Monday, 29 December 2014

The Big Year Review (Updated)

The Big Year

Release Date: 1st March 2012 - Australia

Production Companies
Fox 2000 Pictures (presents)
Red Hour Films
Deuce Three
Sunswept Entertainment
Dune Entertainment (made in association
Ingenious Media (made in
association with)

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG

Runtime: 95 minutes

Budget: $41,000,000

Box Office Gross: $7,448,385

Plot Summary
Looking to shake up their 
routine lives, three amateur 
watchers compete to 
become the ultimate "birder" 
by spotting the greatest 
number of species within 
a single calendar year. But 
the friendly rivalry soon turns 
into a hilariously complicated 
cross-country adventure as 
each man begins to realise 
that the quest for success 
comes at a price - and that's 
not chicken feed!

Jack Black - Brad Harris
Steve Martin - Stu Preissler
Owen Wilson - Kenny Bostick
Rosamund Pike - Jessica Bostick
Rashida Jones - Ellie
Anjelica Huston - Annie Auklet
Jim Parsons - Crane
JoBeth Williams - Edith Preissler
Brian Dennehy - Raymond Harris
Dianne Wiest - Brenda Harris
Anthony Anderson - Bill Clemens 
Tim Blake Nelson - Phil
Joel McHale - Barry Loomis
Kevin Pollak - Jim Gittelson
Calum Worthy - Colin Debs
Stacey Scowley - Vicki
John Cleese - Historical 
Montage Narrator (Cameo)

Director - David Frankel
Inspired on Novel "The Big 
Year: A Tale of Man, Nature
and Fowl Obsession" - Mark
Screenplay - Howard Franklin
Producers - Karen Rosenfelt,
Stuart Cornfield and Curtis Hanson
Co-Producer - Brad Van Arragon
Production Designer - Brent Thomas
Costume Designer - Monique Prudhomme
Director of Photography - Lawrence Sher
Film Editor - Mark Livolsi
Music Supervisor - Julia Michels
Music - Theodore Shapiro

I must say, it felt somewhat of a task to have to sit through the two hour entirety of THE BIG YEAR; its stars which included Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin were unable to recover this movie from being a corny second rate comedy bomb. Honestly, there is nothing very special about this movie, although there is the occasional laugh present in some scenes of worth-watching. This tolerable comedy's setting is mainly about bird-watching and I'm not interested in this old-fashioned hobby, having to make fun of the concept is an extremely difficult challenge.

The three actors Jack, Steve and Owen whom I've already mentioned, are a dream team of comedians, but it was disappointing that they have to sit through a film that is partially a comedy. Few of the other actors like Jim Parsons of BIG BANG THEORY did a good job on the supporting roles but I should wish his character would be given more of a presence, instead of him being under the radar.

I do certainly enjoy the occasional comedy film, but it should be more of a drama and THE BIG YEAR simply does not cut the mustard or the cheddar!

Star rating: (6/10) Fair Movie

Thursday, 25 December 2014

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Review

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Release Date: 30th November 2000 - Australia

Production Companies
Universal Pictures
Imagine Entertainment
LUNI Productions GmbH and 
Company KG

Universal Pictures Australia

Genre: Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 104 minutes

Budget: $123,000,000

Box Office Gross: $345.141,403 

Plot Summary
Inside a snowflake exists 
the magical land of Whoville. 
In Whoville, live the Who's, 
an almost mutated sort of 
munchkinlike people. All the 
Who's love Christmas, yet 
just outside of their beloved 
Whoville lives the Grinch. The 
Grinch is a nasty creature 
that hates Christmas, and 
plots to steal it away from the 
Whos which he equally abhors. 
Yet a small child, Cindy Lou 
Who, decides to try befriend 
the Grinch.

Jim Carrey - The Grinch
Kelley - Max
Frank Welker - Max (Voice)
Taylor Momsen - Cindy Lou
Jeffrey Tambor - Mayor
Augustus May Who
Anthony Hopkins - Narrator
Christine Baranski - Martha
May Whovier 
Bill Irwin - Lou Lou Who
Molly Shannon - Betty Lou
Clint Howard - Whobris
Mindy Sterling - Clarenella 
Rachel Winfree - Rose
Jeremy Howard - Drew Lou Who
T.J. Thyme - Stu Lou Who
Josh Ryan Evans - Young
Ben Bookender - Young
Augustus May Who
Landry Albright - Young
Martha May Whovier

