Disney has had a long history of creating imaginative retellings of classic fairytales in a way that no other production company has managed to pull off. Often times these stories that are well known are taken and tweaked, adding musical elements and a level of detail rarely afforded to otherwise small stories. The Disney Princess line of products and films is one of the most lucrative business models on the planet, because of this the company is always eager to expand that universe. While, arguably, the messages behind the stories are dangerously optimistic, few can deny that when they’re on their game, Disney Animation studios manages to give the world entertaining stories of extreme optimism with fantastic attention to detail. Tangled was released in 2010, expanding the Princess universe to include a computer animated counterpart in Rapunzel. The film managed to capture most of what makes the classic animated films so great, namely beautiful animation, quirky humor, and catchy musical numbers.

     Tangled retells the story of Rapunzel, the princess who is locked in a tower for, what she assumes is her own protection. Her most noticeable attribute is, of course, her incredibly long hair. What she doesn’t know is that the woman she believes to be her mother is actually her captor. She was kidnapped at birth for her hair’s magical ability to rejuvenate the elderly and wounded. When the dashing thief, Flynn Rider, enters her life, they embark on an adventure together filled with one liner quips and bouncing musical numbers. As things progress, the villainous “mother” attempts to reclaim her prisoner, while Rapunzel begins to remember her true family.

    Computer animated films are filling a void left by traditional animation. This higher saturation of CGI, has created an expected amount of mediocre films, which is exactly what I expected Tangled to be. These cartoons are huge money makers for the studios that produce them. What I loathe about Pixar, happens to be their single largest cash cow, and that is the Cars franchise. What I was unaware with this particular project, was the amount of money it cost to produce. To date, Tangled is the second most expensive film ever made, costing an incredible 260 Million dollars. While that kind of money is never a guarantee for quality, it appears that it was put to good use.

“Sharknado” was like I was observing someone’s dream as it was happening.


    There was a social media feeding frenzy this past month regarding the Asylum produced SyFy channel original movie Sharknado. Once word spread about the title, and then the trailer was released, it was like blood had been spilled into the water and everyone on the internet lost their collective hiveminds and realized this was going to be more than the standard chum produced by Asylum, if only because they had outdone themselves on the concept. The production company is known mostly for their “Mockbuster films” in which they ride the wake of popular blockbuster movies and create cheap knock offs in the hopes of earning a quick buck. This works, and it works well. Sharknado, however, is all original. Filming took just 18 days, and it shows. But with a title that combined both sharks and tornadoes, it tended to get people’s attention. The movie premiered to a massive cable audience twice over it’s first month release, it did so well that Fathom events premiered a midnight showing of it in theaters, to allow would-be-fans a chance to see it up close and personal.


    Sharknado is not a good movie. However, it’s one of those rare movies that is so bad it’s entertaining enough for repeated viewings. As I’ve expressed before, this is far easier said than done. Anyone can make a bad movie, but it’s incredibly hard to make a movie that’s so good it’s bad. I’m going to do my best to describe, what I assume was the plot of this movie. Global warming causes a a big storm which draws every shark in the ocean near Santa Monica Pier. That storm becomes a hurricane, causing massive flooding and shark attacks throughout the area. Fin Shepherd, an ex-surfing champion, and his rag tag bunch of misfits attempt to both stop the storm and save Fin’s family. Yes, they’re going to attempt to stop the storm. By the time Fin reaches his family, things have gone from bad to worse, as they must now deal with not one, but three tornadoes filled with sharks.


    I knew this movie was going to be bad, and it didn’t disappoint on that level. Literally everything about this movie was terrible, the dialogue, the effects, the logic behind people’s actions. Just everything! What I didn’t realize was how surreal an experience it would be. Within 10 minutes it felt like I was observing someones dream. Dreams, contrary to what normal movies would have you believe, make very little sense. In the same way, Sharknado went along it’s merry way, expecting the audience to believe that the water level in a hurricane flooded house would be about 5 feet deeper than the water level in the driveway. Sharknado would have you believe that you could stop tornadoes by throwing bombs into them. The blatant disregard for reality was mind boggling. At one point, I sat there staring at the screen, noticing something in the foreground of the shot. Someone in an old folks home was in the middle of playing connect four. In this connect four game, one player had three in a horizontal row, he was almost going to win! Upon closer inspection, his three tokens, which were at the top of the board, were not supported by any other pieces. Sharknado refused to even acknowledge the basic principles of physics that MUST be followed in a connect four game!


