Informant!

James Horner - Avatar

Abel Korzeniowski - A Single Man

Karen O, Carter Burwell - Where the Wild Things Are


BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE

“Cinema Italiano” - Nine

Music & Lyrics By: Maury Yeston

“I Want to Come Home” - Everybody's Fine

Music & Lyrics By: Paul McCartney

“I See You” - Avatar

Music By: James Horner, Simon Franglen

Lyrics By: James Horner, Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell

“The Weary Kind” - Crazy Heart

Music & Lyrics By: Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett

“Winter” - Brothers

Music By: U2

Lyrics By: Bono


Some interesting choices, but pretty much what was to be expected. Though it is a bit sad to see the exclusion of the wonderful An Education, and the brilliant A Serious Man in the Best Picture categories.


We have had formal reviews of several of these titles, and will likely have reviews of many more in the coming awards months.


-John C.

Christmas Gift Idea: The Mel Brooks Collection

Today, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is releasing a Blu-Ray collection of 9 Mel Brooks films. The set includes the following classic and hilarious comedies:


The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Silent Movie (1976)

High Anxiety (1977)

History Of The World Part I (1981)

To Be Or Not To Be (1983)

Spaceballs (1987)

Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993)


These 9 films are all classics, and all of them worth owning in HD. Each of the discs is packed with bonus material. The set also includes a beautiful 120-page hardcover book about Mel Brooks, with info on each of his films.


Mel Brooks has directed 11 feature films, so the only three this set doesn’t include is The Producers (1968), Life Stinks (1991) and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). To Be or Not to Be was directed by Alan Johnson.


For any movie or comedy lover on your list, this would make a great Christmas gift.


-John C.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas: North By Northwest - 50th Anniversary Edition

About the DVD By John C.

I first saw North By Northwest on TV when I was about 9-years old. It literally just blew me away. From the amazing crop-dusting scene, to the fight atop Mount Rushmore, this was just one of the best things I’d ever seen. Watching it again on DVD many years later, it’s still one of my favourite Hitchcock films. Filled with mistaken identity and brilliant suspense, this is a classic in every sense of the word.

The first disc includes a beautifully restored version of the film and audio commentary by Ernest Lehman. The second disc includes over 3 hours of bonuses, including documentaries on Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant.


About the DVD By Erin V.

One of the most classic films of all time, this 50th anniversary edition is a must-have for any movie buff. Alfred Hitchcock's masterful storytelling is fully present here, as is his amazing ability to create suspense. Just take the crop-dusting scene for example. It is about 10 minutes long, yet we are never bored, even while nothing is really happening - because we know it will and are waiting for it to.


While the special effects are not really anything by today's standards, they are groundbreaking for the time, and still are believable and match the context of the film today. The classic score by Bernard Herrmann is a giant orchestral piece that is more noticeable than the majority of scores today, but so classy that it works. It contains many now famous themes, like the brilliant opening credits, and the music for the fight atop Mount Rushmore.


I am glad to finally have this classic on DVD. It is one of my favourite films that I have watched several times. If you get the BluRay, you will be treated to a book-like case with a book inside along with the disc, just like either format of the Clone Wars Season 1. If you have BluRay, definitely opt for this option - the extra price is worth it. But no matter what format you get it in, this is one to buy for someone, or better yet, put on your own Christmas list this season.

Christmas Gift Ideas: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - 20th Anniversary Edition

About the DVD By John C.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a comedic, holiday classic. Written by the late, great John Hughes, the script is filled with hilarity and heart. Part of what makes it so funny is the comedic timing of Chevy Chase, perfectly executing every pratfall, stunt and physical gag that the movie has to offer. The various family members that pretty much invite themselves over are also very funny, including his wife’s rude and dimwitted, but very kind cousin Eddie, who is hilariously played by Randy Quaid.


The DVD includes all-new bonus features . It comes packed in a very nice tin, with an official Griswold Santa hat, four drink coasters, an “I survived a Griswold family Christmas” button, and a box of fake snow powder. This would make a great pre-Christmas present, so you can share the laughs before the big day actually arrives.


About the DVD By Erin V.

A Christmas classic that has stood the test of time as this 20th anniversary edition is released. Every year, it pops up on various TV stations, although not in the full uninterrupted version that is a DVD. The funny, but also kind of sweet, tale of Christmas at the Griswolds', is one that you will want to own for yourself.


Especially now, as this edition comes with one of the nicest Christmas Santa hats vacuum sealed with a DVD that I have ever seen - the hat also has the Griswold Christmas reindeer on it. Along with the one disc - (has lots of new bonus features), you also get four coasters as well as a reindeer pin. Fake snow powder comes with this edition too, although unless you get the BluRay, unfortunately you won't get a little reindeer glass.


