Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Purge - Trilogy Retrospective

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While they are technically classified as horror films, admittedly it’s hard to describe the Purge films as just that, ‘horror films’. That’s because they’re more along the lines of a series of action-thrillers, particularly in regards to the two sequels. Still, this franchise of low-budget action-thrillers, directed by longtime screenwriter James DeMonaco and co-produced by Jason Blum and Michael Bay through their respective production companies, has been a considerably large hit for Universal since it debuted back in 2013. The premise is simple; every year on one night in March, all crime, including murder, is legal for twelve hours. This means that it’s every person for themselves without any sort of assistance from the police, fire department, or emergency services. And whereas the first Purge was primarily set within the confines of a single home, the two sequels expanded upon this universe and began to explore just what happens out there on the streets during ‘Purge Night’. Ultimately, though, the Purge films have been more of a commercial success than they have been a critical success, with all three films being criticized for not fully living up to their potential in regards to the potential social commentary/satire that comes from their premise. Now, as someone who’s not a big horror fan (despite what I just said about these films not being horror films), I didn’t see any of these films in theaters. However, I did start to get curious when I learned that the third film, Election Year, was filmed in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, very close to where I live. And while, again, I ultimately didn’t see the film in theaters, I did recently get a free rental of it as part of a rewards program that I’m a member of. So, I decided to rent the other two films and do a trilogy retrospective on this smash hit of a franchise. So, without further ado, put on your scary masks and prepare for a night of unabashed craziness as I look back upon the Purge trilogy.

THE PURGE (2013)

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As noted in the intro, despite the overarching ‘all crime is legal’ premise, the first Purge film is primarily set within the confines of a regular suburban home. And ultimately that does prove to be the film’s biggest problem. For one thing, it obviously limits the mayhem that goes on during Purge Night because it just focuses in on one gang terrorizing one family just because the latter let in one of their targets for protection. But then there’s also the fact that most of the film takes place within a darkened house because the gang cuts the family’s power. This results in a pretty dull ‘claustrophobic thriller’ that tries to be way too serious despite various bits of over-the-top goofiness courtesy of the gang members. And this is made even worse by the fact that you don’t give a crap about any of the main characters; main characters who, might I add, make some very terrible decisions that defy all logic. Yes, ‘logic’ isn’t a primary concern in this film. It’s the first film of the series and it doesn’t do much to explain the logistics behind Purge night, something that many agree seems totally unrealistic for various reasons, other than the fact that ‘it just works’. Sure, Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do fine enough jobs in the lead roles and Rhys Wakefield does steal the show as the gang leader but overall The Purge is a pretty lousy attempt at being a ‘horror’ film, complete with one of the most anti-climactic endings that I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, things would only get better from here by way of the sequels.

Rating: 2/5


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Thankfully with the first Purge sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, director James DeMonaco moves the action and craziness that comes from Purge Night away from a single house and out onto the streets, in this case the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Even better, the film gives us a much more compelling lead in the form of Frank Grillo’s Sergeant Leo Barnes (Disclaimer: his full name isn’t revealed until the next film), a man who goes out on Purge Night to avenge the death of his son but ends up taking on the responsibility of protecting other people that are stuck out on Purge Night; Eva and Cali, a mother and daughter who were forced out of their home by a paramilitary squad, and Shane and Liz, a couple whose car broke down before they could get home and escape a biker gang that had been pursuing them. Sure, the characters still make some dumb decisions from time to time but overall these aren’t as prevalent as they were in the last film. And while it’s still a low-budget film overall, the costume design and action set-pieces are much stronger than those in the first film. In short, Anarchy is a definite improvement over the original Purge because it benefits from a bigger budget and the freedom to go outside onto the streets. It still doesn’t reach the full potential of its premise but at the very least, this one does hold your interest more. Because even if you still don’t buy the whole premise of a night where all crime is legal, at least this one explores more of this world of, for lack of a better term, anarchy.