    This movie was terrible. It was also fantastic. I had the pleasure of seeing it with a group of guys that certainly appreciated the artistic integrity upheld by this film (Check out a review from Ryan Partlow). It got to the point where you couldn’t even hope to expect what was going to happen, because you had no idea where the direction of the film was going. It was entertaining, more than I could possibly hope to convey in words, but it was terrible, and I would watch it again, right now. I should hate everything about this movie, but it was too much fun, but not the good kind of fun, the “is this real life” kind of fun. It’s the movie equivalent of being slightly sedated and then a friendly bear with a top hat walking up and giving you terrible news about their dog dying and you assume it’s a joke so you laugh, and then they laugh and then some penguins fly by and you all sit down and have a nice meal consisting of canned ham and wingnuts.

Best Worst Movie


    Cult films are recognized as such for their fiercely devoted, but often times small, fanbase. While the majority of the population may be blissfully ignorant of a particular piece of film history, there is a small portion that recognizes the merits or find themselves amused at the folly of a particular movie so much that they elevate it to the status, in their collective minds, of a classic film. I watched a documentary this weekend that centered around the lives of the actors, and the filming of a cult film that I reviewed a little while back; Troll 2. Best Worst Movie not only does a fantastic job of explaining to you why Troll 2 is well worth your time to watch, but it presents a fascinating narrative following the lives of people that, 20 years after the fact, realize that they’ve developed relative stardom.


    Michael Stephenson directs this film in an attempt to bring to bring light to the fact that a phenomenon has been nurtured to the point that those involved in movie, do indeed have fans that loved their work, albeit for the wrong reasons. Stephenson played the young boy, Joshua, in Troll 2; in this movie he remains largely behind the camera. The real focus and voice piece of the documentary is George Hardy, a well known and loved dentist in Alabama. It is made clear within the first minutes of the movie that Hardy is loved by just about everyone he encounters, even his ex-wife has nothing bad to say about him. Hardy is absolutely blown away by the reception, that his little movie that he was so embarrassed about most of his life, receives at screenings for devout followers of the film. We follow most of the cast as they interact with their fan base and we watch George Hardy’s ego swell during the course of the film. It’s fun to see people who have forgotten (or have tried to forget) their acting “careers”suddenly get the stardom that they had hoped for. While it’s a blast to watch fans and actors react to one another, the humanity in the story reveals itself when the obscurity of the movie subjects George Hardy to particularly uncomfortable situations, including him sitting at a “Horror Convention” booth for almost the entire day with almost no visits.


    Michael Stephens attempts to reconnect the entire cast and crew for the premier that Troll 2 never had. In this quest we get a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people who took a crack at their dreams of making movies and had it not quite pan out. Some managed to have relatively successful careers, some found other paths to success and others continue to strive towards that goal. For all the hilarious nonsense that Troll 2 turned out to be, it garnished a surprisingly touching story for those involved. Best Worst Movie manages to accurately explain the phenomenon that is cult films, as well as present a surprisingly relatable documentary.

The Hudsucker Proxy


        Hyperbole is a dangerous, but completely necessary, tool of the filmmakers trade. Thankfully, few wield the tool better than the Coen brothers when it comes to their craft. The pair have consistently create fascinatingly odd movies with unparalleled quality in both storytelling and pitch-perfect casting. What they tend to strive in is a rare type of subtle exaggeration of what makes traditional film-making so effective. This is demonstrated exceptionally well in The Hudsucker Proxy a comedy that affectionately pays homage to the fast talking romantic comedies of the 40s and 50s in which fast talking newspaper men and women did whatever it took to get a story and every day Joe Schmo’s could get a shot at running big companies. The early days of narrative talkies is long gone, but in 1994 the Coen brothers teamed up with Sam Raimi and wrote a story that uses the past as a template for humor and originality. Slight exaggeration of the past is placed tenderly into a full color screwball comedy created decades after this type of film was thought to be long gone.


