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Rating History

Winnie the Pooh
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"Winnie the Pooh"
Review by: Doug Nau

Rating: *****/5

Directed by: Stephen J. Anderson
Don Hall

Produced by: Peter Del Vecho

Written by: Stephen Anderson
Clio Chiang
Don Dougherty
Don Hall
Brian Kesinger
Nicole Mitchell
Jeremy Spears
Kendelle Hoyer

Based on the books by: A.A. Milne

Narrated by: John Cleese

Starring: Jim Cummings
Tom Kenny
Craig Ferguson
Travis Oates
Bud Luckey
Jack Boutler
Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Wyatt Dean Hall
Huell Howser

Songs by: Robert Lopez
Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Music & Lyrics)

Score Composed by: Henry Jackman

Inspired by the A.A Milne stories, it's business as usual in the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh wakes up absolutely famished and he happens to have no honey. So that sets him out on his journey, which is ultimately derailed-first by a contest to find Eeyore a new tail.Pooh later finds a note from Christopher Robin that reads: "Gone out. Busy. Back soon." But then Owl misinterprets the note, proclaiming that the boy has been captured by a creature called a "Backson." Soon, the whole gang is on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from the imaginary culprit. It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply hoped to find some honey. (Disney)

Disney's fifthy Winnie the Pooh theatrical release since Pooh's Heffalump Movie and the second to be developed by Walt Disney Animation Studios since the original 1977 film in over 35 years. The story is very well told with much like the first film, it opens in Christopher Robin's room with his toys and is told from a book which plays a big role in the film as the characters interact with the letters in the pooh when they sometimes walk out of the picture as well as the narrator John Cleese. I thought they've woven the stories seamlessly with each other instead of form of three separate stories in a package film like the first film. I don't see this in anyway a follow up to the original which is far for unfair to compare the two films but i do think of it as a stand alone piece. Which, Disney did a terrific job for what they set out to do is to create a beautiful film that teaches the valve of friendship to a new generation of kids.

The animation is especially beautifully done and true to the watercolor style of first film. It is so refreshing to see hand-drawn animation in full glory on the big screen. The voice cast all did a terrific job with their roles, Jim Cummings who has voiced both Pooh and Tigger since 1988 return for this film which was smart for Disney to keep him for the two most beloved characters because people of my generation who are familiar with his vocals. The rest of the cast are new and each put their own interpretation and all serve their roles with justice. I especially liked Christopher Robin in this film because he looks more like a child than a teenager in the original film and Jack Boulter gives him a British accent and they going back to its country origin roots from the book into this film unlike the original Christopher Robin is more American. Other voices i liked are, Tom Kenny, Craig Ferguson, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Wyatt Dean Hall.

The score composed by Henry Jackman who adds a sweet and whimsy charm to the fun and mayhem of the film. There's also some familiar cues from the original film can be heard on soundtrack. One track in particular "Main Title Sequence/Winnie the Pooh" plays the same music from the opening sequence in the original film which. My favorite tracks on the soundtrack includes "Pooh Greets the Day","Get You Tiggerized!", "Woods and Words/Backson Tracks", "Picnic and Beehive Chase", "Stuck in the Pit/Baloon Chase", and "A Honey Happy Ending". The Songs written by Broadway composer and lyricist of Avenue Q, and The Book of Mormon Robert Lopez and his wife Kristin Anderson-Lopez are so catchy, witty, and fun for both kids and adults and are every bit as good as the songs from the original film. My Favorite song from the film is "The Tummy Song", "The Backson Song", "It's Gonna be Great", and "Everything is honey". Zooey Deschanel vocal is a perfect fit for this film, she adds a nice mix of sweet when she sings "A Very Important Thing to do. She and gives an acoustic guitar contemporary flare to the new version of the theme song and the end credit song "So Long".

So overall, It's a nostalgic classic that will bring a smile to your face with its charm, and whimsy wit. The stories are very well woven into one stories and the movie isn't formulated into separate stories. While i do agree that the running time is a little short for me and could have been longer even though i know this is meant for little children and kids these days are usually so high-maintenance that they lose interest and become too distracted to sit through a movie, but that is not always the case for some kids as most cartoons in the past prove you can hold a kids attention for the full length. The animation is worth viewing all its glory on the big screen and remains true to the original films watercolor style. The music is also very good and extremely catchy songs and good companions to those that the Sherman brothers have wrote for the original film. I recommend this film to any fans of the Pooh Franchise and the whole family will have a wonderful time at the movie theater.

