phubbs1's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

Want-to-See Movies

This user has no Want to See movie selections yet.

Want-to-See TV

This user has no Want to See TV selections yet.

Rating History

Journey to the Beginning of Time
5 days ago via Flixster
½

Although this may sound like your typical Doug McClure type romp, is it in fact something a little more original. Directed by the famous Czech animator Karel Zeman, the film is actually more of a documentary first and an adventure second. The plot surrounds a group of four young boys in a boat who journey down a river and into a mysterious cave. When they emerge from within the cave they find themselves back in time in a primeval landscape. As they slowly travel down the river they soon realise they are in fact travelling back through the Earth's various time periods, back through time, to the beginning of time itself.

Interestingly, the movie I am reviewing here is in fact the American version from 1966. This US version has a different title, has obviously been dubbed and has new footage added. The footage was shot in 66, New York, and gives a different opening (and ending) for the four boys (obviously a different cast of boys). Here they go to the American Natural History Museum and, apparently, all fall asleep together (or imagine together?) and have the same dream, the dream being their boat trip through time. That being said, the film also seems to hint at the possibility of a Native American statue possibly hypnotising or casting a spell on them, it isn't too clear.

Anyway the Czech film was originally called 'Cesta do PravÍku' and you do see the majority of that film with the US version, its just the beginning and end that are cut. I have titled my review with the US version/part English translation simply because that is probably how its best remembered. The 1966 US footage of the boys for the beginning and end of the film is generally fine. The two sequences blend in relatively well, although I'd like to see the original film footage too.

This film was quite unusual for the time due to its documentary angle. Aimed squarely at children the film is more of an educational feature rather than an all out adventure. Yes there are sequences of exploration and danger for the four boys, but essentially each time period, with its own unique inhabitants, is discussed or narrated by the boys to relay information to you, the viewer. Most of the time the boys are drifting along in their longboat, a safe distance from the various mammals and dinosaurs they witness. At times they do get into minor trouble, they do come ashore and they do explore further interacting with some creatures and plant life. There are no dinosaur battles, guns, human fatalities, blonde dames or atomic bombs in this feature.

Apart from the unique educational aspect of the film, it was Zeman's fantastic stop-motion animation that was the real crowd-pleaser. Turns out that Zeman was a master of stop-motion, the European equivalent of Ray Harryhausen. His combination of stop-motion clay models and 2D hand drawn profile images was pretty ingenious and new at the time, I think. Where many Hollywood movies would use stop-motion models for their monsters or beasties, usually against other models or a matte painting, Zeman actually combined the two. So what you would see is a static hand drawn profile image of a dinosaur, but with a stop-motion head and neck (all against a small model set and rear projection live action shot of the actors). It sounds very basic and cheap but believe me it looks great and you'd never notice it, you'd swear you were looking at a full model. Zeman would also combine static paintings of creatures and their landscapes with just one lone fully animated model.

Not just content with that, Zeman and his crew also created numerous full sized puppets for some dinosaur sequences. Generally this would simply be a full sized head or body for some close up shots. There are two sequences of a dinosaur head and mammoth body breaking the water which are basic puppets. Zeman and co also created full sized prehistoric plant life, one prehistoric lizard thing that looked like a Muppet, and one full sized dead stegosaurus which looked really fantastic. The four boys inspect this dead dinosaur, the scale of the body along with the paint detail is really impressive. Not only that but it did get me thinking, did a certain Steven Spielberg see this film and copy this scene?

So it turns out that Zeman was a master of animation and visual trickery, but he also drew inspiration from others. For the most part Zeman got his visual inspiration from famous Czech paleoartist ZdenÍk Burian. Burian was/is well known for his incredible artwork surrounding all manner of prehistoric life and ecosystems. Pretty much all of the 2D matte painting and dinosaur profile work was based off Burian's imagery. Its clear to see if you compare Burian's artwork with the films prehistoric landscapes, much of the films imagery looks like animated artwork.