Rating: 3.5/5


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And finally, there’s The Purge: Election Year, a fitting title considering that it was just released earlier this year. Frank Grillo returns as Leo Barnes as he now serves as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who’s running for President on the platform of getting rid of the Purge once and for all. But that gets much more difficult on Purge Night when her political opponents, the New Founding Fathers of America AKA the ones who created the Purge in the first place, try to get rid of her by forcing the two of them out onto the streets. And while Election Year does still have some of the story problems of its two predecessors, this ends up being my favorite of the whole bunch. And no, it’s not just because this was filmed near where I live. To me, this one is the most consistent in terms of tone. Whereas the previous two films had a more serious vibe to them, this one is now fully embracing the completely over-the-top nature of its premise. Sure, there are some very questionable bits of dialogue in this entry (most of which come courtesy of shop owner Joe Dixon, played by Mykelti Williamson (simply put, “Goodnight, Blue Cheese!”)), more so than the previous two films, and the characters do still make some questionable decisions here and there. But even if it’s not saying much, this film has the best (or at least the most ‘likable’) group of main characters of any film in the entire series, once again led by Grillo’s badass lead. And once again, I must give credit to the fact that these films keep upping the ante when it comes to costume design and action set-pieces, with this film delivering some of the series’ most truly messed up imagery. Again, when you get down to it, there’s a lot of stupid parts of this premise but this one recognizes it the most out of any Purge film. Thus, it’s arguably the most entertaining of them all.

Rating: 4/5

And that’s the end of my retrospective on the Purge films. For those who are newcomers to the franchise, I can safely say that you can honestly skip the first film because nothing in that film carries over to the other films. Just stick to the superior sequels, Anarchy and Election Year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Accountant (2016) review

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Recently Ben Affleck has been attracting quite a lot of buzz for his turn as Batman in the DC Extended Universe. Obviously when he was first cast, there was a fair amount of controversy surrounding the announcement as many felt that Affleck just wasn’t suited for the role of the legendary DC Comics superhero, especially after his arguably disastrous previous turn in the superhero film genre with 2003’s Daredevil. However, while the first DC film that he starred in, this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, proved to be quite polarizing amongst critics and audiences, Affleck did receive rave reviews for his performance as an older and grizzled version of the Dark Knight. Thus, it’s safe to say that no matter how things turn out for the DCEU, Affleck certainly managed to prove many of the critics that initially doubted him wrong. So why am I bringing up Affleck’s recent work as Batman, you ask? Well that’s because his newest film, The Accountant, has him in a role that, in some ways, is kind of like Batman as he plays a character who could sort of be described as a ‘vigilante’ of some sorts. The film is brought to us by Gavin O’Connor, who in the past few years has been known for directing a pair of well-received sports films in 2004’s Miracle and 2011’s Warrior. And in this film, Affleck does deliver a very fascinating performance as a seemingly unassuming accountant with a background in military training. However, while Affleck does do a solid job in the lead role, the film ultimately hinders his performance due to its sluggishly slow pace.  

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a seemingly modest accountant operating a small accounting firm just outside of Chicago. However, for quite some time he has been pursued by the U.S. Federal Treasury, namely director of financial crimes Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) who ends up putting up-and-coming analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) on the case (under threat of him exposing her criminal past) as he is about to retire, for getting involved with some of the biggest criminals in the world. As it turns out, Christian was diagnosed with autism as a child and was subsequently combat-trained for many years, primarily thanks to his father being a member of the military. Nowadays he spends much of his time operating as a forensic accountant for various criminal enterprises, with his assignments coming courtesy of a mysterious figure who he frequently communicates with known only as ‘The Voice’. One day, Christian takes on a legitimate accounting job for Living Robotics, a major robotics corporation run by CEO Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), and is tasked with investigating a supposed discrepancy in the company’s records. Christian, a math genius, figures out the problem almost immediately but this then puts him in big trouble as he must now go on the run along with Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), who was an in-house accountant for the company and the one who first discovered the discrepancy, from a group of assassins led by a mysterious figure named Braxton (Jon Bernthal) while also uncovering more of Living Robotics’ secrets.