    Tim Robbins plays the eager and bright eyed business school graduate named Norville Barnes. Barnes acquires a job in the mail room of the enormous “Hudsucker Industries” a nondescript mega corporation whose owner commits suicide within the first minutes of the film. Sidney Mussberger (Paul Newman) convinces the board to put a nobody in charge of the company in order to make the stocks plummet so they can then buy up the majority of the shares and make the company successful again. Barnes happens to be in the right place at the right time and is handed the company on a silver platter. In the meantime, the newspapers are chomping at the bit to get the scoop on this new sap. Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is the star, Pulitzer winning reporter who takes it upon herself to get in close with the new boss and find out just whats going on. The board is thrown for a loop when Norville’s ideas bring in profit, which is the last thing they want to happen.


    The Hudsucker Proxy is the closest thing to a modern day Frank Capra film we’ve seen in decades. The legendary director of such films as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life often used fast talking characters, witty dialogue and a feel good story to draw in an audience. Taking a page out of Capra’s book, the Coen brothers deliver a modern rendition of something that Capra could have written himself. The film is beautifully crafted with sprinklings of bygone gimmicks, including but not limited to: Angels, narrators who control the story, screwball comedy, busy newsrooms and countless other elements that we’ve seen in films from the past. The entire movie is a lovingly made piece of history to honor the type of movie that everyone knows and loves, while giving us a new story, a new plot to cheer for with the same type of characters we’ve seen in black and white for generations. The score matches the emotions of the characters perfectly and the sets are incredible and larger than life. The movie uses incredibly witty dialogue and jokes to fuel the progression of the comedy, but never shies away from the physical pratfall gag when it’s necessary.


    I literally had no idea what to expect when I put this movie into my DVD player. It wasn’t until I watched the end credits that I even realized that either Coen brother or Sam Raimi had anything to do with it;  a privilege of ignorance that I experience less frequently than I used to. When the movie started I immediately felt like I was being greeted by an old classic, the likes of which I had never seen in such stark colors or with these particular actors. For the duration of the film I simply enjoyed the progression of a kind and warm plot told by a gentle narrator; familiar but entirely new. It was a feat that very few could have accomplished, but one that was, in this instance, done very near perfectly.

The Purple Rose of Cairo


    Movies are pre-packaged, condensed adventures for the masses. Life, at times, can seem dull and monotonous, but on the big screen heroes come to life and go on adventures we could only dream of fulfilling in our own lives. We watch romances blossom, witness the discovery of hidden treasure, observe wars being fought and honor upheld. While all that unfolds before us on screen, we sit in a dark room, attempting to forget our own world and the numbing effects it often has on our senses. It’s frightening how the absorption of media without conscious discernment becomes the prevalent hobby of the public at large. Movies are an escape from reality, something that you can get lost in and sink in to. How often do we wish what was happening on screen would happen to us? Woody Allen’s 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo knows full well how the typical audience feels about the pastime of escapist entertainment, and he turns the tables. What if the characters staring back at us through the screen long for real life. It’s a classic “Grass is always greener” type of tale that approaches its subject with creativity, humor and a sobering dose of reality.


    Taking place in the midst of the great depression, The Purple Rose of Cairo centers on the life of Cecilia (Mia Farrow) a woman who’s struggling to support her deadbeat husband by working at a local diner. She spends any free time she can down at the movie theater; she is a cinephile of the highest order. She knows all the actors and all the movies, she goes there to get away from the depression to get away from her life. In doing so night after night, something strange happens. One of the characters in the film, not one of the actors or one of the crew, but a character straight off the screen notices her and acknowledges her, admiring her dedication to the film. He’s interested and simply must meet her. In a split-second decision, Gil Shepherd (Jeff Daniels), one of the minor characters in the film (arguably minor) jumps off the screen and begins a whirlwind relationship with Cecilia. This upsets just about everyone. The characters stuck in the movie can’t progress without Gill and spend their time anxiously waiting for the character to return to the screen. Likewise, those involved with creating the movie are disturbed, particularly the man that portrayed Gill Shepherd in the film, who now has a double running around doing who-knows-what?


    The Purple Rose of Cairo manages to swap places with the audience. Instead of simply watching a movie about two people whose paths cross, we watch a woman watching a movie wishing her life were like the ones portrayed on the screen. We ARE Cecilia; she represents everything that a motion picture audience is. She day dreams and longs for what she sees on the screen, the difference between her and us is that she gets what she wishes for, even though she soon learns at what price she will pay. The story is masterfully told with an incredible cast. It’s witty and funny while simultaneously sobering and, at times, downright sad. To watch the characters on a black and white screen interact with an audience that we ourselves are observing is surreal and hilarious in it’s achievement to mock us. These actors stuck up on a projection screen aren’t making fun of a fictional audience, they’re making fun of the real audience that’s sitting in their living rooms watching The Purple Rose of Cairo, which ironically enough is the same title that the film in which Gil Shepherd waltzes off the screen. It begs the question: what if we got our wish to be apart of an exciting movie premise? would it be as fulfilling as we would hope?


    The Purple Rose is a whimsical piece of film fiction that draws the audience into it’s premise by relating with them on every level; essentially WE are the protagonist. It’s an absolute joy to watch. The social commentary is spot on. Woody Allen manages to create a movie that projects it’s exuberant nature onto the audience without compromising the integrity of the film. Despite the fantasy nature of the movie, we realize that we can relate with Cecillia on far more levels than we may have originally anticipated.

What About Bob?


Bill Murray is undoubtedly one of the funniest men still alive today. His extensive portfolio of films from every genre continues to grow, but he is certainly most well recognized for his participation in some of the biggest hits in comedy film. He’s a unique individual who takes on unique roles, most of which can’t be considered formulaic. He has outdone most of his SNL alumni in that he seldom compromises on the films he’s in (We’re excluding Garfield, of course). One film in particular stands out as a particularly interesting, and at times irritating, example of his skill. He’s paired with an excellent supporting cast and is given a role that is true to his acting methods while providing something entirely new; a crippling disorder that causes him to be afraid of just about everything.


What About Bob? throws Murray into the titular role of Bob Wiley; a compulsive and manipulative man that suffers from a number of psychological disorders, not the least of which causes paranoia of everything. His mind is constantly considering the worst scenarios that he could be put in, essentially making his imagination and verbal communication ask “what if?” at all times. The other thing about Bob is that he’s a delightful man that everyone loves; everyone except his psychiatrists. As the film begins we learn that Bob’s problems have caused one leading psychiatrist to quit his practice, which is when we’re introduced to Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) who takes over Bob as a patient. Upon their first meeting Bob is thrilled at the “baby steps” Dr. Marvin is helping him accomplish. Bob’s elation, however, is short lived when he learns that Dr. Marvin is taking the summer off to go on vacation with his family. As the film progresses, Bob winds up on Vacation with the Marvin family. What is considered a gross breach in Doctor/Patient trust to Dr. Marvin, is an absolute delight to his family. Bob, on all accounts except Dr. Marvin’s is pleasant, nice, fun and laid back. His quirks are unfortunate, but nothing to be afraid of, and the family even enjoys aiding him in getting over his fears. As Bob begins to heal, Dr. Leo finds himself mentally descending from the stress that’s being caused.


Murray does an excellent job of playing a lovable, caring man that is simultaneously off-his-rocker-insane. The character of Bob is deceptive in who he is and how he relates to the world. This deception and confusion of what’s really going on inside his head allows for a hilarious story with a premise that is perfect for the jokes it sets up continually. Richard Dreyfuss, like Bill Murray, finds himself in a position to play two sides of the sanity coin. Bob’s constant interference with his family vacation brings him to his boiling point multiple times, and there are very few actors that could have given the performance that Dreyfuss manages to pull off. Overly intellectual and egotistical, Dr. Marvin tries to be a world renowned voice in the psychiatric community as well as a great dad to his two children. His ambition is, of course, put to the test with his unwanted house guest.


