Today is a momentous day, that shall be noted and celebrated in the history books for years to come. For today, you see, marks the return of my oh-so-popular Top 10 lists, which I intend to churn out on a weekly basis, and tie in to the most recent Lambcast’s topic, for as long as I am able to.
This week, to coincide with the podcast devoted to the original Planet of the Apes franchise (which can be listened to here), I’m counting down my Top 10 Movie Apes:
Honourable mention: Limbo, Planet of the Apes (2001)
Apes and monkeys are a familiar feature in movies. This is most likely due to their close resemblance in both size and appearance to humans – apparently we’re somewhat closely related – meaning that in the days before CGI they were relatively easy to depict, by simply sticking a guy in a gorilla costume. Also, real life ones are more really trained than most other animals so when a man-in-a-monkey-suit didn’t do it for you, in many instances a primate could be taught or trained to do the tasks available. For my honourable mention there are a lot of possibilities, from 28 Days Later‘s Rage-infected disease spreaders to the Jackie Chan voiced martial artist in Kung Fu Panda, but instead I’ve opted for Limbo, potentially the only good element of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake. I re-watched the film for the podcast, which is something I never intend to do again, because frankly it’s not a very good film. The plot jumps around all over the place, interesting characters are sidelined or killed off, there’s a bizarre and frankly implausible love triangle and an ending that defies logic and reason, but two things it has going for it are tremendous prosthetics and phenomenal acting performances beneath them. In my memory, Tim Roth’s General Thade was the stand-out, but now my memory has been stirred I can see he over-acts every second he is on screen, permanently glowering and furious at everything, including one scene in which he’s supposed to be seductive! The always dependable Giamatti however offers some much needed comic relief as the cowardly orang-utan slave owner Limbo. Continue reading →
Last week was spiders, this week we celebrate that other great scary creature – snakes! I know I got some negative feedback from scaring people with the spider pictures – sorry Dylan, you big pansy – and that’s unlikely to change this week, especially because my girlfriend is frankly terrified of snakes, so sorry about that honey, but it is October, after all.I’ve got no problem with snakes, but then again I’ve never actually encountered one that isn’t trapped in a perspex box, apart from the one an obnoxious twat was parading round a shopping centre near me recently, deliberately trying to scare people and using the snake as a clear replacement for the lack of any other reason people would have to notice or talk to him. But it would seem they show up an awful lot in films. This is probably because, similarly to spiders, they have completely the wrong number of legs for any normal animal, yet still manage to function effectively. How much fear do you think you’d strike into the heart of small children without any limbs? Not a great deal, probably, but that’s because you’d probably have an awful lot of trouble moving around unaided, whereas snakes get along just fine. It’s impressive, really.So, the obvious answer everyone’s shouting is Snakes On A Plane, to which I say yes, it’s a great film, but no, it’s not on the list, because of the same reason I ignored Eight Legged Freaks and Arachnophobia last week – it’s just lousy with snakes. There’s too many for any to stand out, so they all suffer because of it. And as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t quite bring myself to include Monty Python, nor did I allow Lt. ‘Cobra’ Cobretti on, mainly because I haven’t seen Cobra. And I was tempted to include Mark Wahlberg’s appendage in Boogie Nights, but decided against it at the last minute. There is one questionable not-really-a-snake inclusion, but there’s no way he could be omitted. Anyway, enough preamble, here’s the list: Continue reading →
Well look at that, I’ve gone and been on the Lambcast again. This week’s episode saw myself, Nick, Kristen, Dylan and, via pre-recordings Pat, discuss the Disney renaissance, the nine films released by Disney from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan. The show ran a little long – two and a half hours in total – but it’s well worth a listen. Anyway, to celebrate, here’s my list of the top 10 animated Disney films. I haven’t included any of the films Disney has made with Pixar, or any of their non-animated efforts, this list is just cartoons.
Of the 52 animated feature films Disney has released, I can remember having seen a total of 22 (and I’ve not really heard of eight of them. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of the other ones, but I can’t for the life of me recall anything about the likes of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Fox and The Hound or even Dinosaur, a film I should justifiably adore because of the subject matter, and one that I’m pretty sure I saw at the cinema. Therefore, there’s a total of twelve films outside of the top 10 that are eligible for the Honourable Mention slot on this list. Of these twelve, I think it’s going to be shared between Pinocchio and The Princess and the Frog. Pinocchio is a classic, the second feature length animation Disney released after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The story is a bit nuts – a toymaker wishes on a star and his latest marionette comes to life, before going on a series of adventures that involve smoke-ring-blowing mammals, boys being turned into donkeys and eventually everyone being eaten by a whale – but the animation is great. The Princess and the Frog may seem an odd choice too, but I liked the idea of a strong, independent heroine who had a dream and intended to work hard to achieve it, and the villain – voiced by Keith David – is one of my favourites from Disney.
What better way to kick off a lazy Bank Holiday Monday than with a Disney classic? With a Pixar one of course, but I’ve watched most of those, so Disney it is. Notable in the Disney archives for being the first to use big name actors to voice its characters (Robin Williams steals the show as the Genie, even though he isn’t in the first third of the film) , Aladdin doesn’t have a lot else going for it to set it apart from the more renowned Disney pictures such as Beauty and the Beast, the Lion King or the Jungle Book. Yes, the devious royal advisor Jafar is a masterclass in how to draw an evil character (acute angles, lots of acute angles, think a dehydrated Peter Cushing), Gilbert Gottfried is excellent as the cantankerous parrot Iago and there is some of the studios greatest comedy from Williams’ improv and one liners (“10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck!”), but the plot is thin, the Arabian stereotypes broad (and at times a little racist, a wink to Uncle Walt maybe?) and most of the songs are forgotten before the credits roll, with only A Whole New World and Genie’s Never Had a Friend Like Me leaving any kind of impression.
The animation is largely flawless, although touches of CGI sap the warmth from the otherwise hand-rendered imagery, and it is hugely impressive just how much characterisation has been given to a tasselled rug, but the plot is too thin and predictable, the morals daubed too thickly, even for a Disney, to make this a must-see.