Concerning the plot, well naturally I did find myself asking why on earth these boys didn't ever turn back, I mean surely you'd maybe have a look around and then go back through the cave right, for safety reasons. But no, off they go, cruising down the river into the unknown and eventually camping out! Not too sure where they got the wood from for that campfire either, seeing as they were in an ice age. Now I think of it, how did they not freeze to death?? (they're wearing shorts). OK, so its all completely ridiculous how these boys don't actually end up getting eaten, bitten, stung or mauled to death by some prehistoric monster, poisonous insect or early plant life. I guess we should look past that, but hey after all, these are 50's kids, a lot tougher than kids today, more world savvy too, probably.

I was genuinely taken aback by this film and its visuals. Granted the film quality wasn't too good and if you saw this on bluray I would imagine all the tricks and faults would be easily exposed. But the sheer scope along with obvious care and attention to detail is astonishing. The four boys do a sterling job with their acting considering they are mostly acting against nothing and this is a 1955 film (acting not always too good). The story is as basic as it gets but again it doesn't matter because firstly, its supposed to be educational, and secondly, its all so wonderfully charming and gorgeous to look at. Any stop-motion fan needs to see this its as simple as that. Some of the animals and creatures we see are admittedly a bit jerky, a bit rough around the edges (on close up), but most are superbly created and animated (a galloping herd of giraffes for one).

This film is unique in many ways, its an eye-opener and a very pleasant surprise. If you're expecting rampaging dinosaurs fighting other giant insectoid-like monsters with screaming damsels, I hear you and I understand your cravings. But no, this is not the film you're looking for. This is virtually like one of those films you would watch inside a museum or theme park. You are presented with mammals and dinosaurs actually normally in their proper environments, as observed by the four boys. It offers some simple thrills but its mainly for teaching or introducing the young to the fascinating world of palaeontology (with the information known in the mid 50's).

Terror from the Year 5000
7 days ago via Flixster

Yep we got another crappy poster contender right here, oh boy this a bad one. Its totally misleading, shows things you never actually see and it makes no real sense. Are we watching a movie about a flying witch of some kind? From the future or perhaps? Is this a children's movie? The title is also way more exciting than the actual film itself, a common issue.

Now I'm gonna be straight up with everyone here, it took me some time before I really knew what the feck was going on here. Honesty, I was lost and bored amidst quite a bit of slow paced dialog and...errr...more slow paced dialog in various locations. OK...I actually had to go back and rewatch half of the movie to get the gist of it, yes it was that dull and uninteresting.

Nuclear physicist Prof. Howard Erling (Frederic Downs) and his assistant Victor (John Stratton) manage to construct a machine that can break the time barrier. The machine looks like a steel tub with a port hole window. Now if you thought the duo might start jumping through time you'd be sorely mistaken, alas! No in fact they manage to receive a small object from the future. Obvious questions such as who sent the object and why don't come into this, just go with the flow here. Said object turns out to be highly radioactive too which causes more intrigue, but still no real action on their part. Anyway after a whole load of character driven bollocks that literally goes nowhere, we eventually find out that the professor has been trading objects with persons unknown in the future.

Eventually it also turns out that Victor has been secretly conducting experiments himself, on a higher power level, which has resulted in mutated creatures appearing in the tub. One such recent experiment has resulted in a human-like creature coming through also, of course that creature is now on the loose. This creature turns out to be a woman from the year 5200 (ta-da! and yes that is correct, not the year 5000 after all), but not just any woman, she is a mutant. Yes it turns out that the future of mankind is doomed to a nuclear holocaust filled with mutants that seemingly still have pretty good technology. Her mission is to bring Victor back to the future so he can help them...somehow. Will she succeed or will she...umm...not? Tension!

Right so as I've already mentioned, the main crux of this story focuses on this time machine thingy which transport objects. This is the what you assume will be the fun macguffin which will transport our hapless duo through time. But you know now it doesn't, in fact it does very little for the entire movie. The problem with this movie is nothing really happens for the whole damn run time, until right at the end. But even then what we get is pitiful even for 1958. Heck we don't even see any future Earth, not even a matte painting or model or anything, you might as well be watching a cheap stage play. The idea is fine, nothing original mind you but fine, but they just don't explore it. I understand there were probably many obvious limitations but if you can't do your movie justice then don't do it.

