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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Lost World: 1925

   I am so glad that I'm reviewing a horror film again.  It's been so long since then, but it is nice to be back in the chair, in my room, and on this blog.  "The Lost World," made in 1925, utilized the ability of stop-motion animation to bring the these behemoths of lizards back from extinction, and onto the big screen.  It was the first adaptation of the book written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  who actually stars in the film as himself (no doubt raising his ego by 30%)!  But could these prehistorical skyscrapers, these magnificently towering lifeforms, these...dinosaurs...alone support an entire film?  let's find out in my review of, "The Lost world!"


   Oh, Lost World, what secrets do you hold?  A garden of Eden, unharmed by the destructive nature of time?  A prehistoric paradise with convincingly tall rocky formations?  Well, whatever it was, it did generate a profitable amount of buzz.  See real live dinosaurs, interact with humans!  Travelers, exploring dangers unknown!  It was every adventurers dream  come true, right up on the big screen.  Because now, after reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel about dinosaurs from the Jurassic age, they got to see everything come to life for the first time!  I'm sure that It blew everyone's mind (all over the theater too)!  The effects must have been stunning then, and to be honest, it's still pretty okay even for today.  But, the question that has been waiting quietly in the margins of the review is, "how does everything else hold up?"  I'll be the man to take that plunge.

Well, the first thing we find is that the SAME EXACT music is recycled from, "The Phantom of the Opera."  Don't get me wrong, it's great music; in fact, it's symphony's has been etched into my mind as classic.  There's only one problem.  It doesn't work in this movie, and I'll tell you why.  With these two films, we have two different locations.  One is in a jungle, and another is in an opera house.  The music, in, "Phantom of the Opera" succeeded in immersing you even further into the film with the gloomy atmosphere, and characters.  It fit perfectly.  THIS film.....doesn't work with this kind of music.  I would have preferred something along the lines of the music from a film like, "The Ape," or "The Ape Man."  They weren't as good pieces, but at least it would have fit the mood of the film.

 I feel as though this film is reminiscent to, "King Kong,"  how several explorers venture out to a, "lost land"  teeming with prehistoric life.  However the many differences that these two films face is that one film keeps the main characters as the humans and the monsters as an amusing spectacle. The other film the switches the roles and, the monster becomes the focus of the film.  This film takes the easy way out.  You don't have to send a message, just through a bunch of dinosaurs into the plot to make it edgy!  What a lousy bunch a' mediocrity!  I don't care if you take the time to bring the monsters to life, because you don't give them any place in the film other than something really cool to look at.  You know what it's like?  It's like if you've ever been to a float parade.  The main reason the things are built is to look pretty, and to give the spectators something to look at.  Those dinosaurs were tools to enhance the experience of being marooned and to heighten the tension of the film, but you turned them into PRETTY PARADE FLOATS!!!   But, I digress.

  During our first moments in the jungle we get to look at as many animals as the film's budget could muster.  However, our explorers aren't frightened in the slightest as they come across these animals one by one.  In fact they go right up to two bear cubs who are fighting for food!  I'm sorry, let me rephrase that, "they go up to a pair of hungry bears like they're in a zoo!"  Although I'm sure a zoo wouldn't be too much different, because these animals don't seem to have an ounce of dignity left inside their shipped-out hides!  But I digress.

   But the animals of the present would later be cast aside by our main attraction; dinosaurs!  These lumbering Goliath's are brought to life by stop-motion animation.  This form of film is achieved by the film maker moving an object however far he it believes an object to actually move during the duration of one frame. You start the camera, pause it, rinse and repeat.  The effect works well, but the fluency of movement could have been a whole lot better.

   Alright, I'm done kicking this film in the face.  Now lets talk about what made this film so good.  The scenery is very nice, and my favorite shot is of the two cliffs in the distance.  The rocky formations are very distinct and I enjoy the notion that they took the time to make or to find this shot. However, the closer shots throughout the film are very dark, lighting wise.  It is interesting, but it also makes everything much harder to see.  I will say this though: It was very ambitious of the director to create such an environment, realistic for its time.

   The best way that I can describe this film is that its head is in the right place, but whatever it did to emulate that idea, was not...done...too...well.  The reason that I'm saying this is because I have found a pattern within the film.  It goes like this:  Dialog, Shot of scenery, Dinosaur fight!  That's why it gets boring!  That's why it's predictable, and that's why this film barely passes my rating system.  It's amusing, I'll put it like that.  However, you want to watch something within the monster arena, I would new future series.  But, I will be doing other reviews before then.

Next review:  Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

Saturday, February 4, 2012

(Ozathon) The Patchwork Girl Of Oz: 1914

   Welcome to the second installment of my new series, "Ozathon."  This collection of reviews is meant to delve into the cinematic history of Frank L. Baum's books.  His first book, "Wonderful Wizard of Oz," was made into a film in 1910.  Four years later, "The Patchwork of Oz" was also transformed into a film, just four years later.  This film is surprisingly longer; around the length of two television episodes.  This film was made by, "The Oz Film Company," the president supposedly was Frank L. Baum himself, and the company only ran for about a year. It's really sad that this author, who created this wonderful series of books, never really did seem to get the recognition he deserved, even after he tried to make movies out of his books, and finally passed.  But, I am here to pay the respect (or give the punishment) that is long over due.  This is my review of, "The Patchwork Girl of Oz."  Enjoy.

  You remember my last review, where I said that I liked how Frank L. Baum's books were less cryptic than Alice in Wonderland?  Well, let's just say you should never judge a whole franchise after you've only had a single taste of it.  This film got to the point where the ridiculousness of everything ruled over the picture quality, and over all production value.  Everyone, like in the last film, is way too clumsy, especially the patchwork girl.

   The Patchwork girl is essentially a female scarecrow, and the two eventually end up falling for each other in the end.  But this new character is ten times as crazy as the scarecrow.  You could fill a book with all of the ,"stunts" this character pulls off during the duration of the film.  when she is on screen, all you see is a pushing shoving, twisting, kicking, contorting, flipping, swinging mess! THE PATCHWORK GIRL IS INSANE!!!!

   During the climax of the film, it chooses the option where you have separate stories, that follow different characters, and finally converge at the end.  This is probably the best thing the film has, besides the sets and characters.  However, in a way, the characters aspect of the film is sort of it's downfall.  After awhile of being introduced to different kinds of people nonstop, like the hoppers, the horners, a giant cat, a giant monkey, and racist stereotypes, it starts to become too much.  By the end you wish you could have at least bunkered yourself against the relentless onslaught of preposterous...nes.  It's ridiculous.  

In conclusion, the only other problem I have with the film is the music.  There is no rhyme or reason to having the music in the first place.  It is supposed to immerse you in the story; to make you feel as though you are there.  This has the complete opposite effect.  Some film makers don't understand that music is meant to set the mood of a film, not to simply listen to.  But, all that aside, ( including a horse, humping a tree, and racist depictions of an African tribe) this is an interesting film like the last one, filled with characters and sets, and an overall creative feel to Baum's popular franchise.  This film is a great edition to that collection.


Next Review:  The Lost World  1925