Producer/Director - Ron Howard
Based on Book "How the
Grinch Stole Christmas" - Dr. Seuss
Screenplay - Jeffrey Price and 
Peter S. Seaman
Producer - Brian Grazer 
Production Designer - Michael 
Costume Designer - Rita Ryack
Special Makeup Effects - Rick 
Director of Photography - Don Peterman
Visual Effects Supervisor - Kevin Scott Mack
Film Editors - Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill
Music - James Horner


2001 Academy Awards
Best Makeup - Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan (Won)
Best Costume Design - Rita Ryack (Nominated)
Best Art Direction - Michael Corenblith and
Merideth Boswell (Nominated)

Seasons greeting everyone, it's the date which exactly says on the above at Christmas Day. Many of you have used to read some of the books by Dr. Seuss as children and watched all of the movies and animated specials adapted from his known work like HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS as I recall it is one of these nostalgic reminiscent moments I've enjoyed in my childhood. This feature interpretation by now as I got older resembled as if THE GRINCH was directed by Tim Burton through his trademark designs and sheer weirdness, which I'm glad it isn't. Though this live-action remake of the animated special was actually made by filmmaker Ron Howard was not exactly as bad as the next film that is based on another Dr Seuss material with Mike Myers starring as THE CAT AND THE HAT from which I've heard is certainly not getting any positive feedback. It nearly destroyed what makes the Chuck Jones animation which is a TV special so great in living up to the holiday spirit. Further entrenching this film into a pit of shame is the strange make-up and obnoxious portrayal of the Whos and set design of which is unsuited as the live action setting itself. 

Even more disappointing to say the least, the scriptwriters had tried to humanise the Grinch character as performed by Jim Carrey by giving him an exclusive back-story of how he came to despise Christmas as a child when he already was in his infancy. I don't blame Carrey for giving amounts of over the top acting for his portrayal and following the terrible direction, I do admire his work on noted comedies such as DUMB & DUMBER (click here). As I feel that Jim is one of these actors who can turn a bad movie into a good one through his well-seasoned comedic acting abilities.

While I don't expect the GRINCH movie to be a truly bizarre holiday humbug, maybe I should wait for the upcoming animated movie in a form of CGI which is set to be made in 2017. This version is downright silly and incapable of carrying the holiday spirit which deserves to be largely ignored by everyone else who have come searching for a decent Christmas feature.

Star rating: (3/10) Disappointing

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Nightmare Before Christmas Review

The Nightmare Before Christmas 

Release Date: 10th November 1994 - Australia

Production Companies
Walt Disney Pictures
Touchstone Pictures (original 
Skellington Productions Inc.

Walt Disney Studios Motion 
Pictures Australia

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: G

Runtime: 73 minutes

Budget: $18,000,000

Box Office Gross: $75,082,668

Plot Summary
Can Christmas be saved? 
Bored with the same old 
scare-and-scream routine, 
Jack Skellington, the 
Pumpkin King of Halloween 
Town, longs to spread the 
joy of Christmas. But his 
merry mission puts Santa 
in jeopardy and creates a 
nightmare for good little 
boys and girls everywhere!

Voice Cast
Chris Sarandon - Jack 
Danny Elfman - Jack 
Skellington (singing voice)/Barrel/
Clown with the Tear Away Face
Catherine O'Hara - Sally/Shock
William Hickey - Doctor Finklestein
Ken Page - Oogie Boogie
Glenn Shadix - Mayor
Ed Ivory - Santa Claus
Paul Reubens - Lock

Director - Henry Selick
Based on a Story and Characters/
Producer - Tim Burton
Story Supervisor - Joe Ranft
Adaptation - Michael McDowell
Screenplay - Caroline Thompson 
Producers - Denise Di Novi and 
Don Hahn (2006 3D Version)
Art Director - Deane Taylor
Visual Consultant - Rick Heinrichs
Set Designer/Dressing Supervisor - Gregg Olsson
Animation Supervisor/Animator - Eric Leighton
Director of Photography/Visual Effects Supervisor - 
Pete Kozachik
Film Editor - Stan Webb
Music: Lyrics and Score - Danny Elfman


1994 Academy Awards
Best Visual Effects - Peter Kozachik,
Eric Leighton, Ariel Velasco-Shaw
and Gordon Baker (Nominated)

Delighted with an ageless movie THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS which master director Tim Burton considers as one of his cinematic treasures. This movie comes gift wrapped with loads of joy and entertainment for family and children not to mention there are frights to compel and surprise young viewers from the inside. This festive stop-motion movie doesn't need to rely or dwell on promises intended for Burton-lovers to seek forward of its famed status, art-style and fast-pacing length. This is known to be his first animated pantomime feature that helped others like himself and its director Henry Selick to get into the claymation technique and create some more others in using that animation like CORALINE, CORPSE BRIDE and the most recently overlooked FRANKENWEENIE (click here) shown in the 21st century. I hardly ever going to watch this again along with some other movies from the legendary director or maybe perhaps I like to instead revisit one of his old favourites like EDWARD SCISSORHANDS? 