There is so much padding in this movie its painful, painful pointless padding that goes nowhere and is draaab! The plot takes forever to get going and its all exposition dialog. Scene after scene of the professor and Victor working, discussing things, then working some more. Eventually an archaeologist is brought in to verify the items of the future. To make things more exciting there's a completely needless car chase sequence for this character intro. This guy seems to start falling for the professors daughter (of course) who is actually the fiancee of Victor. This naturally causes a typical 1950's love triangle type scenario that doesn't actually go anywhere, but instead leads to us finding out about Victor's skulduggery with the secret experiments. Victor is also upset because he thinks the archaeologist will discredit their hard work so...cue the obligatory fight sequence. Oh and there's also some voyeurism by the local handyman too because why not?

The mutated woman of the future is bitterly disappointing. A simple bit of tacky putty makeup and false teeth, and a very bizarre catsuit of some kind covered in sparkles (mirrors?). This character literally looks like something that jigged to the boogie on [i]Soul Train[/i]. Although, strangely enough at first the character is actually quite eerie and intimidating. The first time she is shown we only see her arm reaching from within the time machine, at least I assume that was her. Then when she actually comes through to the present, we get quite a scary fast moving silhouette dashing towards the camera accompanied by a terrifying scream. Twas pretty spooky truth be told. Not entirely sure if this woman had some kind of super powers or not but she seemed pretty strong, nifty face cloning/removal technology too. Actually that one idea and scene was quite impressive considering, definitely ahead of its time there and I would imagine very scary for a 1950's audience. Although it has to be said, this mutated female of the future also has a damn good glittery nail polish hypnotising technique, don't leave home without your nails all done up.

Amazingly there isn't much stock footage in this movie, yes there is a bit at the beginning (can't escape it fully) along with some narration, but its generally stock free. Apart from everything I've mentioned there isn't really a lot to discuss, the movie is on the whole pretty bad. The movie title is wrong apparently, the plot is boring and just never gets going, there are no real special effects bar one tiny optical effect, and its features yet another apocalyptic future with mutants scenario. I was desperate for someone to go through the time machine and into the future, desperate! But alas!

The Amazing Transparent Man
12 days ago via Flixster

Again we have an...ahem...amazing movie title with a pretty sweet poster. It looks more like a children's adventure book cover, one of those 'choose your own ending' type books (remember those?). It also has a nice noir-esque/comicbook vibe about it, overall an attractive and imaginative design.

So you could be mistaken for thinking this plot might be a tad similar to the classic 1933 film 'The Invisible Man'. Well you're not too far off but naturally this plot is somewhat different for copyright reasons obviously. Basically a former US army general (Krenner played by James Griffith) wants to take over the world with an army of invisible soldiers. He already has a machine that can make objects invisible (with the help of a stereotypical eastern European scientist type bloke, Dr. Ulof played by Ivan Triesault), but he needs further materials (nuclear) to perfect it. Said materials are rare and the only ones he knows of are under lock and key deep within government facilities. So his plan is to break out a brilliant safecracker (Joey Faust played by Douglas Kennedy) from jail, so he can steal the materials required whilst being invisible.

Of course there's a bit more to this story. The invisibility doesn't hold out for long periods, its a bit shaky, hence the rare nuclear materials needed to perfect the machine. Also Faust doesn't really want to do the job for Krenner but Krenner blackmails him with threats of turning him over to the cops (even though he broke Faust out). There's also Krenner's dame (Marguerite Chapman) who Faust tries to charm into double crossing Krenner, and the fact that Krenner has Dr. Ulof's daughter locked up to keep him in line (although that specific plot device goes nowhere).

So we are talking about an invisible man here, what are the special effects like? Well they're sparse that's for sure, this ain't no special effects bonanza. Much of the film surrounds the various characters planning stuff, we get very little invisibility action. What we do get are some floating items on wires that represent Faust carrying them, and a very brief sequence where Faust becomes visible and invisible again during a bank raid. This optical effect is corny as hell for sure but actually quite effective and decent looking considering this is such a schlocky feature. Although it does raise the simple problem that while Faust is invisible, the item he is carrying is not. So surely people would see this floating item and suspect something...as it floated out the door.

