Monday, April 29, 2013

5 Reasons Why I Am Looking Forward To The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2013 will surely be a grand year for movies based on comic books and superheroes. This Friday, Iron Man will be making a triumphant return in attempts to stop the malevolent Mandarin. In July, Hugh Jackman will be whetting his claws as the Wolverine and Dave Lizewski will don the Kick Ass outfit once more. Chris Hemsworth wields the mighty hammer, Mjolnir against evil elves in November's Thor: The Dark World and let's not forget that in June, the Last Son of Krypton gets revamped in Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's reimagining of the classic American icon. Yes, 2013 will be packed to the brim with suspenseful thrillers and climatic battles between the forces of good and the forces of evil. But to be honest with you, it's next year's lineup of super hero flicks that I am most looking forward to. Bryan Singer's  X-Men: Days of Future Past might very well be the X-Men film I have longed for. It looks like they will be merging the mainstream X-Men universe with the universe established in X-Men: First Class and have Peter Dinklage portraying the main baddie. Anthony and Joe Russo, who brought us You, Me and Dupree will be bringing us the next installment in the Captain America series, Captain America: The Winter Soldier starring Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, who reprise their roles as Steve Rogers aka Cap and Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier respectively. In fall of 2014, the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows off some new faces in Guardians of the Galaxy, which very well might be the next Star Wars in it's own right. Zoe Saldana (Star Trek's Uhura and Avatar's Neytiri) is in talks to play the green skinned female alien Gamora (no, not the giant turtle with fangs that has rockets on his feet).

But the flick I am most excited for is the next installment in the Amazing Spider-Man film series. Although I wish they called it something other than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (something like The Spectacular Spider-Man or The Web Slinger), I can't tell you how pumped I am for this sequel. Okay, maybe I will tell you. Here are 5 Reasons Why I Am Looking Forward To The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and why I think this follow up to last year's hit will be superior to it's predecessor.

5. The New Costume 


When I first saw the suit in the first Amazing Spider-Man, I fell in love with it. Although it was different from the traditional red and blue jumpsuit and had a different design, it had a certain appeal and showed just how different this new Spider-Man was going to be from the previous incarnation portrayed in Sam Raimi's trilogy. When I first saw the suit in the upcoming sequel, I initially had mixed feelings towards it. What I liked about ASM1's suit is that it looked like something a teenager in the real world would stitch together in a matter of hours. It had an organic look to it and it looked as if Peter constructed the costume from average everyday household items like sunglasses and old sneakers. This new suit however was very reminiscent to Tobey Maguire's suit in the Raimi trilogy and in my eyes looked like a Spider-Man costume you would buy at a costume shop. It didn't look like something Peter would stitch together on his own and really didn't have any unique qualities to it. That is until some set images (like the one above) emerged and I got a better look at the suit and all it had to offer. 

I must say, the suit has grown on me substantially and I now realize how it can fit in with the contemporary, gritty ASM universe. Perhaps the AMS1 suit was a prototype to the signature suit Peter would later construct or maybe, sometime between AMS1 and AMS2, Peter's first Spider-Man suit was destroyed, forcing Peter to sew together another one. I guess we won't find out why Peter changed suits until AMS2 hits theaters, but I think I can come out and say that I really like this new suit and how reminiscent of the old Spider-Man it is. Looking at the suit, it brings to mind Spider-Man of the 90s animated series as well as the Todd McFarlene Spidey with the huge, gaping eyes. It also has a nice texture to it with vibrant shiny black webbing and a bright, yet toned down red and blue that really makes this Spider-Man stand out from all the rest. The inclusion of the new ASM insignia is also a nice touch and the fact that his eyes have gone back to the traditional opaque white instead of the yellowish gold seen in the ASM1 suit. All I can say is that I'm really looking forward to seeing Spider-Man kick villainous butt in this new attire! 

4. Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield Are Returning 


The Amazing Spider-Man was hands down one of my favorite films of last year. What made it stand out from other superhero flicks of 2012 like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises was that it didn't have a group of heroes fighting against aliens from another dimension or a guy who dressed up like a bat, got his back broken and went through a spiritual journey in a foreign prison. It focused on an average, ordinary, iPod loving, skateboarding teenager who had a very convoluted life. When he got bit by a spider, his life became even more convoluted and he had to learn that with a great power, the bearer must do good things with it and give the world hope so no one would have to feel the pain he had to endure day by day.  The Amazing Spider-Man captured the essence of the comic book hero perfectly and most of this was due to Marc Webb's brilliant directing skills and Andrew Garfield's magnificent acting.

I have no doubt this will carry on into the second Spider-Man flick. Marc Webb has the perfect balance of humor and seriousness in all of his films and when it comes to Spider-Man, he knows just how to pull off gags and jarring moments and time them perfectly. Like the films Marvel and Disney have brought forward, Webb's Spider-Man had moments that made you gasp and moments that made you roll on the floor laughing and his ability to get you sucked into each individual scene really adds to the scope and magic of the Spider-Man reboot. Another contributing factor is Andrew Garfield, who portrays Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a simple, yet determined high schooler who, like a lot of us, had trouble fitting in. Although Garfield is almost 30 years old, he looks very much like a high schooler and with a set of glasses and common teen clothing, he looks like the typical teen you would find sitting in the back of your chemistry class. Garfield's mannerisms, sarcasm and wit also make him diverse from previous Spider-Men and he plays Peter as a weird, outspoken, curious young adult with his head in the clouds and eyes towards his goals and dreams. That my friends is what a lot of us are like or what a lot of us were like at a time, odd minded individuals with "impossible" dreams and fantasies. Garfield's Spidey shows that with a little brain power and might, the impossible is possible after all. 

3. Jamie Foxx's Electro


Holy jeez, when I found out that Electro was going to be in the second Spider-Man and that he would be portrayed by Jamie Foxx, I nearly fainted with excitement. Electro is one of my very favorite Spider-Man foes and Jamie Foxx is a fantastic actor with a gift for giving odd, yet grandiose performances. I knew from the very start that he wouldn't be wearing his classic yellow and green outfit with the lightning bolt mask, but I never expected him to look the way he looked in the above image. It's terrifying and awesome at the same time. You can really tell that Foxx's character, Max Dillon has gone through heck and had his entire body turned into an electric blanket. It kinda looks like a Na'vi from Avatar or a Frost Giant from Thor, but I really like it and it's fitting for the darker ASM universe. From the looks of it, it appears that some lights have been built into Electro's hoody which will be giving him a luminous, glowing effect. And Foxx's eyes look entirely black as if all the light and goodness has been drained from him, turning him into a heartless, merciless adversary that will probably turn Spider-Man into Spider-Toast. 

I really liked Jamie Foxx's performance in Ray and although I haven't seen Django Unchained, I have heard nothing but good things about his performance in that film as well. I think Jamie Foxx will hit it out of the ballpark while playing Max Dillon/Electro, giving an edge to the character we had never seen before in the comics or the various TV show incarnations. He's also blue, he'll give Papa Smurf a run for his money! 

2. Familiar Characters, New Faces




In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we will be seeing characters we have seen before in previous Spider-Man films, but will new actors in their shoes. Dane Dehaan will be playing Harry Osborn, who was played in the Raimi trilogy by James Franco. It looks like he will be playing a much darker, more edgy Harry Osborn and from the synopsis of the upcoming film, he will be playing into Peter Parker's past. The beautiful Shailene Woodley will be playing Mary Jane Watson, played petulantly in Raimi's trilogy by Kirsten Dunst (YOU DON'T SUPPORT ME!). I hope Woodley will portray Mary Jane as less of a whiny, screeching bimbo and more of a gallant, benevolent heroine, very similar to Gwen Stacy in the first film. Then we have Chris Cooper playing the man who will become the greatest of Spidey's foes, Norman Osborn, played maniacally by William Dafoe in 2002's Spider-Man. It is unknown whether Cooper's Osborn will become the Green Goblin at the very end of this film or the beginning of the next film, but I think it's safe to say that we will see him consume the goblin serum somewhere down the road and see his physical transformation into the green skinned menace with the glider. Hopefully, they have a different costume for his Green Goblin. I didn't really mind Dafoe's often ridiculed Green Goblin costume in Raimi's first film, but it would be nice to see Gobby have more of a realistic look and more frightening appearance. 