From a technical perspective, The Accountant is, at the very least, a well-made film. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (Godzilla, The Avengers) is solid as is the editing during the action sequences. Plus, the score by Mark Isham, a frequent collaborator with director Gavin O’Connor, provides a suitably suspenseful aura throughout. However, the main thing that holds this film back is its overall pacing. Contrary to what the marketing might suggest, this is not an action-packed thriller. Sure, there are plenty of action sequences in this film but ultimately it’s more of a slow burn thriller as there are quite a lot of dialogue-heavy scenes. Because of this, it’s more of a character study than it is an action thriller and for the record that’s perfectly fine if this was the route that O’Connor and writer Bill Dubuque were trying to go with in terms of the story. Ultimately, though, I feel that the ‘character study’ elements were perhaps just a tad bit overdone here. There are just some scenes that drag on for way too long, like this one big monologue from J.K. Simmons’ character over his connection to Christian Wolff. Scenes like this slow the film down in the worst possible way to the point where it sometimes even hinders the emotional complexity of certain character moments. And while the plot itself is admittedly a simplistic one, some parts of it just aren’t handled very well, like the whole thing about Medina having a criminal past, which poses a huge risk to her career with the government because she lied about it on her resume; a felony offense. This should be a major bit of character development for her but it ultimately never gets brought up again after the first scene between her and King. In other words, it becomes entirely pointless in the grand scheme of things.

Because this is centered on an autistic main character, I’ve heard that some may find the film to be rather offensive in terms of its portrayal of autism because it implies that this makes people who have autism the ‘perfect candidates’ for becoming assassins. So, if you’re offended by the film because of this implication, that’s totally understandable. However, I think that the film does do a pretty decent job in terms of handling the main character’s struggle with autism whenever it’s away from the action. At the very least, the film does succeed in regards to making Christian a sympathetic character, a trained badass for sure but one who finds that it’s difficult to make a lot of human connections. Overall, Affleck is solid in the lead role and he’s easily the film’s greatest strength. The rest of the cast is solid as well, though their roles in the film are minor at best when compared to Affleck. Anna Kendrick’s character is basically just along for the ride once she gets dragged into Christian’s situation. Still, Kendrick does work well with Affleck whenever they’re on-screen together. Jon Bernthal is also great as the character Braxton, who we learn has a major connection to Christian. It could very well be argued that said connection is a rather predictable plot twist but I will say that it is one of the ‘better handled’ plot-points of the story overall. Everyone else… is basically just there; J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor (who plays another criminally-tied accountant that Christian befriends while the two of them are in prison at one point), etc.

In short, don’t go into The Accountant expecting to see an action-packed thriller. Instead, it’s more of a ‘slow burn’ character study that focuses in on Affleck’s character and how he struggles with his autism. But while that part of the film is done well outside of the action sequences, especially thanks to Affleck’s solid performance in the role, the ‘slow burn’ pacing does prove to be quite a bit of a problem. Because the film is more dialogue-based than it is action-based, some scenes drag on for way too long, sometimes even to the point of hindering whatever emotions the plot was trying to convey. Bottom line, this film didn’t need to be over two hours long and could’ve benefitted from some tighter editing. Now again, if the intention was to make this film more of a character study than an action thriller, that’s fine. This could’ve been a nice subversion of the ‘action thriller’ genre. And from a technical standpoint, the film is at the very least well-made in terms of the action, music, direction, etc. Sadly, though, this turned out to be quite a disappointing affair, especially considering the talent involved both in front of and behind the camera.

Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Deepwater Horizon (2016) review (450th Post!)

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In 2013, Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg teamed up for Lone Survivor. The film told the true story of ‘Operation Red Wings’, a 2005 joint military operation that went south as a group of Navy SEALs found themselves stuck right in the middle of enemy territory in Afghanistan. The film was a solid success with both critics and audiences and it seems as if Berg and Wahlberg have now become a new major collaborative duo when it comes to doing films based on real-life incidents and the heroes who were directly involved in them. Later this year, they have another project coming out in the form of Patriots Day, the story of the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. But before that, they have a different ‘true story’ project that comes out first with Deepwater Horizon. Deepwater Horizon tells the story of what became one of the largest environmental disasters in the history of the United States; the 2010 BP Oil Spill. It occurred on April 20th, 2010 on the semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon, when a buildup of methane gas caused a massive explosion. 11 workers lost their lives and a considerably large amount of oil, over 210 million gallons to be precise, was released into the Gulf of Mexico. Obviously this was a major incident when it occurred and sparked tons of controversies, particularly in regards to BP’s handling of the whole situation. But similar to what Michael Bay did with 13 Hours earlier this year, Berg doesn’t really delve into the political side of the incident. Instead, the film focuses in on the workers who were on the rig at the time of the explosion and their efforts to survive. And ultimately like Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon is an intense and visceral action/disaster thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