We also see the moments when Faust is turned invisible whilst under the machine (invisibility ray), and the practice runs with a guinea pig which are again nicely done. The little sequence shows the guinea pig slowly losing full visibility one layer at a time, skin, then bone structure, then nothing...invisible. We also see some marvellous acting against nothing, such as fights with an invisible foe, the odd chat with a blank space and doors opening themselves.

I think the main problem with this movie is the lack of action and the lame plot. For a start Krenner wants to conquer the world with an invisible army, but why? and how will he achieve this exactly? Faust could quite easily kill Krenner when he becomes invisible, he does threaten Krenner but for some reason doesn't kill him. Dr. Ulof seems pointless as he's only there to work the machine and dish out scientific exposition. Again Faust could of killed Krenner and used Ulof to assist him with his invisibility issues. Ulof would be happy to help seeing as he hates Krenner for kidnapping his daughter, I'm not really sure why everyone doesn't just bump Krenner off. Krenner's dame Laura also comes across as useless because she does nothing really, I'm not even sure what her character motivation was. She wants money and power clearly, hence she hangs around with Krenner, but she helps Faust go against Krenner so...how does that help her??

Krenner also has a bodyguard (or hired muscle) in the form of a cowboy fella called Red. Apparently Krenner has told Red that his son is imprisoned in Europe and only he can get him out. No idea what his son is supposed to have done, how Krenner knows his son or how Krenner could get him out, I presume another breakout. So Red obeys Krenner like a good little bitch. Of course Krenner is lying and when Red discovers this he does nothing, absolutely nothing, the character merely exits the movie and is never heard from again. No clue why this character was in the movie.

Both Griffith and Kennedy really go for it in this movie that's for sure. Kennedy does actually put in a decent performance as the bad tempered criminal who's only looking out for himself. Griffith is suitably slimy as Krenner, in fact he has a face you just wanna slap. Kennedy was actually quite a big strapping chap in this movie where as Griffith is very slender, so its still odd that Faust never beats this guy to death because he probably could. I'm also pretty sure Griffith (in character) accidentally slaps Chapman across the face at one point in a moment of brutal 1960's misogyny.

This is an odd movie in general. The plot is really patchy and never really goes anywhere with conviction. Most of the characters don't really seem to have a goal. Krenner seems to own this lovely huge house and just wants to take over the world because of reasons. Whilst Faust is just a grumpy bloke who seems ungrateful that Krenner bust him outta jail and doesn't know what to do with his life. The fact that the movie still manages to end with an atomic explosion is also hilarious frankly, its like every movie in this era had to include an atomic explosion (with no consequences) no matter what. To be honest its not totally unlikable, there is a charm to this pulpy nonsense, its just comes across as rushed and not well thought out. But with dialog like...[i]'you know what one of these bullets will do? Rip out your spine and roll it up like a ball of string'[/i], how can you not like to some degree?

King Dinosaur
King Dinosaur (1955)
13 days ago via Flixster

Move over [i]Godzilla[/i] and [i]King Kong[/i], welcome to the planet Nova where there are lots of giant...umm...iguanas, yeah, take that. Yeah the poster makes this look like a [i]Godzilla[/i] type flick but really it isn't, alas.

OK so you might think the plot to this would be obvious, well it is and it isn't. For some reason a planet moves into close proximity of the Earth, close enough for 1960's humans to reach after some tech building. This is the planet Nova and amazingly it appears to be just like Earth. So a team of astronauts are sent to explore Nova (three blokes and one woman, usual thing). Once they touchdown on Nova they discover that its basically a virtual clone of Earth. There are trees, water, animals, plants, a breathable atmosphere...the works! Its only as they start to explore deeper into the lush wilderness that this new world unleashes its hidden secrets. And by that I mean the planet is home to large reptiles just in case you missed the flippin' poster (ugh!).

The beginning of this film is pretty bad I'll be honest, you like stock footage? well you'll like this then. Honesty the first like...10 minutes of the movie is stock footage whilst having the plot narrated to you. Sure the stock footage is interesting like most old black and white stock footage, but my God its a cheap and tacky move to pull, real Ed Wood type stuff. Eventually once all the corny narration and stock footage has finished we are slung straight into it, we're already on planet Nova as the astronauts are stepping out onto the planet surface.

Planet Nova, the most convenient plot device ever. A planet that, somehow, just moves into our galaxy, just close enough to Earth for reasons unknown. Not only that, this planet is teeming with life, water and a breathable atmosphere, the perfect home for humans. Now when I say teeming with life, I mean the exact same lifeforms you'd find here on Earth such as armadillos, alligators, snakes, various birds, bears, sloths, elk or reindeer etc...Of course no alien planet would be complete without some form of monsters. Planet Nova doesn't let you down as there are...umm...giant alligators, giant armadillos, giant wasps? (I think it was) and a giant mammoth?? Wut??? I should point out that almost all of these creatures are stock footage.

Of course the main beasties on the planet are the giant iguanas that terrorise our human protagonists. Unlike all the other creatures these iguanas are actually not stock footage but in fact real live action footage of iguanas on sets/models. Admittedly the sets/models they bound across are merely rocky terrain set ups, nothing spectacular. The actors are shot on a separate plate with the iguana footage behind them on a rear projection. When this isn't happening we simply get footage of the iguanas doing what iguanas do, interspersed with shots of the humans reacting. This effects method has been used before on many other fantasy movies and while it can be visually effective at times (when the reptiles sit still against a nice background for instance), generally it looks all wrong because the iguanas simply move too fast to be supposed ginormous monsters. They generally look too obvious as small lizards on model sets, no proper illusion of weight.

The big question is why does Planet Nova have all these typically Earth bound creatures? Not to mention Earth-like trees, plants, soil...and prehistoric creatures. Lets not go there OK, just sit back and enjoy the nonsense. Anyway so the astronauts spend most of their time just lounging around and doing whatever. They leave the safety of their ship, go off into the wilderness and set up a camp? Wouldn't it be safer going back to the ship? Whilst at this camp they are attacked by a giant wasp or ant and an alligator, yet they still remain at the camp. Luckily they seem to have everything they need to survive on this alien planet, a rifle, plasters, bandages, a raft, errr...tinned food. Seriously they have a huge spaceship with advanced technology, why the fuck are they living like the Swiss Family Robinson and not using the ship??

So eventually they go off to check out a mysterious island shrouded in cloud. Spoiler alert, this is where all the nasty monsters live, the change in music denotes this in case you're not sure. So the brave male leads the screaming female into the jaws of death and back again, whilst also avoiding that pesky mammoth. But the only way to escape these giant alien iguanas is to blow them to kingdom come. Luckily the astronauts have an atomic bomb for just such an occasion. They set the bomb and run like crazy. Luckily they manage to just get clear of the atomic explosion that wipes out this entire island and every alien lifeform on it. Good job they had that raft to escape in time.

So effectively, the humans have landed on this alien world, explored it, discovered a shittonne of life...and then blown half of it to pieces with an atomic bomb. All in a days work for the human race huh. One has to ask what the point of exploration was if they were just gonna nuke everything at the first sign of danger. We don't find out what happens after this of course. No clue how the blast affects the planet later on, if the humans go back to wipe out more alien life so they can colonise it, or maybe they just use it as a vast hunting ground for sport. I think this movie is kinda depressing really, it shows how destructive humans are and exposes all our bad traits (for the time, but have we gotten any better?). There is little to praise really, the effects are pretty sparse, nothing special at all. The acting is poor, [b]WAY[/b] too much stock footage, like the most ever! No effort for the alien planet visually, they literally went out and filmed in the countryside somewhere and plot is ludicrous. The only decent thing about this movie is the wicked title.