Work Cited
Disney. "Movie Synopsis". www.disney.go.com. Disney Enterprise, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

Avatar
Avatar (2009)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"Avatar"
Review By: Doug Nau

Rating:*****/5

Directed by: James Cameron

Produced by: James Cameron
Jon Landau

Written by: James Cameron

Starring: Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldana
Stephen Lang
Michelle Rodriguez
Sigourney Weaver
Giovanni Ribisi
Joel David Moore
C. C. H. Pounder
Wes Studi
Laz Alonso

Score composed by: James Horner


When his brother is murdered, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's (Giovanni Ribisi)intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch (Stephan Lang), while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri (Zoe Saldona), the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand - and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora. (The Massie Twins)

This being James Cameron's first movie since Titanic in 1997 with his latest movie Avatar is the most incredible experiences I've ever seen had even though I didn't see it in 3d but I prefer watching movies traditionally but that's just me.The story has a very fascinating concept and the scope of it is so epic, although the story is in more or less ways cliched.I notice some very similar themes it shares with Pocahontas and FernGully:The Last Rainforest and even reminiscent at times with Jurassic Park but in no way its bad at all. It's safe to say its far better then most of the movies in released in the past years and shows it really doesn't matter if a movie has similarities from other films if it does it in a new way that distinguished it self from the rest. People may recall that The Lion King had many similarities to Bambi and its been considered to be one of the best movies ever made. Showing that Avatar is not the only high profile file film that has references or similarities in storytelling wise.

The animation/visual effects are some of the best looking I've ever seen, so much tender, love ,and attention was put into. It's so amazing especially in the battle sequence, my jaws dropped to the floor throughout the whole sequence. they've mixed in with the live-action portion so nicely with the computer graphics that it's not just a film with big spectacle effects but one that has an involving and compelling story that beautifully blends the action of the movie. The cast especially as an ensemble did a great job the standouts go to Sam Worthington who gets my vote for favorite breakthrough male performance. Zoe Saldona also gets credit for standout performance for her powerful emotions she put into her role, as well as Stephan Lang was also fantastic even though you love to hate his character, other noteworthy performances are Sigourney Weaver,Michelle Rodriguez,Joel David Moore,and Laz Alonso.

The Score by James Horner is the most magnificent music I've ever heard,so beautiful and epic. It incorporates tribal chants and some of the Na'vi language was used in the soundtrack, most noticeable in "Jake's First Flight" which is one of my favorite score pieces. Other favorite musical cues includes "You don't Dream in Cryo. ...","The Bioluminescence of the Night","Becoming one of 'The People' Becoming one with Neytiri","Quaritch","War", "Thanator Chase", "The Destruction of Hometree",and "Great Leonoptryx". Horner also did the theme song for Avatar "I See You" with Simon Farnglen, who produced the song "My Heart Will Go On". It's such a beautiful pop ballad sung by Leona Lewis. A winner for the writers behind the song for it fits perfectly with the whole mood of the greeting, as well as to comprehend someone. It doesn't compare to the sad theme song of Titanic, which is a good thing because the song is meant to be written for the love relationship between Jake and Neytiri.

So overall, this is a must see film of the year. Not only is it one of the best movies of 2009, its one of the best movies of the decade.It is cliched in parts of the story; however, these cliches to me are forgiven for its truly immersive, action-packed, and visually stunning experience of the imaginative dream-like world of Pandora.

Work Cited:
The Massie Twins. "Plot Summary for Avatar." IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

"Tales From Earthsea"
Review by: Doug Nau

Rating:****1/2/5

Directed by: Goro Miyazaki

Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Tomohiko Ishii

Written by: Gorō Miyazaki
Keiko Niwa

Based loosely on the first four in the book series by: Ursula K. Le Guin "A Wizard of Earthsea", "The Tombs of Atuan", "The Farthest Shore", & "Tehanu"

Starring: (original Japanese)
Bunta Sugawara
Okada Junichi
Aoi Teshima
Jun Fubuki
Kaoru Kobayashi
Queen: Yui Natsukawa
Cob: Yūko Tanaka
Teruyuki Kagawa
Mitsuko Baisho

(English Dub)
Timothy Dalton
Willem Dafoe
Matt Levin
Cheech Marin
Mariska Hargitay
Blaire Restaneo
Jean Smart