On April 20th, 2010, Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), Dynamic Positioning Operator Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), and Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) arrive at their place of operations, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon. However, it appears that things aren’t really going too well at the moment on the rig, which is currently situated at the Macondo Prospect oil field in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. As soon as they arrive, they notice another team leaving and learn that they hadn’t done the cement log test that they were supposed to be doing in order to analyze the integrity of the rig. As the crew begins to deal with increasing pressure from their ‘superiors’, namely BP Executives Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Robert Kaluza (Brad Leland), in regards to them being ‘behind schedule’ on their drilling operations, Harrell manages to convince them to run tests on the rig in order to ensure that everything is running smoothly. The first test seems to imply impending disaster but when Vidrine requests a second test on a different section of the rig, that test goes much smoother. However, it turns out that the first test was indeed correct as a build-up of methane gas in the main pipe causes a massive explosion that engulfs the entire rig in fire, putting Williams, Fleytas, Harrell, and the rest of the 126-man crew in an extremely perilous situation as they try to escape from the burning rig.

One thing that I really have to give director Peter Berg credit for in regards to both this and Lone Survivor is that he does a really good job in regards to establishing a great sense of tension by means of the action. Seriously, this film is intense. In fact, sometimes I even wonder how this film managed to get by with a PG-13 rating considering some of its most intense moments, namely a scene in which Harrell pulls a John McClane from Die Hard by taking out a shard of glass from his foot (eck…). Well, to be more specific, all of the action in the film occurs in the second half following the explosion. The first half of the film is primarily build-up, as we see the main members of the crew head out onto the rig and deal with the problems that are starting to emerge on it. But once the second half rolls around and the big explosion occurs, it is non-stop tension throughout. As a few other critics have no doubt pointed out, this is practically like a horror film with the devastation of the explosion posing a very considerable and constant threat to the crew members. Because this is a PG-13 rated film, the action doesn’t get as brutal as it did in the R-rated Lone Survivor (save for the aforementioned ‘pulling glass out of foot’ scene) but you’re still on the edge of your seat throughout. I mean just seeing these people on a burning rig with nothing but fiery destruction going on in the background really gets to you, especially considering that this really did happen. In short, this film definitely pumps up the adrenaline during these scenes.

Now from what I hear, it appears as if this film has been a bit controversial amongst certain audiences, namely due to the fact that, as I alluded to earlier, it avoids going into the politics surrounding the incident as well as the consequences of the subsequent oil spill. Instead, the film focuses in on the explosion that started it all and the people who were on the rig at the time of the incident. But even with that said, sort of like Lone Survivor admittedly this film is more action-oriented than it is character-oriented. Ultimately the primary members of the crew that get the most focus/screen-time are Mike Williams, Andrea Fleytas, Jimmy Harrell, and Drill Crew Floorhand Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) and even then their characterizations are fairly simple at best; Williams is the main guy trying to get back to his family, Harrell is the wise veteran, Donald Vidrine is treated as an antagonist in the whole ordeal, etc. But overall this film actually does do a decent enough job when it comes to setting up the whole incident from their perspective. Because the film does take a considerable amount of time setting things up before the rig explosion, we as an audience are allowed to connect with Williams, Fleytas, Harrell, and their fellow crew-members. This is particularly evident by the cast’s solid camaraderie as well as the final moments of the film. I’m not spoiling anything when I say that if you’re familiar with this incident, you probably already know that the primary crew members do get rescued at the end. But the final scene in which Williams really starts to cope with everything that he just went through is quite powerful. In fact, I’d say that it’s one of the best bits of acting that Mark Wahlberg has ever done.