The whole thing comes in a Christmas tin, which is white for the DVD, and red for the BluRay.

Christmas Gift Ideas: The Clone Wars Season 1

Last month, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Canada released the complete first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on DVD.


Each disc in the four disc set, includes 5 (discs 1, 2), or 6 (discs 3, 4), episodes for a total of 22, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette on each of those episodes. The set also includes a 64 page art-of book, which ties in nicely to the full book, The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which we had reviewed here. But the thing that really stood out to me on this set is the packaging itself.


More than you would say that this is four discs with a bonus book, it almost seems like a 64 page book with four discs. Rather than a DVD case, the case is like a hard cover book, with two discs inside each side of it. When you open it up, the book is in the middle, (permanently attached), making for it to be read easily. Very nice design.


For fans of the show, this will be a must-have on their Christmas list. Seven of the episodes include extended director's cuts, including the episode Rising Malevolence, which garnered an Annie Award nom for composer Kevin Kiner last year. (He is nominated again this year for another episode of the show, Weapons Factory, from season 2 - not included here.)


It's been in stores since November 3rd, so see if you can pick it up for a fan of the show before Christmas.


-Erin V.

The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog - A Walt Disney Pictures Release

http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/princessandthefrog/

Release Date: December 11th, 2009

Rated G

Running time: 97 minutes


Ron Clements (dir.)

John Musker (dir.)


Ron Clements (original story & screenplay)

John Musker (original story & screenplay)

Greg Erb (original story)

Jason Oremland (original story)

Rob Edwards (screenplay)

Don Hall (story supervisor)


Randy Newman (music)


Anika Noni Rose as Tiana (voice)

Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen (voice)

Keith David as Dr. Facilier (voice)

Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis (voice)

Jennifer Cody as Charlotte (voice)

Jim Cummings as Ray (voice)

Peter Bartlett as Lawrence (voice)

Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie (voice)

Oprah Winfrey as Eudora (voice)

Terrence Howard as James (voice)

John Goodman as 'Big Daddy' La Bouff (voice)


Princess Tiana - ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Our reviews below:

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The Princess and the Frog Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

When Prince Naveen is turned into a frog by the evil Dr. Facilier, he mistakes waitress Tiana as a princess, and accepts her kiss. And because she is not actually a princess, she turns into a frog as well. They must enlist the help of voodoo priestess Mama Odie, if they want to be turned back into humans. This sets into motion a trip through the Louisiana Bayou, set against a backdrop of the 1920’s, and an awesome soundtrack of jazz music.


The Princess and the Frog is Disney’s first 2D animated film since 2004’s Home on the Range, and the best one in many years. The Princess and the Frog succeeds on many levels, including great characters and a classic villain.


Though you may see it advertised as such, this is certainly not just a film for little girls, as I’m sure it will be immensely enjoyed by pretty much everyone.


The look of the frogs is simple, yet incredibly appealing. Ray, the Cajun firefly, has been advertised as a joking sidekick. In reality, he actually provides some of the most touching and bitter-sweet moments in the film. But my favourite character has to be jazz-playing alligator, Louis.


It’s funny, heartfelt and surprisingly moving. Like other Disney films, there are messages and meaning underneath the action. The songs, written by Randy Newman, are all great. None of them become annoying, not one is out of place. The Princess and the Frog immediately takes it’s place among the best Disney films.


The Princess and the Frog is truly magnificent. The animation is beautiful, and the soundtrack is brilliant. Not only one of the best animated, but one of the best movies of the year.

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The Princess and the Frog Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

The Princess and the Frog, is a twist on the original fairy tale of the Frog Prince, waiting for a kiss to turn him human again. Except Tiana, the main character accidentally gets turned into a frog too...


Tiana is a young African-American woman who is working as a waitress, while trying to save up enough money for her own restaurant. Her rich friend meanwhile is just waiting for Prince Charming. But Tiana doesn't have time for that, because as her father always said, wishing only gets you part of the way. It takes commitment and work to help your dreams come true. When Prince Naveen comes into the picture, he is a very arrogant young man, who has never done anything for himself, and after being cut off from his parents financial funds, he has no idea what to do - except find a rich girl who'll have him. His plans go out the window though, when he gets caught up with 'The Shadow Man' - Dr. Facilier...


I found Tiana in The Princess and the Frog to be a very positive role model for young girls. She is strong-willed, and works hard, but in a believable way. The film is about her realizing that she might eventually want someone to share her dreams with - not someone to rescue her, but to stand by her.