Score Composed by: Tamiya Terashima

Tales From Earthsea loosely based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea series. Something bizarre has come over Earthsea. The kingdom is deterioring. People are beginning to act strange... what's beginning to see dragons, which shouldn't enter the world of humans. Due to all these events, Ged (also known as "Sparrowhawk") (Bunta Sugawara), (Timothy Dalton), a wandering wizard, is investigating the cause. During his journey, he rescues Prince Arren (Okada Junichi), (Matt Levin), a young distraught teen-aged boy. While Arren may look like a shy young teen, he has a severe dark side, which grants strength, hatred, ruthlessness and has no mercy, as he flees from home. He then joins Sparrowhawk on the quest, and moving closer to their intertwined destinies, they cross path with Tenar (Jun Fubuki), (Mariska Haragitay), a former priestess, and her disfigured adopted daughter Therru (Aoi Teshima), (Blaire Restaneo). With Sparrowhawk's magical powers, all of them must band together to defeat the evil Cob (Yuko Tanaka), (Willem Dafoe) and his henchman Hare (Teruyuki Kagawa), (Cheech Marin) before Cob's mania to immortality destroys Earthsea.

The story is by no means bad at all, but it's not perfect, my main problem with the movie was Arren's motives at the beginning. I don't want to tell what he does but it wasn't executed well as there's a lot of other stuff happening before the moment that we didn't get a enough time to develop his character's motives so it wasn't so rushed. But as the plot progress it becomes more fleshed out and rather complex in themes and its underlining messages, as it deals with immortality, and facing the consequences of ones actions that the story's narrative feels very poetically told. I have watched both Japanese with English subtitles and English version and in my opinion are excellent voice casts, as for which is better really depends because I personally prefer the Willem Dafoe deep and chilling voice for Cob over the original because he sounded like a girl when he's not a women, yeah a bit of a miss cast for the Japanese's but the rest are so fantastic I especially loved Aoi Teshima as Therru, the English Therru is wonderful to, who both show off their sweet and beautiful voices, as they sing a very lovely song in the movie.

The animation and visuals are breathtakingly gorgeous, some truly splendid spectacle. I especially liked the dragon sequences towards the end of the movie, it's so beautifully animated and a very touching moment with Arren and the dragon. The score composed by Tamiya Terashima is so epic and some truly stunning melodies.My favorite tracks for the soundtrack are "Disaster:Dragon", "Haitaka: Runaway", "Journey", "Clouds", "Man of the Land", "Parting: Fear of Shadows", "Extortion: The Temptation of Immortality", "True Name: Awaking", and "Fire of Life".The as I told about early in this review "Therru's song" is a truly beautiful song especially it's Japanese version.

So overall while Miyazaki's son attempt to his father's legacy is a great effort, not quite up to standards to his father but still a worthy addition to the Ghibli canon. The animation is so vibrantly stunning and beautifully drawn, and the score is some of the best I've ever heard. Although, the beginning of the movie felt really rushed but the rest of the movie is actually really good. This is by far one of the most underrated movie. It's not perfect and also very dark and dreary film, but still an enjoyable experience for fans of Studio Ghibli.

The Wizard of Oz
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"The Wizard of Oz"
Review by: Doug Nau

Rating:*****/5

Directed by: Victor Fleming
(uncredited)
Mervyn LeRoy
Richard Thorpe
King Vidor

Produced by: Mervyn LeRoy
(associate producer)
Arthur Freed

Written by: Noel Langley
Florence Ryerson
Edgar Allan Woolf


Based on the novel by: L. Frank Baum "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"

Starring: Judy Garland
Frank Morgan
Ray Bolger
Bert Lahr
Jack Haley
Billie Burke
Margaret Hamilton
Charley Grapewin
Clara Blandick

Songs by: Harold Arlen (Music)
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (Lyrics)

Score composed by: Herbert Stothart


The Wizard of Oz Based on the 1900's children's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum. When a nasty neighbor tries to have her dog put to sleep, Dorothy takes her dog Toto, to run away. A cyclone appears and carries her to the magical land of Oz.but she's also in trouble with the Wicked Witch of the West, who seeks revenge for the death of her sister; the Wicked Witch of the East, for which she blames Dorothy, before the Wicked Witch of the West catches up with them. Wishing to return, she begins to travel to the Emerald City where a great wizard lives. On her way she meets a Scarecrow who needs a brain, a Tin Man who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who desperately needs courage. They all hope the Wizard of Oz will help them. (Vogel)

This is a wonderful family classic, It isn't light or cutesy at the least its so vibrate, magical,enchanting and lavishing, that's also very heartwarming and charming. I loved how at the beginning is in black and white, then when she lands in Oz is all colors, that was very clever to have totally different tones in color from Kansas and the land of Oz.It so gorgeously shot! and still looks and feels fantastic for today's standard even the special effects are great.The acting is incredible and I loved Judy Garland; she's good but does come off looking like an adult dressed and acts like a little girl. Margaret Hamilton is the true standout, she is the best witch I've ever seen on screen and plays such a mean and scary witch so brilliantly. Other note-worthy performances are Ray Bolger as Hunk/The Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as Zeke/The Cowardly Lion, and Jack Haley as Hickory/The Tin Man all three of them are fantastic.