Actors reprising their roles from the previous film are Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Sally Field as Aunt May and Martin Sheen as the possible ghost of Uncle Ben. It is unclear whether Rhys Ifans or Irrfan Khan will make cameos as their respective characters, but whose to say that they won't find a way to make a brief appearance. Dr. Curt Connors is still alive after all and has many secrets regarding Peter's past. 

1. Diving deeper into the characters' souls

Movie sequels are often said to live in the shadows of their predecessors, but several sequels have been declared superior and much deeper than the first films. I have a feeling The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be one of those films, much like how Spider-Man 2 was much more character driven and deeper than the first film. Sequels often go deeper into the characters' souls and we see sides of them we have never seen before as the characters are put into unexpected events and perils. I think we will see Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker go to a level we have never seen him achieve and we will see his character grow even further as he faces his biggest challenge yet. We will also find out more about his mysterious parents and why he became Spider-Man to begin with. Was it all set up? Is it all a trick? Only time will tell as the new Spider-Man universe unfolds. 

It is also debated whether Gwen Stacy will meet her inevitable demise in this upcoming film. Her death in the comics was one of the biggest shockers in comic book history and to carry it out onto the silver screen would be a massive task. As I said before, only time will tell. One thing's for sure. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will introduce new characters as well as reintroduce old ones, introduce a new plot and new twists and turns, unravel mysteries never before unraveled and drive the story even further with many jaw droppers and horrifying occurrences. Let's hope this is a sequel worthy of being in the same realm as the first and let's hope that our love for Spider-Man rages on as this blockbuster makes it's way to the cinemas. It will be a great experience nonetheless and hopefully be one of my favorite movies about my very favorite hero. The first was great, so let's hope the second is great as well. 




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dahl Week Day 4: THE ENTIRE CONFECTION!

We had a look at many of Roald Dahl's shining jewels these past couple days. From the depths of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory to the pit of the giant peach, we've seen just about all of Dahl's most well known tales. But wait, there's one more, isn't there? In 1988 (towards the end of Dahl's career), he penned the oddball that is Matilda, a more grounded in reality tale that still retains the magic and fantasy Dahl was known for. Although this story is without oompa loompas, giant anthropomorphic bugs and critters that wreck aircrafts, it still has a prominent amount of imagination to keep it going and to keep the reader fascinated until the very last page. Matilda goes to show that Dahl had a gift for conceiving contemporary tales as well as fantasy tales and although his stories contained characters with tongue roller names, he could still work them into a realistic world and make it all work out. He surely made Matilda work out and it's a great example of a tale that involves the supernatural, the unexpected and the downright hilarious. It's by far one of Dahl's funniest works and the movie that came out in 1996 based on the story is one of the funniest movies ever made, at least in my opinion. 

I think what I like most about the story is the symbolism of a girl in a big world, a big world full of ill tempered adults and patriarchs. It shows the point of view of a child (let's face it, many of Dahl's tales were told from a child's perspective) and how she gets through certain obstacles such as nasty parents and a villainous school principal. It also shows how a child relates to other children and how one small child can harness the power of a god, often tricking people and scaring them out of their skins. But those of you who read the book or seen the movie know that Matilda doesn't need to use her power all the time. She's a very smart little girl with a clever mind and quick thinking. One time, she puts strong glue in her father's hat. When he puts it on, he finds that he can't take it off and Matilda's mother has to cut it off with scissors. One time, she puts a parrot in the chimney to trick her family into thinking there is a ghost in the house. Matilda shows that even when you have great powers, you don't necessarily have to use them all the time for your own pleasure. You can get through some of the problems in your life when you really think things through and stay calm and collective. You don't have to result to scaring people or causing people to literally hurt themselves, you can teach them a lesson in a nonviolent manner. 

