Ultimate 90’s Blogathon Wrap-up: Wild Wild West (1999) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

We have arrived, ladies and gents! We are at the final day of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon and both my fantastically awesome co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be sharing our final wrap-up posts on each other’s sites. First to share is Drew with his review of 1999’s Wild Wild West. Will Smith, Kenneth Brannagh, humor and wild west…

Take it away, Drew!

Synopsis
Army Captain James West (Will Smith) is tasked by President Grant (Kevin Kline) to work together with US Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) to find the ex-Confederate scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) before he can take over the United States government.

Review
Wild Wild West was a go-to movie for my friend and I back when we were growing up.  Between the two of us, we could (and still can!) quote the movie in its entirety.  Having watched this many times over the years, I acknowledge that the nostalgia factor might affect my enjoyment of the film, as I have found several flaws since watching it as a young lad. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed on its own merits.

Right out the gate, this movie is goofy. Not funny, although it is that too, but goofy.  Artemis Gordon’s inventions feel a little too perfect for the situations they get Gordon and Jim West out of. Arliss Loveless’ beard rivals Crane’s beard from The Hunger Games for most intricate movie beard, acting as the proverbial “I’m the bad guy” sign.  Loveless’ invention to bring the “US government to its knees” is a giant, steam-punk tarantula.  Everything about this movie screams “Saturday morning cartoon.” Nevertheless, it has a sense of fun that many film miss, which is why it still works for even as I’ve grown older.  Wild Wild West never takes itself seriously, making it fun for both the actors and the audience.

The humor can be seen as a little juvenile, like the scene below, but that kind of humor is what I like.  Will Smith and John Kline are enjoyable to watch together.  This film came out relatively early in Smith’s film career. It is fun to see how he has brought the same energy and personality to his characters throughout all of his movies, whether they were in the 90s, when he started film acting, or today.  I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of Kline’s films to compare Artemis Gordon to his other roles but his comedy here is more subtle than Smith’s which works because having two boisterous comedians would be too much.

Besides the two leads, the other two big supporting actors, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh are clearly having a good time too.  The often scantily clad Hayek is obviously there for the eye candy and to give West and Gordon someone to compete for, but it doesn’t appear to bother her and she gives a memorable performance.  Branagh gets fully into the maniacal villain role.  It’s cartoonish and over the top but he steals his every scene he’s in.

I thought Wild Wild West was GOOD 🙂 It isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with itself, which might turn off other viewers but I really enjoyed that.  Everyone, from Will Smith and Kevin Kline to Salma Hayek and Kennith Branagh, feel like they are enjoying themselves.  I grew up watching this film regularly and although its imperfections have become more apparent over the years, it still is every bit the fun, adventurous romp I remember it to be.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Barry Sonnenfeld – Director
Jim Thomas – Story
John Thomas – Story
SS Wilson – Screenplay
Brent Maddock – Screenplay
Jefferey Price – Screenplay
Peter S Seaman – Screenplay
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Will Smith – James West
Kevin Kline – Artemis Gordon / President Ulysses S Grant
Kenneth Branagh – Dr. Arliss Loveless
Salma Hayek – Rita Escobar
M. Emmet Walsh – Coleman
Ted Levine – General “Bloodbath” McGrath
Frederique van der Wal – Amazonia
Musetta Vander – Munitia
Sofia Eng – Miss Lippenrieder
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon – Belle
Bai Ling – Miss East

Remember to head over to Drew’s later today to see my wrap-up post!
Hint: Its also a triple feature (just like my kick-off)!

Advertisements

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Movie Year: The 90’s by From the Depths of DVD Hell

Ultimate 90's Blogathon

Welcome all to the next entry! We’re in for a complete 1990’s decade visit with our next participant and my awesome Game Warp co-host, Elwood Jones who also runs In the Depths of DVD Hell and runs the podcast MBDS Showcase. Elwood is a man of many projects. He also co-hosts another podcast called TV Good Sleep Bad and recently starting hosting the Lamb Tracks which is currently doing commentary on the Jurassic Park franchise. All incredibly fun and awesome podcasts and site that you need to check out! Hopefully I’ve linked them all so you won’t miss out!

Now let’s pass it on to him!

My Movie Year: The 90’s

What better excuse to look at my favourite movies of the decade, if only to help highlight some of the great and frequently overlooked films which came out during this era, which would also see with 1999 one of the most exciting years of film making in years, as I looked at previously.

1990

Essential Film: La Femme Nikita

Le Femme Nikita

Luc Besson’s  tale of teenage junkie Nikita (Anne Parillaud) who after killing a cop during a bungled pharmacy robbery, finds herself convicted of murder and sentenced to a life in prison, only to soon find herself recruited by a shadowy government agent known as the Centre to be trained as an assassin under the watchful eye of her handler Bob (Tcheky Karyo).

Besson here brings to what would be the usual action / adventure yarn with fist fights and explosions and instead gives us something quite special as while there is certainly an element of action here, what he also gives us is an actual insight into the psychology of this character as she is slowly broken down and rebuilt into the perfect assassin by the Company, with scenes of her being taught to apply lipstick by Amande (Jeanne Moreau) being just as gripping as any of the action scenes which include a pulse pounding restaurant escape.

Although it was remade for an American audience as “Assassin” with Bridget Fonda, this is the definitive version

Further Viewing: King of New York, Darkman

1991

Essential Film: Delicatessen

delicatessen

One of the first films by the highly original French directing duo of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet this surreal Post-apocalyptic black comedy about the residents of an apartment block, owned by the butcher Clapet (Jean-Caude Dreyfus) above whose shop the residents live and who has taken to killing the handymen he employs to keep the residents supplied in meat, which is bad news really for Ex clown Louison (Dominique Pinon) who has just been employed as the new handyman, unaware of what happened to his predecessors.

A strange film to say the least, but not so out there that it leaves the audience wondering what the hell is going on, as it constantly maintains a playful tone as it switches between genres, to give the sort of original film that only Caro and Jeunet are capable of doing, as this is once again very much in their fairytales for grown ups style.

Further Viewing: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Rikki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

1992

Essential Film: Hard Boiled

hard boiled

One of if not the best of John Woo’s movies and if you ever needed an example of why he is seen as the king of action movies, this would be a great start, as we are barely minutes into the film before he throws us head first into the first of the films many jaw dropping action sequences, as Insp Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) unleashes his own dual pistol welding brand of justice.

Featuring a cast of Hong Kong greats which includes Tony Leung and Anthony Wong, John Woo here sets a benchmark for Heroic Gunplay movies, while featuring a hospital shootout, which clocks in at over thirty minutes without reputation. This is one infectious mix of gunplay, explosions and jazz!

Further Viewing: Braindead, Man Bites Dog, Porco Rosso

1993

Essential Film: Cronos

cronos

The debut film by Guillermo del Toro, here sees him reworking the vampire mythos, with this tale of an mechanical scarab-shaped device which grants the wearer the gift of eternal life aswell as a thirst for blood. This in many ways marking the start of things to come, while establishing del Toro as a the visionary director he is recognised as today, while for one reason of another this film has outside of genre fans been left largely unseen.

Here he shows a clear love for the genre, while as with the films which followed it also showed that he was not afriad to break the rules and breathe new life into a much over worked horror sub-genre with this truly unique film which is as visually stunning as it as it times horrifying.

Further Viewing: Army of Darkness, Falling Down, Iron Monkey, Ninja Scroll, True Romance

1994

Essential Film: The Crow

The Crow

It would be a sad case of history repeating itself that Brandon Lee’s breakout film would sadly be his last, as he died during filming and much like his father Bruce Lee, who also never got to enjoy the success of his own breakout film “Enter The Dragon”. The first of two films to be directed by Alex Proyas on this list, with this certainly the better known of the two no doubt thanks to the cult following it has built up since it’s release, aswell as the controversy of Lee’s death during the last eight days of filming.

This classic tale of revenge  based on the graphic novel by James O’Barr, about rock musician Eric Draven (Lee) rising from the grave to avenge his own murder aswell as that of his fiancée via the mystical powers of the crow, which now makes him immune from physical harm. The film is drenched in gothic styling while also containing many nods in its style to both “Blade Runner” and Tim Burtons “Batman”. Needless to say this film looks stunning and would make for a design test run for the lesser seen “Dark City. Lee meanwhile embodies the character of Draven, while equally showing himself to be just as capable as both a dramatic actor as he is as an actor star, while this film just leaves us to wonder what could have been,

Further Viewing: Fist of Legend, Hoop Dreams, The Hudsucker Proxy, Wing Chun

1995

Essential Film: Empire Records

Empire records

Back when this film was released it considered to be pretty cool job to work in a record shop, though I’m not sure that this still stands with nearly every record store having long since closed down and kids today more keen to work for I dunno Amazon or something, but still this film still has a lot of charm, especially for those of us who belonged to the MTV generation, which essentially this film is the embodiment of.

Following the employees of a Empire Records over the course of one truly exceptional day, when one of the employees Lucas (Rory Cochrane) discovers that the store is to be turned into a franchise store called music town, leading the employees to band together to save the store.

Staring many future stars including Renee Zellweger, Liv Tyler and Anthony LaPaglia as the long suffering store owner and father figure Joe, this coming of age comedy never seems to get the attention it really deserves, especially when it combines teenage angst with shameless AC/DC worship and even a pot brownie trip which sees Mark (Ethan Embry) rocking out with GWAR before being eaten by their giant worm thing, which honestly for that one scene alone makes it a must see.

Also Noteworthy: The Basketball Diaries, The City of Lost Children, The DoomGeneration , La Haine, Ghost In The Shell, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Living In Oblivion. Mortal Kombat, Welcome To The Dollhouse

1996

Essential Film: Joe’s Apartment

Joe's Apartment

When picking this year’s selection, I went back and forth so much between this one and “From Dusk Till Dawn”, both of which could be considered essential, but eventually it would be this film which won out on the grounds of “Dusk Till Dawn” already being pretty well known and secondly because this is a film about a man who lives with talking cockroaches and who wouldn’t want to see that movie?

An expansion on the original 1992 short film, while also inspired by “Twilight of the Cockroaches” and the 1987 short “Those Damn Roaches” this tale of penniless Joe (Jerry O’Connell), who having moved to New York soon finds himself sharing his apartment with around 20 to 30 thousand roommates, in the form of a bunch of all singing and dancing cockroaches, who having recognised Joe as being one of their own, soon set out to lend him a helping hand.

Using a mixture of stop motion animation and the slightly cheaper effect of just making parts of the apartment rattle, this is a random film to say the least and while it might not work in places, when the roaches are in screen, it usually guarantees fun times, with the standout moment being their attempts to help Joe on a date, which unsurprisingly ends in chaos. A strange curiosity from the MTV generation and a reminder of the kind of projects that MTV used to be involved with before they changed their focus to the likes of “The Hills” and “Jersey Shore”.

Further Viewing: From Dusk Till Dawn, Trees Lounge, Swingers

1997

Essential Film: Princess Mononoke

princess mononoke

One of my all time favourite Studio Ghibli movies, this epic tale of industry versus nature as Ashitaka finds himself caught in the battle lines drawn by Lady Eboshi of Iron Town, who is destroying the forest merely for her people’s own good and the guardians of the forest.

Visually stunning with highly intelligent scripting, this is another perfect example of the genius of Hayao Miyazaki, while also being commisioned by Disney who clearly did not know what they were getting with this film, which not only has burst of violence, bloodshed and gore but also is far from thier usual fluffy plotting and styling, as Miyazaki combines fantasy and mythology in his gripping and fast paced tale.

Further Viewing: Breakdown, Boogie Nights, Cube, Chasing Amy, Funny Games, The Game, Junk Mail, Life Is Beautiful, Mimic, Nowhere, Orgazmo, Rainy Dog, Starship Troopers

1998

Essential Film: Dark City

Dark City

The second Alex Proyas on this list and sadly the most overlooked, as this Kafka esq tale opens with John (Refus Sewell) waking up naked in a hotel bathtub, his memories erased and a mutilated prostitute on the bed. Soon John finds himself framed for a string of brutal and bizarre murders and on the run from not only the police, but also the strange trench coat clad men known only as “The Strangers” as he tries to piece together his missing memories.

Sharing the same gothic styling as his previous film “The Crow” this film only built upon those designs as here Proyas gives us a city of perminant midnight,with definite shades of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”while skillfully combining elements of sci-fi and noir to create a potent mix, while drip feeding the audience infomation as to the truth about Dark City.

Further Viewing: American History X, BASEketball, The Big Lebowski, Ringu, Run Lola Run, Rushmore

1999

Essential Film: Cruel Intentions

cruel intentions

An MTV style reworking of the classic novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, which has over the years has been adapted no less than thirteen times, with certainly the most well known being the 1988 version released as “Dangerous Liaisons” while this version would be by far the most original as the story is relocated to modern day New York, as step siblings Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) play games of seduction, with their latest target being the virginal Annette (Reese Witherspoon) with the challenge being set by Kathryn that Sebastian cannot bed her before the start of the school year, while Kathryn sets about also corrupting the naïve Cecile (Selma Blair) as part of a plan of revenge against her ex boyfriend who left her for Cecile.

While it may have been released in the same year as “American Pie” this film proved to be a much smarter drama and with a sharper sense of humour, but none the less sex crazed which came as something of a surprise to Geller’s fans who were more used to her playing Buffy on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” so for her to be reeling off such lines as “In English? I’ll fuck your brains out” all of course greeted with whoops of joy from most of the male audience, much like the much talked about experimental kissing scene between Geller and Blair, all from a film bizarrely marketed in some places as a chick flick, when it contains plenty to appeal to most audiences.

The cast at the time were largely B-list or unknowns, yet all embody their various characters, while for some the film marking a rare high point in their careers, still even years after it’s initial shocking dialogue has since been beaten in terms of filth, it still remains a solid drama and a nice twist on a classic novel.

Further Viewing: eXistenz, Dogma

Thanks to Elwood for an awesome 1990’s look at the decade!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s entry! 🙂

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Liar Liar (1997) by Rhyme and Reason

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Next entry for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is by S.G. Liput from Rhyme and Reason with his review of Liar Liar. Jim Carrey finally makes his entrance into our blogathon. If you haven’t visited Rhyme and Reason before, it is where “poetry meets film reviews”. Their tagline says it all.  Remember to head over there after you’ve read the review and show them some love!

Without further ado, let’s hear their thoughts!

Liar Liar (1997)

I cannot tell a lie, you see;
I tell the truth compulsively.
It’s gotten to the point that I
Clammed up till home to make reply,
So now that I am home at last,
I’ll answer every question asked.

First off, you’re not my type at all;
Your mouth’s too big, your ears too small.
Why won’t I answer what you said?
So you won’t hear what’s in my head.
I don’t much care to stay and chat,
And yes, that dress makes you look fat.

And boss, I love to cause delays;
I was not sick the last two days.
I’ve no excuse, and off the books,
I take the pens when no one looks.
I hate your guts, if you can’t tell,
And think your tie came straight from hell.

Last, I can’t volunteer with you;
I’ve less important things to do.
Like watching TV like a log
And hoping someone reads my blog.
The truth will set you free, they say,
Right now I don’t quite feel that way.

The characters and incidents portrayed in this poem are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.

_____________________

liar-liar-poster

MPAA rating: PG-13

In trying to think of a unique angle for this 90’s blogathon, there was one actor I thought of whose reputation was made and mostly played out in that decade: Jim Carrey. Those were the years of Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, when his name became synonymous with over-the-top goofiness and that snappy smile, and by the end of the decade, he’d ventured into more acclaimed dramatic roles, like The Truman Show and Man in the Moon. I decided to pick a film that fell in the middle of these phases and exemplifies both his comedic and semi-dramatic talent: Liar Liar.

Carrey plays a liar, I mean, lawyer named Fletcher Reede, who has a surprisingly nuanced relationship with his son Max (Justin Cooper) and ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney). He’s not the typical standoffish jerk that one might expect from his character, but actually seems like a good and fun father when he plays with Max, a fact even Audrey acknowledges. Where he fails, though, is in the frequency of broken promises and flawed priorities, always willing to put his job ahead of his son. When he’s on the job, the title is more well-deserved, since he’s a master at both ingratiating white lies and wildly rewritten facts that make him such a strong legal case-winner. When Max has at last had enough of his dad’s dishonesty, he makes a birthday wish that causes Fletcher to tell the truth, no matter what.

It’s easy to recognize that the plot is a mere framework for Carrey’s trademark silliness, in this case the exaggerated spasms he goes into as he tries to eke out even the smallest untruth, and of course what’s a lawyer if he can’t lie? It’s the kind of concept that would work well as a comedy skit, but it’s surprising just how many variations of inconvenient truths were devised to fill a feature film, from the real reason we don’t always give money to homeless people to the worst possible thing you could admit to a traffic cop. And Carrey just chews the scenery up, sometimes almost literally, with ever more hilarious convulsions and vocalizations. I especially enjoyed his inescapable bluntness and his attempts at being truthful enough to get by, such as even beating himself up for the sake of “truthfulness.” Even one of his costars accuses him of overacting during the credit bloopers, but he does do it well.

On top of all the silliness of Liar Liar, there’s a worthwhile moral at its heart: honesty is the best policy, obviously. But watching Fletcher’s inability to lie actually emphasizes just how widespread lying is, even if it’s something small meant to save us some trouble. It proves that some lies are indeed necessary for, well, civilization itself to survive, but lies don’t always have to be big and absurd to start a slippery slope.

As I said before, the characterization of Liar Liar isn’t as clear-cut as redemption stories like this usually are (think of the unmistakable jerks in Ghost Town or A Christmas Carol). Fletcher does have good points, most notably his chemistry with his son, and by the end, his truth-telling ordeal feels like a believable revelation rather than a complete 180° for his personality. Likewise, his ex-wife’s boyfriend (Cary Elwes) isn’t a jerk either and seems like a legitimately nice guy trying to bond with Max, but he’s just not the same as Fletcher. Nuances like that aren’t what I’d expect from a film full of Jim Carrey’s eccentric hamminess, but it turns what might have been mere silliness into a rather heart-warming amusement.

Best line: (Max) “My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.”   (Fletcher) “That’s just something ugly people say.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2017 S.G. Liput
451 Followers and Counting

Thanks to Rhyme and Reason for this awesome review (and poetry piece) for Liar Liar!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s Ultimate 90’s Blogathon entry!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: The Sweet Hereafter (1997) by Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Joining us again in this next entry is Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews with her second review for the Ultimate 90’s blogathon with her choice of The Sweet Hereafter. If you missed her previous review of The Adventures of Priscilla: The Queen of the Desert, head over to see it HERE.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Grief is an unfortunate yet unavoidable process. This can be related to and can include loss of a relationship, job, or physical or emotional loss of a loved one. While there are various stages of grief, each individual handles it differently. They may exact revenge, anger, guilt, or detachment. Regardless, these events are life-altering. They halt the anticipated course of our life trajectory, interrupting any previous sense of rationale we once held. “The Sweet Hereafter”, a 1997 Canadian film directed by Atom Egoyan, explores the complex web of emotions associated with grief and bereavement following great tragedy impacting a rural community in British Columbia.

Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), an outside lawyer with a complex and contentious relationship with his daughter Zoe (Caerthan Banks), ventures to a small Canadian town during a harsh winter. He is representing a group of citizens in a class action lawsuit for negligence against their own town and a bus company. We quickly learn the true, heartbreaking nature of this lawsuit – a bus accident claiming the lives of fourteen children. Carefully paced, Stephens unearths the raw reality, fears, and new challenges of those affected by the crash, wrestling with his role in Zoe’s battle with drug addiction.

There are many techniques enhancing storytelling used in this devastating yet beautiful film. Firstly, it is crafted such that the story is out of sequence. This aids to juxtapose between a sorrowful present and a once joyful past, but also to highlight parallels between Stephens’ suffering and that of the community. In addition, “The Pied Piper” is incorporated into the story, showcasing similarities between a legend known to many and this town’s tragedy. Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley) narrates, and her role as “the lame child” serves as a metaphor for her own fate. As a whole, these techniques enhance the palpability of the film’s catastrophic truths.

The Sweet Hereafter” is spoken within a phrase near the end of the film. Nicole recites that the once united community is now emotionally disbanded, living separate “strange and new” lives in the “sweet hereafter”. I initially felt that there is a great sense of irony in the title, as the future following a mass casualty seems quite grim. However, in the process of grief, acceptance is generally deemed as the final stage. I do not believe that we “move on” from tragic events as they will forever be imprinted in our memories, but we try to create a new sense of normalcy through an understanding and acceptance of our past. Through this, we may be able to find peace and meaning in the new paths we forge.

the-sweet-hereafter

 Thanks to Charlene for her beautiful review of The Sweet Hereafter! 🙂
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s entry for Ultimate 90’s Blogathon!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Batman Returns (1992) by DB Movies Blog

banner2

Next up is DB from DB Movies Blog with a sequel of the 1989 Batman by Tim Burton, Batman Returns! One of my personal faves because it has the fantastic Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. DB Movies Blog has a range of film-related posts from reviews to trailer to lists and awards recap, etc. Lots of great material to check out! Without further ado, let’s pass it over to her to talk about her choice!

batman returns

Batman Returns (1992)

Three years after directing “Batman” (1989), Tim Burton came up with yet another Batman film “Batman Returns”. Visually stunning and well thought-out, the film is about the rise to power of Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Danny DeVito), who has been hidden away and shunned by society for 33 years in the city of Gotham. In his quest to become the mayor of Gotham, Penguin is unwillingly helped by a dishonest businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) as the Penguin’s freaky followers intermittently wreck havoc on Gotham to discredit the present mayor and eventually make it look like the Penguin is fighting crime. Meanwhile, Shreck’s shy secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out too much about Shreck’s illegal activities, causing Shreck to try to get rid of her, and the result of his efforts is Selina’s transformation into a Catwoman. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton) is also not indifferent to the crimes orchestrated by the Penguin and is determined to stop the Penguin and his gang while having a love-hate relationship with Selina/Catwoman.

From the very first scenes of the film, we are intrigued. We are confronted with a Dracula-inspired-setting and gothic surroundings as we see a couple who gives birth to a deformed baby, and then some time later, on a cold Christmas night, rushes across a Gotham park to throw their newborn baby into a river crossing the park. The eerie wintry landscape and the menacing soundtrack by Danny Elfman complete this picture as we then see a crib of a baby-monster floating down the sewer of the city.

Prior to “Batman Returns”, Burton also directed “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), already establishing himself as the director for shooting the themes of supernatural, odd, unknown and dark. In that vein, Burton makes “Batman Returns” his very own. With Burton’s flair for presenting a Gothic fantasy, “Batman Returns”’s cinematography is moody and grim, now reminding of “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) or “Sweeney Todd” (2007), but with a comical twist, a freaks-show setting and more stand-alone odd characters. Burton transforms the city of Gotham into a lavish wintry high-buildings landscape populated by mysterious pale-faced personalities, odd freaks and brave anti-heroes. In his prior and forthcoming work, Burton relied heavily on the old German expressionist cinematography and “Batman Returns” is no exception. From the very first scenes, the film is all about sharp dark edges, futurism, and the macabre, similar to “The Cabinet of DrCaligari” (1920). We also see the skyline of the Gotham City, and the tall buildings, grim atmosphere and fog reminds of “Metropolis” (1927). The elaborate sculpture work of the Gotham Zoo and the camerawork are also similar to the camerawork and the town scale model found in Burton’s “Beetlejuice”.

Action-wise, “Batman Returns” is also great. From the firebombing of Shreck’s department store to a faulty Batman car racing, the action is fast-paced with great visual effects. Add to this a rich animal symbolism, distinctively-gloomy, but deliciously macabre cinematography and a thought-provoking ending and it is safe to say that Burton has probably crafted the best Batman movie ever.

Having said that, “Batman Returns” is, primarily, a character-driven film. Michael Keaton reprises his role of the Batman, but the spotlight is not on him and he has to give way to “more interesting” and “crazier” characters. Keaton’s performance is unimaginative and unenthusiastic, though he is a very dignified and “intellectual” Batman; that kind of a Batman who will snug in on a weekend in front of a fireplace with a book rather than practise his combat moves in front of a mirror.

Every imaginable Hollywood actress was considered for the role of the Catwoman: from Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman and Jodie Foster to Cher and Meryl Streep. In the end, Annette Bening was cast, but was replaced by Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is perfectly cast and gives a very convincing, almost iconic performance. She is good as a sexually-frustrated shy secretary Selina and as a confident and blood-thirsty Catwoman. Selina’s duality and her transformation into a Catwoman are particularly well-presented. We see something close to the nowadays “Black Swan” transformation, because Selina is first surrounded by her pink soft toys and immaculate kitchen and then goes berserk and lusts for a dark and mysterious side of life. Her chemistry with Bruce Wayne is also very good, and it is interesting to watch how the pair is mentally trying to figure out each other’s true identities and thoughts.

The real revelations in the film are Danny DeVito in the role of the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot and Christopher Walken in the role of Max Shreck. DeVito’s Penguin is very memorable: he is hideous, totally demented and power-hungry. Walken’s Shreck is also a show-stealer. Cool, strange and menacing, Walken as Max Shreck makes the atmosphere very uncomfortable, and it is a pity that the Shreck’s energy aspirations idea is left underdeveloped in the film.

It is true, however, that “Batman Returns” is not a perfect movie. We hardly get to know anything about the title character and his personal development (a hero’s journey) is questionable. The reason why Batman as a character is so neglected in this film is maybe because Burton/Waters/Strick is not really interested in him. In fact, Burton agreed to do “Batman Returns” only on condition that the studio gives him more creative control over the material and that Daniel Waters, a screenwriter known for his black-comedy “Heathers” (1988), comes on board. The influence of both is evident in the final product.

Another weakness of the film is that it has too many villains which form surprising partnerships, but the biggest criticism at the time of its release was that Burton’s version of a Batman movie was too gloomy and grotesque, sexually too suggestive (e.g. the Catwoman finds herself often on top of the Batman) and violent (e.g. child-kidnapping takes place on a regular basis). There are valid points, but should be seen in a perspective. Unlike the Superman and even the Spiderman series, the Batman series is all about the dark nature of humanity, mysterious personal duality, masks and camouflage, the colour black, unclear freaky characters’ origins, underlying childhood trauma and gloomy settings. Taking this into account, Burton’s gothic, macabre and dark take fits the Batman adaptation perfectly.

Batman Returns” may not be the film to immediately spring to mind when you think “the films of 1990s”, but its unusually presented-superhero theme, advanced computer-generated special effects and the director’s distinctive influence on the style and plot of the film are the features which later came to define films shot in 1990s (wasn’t it the decade of the rise of independent cinema after all?). “Batman Returns” is a Tim Burton film through-and-through. Rich in visuals, it is grim, dark, fantastical and strangely enticing. It also a film which is very entertaining: it has an interesting plot, perfect casting, great soundtrack and a very memorable presentation of such oddball characters as the Penguin and Catwoman.

8/10

catwoman

gotham

Thanks to DB for a fantastic review of Batman Returns. Definitely a great title (with its flaws) from the 90s!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews on Monday for the next entry!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Goodfellas (1990) by MovieRob

Ultimate 90's blogathon

Next up is MovieRob. MovieRob is the blogosphere’s movie watching beast! If you head over to his blog, you’ll see so many reviews already done.  He runs a monthly segment called Genre Grandeur and on this milestones, he’ll do various franchises or invite fellow bloggers to join in on a Movies From the Hat segment. If you haven’t followed him, you should to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun! He’s giving us a look at a 90’s favorite, Goodfellas.

Its all yours, Rob!

Huge thanks to Kim and Drew for hosting this awesome blogathon.

Here’s my review of Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas“For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world. ” – Henry Hill

Number of Times Seen – At least 5 times (Theater in ’90. cable, video, 8 May 2008 and 2 Feb 2017)

Brief Synopsis – Biopic of a New York gangster during the 60’s and 70’s.

My Take on it – This is one of the best films of the 90’s and it gives us an excellent look at how the life of New York mobsters were run in the 60’s and 70’s

The cast is superb and a little known Ray Liotta plays the lead role so well.  He is joined by excellent performances by Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino.

This is Director Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece IMHO mainly because he is able to manipulate the audience into caring and in some cases even loving these characters no matter how terrible the things they do are.

In some ways, it is quite easy to see this as a continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series and it’s somewhat ironic that the final chapter of that series and this film both vied for Best Picture in 1990.

Love how this film tries to show us the ‘modern effects’ of the mob on society.

This allows us to feel the realism of the story.

This film is classified as a biopic despite the fact that we will never truly know how much is fact and how much is fiction.

This is one of Scorsese’s best film mainly because of the fact that it feels so realistic and that the characters are so strongly created and likeable to us.

Bottom Line – Excellent look at the life of mobsters in New York in the 70’s. Scorsese does an amazing job getting us to love these characters despite everything they do. In some ways, its easy to see that this is a continuation of Coppola’s Godfather series to show the ‘modern’ effects of the mob on society. Works really well as a biopic despite the fact that we’ll never really know how much is true. Amazing cast led by little known Liotta.  One of Scorsese’s best films to date because of the realism and strong characters. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The now-legendary Steadicam trip through the nightclub kitchen was a happy accident. Scorsese had been denied permission to go through the front, and had to improvise an alternative. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (10/10)

Thanks to MovieRob for a great review! 🙂
Tomorrow’s entry will be over at Drew’s Movie Reviews, remember to head over there to check it out!

Ultimate 90s Blogathon: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) by Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews

The next participant for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is from Charlene at Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews with her review of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994). Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check it out!

Drew's Movie Reviews

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Today’s Ultimate 90s Blogathon entry comes from Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews.  As her blog’s name suggests, she mostly reviews movies from Classical Hollywood cinema but she doesn’t shy away from more modern films either.  Go give her site some love once you finish up here. Now, onto her review of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!


Road trips have been a mainstay of travelling for as long as motorized vehicles have been invented. They involve a small group of individuals who often reveal a variety of emotions and opinions within a claustrophobic, confined space. This may create closer bonds among said parties or invoke greater distance and argumentativeness. Regardless, personal truths, epiphanies, and an increased sense of clarity can emerge from such heated discussions. All of the above occur in the vibrant 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”…

View original post 228 more words