Pocahontas – Review

Pocahontas was released in 1995 and was Disney’s first attempt at animating a “true” story since 1948 (The Legend of Johnny Appleseed in Melody Time). That being said the truthfulness around the events of this film have been heavily modified and have only been written by John Smith himself years after the time the events were to have taken place.

Whether the story is true or not aside, is Pocahontas a good film? Not really. The songs are quite nice and sweeping and the animation is pretty good despite the fact that most of the Native Americans in this film seem to have the same lack of nose condition that afflicted Voldemort. But that is where most of my praise stops, the characters are two-dimensional and uninteresting (especially the two leads) and that is poorly covered up by the overused sidekicks. Don’t get me wrong, Meeko the Racoon is cute, but he, Flit the Hummingbird and Percy the Pug are so overused that I would imagine even some kids would get bored of it.

Without going in to the lacklustre effort Disney put in to correctly portraying the way the British treated the indigenous people of America and their attempt in saying maybe it was all a misunderstanding (it wasn’t) I will instead look at the film as a film. It’s not that much better.

The tone of the film is pretty off with the story of John Smith (Mel Gibson) and Pocahontas (Irene Bedard, and Judy Kuhn providing the singing voice) being whittled down to a conversation or two where they kind of get to know each other, while we find out how boring they both are. The rest of the film shows Pocahontas’ tribe and the British Colonials in a Romeo and Juliet sort of manner where they are both considered to be in the wrong and a sub-plot in which the parts of the story that might go over the heads of children are explained through a dog chasing a racoon. The story can be split almost equally with the ‘love story’ of Pocahontas and John Smith slightly getting some more screen time over Meeko vs Percy. At lease the film isn’t slow. Watching the 82 minute film doesn’t feel like a trial or anything, it skips through the story beats reasonably well with out losing too much momentum during the musical numbers.

The even more uninteresting supporting cast included the voices of Christian Bale as Thomas, David Ogden Stiers as Governor Ratcliffe and his manservant Wiggins, Russell Means as Chief Powhatan, Linda Hunt as Grandma Willow (I know I haven’t talked about the talking tree), Michele St. John as Nakoma, James Apaumut Fall as Kocoum and Joe Baker and Billy Connolly as two settlers, everytime Billy speaks it pulls you out of the movie – something these older films were not known to do as much as nowadays. Good on all these people for being in a film. Also a quick shout out to the two directors; Mike Gabriel (who had previously co-directed The Rescuers Down Under) and Eric Goldberg (who went on to direct parts of Fantasia 2000).

Disney had planned for Pocahontas to be their next Best Picture Academy Award winning film, it failed in that regard but they did pick up two for Best Original Song (Colors of the Wind) and Best Musical or Comedy Score. They tried to cater to as wide an audience as possible and ended up creating something that appealed to no one. It’s visual gags from the side characters aren’t enough to distract from the boring love story between two dull and undeveloped characters.

Rating: Below Average

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The Dark Knight Rises – Review

Apologies for the late review, this film needed to be seen a few times for me so I could happily pass judgement. Christopher Nolan’s epic run of Batman films ends with The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s been 8 years since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder and the police of Gotham, thanks to the ‘Dent Act’, have cleaned up the streets from crime. Until a ruthless mercinary named ¬†Bane attacks Gotham. His plans promt Batman to return to the city who, in the last film, wanted him dead. But some of the police still hold those feelings for the caped crusader and their attempts to stop him allow Bane to continue his plans for Gotham City.

This film is epic and on a grand scale. If you see it in a cinema with good bass it is simply incredible.

Christopher Nolan expertly co-writes and directs again as usual. He brings in some of his actors from Inception, Tom Hardy (as Bane) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Gotham City PD officer, John Blake) and Marion Cotillard (as Miranda Tate) as well as some more famous faces like Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

Old favourites return to the series aswell. Christian Bale is again, Bruce Wayne / Batman, Micheal Caine steals the show as Alfred Pennyworth. Morgan Freeman plays the President of  Wayne Enterprises, Lucis Fox. Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. There are also some nice little cameos from the other films you might find pretty cool.

As I said before Michael Caine was the stand out performance for me. He really conveyed the emotion that Alfred felt throughout these troubling times for Bruce and Gotham.

The music fills the cinema perfectly and Zimmer’s use of silence in key scenes is so captivating. You find the chanting in the film very hard to get out of your head. But why would you want it to?

I had so much fun watching this film. Both times it excites you, frightens you, makes you feel the dispair and anguish of the people of Gotham. I really don’t want to say all that much more about this film but it ends the trilogy very nicely perfectly. I was a bit suspicious the first time the film ended as a big fan of Batman lore. But after the second viewing… All that went away.

The Dark Knight Rises: Above Average

The Prestige – Review

I could probably say all I need to say about this movie in two words… Christopher Nolan. Yes, thats right, one year on from Batman Begins, Nolan reunites actors Christian Bale and Michael Caine while throwing in Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson in to the mix to create this turn of the century masterpiece.

Fully equipped with all the twist and turns Nolan is known for, The Prestige tells the story of two rival magicians (Bale & Jackman) who constantly try to one up each other in search of the ultimate trick. Michael Caine and Scar-Jo play the assistants caught up in this obsessional feud. The centre of the race for the ultimate trick, Nikola Teslar, played by David Bowie, who in this film is seen as a master of the impossible, and in fact an inventor far more capable of electricity than the briefly mentioned Thomas Edison, but we won’t get in to historical facts… after all, this is a movie about magic and illusion!

I cannot fault any facet of this movie, it has a gripping storyline, amazing cast, and an ending that will keep you wanting more (without spoiling too much… more than it does in Inception). The story has just the right amount of sci-fi-yness to keep any movie goer interested. This is a film you must watch before you die… hell, see it this week!

The Prestige: Above Average