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As I said before, this story is one of the funniest I've ever experienced. Matilda's parents have to be some of the most dim witted and disgruntled souls I've ever seen in literature. The couple is always falling for their daughter's tricks  and are driven out of their wits when their daughter does something that displeasures them, especially her father. Portrayed as a skinny man in the book, Mr. Wormwood is a villainous, yet open minded citizen who takes pride in hassling people, selling them lemons and picking on his daughter like she is the bane of his existence. But as I said before, Matilda always has a trick up her sleeve and this trick often sends her father up a wall or two. But you can't help but feel that Mr. Wormwood deserves it at times. He is a cruel, malicious, selfish and extremely ill tempered father who blows things out of proportion. There is a scene in the novel where Matilda is reading The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. Believing that American authors are morally bankrupt, Mr. Wormwood grabs the book from his daughter's hands, ripping it to shreds. Even though there are illustrations by Quentin Blake depicting this scene, you can't help but picture the scene in your head and feel the tension between the characters involved in the scene. It's very intense and a little bit jarring (but made a bit more comical in the movie).

Then there is Ms. Trunchbull, the dictator of the school Matilda attends. Quentin Blake depicts her as a massive hulk of a woman with a threatening grimace and eyes of a demon. Although she is a monstrous entity, she can be quite hilarious as well. One scene of the book depicts her getting a newt (which she thinks is a snake) dumped on her by Matilda, who uses her telepathy. Another scene, she forces a chubby boy, Bruce Bogtrotter to eat an entire chocolate cake (CONSUME THE ENTIRE CONFECTION!) after he sneaks into her lounge and eats hers. Another scene, Matilda uses her powers to make Trunchbull believe that Ms. Honey's father's ghost is haunting her, making her flee from the school in terror. Yes, for a malevolent antagonist, Ms. Trunchbull is quite a laugh in some areas of the book, but she can also be as diabolical as the Wicked Witch of the West. One scene, she picks up a poor, innocent girl and swings her for the simple fact that she is wearing pigtails (YOUR MOMMY IS A TWIT!). Another scene, a student is eating licorice all sorts in a religious class, and Trunchbull throws him out the window. She even has a hole in the wall called the "Chokey" where she puts students who disobey her and she is also known for her use of harsh words and insults towards the students. Ms. Trunchbull is a woman you don't want to tick off, simply put. 

I believe that all these things transferred well into the movie adaptation, directed by Danny DeVito and released in 1996. I said before that Dahl would have been happy with Burton's 2005 remake of Charlie and he would have marveled at Selick's James and the Giant Peach, but I'm not so sure he would have been happy with this one. Like they did with the 1971 Willy Wonka, they filmmakers changed Dahl's story drastically for a more cinematic, motion picture experience. Many things have been changed or elaborated on in this film and several elements from Dahl's original story have been altered, making way for entirely new subplots exclusive to the film. For example, Matilda's brother Michael isn't the inattentive youngster he is in the novel and is more of the stereotypical "bullyish" older sibling. Mr. Wormwood was the skinny one in the book, Mrs. Wormwood was the corpulent one. In the movie, it's the complete opposite. Instead of loosing her powers at the end like in the book, Matilda still has her powers but very seldom uses them. The story also takes place in the United Kingdom in the book, while the movie takes place in America. Some things that have been added to the movie is the elaborate chase scene throughout Ms. Trunchbull's home as well as the inclusive of two FBI agents tracking down Mr. Wormwood's criminal acts. One of the agents is played by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman (I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I?)

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That doesn't mean the movie is terrible. In fact, it's far from it, far far far far from it. This is another favorite of mine and I enjoy watching it every time it's on television. Mara Wilson is spunky and slick as Matilda and very much like her book counterpart, with a few exceptions. In the movie, she is a little bit more defiant and outspoken, while the Matilda in the book was a little more humble and let her facial expressions do the talking. Pam Ferris gives a conniving and vile performance as Trunchbull and I really couldn't picture anyone else in the role. Her stature and overbearing voice makes you cringe and flinch in fear, although just like her book counterpart, she does have a few funny moments. I just love the way she pigs out on chocolate cake and how she displays a very comical sarcasm in some areas of the film. I could see why Alfonso Cuaron chose Pam Ferris to play the sarcastic, outspoken Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She also looks very similar to the way she looked in the book, fit with a very autocrat style uniform. 