Well it seems as if Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have become quite the team when it comes to doing films based around real-life heroes. This was the case with Lone Survivor, I bet it will be the case with Patriots Day, and it’s definitely the case with Deepwater Horizon. The primary similarity between this and Lone Survivor is that both films are quite intense in regards to the incidents that they depict. Sure pretty much all of the action in this film occurs in the second half but when it does, boy is it intense. If anything, Peter Berg definitely succeeds in terms of creating a truly visceral thriller. And while the film does focus more on the intense action than it does with its characters, just like Lone Survivor, at the very least it still does a pretty solid job at allowing us to connect with the workers on the oil rig, even if it’s mostly just centered around a select few crew members. But like Lone Survivor, it does end by respectfully paying tribute to those who lost their lives during the incident. Now if you’re going into this expecting to see anything in regards to what happened afterwards, whether it’s how BP ended up getting charged on 11 counts of manslaughter as a result of their ‘gross negligence’ or the effects that the subsequent oil spill had on the environment, prepare to be disappointed because you won’t find any of that here. However, as far as being an intense and visceral action thriller is concerned, the film definitely succeeds in that regard.  

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 6, 2016

This November on Rhode Island Movie Corner

Over the past few years, I have been doing a series of retrospectives on the many, many animated features that Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced since the 1930’s. It started all the way back in November 2013 when I did a Retrospective on Disney’s slate of films from the 90’s, a period known as the Disney Renaissance. This was done in honor of the release of the studio’s then-newest effort, Frozen, but at the time I’ll admit that this was originally just a one-time thing. I was considering doing more Retrospectives for Disney Animation but I didn’t really have the means to do so at the time. In other words, I didn’t own a lot of the films on modern-era home media devices. However, when the studio’s 55th animated feature, Zootopia, was set to come out this past March, I decided to do another Retrospective, this time covering every major Disney animated film released since 2000. Thanks to this Retrospective, I decided to finally continue this series and then proceeded to finish covering the remaining four major decades of the studio’s animated history; the 60’s/70’s, the 80’s, the 30’s/40’s, and the 50’s. Now that the ‘Retrospective’ series is over, I decided to end my discussion of Disney Animation (for now, at least…) on a high note. So with that said, I’m happy to announce that this November, Rhode Island Movie Corner will be celebrating ‘Disney Month’*! In honor of the impending release of Disney Animation’s 56th (that’s right, 56th!) animated feature, Moana, all throughout the month of November I will be honoring the best of Disney Animation, from the heroes to the villains to the songs. The schedule will be as follows:


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So be sure to stay tuned for what will be a major celebration of the best of the best from the ‘House of Mouse’.

*DISCLAIMER: This is in no way affiliated with the ‘Disneycember’ series that Doug Walker does on Channel Awesome. I also want to make it clear that this is not trying to be a ‘clone’ of what he does every December. I’m not doing any reviews of the previous Disney animated films this month (I already did that with the retrospective series), I’m just doing a series of Top 5/Top 10 lists.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Disney Retrospective: The 50's

Welcome back to Rhode Island Movie Corner’s ongoing series of Disney Retrospectives, in which I look back upon the many, many animated films that have been produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. And today, we’ve actually come to the final part of this series as we’ll be covering the final collection of Disney animated films that I’ve yet to address; the Disney films that came out during the 50’s. Last time around I covered Disney’s first 11 features, which of course started with 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and was then followed by the likes of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. But then came World War II, which resulted in not only some of the studio’s staff members being drafted but also certain overseas markets being cut off. As a result, most of the Disney animated features during the 40’s were low-budget ‘package films’, a series of animated shorts that were not usually connected narratively. This included projects like Saludos Amigos, Fun and Fancy Free, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad just to name a few. It wouldn’t be until the 50’s when the studio returned to doing full-length feature films. And I must say, out of all of the decades that make up Disney Animation’s long history, the 50’s might arguably be the studio’s most iconic period. Obviously nowadays the decade that most Disney fans are probably familiar with is the 90’s AKA ‘the Disney Renaissance’. But as far as the 50’s is concerned, while there were only five films that were released during this time, pretty much all of them are considered to be some of the studio’s most classic films. So with that said, it’s time to look back upon the decade where the young woman put on the glass slipper, the girl fell down the rabbit hole, and the boy who never grew up explored the world of Never Land. These are the Disney Animated films of the 50’s.


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You might recall that I was a really, really big fan of Kenneth Branagh’s live-action reimagining of this film that was released last year. One of the reasons why I was really looking forward to it was because Disney’s original take on the story of Cinderella was actually one of my favorite Disney films growing up. And even though nowadays I sort of lean towards the live-action version for its improvements over the original film, namely a more developed relationship between Cinderella and Prince Charming, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still appreciate the great things that came from this Disney classic. It’s got some really nice animation, especially in regards to the creation of grand and gigantic rooms. It’s got a great collection of songs from Cinderella’s sweet melody ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ to the Fairy Godmother’s bubbly tune ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo’. As noted before, Cinderella is generally viewed as one of the more passive Disney princesses, with some claiming that she does nothing the whole film and then gets rescued by Prince Charming at the end of it. But as I’ve also noted before, I believe that there’s more to her character than that. She deserves a lot of credit for managing to endure all of the crap that her stepmother and stepsisters put her through while still maintaining an optimistic outlook on life. That is why she’s one of the best Disney princesses in my opinion. And of course this film has plenty of great side characters as well from the aforementioned Fairy Godmother to Cinderella’s wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine to Cinderella’s friendly mouse friends, especially Jaq and Gus. So in short, I guess you can say that this is one of my all-time favorite Disney films; one that now has an excellent live-action version to serve as a companion piece, not as a replacement!

Rating: 5/5!


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Also commonly known as the film that many love to joke about in regards to them claiming that Walt and his team were totally on drugs when they made it, Alice in Wonderland is exactly what you’d expect from a film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story of a young girl’s adventures in the wacky world of Wonderland. It’s a world that is full of crazy characters in nonsensical situations and as a result, this film boasts some of the studio’s absolute best animation. Simply put, the animators perfectly captured the surreal imagery of the story as the animation is the perfect combination of vibrant colors and zany visuals. As for the plot, while I’ve never read Carroll’s original book, it seems as if the film follows the same general non-linear plot of the book in that it’s mostly just Alice getting into various situations and meeting a wide variety of goofy characters. Speaking of characters, Alice herself is a likable lead, voiced excellently by Kathryn Beaumont who would go on to voice another main character in the next Disney film. And of course the film also has plenty of memorable side characters, from the mischievous, always-grinning Cheshire Cat to the foul-tempered Queen of Hearts, who always orders “Off with their Heads!” whenever someone gets on her bad side. Alice in Wonderland is generally considered to be one of Disney’s finest animated classics and I can totally see why. All in all, it’s a very charming and light-hearted adventure through the strange world of Wonderland complete with a fun cast of characters and the studio’s usual excellent animation.

Rating: 4/5

PETER PAN (1953)

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In 1953, Walt Disney Animation brought J.M. Barrie’s iconic play/novel Peter Pan to life in what is generally considered to be the most famous adaptation to date of ‘the boy who would never grow up’. This was the final Disney animated film that was primarily supervised by Disney’s original core team of animators AKA ‘The Nine Old Men’. It was also notably the last film that Disney released as part of their distribution deal with RKO Pictures. Since then, the studio has released all of their films under their own distributor, Buena Vista. In that regard, this is certainly a great one to end on when it comes to the Disney/RKO partnership. That’s because Peter Pan is easily one of Disney’s best films. It really does have it all. All of the main characters are great, from Peter Pan to Wendy (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont in her second major Disney Animation film role) to Tinker Bell and so on and so forth. The villains are absolutely terrific. The notorious Captain Hook and his main lackey Mr. Smee are two of Disney’s most hilarious villains. They work off each other so well as the two bumbling buffoons that they are. Just look at the scenes in which Hook tries to avoid being eaten by a hungry crocodile. The soundtrack is excellent as well. The main theme ‘You Can Fly’ is simply iconic but ‘Following the Leader’ is a pretty darn fun song as well. Sure, in hindsight the film gets a lot of flak nowadays for its arguably fairly racist/stereotypical portrayal of Never Land’s Indians and it’s completely understandable if some people are offended by this. But aside from that, it’s pretty easy to see why Peter Pan is commonly regarded as one of the most famous films in the Disney canon. It’s just a really fun adventure that is guaranteed to capture the imaginations of young and old.

Rating: 5/5!


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Sandwiched in between two of the most famous Disney animated films of all-time is 1955’s Lady and the Tramp, which is actually based off of a story titled Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog that was written by Ward Greene and published in Cosmopolitan magazine. The film focuses on the romance that develops between Lady, the beloved cocker spaniel of an upper-class family, and Tramp, a stray mutt. The romance that forms between the two of them is pretty nice, highlighted by the iconic ‘Bella Notte’ sequence in which they share a romantic candlelit spaghetti dinner while being serenaded by the owner of the Italian restaurant that provided them the food. Simply put, this is one of the most iconic ‘love story’ moments in the history of film. But the rest of the film is quite solid as well. One of the most interesting elements of the story is the fact that the majority of the film is seen from the perspective of the dogs. Lady refers to her owners as ‘Jim Dear’ and ‘Darling’ because that’s what they frequently call each other from her point of view. And when they have a baby, Lady doesn’t initially realize it at first when she finds that they start to become rather distant and we also see how the baby’s arrival ultimately affects her relationship with her owners. Granted, I wouldn’t really call this one of Disney’s absolute ‘best’ films. The story is rather simple and it is sort of like Alice in Wonderland in that it’s mostly just a random collection of moments involving the main characters. Still, with a likable lead duo, a solidly developed romance, and the usual nice Disney animation, Lady and the Tramp is still a pretty darn classic entry in the Disney canon.

Rating: 4/5


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From an artistic perspective, Sleeping Beauty is definitely one of the most beautifully animated films that Disney has ever made. It was the second film that they’d ever shot in widescreen, after Lady and the Tramp, and the results really are fantastic. The grand landscapes that come from the format are excellent and have an excellent painting-like quality to them. The film also has some excellent music, which was adopted from Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet of the same name. ‘Once Upon a Dream’ is definitely a classic Disney love song. But when it comes to the writing, admittedly it’s rather flawed in some parts, namely the main characters. Princess Aurora is unfortunately one of the weaker Disney princesses, though that’s mostly just due to the fact that she spends a good chunk of the film asleep. Her prince, Phillip, is also a bit underwritten at times; in fact, once he goes off to rescue Aurora he never says anything for the remainder of the film. But despite a rather underdeveloped pair of leads, the film does have a great cast of side characters. The three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are an excellent trio who work off each other well when it comes to the three of them trying to raise Aurora in secret without the help of their magic. And of course, there’s the main villain, Maleficent. Sure her motivations are rather weak, as she does what she does only because she wasn’t invited to the party celebrating the birth of Aurora, but her elegance and magical abilities easily make her one of Disney’s greatest villains. In short, Sleeping Beauty may not be perfect but it’s still a very enjoyable entry in the Disney canon. While it doesn’t really do much for its two main protagonists, the main villain, side characters, music, and animation do make up for that for the most part. Ultimately, though, Sleeping Beauty was actually an underperformer at the box office upon initial release, effectively resulting in Disney moving away from adapting fairy tales until The Little Mermaid three whole decades later.

Rating: 4/5

And with that, Rhode Island Movie Corner’s ‘Disney Retrospective’ series officially comes to a close. As always, be sure to sound off in the comments below in regards to your own thoughts on the films discussed here today and be sure to also check out the previous Disney Retrospectives that I’ve done in the links below. However, this is not the end of my discussion of Disney Animation for now. You may have noticed in a few of the previous ‘Disney Retrospectives’ that I mentioned that I have something BIG planned for next month. Well, since we’ve reached the end of these Retrospectives, I figured that it’s time to finally reveal my big plan… so be sure to check back tomorrow for the big announcement of what is coming to Rhode Island Movie Corner this November.