With the popularity of the “R Comedies” of late, it’s actually kind of refreshing to look at a truly classic piece of comedic cinema that didn’t have to stoop quite so low to get a laugh. It’s not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the R rated comedies the are currently saturating the market, it’s just that once the shock value of the jokes fades and we’re no longer startled into laughter, the audience needs to have good writing delivered by excellent actors. What About Bob? doesn’t struggle to get laughs, it is an excellently written film that relies on a smart and enjoyable story to cause you to laugh. Despite it’s age, it continues to be one of my all time favorite comedies, one that I’m sure will continue to be, for the rest of my life.

Troll 2


There are a number of films that are culturally considered the worst of all time.There will never be a definite answer as to which worst film is actually reigning champion. Most list Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate (Check Shmee for a review of that one) among the top two. Vying for a spot, despite the strong protests of director Claudio Fragasso, is the abominably terrible Troll II. The film is unique in that it’s not actually that bad in terms of being the worst. Undoubtedly, the worst film ever made is probably one made by a group of middle schoolers who have been given a video camera with no instructions on what to do with it. However, in terms of narrative fiction that misses it’s mark entirely, few can contend with this hilariously misunderstood piece of horror history.


Troll II is obviously a sequel, however I have never had the privilege to see it’s predecessor. A quick IMDB search shows me a few main differences between the two movies, namely that the first film actually had a troll in it. Instead of trolls, the monstrosities that prey upon the innocent in this film are a group of Goblins who lure a vacationing family to the rural town of Nilbog (a town whose name read backwards is Goblin… they’re tricky little devils!). The young boy that the story centers around sees the ghost of his grandfather, who warns him about the goblins and all their ways. The entire movie is pretty much a fight for survival. The goblins, naturally, want to eat the humans. The catch is that all the goblins are vegetarians; every last one of them. They won’t eat the humans unless they can first transform them into vegetable/human hybrids by way of slipping them a magical potion.


countless films have attempted to use stupidity for comic affect, but to no avail. Sometimes, you have to genuinely try to make a decent movie and fail on all levels to achieve comedic gold this pure . I imagine there are writers of sitcoms, film and short stories that try their whole life to come up with a piece of work that is as funny as this movie is but fall short. Everything about Troll II isn’t just bad, but it’s the type of bad that makes you wonder how anyone involved with making this film could have kept a strait face. A poor acting choice in an otherwise good film will make you groan, this however has an entire cast of actors that seem to be pulled straight out of their day jobs (which was kind of the case) at the local grocery store and were told “no, we don’t have time to practice, we have a picture to shoot!” while the lines were fed from off screen. The soundtrack is fantastically terrible, the dialogue is hilarious, and the special effects add to the visual comedy of the would-be horror film. The acting was about as stale as three year old crackers you forgot about in the back of the pantry. most characters are completely devoid of believable emotion, with the exception of the Druid Queen, who pretty much compensates for everyone else by overacting worse than Shatner on a late night talk show. The cherry on top, however, is the situational comedy that each character finds themselves in. Claudio Fragasso created what he intended to be a horror masterpiece, what he created instead was perhaps one of the greatest unintentional comedies ever made.



    George Lucas has become one of the most controversial icons in fiction history. He is attributed with creating some of the most successful films and franchises in the history of the medium; most notably, of course, being the Star Wars films. His stories thrilled audiences throughout the 70s and 80s, but today he’s continues to frustrate his fans by tampering with Star Wars and refusing to release the rights to the theatrical releases. He also was responsible for adding an extra chapter to his Indiana Jones series that certainly dropped the overall average of the franchise in the eyes of the public. All controversy aside, it is absolutely safe to say that Lucas was a pioneer for modern special effects and genre pieces as a whole. Star Wars and Indiana Jones were absolutely fantastic, appealing to the sense of adventure and curiosity imbued in all film viewers on a scale the likes of which had not been matched on film. What those franchises did for Science Fiction and Adventure films, Willow did for Fantasy, unfortunately with far less recognition.


    Willow follows the path of the titular Nelwyn, a fictional race that is represented by a cast comprised entirely of people affected by dwarfism. Willow discovers a Daikini (Daikinis being the equivilant of humans in this fantasy realm) infant. It is soon discovered that this infant is in fact the chosen princess to whom the throne belongs. She has long been sought after by the evil Bavmorda, who wishes to destroy the child and extend her reign of terror over the land. Along the way Willow meets various friends of various species who aid him in his quest to protect the rightful heir.