The director of the film, Danny DeVito has two roles in the film, portraying Matilda's verbally abusive father and the narrator. I think it's funny that DeVito portrays the icy, intimidating Harry Wormwood and also plays the calm, collective narrator who speaks throughout most of the film. How fascinating. That's like if The Silence of the Lambs was narrated by Anthony Hopkins, who also plays the insane, flesh craving Hannibal Lector. DeVito's wife, Rhea Perlman portrays Mrs. Wormwood, who often speaks in a high pitched, whiny tone. Embeth Davidtz portrays the kind hearted Ms. Honey, who seems to be very similar to her book counterpart despite not wearing spectacles. Some other familiar faces in the mix are Tracey Walter, John Lovitz, Jean Speegle Howard, and Jimmy Karz, who would later appear in Adam Sandler's The Wedding Singer. 

Overall, Matilda is just a fun film to experience and to watch. Like many of the films based on Dahl's stories, they leave you with a sweet, happy feeling within and a tremor of glee. I can't really decide which one I like better, the book or the movie. They are both good in their own right, although the movie has something the book doesn't have and the book has something the movie doesn't have. The film has Little Bitty Pretty One and a fantastic sequence where Matilda levitates every object in the room. The book has an incredible list of the books Matilda read such as Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, The Grapes of Wrath, and Moby Dick. I'm disappointed that she didn't read Swiss Family Robinson. 

Well, I hope you guys are enjoying Dahl Week.Tune in next time and we'll conclude this little holiday with a look at many other Dahl tales that deserve a little spotlight. 

QUOTES FROM YOURS TRULY


Sometimes, the best things in life are the things that ruin our lives

Dreams are not given to, they're gone for

Everyone looks through a different window, everyone looks through a different set of eyes 

We are the creators of worlds, and these worlds are our imaginations

Anyone who tells you to get a life obviously doesn't know what a life is 

When I'm sad, I draw sad rabbits. When I'm happy, I do the exact same thing

Everyone has a different tongue, and that tongue comes with a different taste

Life is the greatest motion picture of them all

You have to believe in the impossible to make the impossible possible

Everything exists. It's just that some things need to be reached for and retrieved. Then everyone can share them

If I had to do it over again, I think I'd do the exact same thing I'm doing now

I'm afraid of being afraid 

What's wrong with having a big nose? A big nose comes with a big smell

Ugliness is beautifulness 

A man can fly easily, but walking can be a challenge at times

Computers don't know everything. They only know what we tell them to know

All creatures have a purpose, a meaning, a soul and flesh. Any creature can make a difference, even the furry ones

Sometimes, being bad is good. Some of the world's wisest men were troublemakers

The outer shell can be appealing, but the inners are where it's at

A guy named Walt created a mouse. Who knew that simple mouse could turn the world upside down?

Sometimes, the best actors are ourselves

I don't know what I am. I only know what I was

The useless are useful and the pointless, they have a point. But what is pointless? 

All it takes to be me is to be me, and even I am a hard nut to crack

Sometimes, the hardest things are the easiest things

Why study when you can just use your point of view. Oh wait, that is studying, isn't it? 

I enjoy creating colorful worlds, even when they're black and white

Why does it matter how we accomplish things? We accomplish them, don't we?

Take those hands and mold a boat out of them. Then take that boat and sail the seas with it. If you look hard enough, you'll find treasure

When you think it's impossible, then it's impossible

There are no stupid people in this world, only stupid things. But we can learn from these stupid things. 

Once you dream it, eat it and absorb all it's dreaminess 

Every night when it rains, I listen to each individual raindrop hit the roof. It's like they're telling me something. It's like their singing a song. 