I loved the score, as well as the songs in this movie which are all great fun, and work really well - this will be one soundtrack for the Christmas list. You have Randy Newman to thank for most of the music here. The animation is exquisite, and really should be seen on the big screen. It is nice to see a very classic, 2D animated Disney film again. This is definitely one of my favourites amongst them, and one of the best in more recent years. The voice acting was all spot on for their roles, Anika Noni Rose especially as Tiana. This role, had it been miscast, would have thrown the whole movie off.


Parts of the film are darker, as most classic fairy tale type stories are. For very young children, (under 6 crowd), parents should know their child, and exercise appropriate caution. This being said, for families, (and just about everyone else too), this is definitely one to catch during the Christmas break.

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The Princess and the Frog Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

You can’t go wrong with the classics. The Princess and the Frog has all the elements of a Disney classic, such as excellent animation, and really great songs.


The Princess and the Frog takes a new twist on an old fairy tale. The story has been updated to 1920’s New Orleans, right in the middle of the jazz era. Here, the “princess” Tiana is a young African American waitress, whose dream is to open up her own restaurant. In this twist, both the prince and the princess become frogs, traveling on an adventure through the bayous of New Orleans. The characters in this movie all worked for me, including a lovable alligator named Louis, and a lonely firefly named Ray.


What really makes this movie unique, however, is the music. Randy Newman has written an amazing soundtrack of New Orleans jazz, that is sure to be a classic in it’s own right.


Everything worked so well in this picture, that I would’t be surprised if it goes up for Best Picture. The Princess and the Frog is one movie you don’t want to miss.

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The Princess and the Frog Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Disney’s latest animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, is an absolute delight. Fans of classic Disney Princess stories such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, will not be disappointed.


Based on the classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Frog, this tale is set in 1920’s New Orleans with African-America waitress Tiana as the main character. Only this time when Tiana kisses the frog the tale takes a twist.


There are so many rich characters in this movie. Tiana is one princess a lot of little girls will look up to with her work hard for your dreams attitude. Then there’s her best friend “Princess” Lottie, Prince Naveen/Frog, the appropriately scary villain, Dr. Facilier (the shadow voodoo man), Bayou voodoo woman, Mama Odie, Raymond the firefly and Louis the horn playing alligator.


The animation throughout this movie is excellent. Tiana’s dream sequences about her restaurant are very stylized and the voodoo man’s sequences are perfectly scary in a Heffalumps and Woozles kind of way. The segments with Louis and Ray are charming, sweet and fun.


What makes The Princess and the Frog so special is the amazing New Orleans jazz music and songs. This is one spectacular soundtrack. The mood is energetic and fun.


I loved everything about this movie, the animation, the music, the characters and the voice acting. The Princess and the Frog has so much soul and is just plain fun.


This is one movie the whole family will want to see in theatres over the holidays. Perfect for Princes and Princesses young and old. This one’s a classic.

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The Princess and the Frog Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

The Princess and the Frog marks a return to the hand-drawn 2D animation that Disney does best. Set in 1920s New Orleans with a largely African-American cast, it bears little resemblance to the classic tale. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) is a waitress saving up for her own restaurant. The visiting African prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), changed to a frog by the voodoo sorcerer Dr. Facilier (Keith David), finds Tiana dressed as a princess at a costume ball and convinces her to kiss him. When she also becomes a frog, they go into the bayou to seek help from Mama Odie, a 97 year old blind voodoo queen, aided along the way by Louis the big trumpet-playing ‘gator and Ray the firefly.


Among the best Disney animated features, The Princess and the Frog is also a musical, with an excellent score and several of the year’s best songs by Randy Newman, in the jazz and zydeco genres that have enriched Louisiana and the rest of us.

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(L-R) Ray, Frog Tiana, Frog Naveen ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Consensus: The Princess and the Frog is an instant Disney classic, filled with lovable characters and a great soundtrack. With exquisite animation, this is one to bring the whole family to see on the big screen. **** (Out of 4)

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(L-R) Frog Tiana, Frog Naveen, Louis ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

3 Animated Films Top Ten List

By John C.


For those of you who don't know, this past week Richard Corliss of Time Magazine released his list of the ten best movies of the year. Here's his list:


10 - Thirst

9 - District 9

8 - Of Time and the City

7 - A Single Man

6 - The White Ribbon

5 - Up in the Air

4 - The Hurt Locker

3 - Fantastic Mr. Fox

2 - Up

1 - The Princess and the Frog


Notice two things: The top three are all animated, and Precious is nowhere to be seen.


I caught up with The Princess and the Frog last night in Toronto, and absolutely loved it. Our reviews will be published tomorrow, we’re all giving it great reviews. I might as well tell you that I'm giving it four stars. It's one of the best, and one of my favourite, movies of the year.


Leaving the excellent, but overrated Precious off your list and naming The Princess and the Frog best movie of the year is perhaps the best choice a film critic has made all year. The top three being all animated is an even bigger, better statement. In this astounding year for all forms of animation, the fact that some of the years best films are being forgotten is just incredibly sad. If I was given a ballot for the Oscars, than I'd just go all out with my nominations. There are ten nominees for Best Picture this year, therefor no excuses for some of the year's best films to be forgotten. Kudos to Richard Corliss for making this bold, courageous and timely statement. It's what Hollywood needs to hear.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trailer Watch: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Apple Trailers now features the exclusive trailer for Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The film is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel.


It looks to deliver visually on the special effects front. It opens next July 16th, and is sure to be a summer hit. The trailer will likely be playing in front of The Princess and the Frog, (reviews coming Friday), starting this weekend.


-John C.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disney's “Prep & Landing” Airs Tonight

Disney’s first ever CGI, made for TV Christmas special, Prep & Landing is on tonight at 8:30 PM on ABC. It follows the story of “An elite unit of elves, Prep & Landing, ensures that homes around the world are properly prepared to be visited by Santa Claus each Christmas Eve.”


It features the voices of Sarah Chalke, Dave Foley, and Derek Richardson. The music is composed by Michael Giacchino.


-John C.

Christmas Gift Ideas: On DVD from E1 Home Entertainment


Formal reviews of some of these titles may be coming in the next few weeks, but for now, here’s a sampling of some of E1’s recent DVD releases. All of them in their own way would make great Christmas gifts.


-John C.


The Christmas Choir - on DVD October 13th

The Christmas Choir is a Hallmark presentation. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Based on a true story, The Christmas Choir is the inspiring account of how one man can make a remarkable difference simply by giving of himself. Workaholic accountant Peter Andrews (Jason Gedrick) has overlooked Christmas, friends and even his fiancé for far too long. As a result, his life begins to fall apart. But a chance encounter with a homeless man named Bob (Tyrone Benskin) changes everything and inspires Peter to start a choir that eventually goes on to enormous success. With the help of the unconventional Sister Agatha (Rhea Perlman) and his newfound friends at the shelter, Peter learns that Christmas is not a season but a state of mind and that everyone deserves a second chance at life and love.”


The Night Before Christmas - on DVD November 17th

If you’ve got young kids, than they might like the two-disc set from Scholastic, The Night Before Christmas. It features twelve read along Christmas stories, narrated by people like Anthony Edwards and Christopher Lloyd.


Holiday Fireplace in HD - on DVD November 24th

And now for something completely different, Holiday Fireplace in HD. Featuring 3 different soundtracks of classic Christmas carols, and images of a flickering flame in HD. Though not much actually happens throughout this entire DVD, I’m still recommending it for it’s target audience.


Knut & Friends - on DVD December 8th

Knut & Friends is a nature documentary, based on the true story of a polar bear cub named Knut. Here’s the official synopsis:

“You’ll fall in love with Knut, the world’s most famous polar bear, in this true-life story of the adorable cub who overcame overwhelming odds to survive. Come along as a caring Berlin zookeeper takes the baby bear under his wing – feeding him by bottle, giving him tub baths and a nice cuddle, and even jumping into the water with him for a swim lesson. Contrasted with the harsh reality of life in the Arctic for a trio of polar bear newborns and the endearing adventures of two orphaned brown bears getting into all kinds of mischief, this stirring, beautifully photographed journey of family, survival and love will touch your heart.”


The Fox and the Child - on DVD December 8th

From the Academy Award winning director of March of the Penguins, Luc Jacquet, and narrarated by Kate Winslet, this film is part nature documentary, and part adventure. Here’s the official plot synopsis:

“On a beautiful fall morning, walking along on a country road, a little girl comes upon a small wild fox. Fascinated, she cautiously approaches it. For a moment, the barriers separating the child and the animal are all but erased. And so begins one of the most beautiful and unforgettable friendships ever told on film. With the fox’s help, the girl will discover an untamed secret world... An adventure that will change her life, her view of the world, and our own.”

Christmas Gift Idea: Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition

I’m going to break the first rule, (Don’t talk about Fight Club), and tell you about the brand new Blu-Ray release of David Fincher’s 1999 cult-classic. It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the film was released, and Tyler Durdin immediately took hs place among iconic movie crazies.


On November 17th, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released a 10th Anniversary Edition Fight Club Blu-Ray. So this is the first time you can watch the film in HD, with all-new bonus features about the making of the film.


If you know a fan of the film, then show them they really are special and get them the Fight Club Blu-Ray.


-John C.