This overly-sensational animated musical is not without liveliness or catchiness of Danny Elfman's brilliantly done lyrics for the numbers. I have no idea that Elfman is thrice the composer, singer and songwriter of the movie's rhythmical flair, one could imagine if he could have been nominated for an Oscar for one of the film's best songs. The actors are equally amazing with each of their character voices from such unparalleled and notable names including Catherine O'Hara and Chris Sarandon.

I can't give enough thanks to Tim Burton in creating THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS as dark, gloomy and cheerful to make a holiday classic which is unusual to begin with. I recommend for enthusiasts of Burton and animation that this excellent work is for you to watch and to do so will put a smile on your face!

Star rating: (9/10) Excellent Movie

Monday, 15 December 2014

Jingle All the Way Review (With Guest Reviewer)

Jingle All the Way

Release Date: 21st November 1996 - Australia 

Production Companies
20th Century Fox (presents)
1492 Pictures

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG

Runtime: 86 minutes

Budget: $75,000,000 

Box Office Gross: $129,832,389

Plot Summary
High powered businessman 
Howard Langston is hard at 
work taking last-minute 
orders from customers to 
whom he just can't say no, 
including his son Jamie who 
asked for the hottest action 
figure in the season -- Turbo 
Man! Unfortunately, Howard 
is facing one BIG problem.
It's Christmas Eve and Turbo 
Man has been sold out since 

Howard's down-to-the-wire 
trek to find Turbo Man quickly 
turns into an odyssey wilder 
than he could have ever 
imagined. In the course of his 
seemingly-endless Yuletide 
misadventures, he finds 
himself in a no-holds-barred 
fight-to-the-finish with a crazed 
postman named Myron who is 
out to claim the last Turbo Man 
for his kid. It's enough to scare 
away even the bravest of men. 
But for Howard, this is war -- 
and he's determined to win...
no matter what!

Arnold Schwarzenegger -
Howard Langston
Jake Lloyd - Jamie Langston
Sinbad - Myron Larabee
Rita Wilson - Liz Langston
Robert Conrad - Office Hummell
Phil Hartman - Ted Maltin
James Belushi - Mall Santa

Director - Brian Levant
Writer - Randy Kornfield
Producers - Chris Columbus, 
Mark Radcliffe and Michael 
Production Designer - Leslie McDonald
Director of Photography - Victor J. Kemper
Film Editors - Kent Beyda and 
Wilton Henderson
Music - David Newman

Review (Film Guru Lad)
Now if you're wondering if I will be reviewing a Christmas themed movie to celebrate this festive time of the year. I have hence decided to review JINGLE ALL THE WAY starring the one and only Arnie Schwarzenegger. Having seen and critiqued some of his previous action-oriented film roles of tough guys and killer machines. This is a downturn of what will become Arnie's second greatest of mistakes and I feel so sorry for my favourite actor. Arnie is cast aside Sinbad in a movie that is nothing great nor compared to his over-the-top performance in next year's BATMAN & ROBIN (click here). While JINGLE ALL THE WAY has its displays of comedy in the holiday tradition contained in a very-well decent story and exceptional humour. This is a tough break for Arnold that though he was an action hero and made a few films that were apparently comedies, it is unable to break the mould of his preferred genre.

I feel that Arnie was miscast in this movie, I would have preferred to see Robin Williams or Steve Martin take the reins in this comedy, we also have featured in this film, another notable actor who is a child by the name of Jake Lloyd. This young-talented chap went on to became 9-year old Darth Vader in THE PHANTOM MENACE (click here), his dull acting certainly wasn't helping to save the movie from few of its lacklustre choices. 

I am displeased to have to be the one to criticise this film of its flaws being that I am an Arnie fan but I endeavour to be un-biased and honest. In closing, I will say that JINGLE ALL THE WAY was merely an average seasonal gift and it could have being improved if the talent of comedian Steve Martin or the late Robin Williams had been put to work.