A good man is not good enough until he's good to himself

A man is selfish when he doesn't clean up the mess he made

Some people have that voice to help others find THEIR voice

People shouldn't put down someone else's lifework to glorify their own. That's like if I put down Picasso's work because it wasn't like mine.

Everyone has their place. We shouldn't be trying to take a place, we should make a place of our own. 

Everyone changes the world, everyday, every minute

MY FAVORITE STAR WARS CHARACTERS (WITH MY OWN QUOTES)


A timid man is a man made of courage


Don't worry about the weird looking one, he's just looking for adventure


What's behind the mask could be your own brother, sister or cousin


A man's best friend can be more helpful than the man



The mark of a warrior comes with a story


A wicked man never thinks of himself as wicked


The most retched people to walk the Earth were once child who gazed into the stars, wanting to make a great difference and do good things


Even the creatures with fur have their place


The man behind the mask can be a hard nut to crack


Sacrifice has it's rewards


The wisest men are the biggest rule breakers


A cocky fellow has a big heart


Little men have the powers of a god

Monday, April 22, 2013

MY FAVORITE TIM BURTON CHARACTERS

Tim Burton


“Murder is not about lust and it's not about violence. It's about possession.”
Ted Bundy


"Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void"
but out of chaos
Mary Shelley


"Beauty is not caused, it is"
Emily Dickinson


"It is as fun to scare as to be scared"
Vincent Price


"It's not a monster movie, it's a supernatural thriller"
Ed Wood


"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle."
Lewis Carroll



“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
Albert Einstein



"I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it."
Edgar Allen Poe


"It is difficult to separate, at times, the myth from the truth"
Bob Kane


"A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener" with constant use.
Washington Irving


"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart."
Buddha



"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it"
Confucius

Dahl Week Day 3: That's The Life For Me

When it comes to Roald Dahl tales, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory probably comes out on top on many people's lists. But if you ask me, I think James and the Giant Peach comes pretty darn close to retrieving the crown. This obscure story came out a mere 3 years before Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket saw the light of day and it even has a few references to the soon to be tale, if you read it closely.   James and the Giant Peach is the real cult hit of Dahl's tales and probably wasn't even well known until the Disney film came out in 1996 (ironically, the same year another Dahl tale, Matilda hit the silver screen), directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton. But the book is still a marvel in it's own right and worthy of an entire blog post devoted to it. Like the world of Willy Wonka, I grew up with this little charm and I think it's unique way of storytelling and whimsical embodiment makes it stand out from all the other Dahl tales. It's got humor, deranged fantasy and oddball characters, which Roald Dahl was a pro at conceiving. Whether you read the book or watch Selick's movie, you're in for a delightful treat filled with twists and tumbles to last you, well, however long it takes you to read the book or watch the entire movie of course.

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Unlike Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this was one of the few Dahl books I had as a kid. I'm not quite sure, but I think my brother got the book after seeing the movie when it was released on VHS. After I saw the movie (as a kid, I never knew that some of my favorite movies were based off books), I was anxious to get my hands on the book, but my brother would never let me have it. He always had it buried in a book pile on his bedroom floor and like a lot of siblings, we'd fight and hit each other until one of us won. As I grew into my preteen years, I finally gave the book a read and became infatuated with the bug filled world Dahl brought into our world, reading the book several times ever since. I think what makes the story stick out like a green banana in a pile of yellow ones is that it doesn't resort to common fairy tale redundancy, it actually does it's own thing. For example, when the story begins, James' parents are killed by a rhinoceros and he is sent to live with his cruel aunts, Spiker and Sponge. You think it would take the entire book for James to be freed from his aunt's bondage (although the movie alters this a bit), but he is actually freed very early on in the tale. As James gets inside the peach with the other bugs, it rolls down the hill and crushes Spiker and Sponge into pulp. After that, James and his new friends get into an adventure of madness which takes them out to sea, up to the sky and even to New York City. It's a story that borrows elements from many other stories, but comes out as something entirely refreshing and new in the process. It can be a pirate story, a story about flying and most importantly, a story about friendships and relationships, which I think is a vital component to a good tale with characters we can relate to and admire. James and the Giant Peach is one of the very few books from my childhood that I still have in my possession. It has a neat cover.