    Lucas wrote a classic sword and sorcery flick, and he did it specifically with families in mind. Willow is practically dripping with all the classic cliché fantasy morals, classic good vs evil stuff, but it’s done in a way that is an absolute blast. This was made on the cutting edge of special effects, when CGI was brand new and practical effects were still widely used. While some of the more ambitious action sequences certainly look dated, it’s refreshing to go back and watch a movie unfold before the use of CG elements became absolutely rampant, particularly in a Lucas film. Long before The Lord of The Rings, Willow filmed on location in New Zealand, portraying sweeping, epic landscapes to accompany an eclectic set of fantasy/adventure scenarios. Everything from the costumes to the set designs to the special effects just looks the part for a fantasy story; even the age of the film ads to the beauty of the movie.


    The movie allows you to not only to be entertained by the way it looks, but Lucas shows off his writing skills by giving us genuine character development (something that was sorely lacking in the Star Wars prequels). The actors selected to play the protagonists did an absolute fantastic job of encompassing their character. Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer never miss a beat as the hero, Willow, and Madmartigan, respectively. The pacing allows for ample time to both wow the audience visually and draw them into the lives of those on the screen. It lacks the overly lengthy run-time of modern fantasy “epics” but manages to offer a fun and well written addition to the genre.


    Willow certainly earned it’s status as a cult classic; the adventure aspect of the film measures up to Indiana Jones and Star Wars despite it’s lesser acknowledgments. It was created in a time, as my friend and fellow blogger Ryan Partlow points out, when children’s films were carefully crafted before they were presented to the audience… at least the good ones were anyway.

Let’s Talk About The Princess Bride, Shall We?


I feel like this post may cover some obvious ground for a lot of my readers, but after learning that my wife has never seen the original Star Wars trilogy all the way through, I feel like I can’t leave anything up to chance any more. As most of you know, back in the 1980s a little movie called The Princess Bride was released. It was written by one of the most talented writers to ever pen a screen play; William Goldman. The movie will always remain one of my absolute favorite films, regardless of it’s superficial flaws. What I fear is that the movie has reached the level that many before it’s time have reached. It’s one of those films that everyone can quote and acknowledge how great it is, despite a massive decrease in the amount of people that have actually watched it. For example; I knew quotes from The Godfather years before I actually watched the movie.  FilmDrunk actually reported the results of a survey of the top 10 films that people lied about watching.

The Princess Bride has been elevated to a legendary status in pop culture. One need merely don a faux Spanish accent and quote the unforgettable line of vengeance uttered by Inigo Montoya in order to gain a grin of familiarity from a total stranger. The impact that the story of Westley and Buttercup has had on our culture is vast. Virtual badges can be seen throughout internet social sites, T-shirts with quotations from the movie are sold in novelty stores, and a devout following has been attracted to the high spirited adventure tale.

Released in 1987, The Princess Bride was, on the surface, nothing new. The 1980s was notable for a good number of Fantasy flicks, such as The Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, and Ridley Scott’s Legend. Despite all these films displaying far more stunning visual effects for the time, William Goldman’s story about True love and High adventure remains the most notable. Taking the helm to direct the film was Rob Reiner, who helped bring the beloved book by William Goldman to the big screen, and into the hearts of generations to come. It wasn’t a grand spectacle, visually speaking, but what it was, was one of the best written Fantasy stories ever put to screen. Goldman tells a story that everyone loves. True love conquers all. Never backing away from the fact that love is never easy, he tugs at the heartstrings of all his viewers. The enduring characters that Goldman creates let us know exactly what side we want to win. The viewer is led on a journey of emotions ranging from agony, to joy, hate, to love, all the while keeping a light tone without compromising the drama at all.

The recognition that The Princess Bride received after it’s release continues to grow. Both critics and audiences continue to love it. In a 2000 edition of it’s magazine, “Total Film” magazine named The Princess Bride the 38th greatest comedy film of all time. In A similar report in 2006, “The Writers Guild of America” selected the screenplay as number 84 of all time. But the reason for the enduring tale is not in the critical recognition, it rests in the fans. The devout following continues to grow.

