It (Cinema Review)

15 – 135mins – 2017


 

IT FOLLOWS

Tweaking the timeline of Stephen King’s thousand-word tome slightly, the filmmakers behind this box office-record breaking horror hit have, very shrewdly, hit upon a meta jackpot. While Derry is still the US town plagued by the eponymous clown-faced being, the decade has been shifted to the late 1980s and the frequency of its child-napping attacks reduced from 30 to every 27 years. Not only does this mean that the newly-greenlit sequel will take place in the modern day, its also a nice little nod to the fact that It first haunted audiences 27 years ago in ABC’s 1990 mini-series (reviewed HERE).

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Phoebe in Wonderland (DVD Review)

12 – 96mins – 2008


 

DANGEROUS OR LIBERATING?

“I don’t want to do those things, or say those things, but I have to!”

Akin to the heart-breaking coming-of-age weepie Bridge to Terabithia, Elle Fanning’s 2008 debut feature was sorrowfully mis-promoted upon its belated 2014 UK home release as a magical fantasy (just look at that florid and whimsical DVD cover!!). Despite indiscreetly trading off its connections to Lewis Carroll’s surreal children’s classic, Phoebe in Wonderland is actually an unconventional indie drama which deals with how mental health issues can hamper and disrupt the ‘normal’ experiences of a child growing up. Hardly delightful, kid-friendly fare.

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XX (Film Review)

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15 – 80mins – 2017


 

GORE POWER

A horror anthology comprising four grisly vignettes directed by female filmmakers, XX is commendable for none of the quadruple strands overtly capitalising on the USP with dominant feminist themes. These are simply isolated genre tales which just so happen to have women at the helm. Even Sofia Carrillo’s kooky stop-motion animated wrap around featuring a walking dollhouse resuscitating a clockwork girl has no correlations to the embedded stories, simply establishing an eerie, off-kilter aura.

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The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (DVD Review)

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15 – 99mins – 2013


 

BY SHIA WILL

Hollywood golden boy Shia Transformers LaBeouf edged his way out of mainstream blockbusters and towards more edgy, indie fare with this trippy and über-violent coming of age romantic drama from debuting director Fredrik Bond, enticing a number of well-known faces along for the Euro joyride.

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Whisper of the Heart (DVD Review)

U – 111mins – 1995


 

IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY

“I finally thought I was going to get a little adventure around here…”

Juggling domestic duties and revision while consumed by her passion for classic fantasy literature and lyrical translation, restless high school junior and avid bookworm Shizuku Tsukishima’s (Brittany Snow) grades are slipping as her entrance exams are nearing.

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The Land Before Time (Netflix Review)

U – 69mins – 1988


 

A LESSON IN DINO-VERSITY

“Some things you see with your eyes, others with your heart.”

After a busy weekend, I was ready to collapse on Sunday evening but aware it was far too early to sleep. Eyes aching and just after something nice and simple, I trusted myself to a scroll through Netflix to see if anything fit the bill…

I watched The Land Before Time – as well as another 80s Don Bluth classic, An American Tail  – repeatedly on VHS as a child, completely unaware it was produced and “presented” by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. My curiosity over the involvement of such legends, coupled with the chance for some warm reminiscences (not to mention the stubby runtime!) sold me on this cute dinosaur animation as I drifted off to sleep.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it sees a herd of passive ‘long necks’ (AKA. Brontosaurs) escaping devastation and migrating towards the Great Valley in search of edible vegetation, only for the herd to be divided by a “clash of the continents” (an earthquake) and attacked by a carnivorous ‘sharp tooth’ (AKA. T-Rex), leaving youngster Littlefoot (Gabriel Damon) all alone.

“I’ll be with you, even if you can’t see me.”

As the mourning orphan strives to overcome his depression, flee famine and complete his departed mother’s (Helen Shaver) quest of hope, he befriends four diverse companions in stubborn ‘three horn’ Triceratops Cera (Candy Hutson), cute Saurolophus Ducky (Judith Barsi), mute Stegosaurus Spike and plucky Pteranodon Petrie (Will Ryan), who join Littlefoot on his journey.

“At least we wouldn’t be alone!”

Mixing The Lion King’s inspirational coming of age story with Zootopia’s morality and Bambi’s touching sentimentality, The Land Before Time is a far deeper and more rounded experience than my memory recalled, successfully managing to be cute, careful, comical and cultured in its short-but-sharpshooting duration.

Through such likeable, defined and relatable characters, the film delivers crucial and pertinent life lessons on mature social issues such as racism (“Flathead” is used as a derogatory term for the long necks), prejudice (“three horns never play with long necks,” “Well, why?!”) and bonding through the tragedies the great circle of life throws at even the most innocent of individuals.

The pace is surprisingly tempered given the film’s length (taking away the sumptuous slow underwater opening crawl and the closing credits played to Diana Ross’ theme song it weighs in at under an hour), but nearly 20 years on The Land Before Time remains as colourful, engaging and timeless as the dinosaurs themselves. Am I tempted to now binge-watch the gazillion straight-to-video sequels? Yep, yep, yep!

CR@B Verdict: 5 stars

The Jungle Book (Cinema Review)

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PG – 108mins – 2016


 

UNCANNY FANGY

With revenge-hungry Bengal tiger Shere Khan (the voice of Idris Elba) vowing to murder him as payback for the disfiguring scars man’s “red flower” (fire) left him with, abandoned man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is forced to flee the pack of his wolfen guardians and return to the human outpost on the jungle’s edge. As he makes his way through the dense Indian vegetation, young Mowgli encounters all manner of furry friends and ferocious foes in this extravagant coming-of-age ‘tail’.

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