What I also love about James and the Giant Peach is that it shows the capabilities of Roald Dahl's deranged imagination. One minute, there's flesh craving rhinoceroses that consume human beings for lunch. Another minute, there's an old wizard who offers James neon green crocodile tongues. Another minute, there's weird "Cloud Men" who can control the weather. Another minute, James is in New York, believed to be a martian by the city's inhabitants. It's all odd stuff that you wouldn't think would add up, but it does and it comes together the best that it can. The more I observe the story, the more I feel that I'm in the story, and traveling in the peach with James and all his buggy friends. Speaking of which, they are probably myfavorite aspect of the story. There's a dignified green grasshopper, a light hearted lady bug, a sly yet friendly spider, a silent glow worm, and a slick, hip centipede with an attitude. I think I like these characters best because of the many distinct personalities they bring forward and that they all have their trademarks that make them unique. I also like the designs of the characters, both in the movie and in the various illustrations coinciding with each version of the book. All of Roald Dahl's stories have been rereleased throughout the years with many talented artists penning the illustrations, everyone from Quentin Blake to Lane Smith to Nancy Ekholm Burkert. But I really like Lane Smith's illustrations in the version I have, for the characters look very reminiscent to their movie counterparts, but still have original qualities to them. Lane Smith is also well known for illustrating books like Dr. Seuss' Hooray For Diffendoofer Day (along with Jack Prelutsky) and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

But there is no doubt that a majority of you are here to hear my thoughts and opinions on the 1996 motion picture. It is quite clear that many of us were introduced to Dahl's story through this good hearted family film with music from Randy Newman and brilliant stop motion from the stop motion animators that brought The Nightmare Before Christmas to life. In fact, the Jack Skellington puppet was used as a skeleton pirate in this film, which is a nice little Easter egg to keep your eyes out for. Anyway, the film adaptation of James and the Giant Peach is one of my favorite Disney films and one of my favorite films in general. Yeh, I know I say that a lot about the films I talk about, but it really is the truth. I seen this film as a small todd and it loomed in my mind ever since, forcing me to give it tremendous re-watches throughout the years to the point where my VHS tape developed the great white line illness. It was the complete opposite for The Nightmare Before Christmas. When I first saw that film, I was terrified out of my wits and never wanted to watch it again. The way the characters moved, the way they looked, the monsters portrayed in the film (particularly the one hiding under your bed), they made me cry my little eyes out, until I was much, much, much, much older and realized how brilliant the film really was.


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Even though this film had the same director, same producer and same animators and style, I didn't have a problem with it.Probably because this film is the complete opposite of Nightmare with all it's deranged, macabre terrors and misfits. This is a bright, nice film to look at, and unlike Nightmare, it's vibrant and sunny with vivid colors and visuals to make your eyes pop out of their sockets. There is of course some shades of grey here and there, but it is mostly in the live action segments in the beginning. Other than that, it's like a kindergarten coloring book full of twisted, yet dazzling surroundings very reminiscent of Dr. Seuss or even Winsor Mccay, the creator of Little Nemo and Gertie the Dinosaur. I also can't help but feel that this film (and the book even) was inspired by Little Nemo and his Adventures in Slumberland. You've got the day dreaming little boy in the form of James, who is very much like Nemo in Mccay's original comics. You've got the cigar smoking wise guy in the form of the Centipede (portrayed in the film by Richard Dreyfuss), who is much like the troublesome Flip, voiced by Mickey Rooney in the animated film from the late 80s.You've got the big scary rhinoceros, who is very much like the Nightmare King and you've got the wise, tall guy in the form of the Old Green Grasshopper, who is very much like Professor Genius in Slumberland. Instead of traveling by bed or dirigible, the group travels by peach, weather it soars like a sailboat or flies in the sky via hundreds of seagulls. It's a very interesting comparison, and I can't help but wonder if Henry Selick and Tim Burton drew some inspiration from Mccay and his adventures in a child's imagination. Even some of the designs are similar to Mccay's drawings of his signature characters.