Epic
Epic (2013)
16 days ago via Flixster
½

From the Studio that gave us the 'Ice Age' franchise comes this bug sized eco friendly kids flick. Based on yet another children's story book and with the strong hint of more to come in a franchise builder...oh geez!

The plot is pretty unoriginal really and we've similar stories in other films. A young girl is shrunken down to the size of a bug and is accidentally throw into a bug sized war between human-like warriors and orc-like creatures. All of this takes place within a regular forest in the regular world near the young girls house. So basically its a bug war kicking off in your back garden right under your nose.

Not quite sure why the film is called 'Epic' when the book isn't but there you go, I guess because of the scale of the war going on? Anywho I'm gonna come right out say I really liked this film, I dug it, its totally cliched and completely formulaic but it works well. Pretty much all the characters are likeable and well rounded, again most of them we've seen before in other animated films, nothing too special about talking snails, slugs, flies etc...its been done, but it looks good and is nicely amusing at times.

This is the main focal point of the film, the visuals. Like many animated films these days it looks tremendous I kid you not, both worlds we see, human and bug, are awesome in spectacle. When we are introduced to the bug sized world its one of those moments when you say to yourself 'I could live there, I want to live there, it looks fun'. Everything looks so lush and green, so vibrant and colourful, its really gorgeous and such an eye opener. On the flip side the baddie bug sized world is also awesome in its murky, rotten, dark, fungi, dead tree filled way, not exactly ground breaking stuff though.

These visuals also extend to the characters, the good guys are a green armour clad humanoid warrior race called Leaf Men. Now this guys look so flipping cool, their armour is a lovely leaf plated design with intricate pattern etched into the plates, they carry swords, wear gladiator style helmets and ride on the back of green/blue hummingbirds, their steeds of choice. They basically look like eco warrior samurai and their leader voiced nicely by Colin Farrell is called 'Ronin', which of course you all know is another word for samurai (without a master). The Irish samurai.

There are also you're standard sidekick type creatures as with any animated kids flick. Here they are nothing original in the form of a snail and a slug but I gotta give kudos to the voice actors because these two guys are very amusing, and kinda adorable looking. They have an awesome amount of detail on them though, really look good.

The bad guys are kinda like orcs I guess although their heads look a bit like a sharks head, they are called Boggans. They are you're typical baddies, they don't talk they just grunt n roar, they are drab coloured and all look the same. But there are various types of bad guys, basically any creature or bug that you would deem scary or has a bad reputation is classed as a bad guy. Bullfrogs, mosquitoes, spiders, crows, bats etc...all baddies. On the flip side you have various creatures that are classed as goodies like snails, slugs, glowworms, hummingbirds etc...There are also various plant/flower creatures in the form of Daisy's, Thistles, Dandelions etc...most of these makeup background characters.

One thing, all the characters in this are errr...white people, accept for the Queen, who is black, why? Just seemed rather odd to me to have just one character stand out from the rest like that. Unfortunately the Queen is voiced badly by Beyoncť Knowles which doesn't help either, just doesn't sound right or match her character at all.

In all honesty the film is all about the visuals as the plot is highly generic. You know what's gonna happen as we've seen this type of thing a gazillion times over. The main female character is cute looking and does everything as you would expect, although she takes to this new world pretty quickly, I'm sure most would be freaked out for ages. Much like the main villain who also does everything you would expect and gets his comeuppance predictably. Its all very light vs dark, all the goodies are colourful and bright, all the baddies are dark, gloomy and shadowy.

So yeah its all very obvious but its still a fun time with some stunning visuals. The finale is quite epic in scale and does lock you in for sure, does seem to be copying 'Star Wars' a wee bit but hey its cool. The film does slyly use other film influences throughout no doubt. Steve Tyler's glowworm character does seem to have been plucked from 'Alice in Wonderland' if you ask me, Tyler's vocals also sound like they have been plucked from said Disney film spookily, good voice work actually, surprising.

I think you can tell from what I've written here this is a character based flick, there are many other fun characters in here also. Fun characters, well crafted details and overall delicious visuals, shame about the by the numbers story line...but still fun!