The songs with music by Harold Arlen and Lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg is one of the best and most irresistible song I've ever heard. My favorites being "We're off to see the Wizard","The Jitterbug" (a deleted song not in the movie but on the soundtrack), "The Merry Old Land of Oz","Ding-Dong The Witch is Dead", but my all time favorite song and the standout is "Over The Rainbow"; Judy Garland sings this song so beautifully. It's also my pick for most beautiful song I've ever heard. The score composed by Herbert Stothart is so whimsical, magical, spellbinding, and one of the best scores I've ever heard. My favorite instrumental pieces are "Miss Gluch","Cyclone","Munchkinland","Threatening Witch","The Apple Orchard","The Cornfield","Poppies","The Spell","At The Gates of Emerald City","Magic Smoke Chords","The Haunted Forest",'The Witch's Castle", "Dorthy's Rescue", and "The Jitterbug attack".

So overall this is not only one of the best fantasy films its also one of the best musical. Its a timeless classic for the entire family.The songs are wonderful with a fantastic score.One of the best old-Time movies I've ever seen that stills amazing even to today's standards.

Work Cited:
Vogel, John. "Plot Summary for The Wizard of Oz". IMDB. IMDb.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

Snezhnaya koroleva (The Snow Queen)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"The Snow Queen"
(Снежная королева)
Review by: Doug Nau

Rating: *****/5

Directed by: Lev Atamanov
Nikolay Petrovich Fyodorov


Produced by: Lev Atamanov

Written by: Nikolai Erdman
Lev Atamanov
Georgiy Grebner
Nikolay Zabolotskiy (1957 lyrics)

Based on the Fairytale by: Hans Christian Andersen "The Snow Queen"

Starring: Vladimir Gribkov
T. Linnik
Anna Komolova
Galina Kozhakina
Mariya Babanova
M. Sinelnikova
Sergei Martinson
Yelena Ponsova
Vera Bendina
Yanina Zheymo
Yudif Glizer
V. Popova
Alexey Konsovskiy
Irina Murzayeva
M. Svetlova

Score Composed by: Artemiy Ayvazyan

The Snow Queen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fable about a cold-hearted queen of the frozen north who steals away young Kay and takes him to her ice palace. Kay's (Anna Komolova)friend Gerda(Yanina Zheymo)gets worried when Kay does not come home, and so she sets out to find him. Along the way, she meets an eccentric flower woman (V. Popova), a prince (Vera Bendina)and a princess(T. Linnik), a magical reindeer (Alexey Konsovskiy), a talking court raven(Yelena Ponsova), and many other fantastic characters. Once Gerda discovers that Kay is in the Snow Queen's (Mariya Babanova) palace, she has to find some way to save him in spite of the formidable queen. (Mannikka)

A Russian animated foreign film produced by Soyuzmultfilm studio is a lavishing and magical overlooked gem that is very poetically written. The story is one of the most beautiful love story I've ever seen with a compelling female protagonist Gerda, very determined and strong-willed young girl not going to just wait for someone rescues and save her best friend Kay cursed and kidnapped by The Snow Queen a Heartless cruel person who make kay forget everything in his past. The Snow Queen is the most beautifully drawn villain I've ever seen and one of my favorites. Ol Dreamy the narrator of the movie who uses his magical umbrella to cause Han to sleep and dream wonderful stories, which he then writes as fairy tales.He really reminds me a lot of Jimmy Cricket from Pinocchio.

The Score by Artemiy Ayvazyan has composed such a lush and wonderful score evokes the beauty of the movies. The animation is also gorgeously drawn and very fluid in movement that feels dated but still a work of art.Although the sound effects is rather poorly done and low key. The character voices overs are all very good but the standout being Mariya Babanova (The Snow Queen)who brings such dimensions to the very isolated villain. Other worthy voice overs are Vladimir Gribkov (Ol Dreamy) Alexey Konsovskiy (Deer), Sergei Martinson and Yelena Ponsova (The Raven & Court Raven), and Yanina Zheymo(Gerda).

So overall this is a masterpiece one of the most beautifully told fairy tale I've ever seen up their with Beauty and the Beast. The Characters are so compelling and engaging.
Soyuzmultfilm have produced a classic gem for all ages.

Work Cited
Mannikka, Eleanor. "Movie Info". www.Rottentomatoes.com. Flexster, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.