Star rating: (5/10) Average

Review (Guest Reviewer)
If you are looking for a movie that is funny, family orientated, well-written movie which celebrates the Christmas spirit in a joyous and comedic way, than this would probably be a good movie for you. I have watched this feature a number of times and it just seems to be funnier each time. The actors are well cast, Arnold so accurately portrays an overworked, stressed father who just wants his son and wife to think the world of him. Sinbad, Jim Belushi and Phil Hartman all fit the bill perfectly for each of their role and seem to work together in this movie really well.

Particular scenes that really stuck with me in this film were the scene where Arnold becomes jealous that his next door neighbour is baking cookies with his wife and yell in a loud voice to his neighbour "PUT THAT COOKIE DOWN". Also the scene where Sinbad and Arnold have a fight and chase scene to see who will be the first to claim the infamous Turbo Man toy from the radio free give away offer. There are truly no dull moments in this movie, it flows at a nice pace and does not get boring at any parts. It is appealing to all ages and offers well-written comedy of a Christmas theme that is unparalleled by any other movie I have seen to date.

I would say, this movie definitely has a good re-watch value and would certainly recommend it to anyone who has not yet seen it. I would also like to say that it is nice to see Arnie cast in a different kind of role outside of his usual action hero work and demonstrate his versatility as a multi-skilled actor. Thanks for listening, and please feel free to leave feedback. : )

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

My Sixth Important Message (Updated)

Hey there everyone, this is your favourite movie critic FilmGuruLad and I am just writing to inform you I have put into place some new changes for several of my reviews. Some of the changes include changing some of the wording, changing some of the images, correcting some typing errors and deleting repeated sentences. The reason I discovered these errors was because this particular list of movies was not receiving many page views therefore I decided to revisit them and check for errors. It was lucky I did as this was when I discovered the mistakes.

Now here are a list of changes that I've finalised and you can click onto the names of the movies down below if you want to. 

  1. Australia (2008) 
  2. The Castle (1997)
  3. Super 8 (2011)
  4. X-Men 2 (2003)
  5. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) 
  6. Race (2007) 
  7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) 
  8. Legend (1985) 
  9. X-Men: First Class (2011)  
  10. Faeries (1999) 
  11. Die Hard (1988) 
  12. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  13. The Road to El Dorado (2000)
  14. Batman & Robin (1997)
  15. Grown Ups 2 (2013)
  16. Green Lantern (2011) 
  17. Now You See Me (2013) 
  18. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  19. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

In case that none of you have ever visited the post about the 3 best movies of 2013 (click here), I've entirely fixed it and those who haven't discovered the updates that I've mentioned in that post, feel free to check it now!

Also I would like to add, If anyone when reading my reviews notices any errors or mistakes I would be grateful for you to leave feedback in the comment tab. Thanks and happy film watching!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Review

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No 
Good, Very Bad Day

Release Date: 28th November 2014 - Australia

Production Companies
Walt Disney Pictures
21 Laps Entertainment
The Jim Henson Company

Walt Disney Studios Motion
Pictures Australia

Genre: Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 82 minutes

Budget: $28,000,000

Box Office Gross: $101,379,287

Plot Summary
Follows the exploits of 11-
year-old Alexander as he
experiences the most terrible
and horrible day of his young
life-a day that begins with
gum stuck in his hair,
followed by one calamity 
after another.

But when Alexander tells 

his upbeat family about 
the misadventures of his
disastrous day, he finds little
sympathy and begins to
wonder if bad things only
happen to him. He soon
learns that he's not alone 
when his brother, sister, mom 
and dad all find themselves 
living through their own terrible, 
horrible, no good, very bad day.
Anyone who says there is no 
such thing as a bad day just 
hasn't had one.

Ed Oxenbould - Alexander Cooper
Steve Carell - Ben Cooper
Jennifer Garner - Kelly Cooper
Dylan Minnette - Anthony Cooper
Kerris Dorsey - Emily Cooper
Bella Thorne - Celia Rodriguez
Elise & Zoey Vargas - Trevor
Sidney Fullmer - Becky Gibson
Mekai Curtis - Paul
Donald Glover - Greg
Dick Van Dyke - Himself
Jennifer Coolidge - Ms. Suggs
Mekai Curtis - Paul

Director - Miguel Arteta
Based on Book "Alexander and 
the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, 
Very Bad Day" - Judith Viorst
Screen Story and Screenplay -
Rob Lieber
Producers - Lisa Henson,
Daniel S. Levine and Shawn Levy
Cinematography - Terry Stacey
Film Editor - Pamela Martin
Music - Christophe Beck

I have recently had the pleasure of watching ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY on the big screen, after watching this film, my afterthoughts are that it had a meaningful and funny plot that conveys a message that there are sometimes good days that can turn into the worst day ever and that getting through these days can draw a family together in working together to turn a bad situation into a good one. I am impressed with the slapstick comedy which at moments I found myself in fits of hysterical laughter because of the hilarious misfortunes of the family.