As I said before, this film is bright and rich with color and the complete opposite of Nightmare Before Christmas, which featured dark, shadowy scenery straight out of the heart of nightmares. But that's not to say that James and the Giant Peach doesn't have it's nightmarish qualities as well. Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margoyles give a menacing performance as the wicked Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge and suffer a differ fate than they do in the book. The rhinoceros who devoured James' parents is a terrifying sight and looks like something straight out of the depths of the underworld. The sharks James and company encounter out at sea look like something that crawled out of Nightmare, but to add a bit of edge to the film, they were kept in to terrify all the viewers. They are also not your average sharks. These bad boys look like something straight out of Marc Forster's Finding Neverland.

Nevertheless, this is a feel good film, much like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This film has some good actors taking on Dahl's brainchildren. Aside from Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margoyles, we have some very fine professionals voicing the insects and arachnids such as Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis, Richard Dreyfuss, and Amadeus alum Simon Callow. We also have the late great Pete Postlethwaite as the old magic man who gives James the crocodile tongues. In the role of James is Paul Terry, who does a pretty good job of capturing James' naiveté and young optimism straight from Dahl's book. I don't think he's acting anymore, but I do know he was part of a British band called Glass Apple. 

Speaking of music, Randy Newman is spectacular as always singing the songs for this film. This is a year after he did the music for Toy Story, and although he will forever be known for his work in that film, his originality for the songs in James really shines through and we get some quirky, off the wall and at times, tear jerking song numbers. My personal favorite of the bunch is That's The Life For Me, for it was always the song that stuck out to me the most when I watched this film as a kid. All the songs are great in their own right, including the song where the characters sing about eating the peach. I for one would like to reach my hand in the screen and take a huge bite out of that fruit. It looks so juicy and fresh, just imagine if giant peaches grew in the real world. Oh well, I guess I'll settle for square
watermelon. 

Anyway, we are almost done with Dahl Week. Tune in next time and we'll have a look at another Dahl tale that was adapted into a film the very same year James and the Giant Peach hit theaters. It's a more grounded in reality story,but it's still fantastic whatever way you look at it. 




































































Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SOME OF MY FAVORITE ACTORS

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A man who limits his interests limits his life 

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If you take a villain like Thursa Doom or Darth Vader and have fun with it, that destroys the credibility of the character

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There are vampires in the world today-you only have to think of the film business

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If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story

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So my idea of neurotic is spending too much time trying to correct a wrong. When I feel that I'm doing that, then I snap out of it

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I think it's my adventure, my trip, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may

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Me, I'm dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Honestly, it's the honest ones you have to watch out for



A day without laughter is a day wasted



People, chained by monotony, afraid to think, clinging to certainties, they live like ants

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Look, even bad years are pretty good years I think

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It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper

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Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength


Never regret anything you have done with sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of heart

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Encouraging people to believe in it was the most important thing of all. It's one of the reasons I was uncomfortable whenever film crews came on the set to shoot things. I didn't want our make-believe to be exposed. 

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The monster was the best friend I ever had

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So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable

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We have big chances in our lives that are more or less a second chance

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One of the delights known to age and beyond the grasp of youth, is that of Not Going

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Try and understand what part you have to play in the world in which you live. There's more to live than you know and it's all happening out there. Discover what part you can play and then go for it.


There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.

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Don't dream it, be it

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Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile

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Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool that follows it?

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Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it

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We've set another youth on the road to a brighter tomorrow

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You need to be silly to be funny

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I hate the word hate

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The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made



Moe: We bake you a birthday cake!
Larry: If you get a tummy-ache!
Curly: If you moan and groan and woe!
Moe,Larry, and Curly: Don't forget we told you so!


Ollie: Why don't you do something to help me?
Stan:What can I do?
Ollie: Throw out the clutch, that's easy!

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If I had my career over again? Maybe I'd say to myself, speed it up a little


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I don't act anyway. The stuff is all injected as we go along

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In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure 

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The pain was considerable, but trivial compared to my mental state

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I love life because what more is there?




Sometimes, the best actors are ourselves