Goldman was no stranger to the writing game when he penned The Princess Bride, at this time he was well known for many screen plays and novels, the most notable being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however none come so close to the hearts of it’s viewers as The Princess Bride, which became, and remains a high standard to measure up against in the film industry. Seriously, I know this is true in most cases, but the book is actually better than the movie simply because Goldman isn’t limited by an hour and a half run time. We’re given hilarious and heart wrenching views into the pasts of every character and he writes with a sharp wit that could never be fully translated to the screen.

True Love conquers all…Even if it takes a while. This is not only the claim of the film, but it is a view that is expected from a movie by most of the population. How this holds up to actual beliefs is hard to tell, but the idea of love being the strongest bond on earth is not a new idea. The claim is warranted through society and pop culture, this is what people want to believe, as is evident in movies, music and television. Goldman used a fairly simplistic and common idea, and elaborated around it. We see Goldman’s genius shine through by mixing fantasy, classic love story structure, and comedy all the while eloquently giving millions of viewers a simple, recognized idea in a complex and thoroughly enjoyable, relatable, and entertaining shell that is The Princess Bride.

If you happen to be in the Bellingham WA area on August 24th 2013 you can watch the The Princess Bride outdoors on a big screen with hundreds of other fans thanks to the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema, a series of events that happen throughout the summer.  There is a fantastic lineup of films this summer, and The Princess Bride is just one of them.

Lupin the III: Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) 2

    Hayao Miyazaki is an uncontested master of animation. His films have steadily increased in popularity with American audiences, winning him awards, including an Oscar for Spirited Away. His legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli, produces some of the highest quality animated materiel ever made. I stumbled across an early Miyazaki film, something that he directed before Studio Ghibli. The stories spawned from the escapades of the master thief Lupin the III are somewhat legendary in Japan, having influenced numerous Manga series, television specials and even a music CD. It is this master thief that Miyazaki centers this early masterpiece around.


    Lupin the III is a mix between James Bond and Indiana Jones, a fact that becomes almost immediately evident with an elaborate chase scene at the start of the film involving guns, cars, gadgets and a woman who is the object of desire. Lupin rescues, albeit temporarily, a wedding gowned young Duchess who is fleeing in a car from a group of  gun toting men. Lupin and his partner-in-crime, Daisuke, happen to be driving on the same road and witness the chase. Wasting no time, the flirtatious and adventurous thief joins the pursuit and manages to rescue the Duchess. The rescue is short lived, however, as he falls from the side of a cliff knocking him unconscious long enough for the Duchess to be recaptured. The adventure he embarks on to save the princess is just one of the many intricate aspects of the story in  Lupin the III: Castle of Cagliostro. Among other things there is arranged marriage, Ninjas, a counterfeiting ring, Interpol agents, a Samurai, gadgets and romance. It’s a fast paced action adventure film the likes of which very few measure up to.


    Though this is one of Miyazaki’s early films, his attention to detail and excellent storytelling through visuals is as present as ever. The film may lack a certain polish that comes from Ghibli’s recent offerings, but it’s nothing too distracting. Each character has an entirely unique personality that adds different elements to the plot as a whole. The villainous Count Cagliostro is a square shaped broad man with henchmen to spare, he is calm, collected and all business. His enemy, the flamboyant Lupin III on the other hand is cocky, cleaver and just as devious as the Count. Both the protagonist and antagonist have a veritable army at their disposal. Lupin’s rag tag bunch of friends and allies are far more colorful than the count’s, but the count’s calculating strike force is one of the most frightening aspects of the film. The elements within the movie are just as beautiful and intricate as the animation. It manages to jump from different emotions with absolute ease. It leads the audience to feel fear, joy, anger, laughter and every emotion in between as the events flawlessly parade across the screen.


    While the rumor floating around at the time was that Steven Spielberg claimed Castle of Cagliostro to be one of the greatest adventure films of all time, it’s a praise that has yet to be verified (though the studio thought the rumor credible enough to put on the back of the DVD case). Spielberg very well may not have made that proclamation, but I have no problem doing so myself. The animation allows for rich action sequences and beautiful landscapes alike. The writing is witty and the pacing allowed for a steady understanding of the characters and their personalities while never finding itself in danger of boring the audience.