The actors had worked well together and appeared to have a fun experience which really compliments the quality of the movie. I was quite surprised to see old-school legend Dick Van Dyke in being featured on a hilarious guest appearance, Dick is well known for his association with Disney in MARY POPPINS. The filmmakers used the song of INXS "Need You Tonight" on the film's closing scene and it suits well considering that the movie takes pride in referencing some of the Australian cultural aspects.

There are those who are to accept that despite having a lot of adult-oriented jokes, this is not a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie! It certainly is entertaining and sure to appeal to certain diverse age groups who may not yet have read the book that this movie is based upon..

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

Monday, 1 December 2014

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Review (Updated)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Release Date: 21st December 1979 - Australia

Production Companies
Paramount Pictures (presents)
Century Associates
Robert Wise Productions

Paramount Pictures Australia

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: PG

Runtime: 132 minutes
                 136 minutes
                 (director's cut)

Budget: $46,000,000

Box Office Gross: $139,000,000

Plot Summary
An alien phenomenon of
unprecedented size and
power is approaching
Earth, destroying everything
in its path. The only starship
in range is the U.S.S.
Enterprise--still in drydock
after a major overhaul. As
Captain Decker readies his
ship and his crew to face
this menace, the legendary
Admiral James T. Kirk
arrives with orders to take
command of the Enterprise
and intercept the intruder.

But it has been three years
since Kirk last commanded
the Enterprise on its historic
five year he up
to the task of saving the

William Shatner - Admiral 
James T. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy - Commander 
DeForest Kelley - Dr, Leonard
"Bones" McCoy
James Doohan - Scotty
Walter Koenig - Chekov
George Takei - Sulu
Nichelle Nichols - Uhura
Persis Khambatta - Ilia
Stephen Collins - Willard

Director - Robert Wise
Based on Series "Star Trek"/Producer -
Gene Roddenberry
Story - Alan Dean Foster
Screenplay - Harold Livingston
Producer (2001 director's edition) - David C. Fein
Special Science Consultant - Isaac Asimov
Production Designer - Harold Michelson
Costume Designer - Robert Fletcher
Director of Photography - Richard H. Kline
Special Photographic Effects Director -
Douglas Trumbull
Special Photographic Effects Supervisor -
John Dykstra
Special Photographic Effects: Director of
Photography/Producer - Richard Yuririch
Film Editor - Todd C. Ramsay
Composer: Theme "Star Trek" -
Alexander Courage
Music - Jerry Goldsmith


1980 Academy Awards
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Harold Michelson,
Joseph R. Jennings, Leon Harris and Linda DeScenna (Nominated)
Best Visual Effects - Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra,
Richard Yuririch, Robert Swarthe, David K. Stewart and
Grant McCune (Nominated)
Best Music, Original Score - Jerry Goldsmith (Nominated)

When I first saw the first and original movie of STAR TREK on TV, as I recall it felt very slow-paced and boring. Years later, as I'm after having watched nearly all the later TREK originals and the J.J. Abrams reboots. I said it before and I will say it again, I am not a die-hard Trekkie. At first, in revisiting the old and first STAR TREK only in the director's cut edition, it doesn't contain the action scenes that many fans were promised before its release. The plot-line is very similar and identical to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (click here) which I can now see the differences in both movies of the science-fiction category. It didn't surprise me that some of the effects team responsible for the vfx on Kubrick's masterpiece were needed once again for STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. 

Although the director Robert Wise is an interesting candidate to helm the TREK saga for the first instalment, the quality of the movie is lessened as a result of the main cast wearing bad outfits and slow moving pace. The film's musical score by Jerry Goldsmith complimented the moments of percussion in the film and I find it to be a better TREK film score than the others.

The Trekkies have been moping about the results of this product since its release in 1979, it only has the exploration and mystery in a greater sense. It may not be the TREK we knew in many years, but it's a lengthened cinematic experience for non-Trek fans.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie