And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Our review of Peter Jackson’s fourth Tolkien-inspired movie, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and first part of a new trilogy, based on The Hobbit…a much, much, much shorter book.

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The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
"When SPECTRE takes over the world, only one of us can make it on the $10 bill, Mr. Bond..."

“When SPECTRE takes over the world, only one of us can make it on the $10 bill, Mr. Bond…”

Eleven James Bond novels and one short story collection reached store shelves before their author, Ian Fleming, shuffled off the mortal coil in 1964. The Man with the Golden Gun was one of those unfortunate books you sometimes see after bestselling authors kick it: a rough, unfinished work with no real meat on its bones rushed to press by hungry publishers who’d just seen their meal ticket pass on. Perfect material for adaption to the silver screen, don’t you think? Hell, they made movies out of anything back in the mid-70s. Why I hear someone gave the director of 1941 money to make a giant shark movie…

For his third Bond screenplay in a row, returning screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz junked most of the novel, as he did before in Live and Let Die. Returning director Guy Hamilton didn’t like what Mankiewicz came up with so he called in his old collaborator, Richard Maibaum, for a second draft. You’d think the issue of such veteran talent could only be good. Instead, these three produced the worst film in the franchise (up to this point). Sure, nothing beats Die Another Day nowadays, but after Live and Let Die the drop off in quality really chapped my ass. Continue reading



The Last Unicorn (1982)
Rankin/Bass just had some weird obsession with flowing hair.

Weird obsession with flowing hair notwithstanding.

Here’s something else from the Things That Scarred Me in Childhood Department. Keep your Disney and your Dreamworks. Screw Pixar and, apart from the teams responsible for Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series, screw Warner Brothers animation too. In my eyes, none of them are fit to lick the boots of Rankin/Bass Productions.

Originally formed in the early 1960s, the studio achieved lasting fame with a little 1964 stop-motion Christmas special/gigantic commercial for General Electric called Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Over the next decade, Rankin/Bass churned out Christmas scholck like clockwork, and their most famous specials (Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman) are still in syndication today. The secret to their success was outsourcing, making Rankin/Bass one of the earliest American companies to exploit the third world for their own gain.

Thankfully, at the time, “the third world” pretty much included Japan. So when Rankin/Bass began to branch out into more traditional cartoon fare it found a ready partner in future-House of Dragonball Toei Animation. This partnership produced a crop of feature-length cartoons still remembered by all the good little children of the 70s and 80s…because they scared the shit out of us. Continue reading