5-Word 365 #222 – Walking Tall

I really can’t think of anything to say here today. Never mind, on with the film…

Read More

The Wire: The Musical

He hates 40 degree days.

Yeah, I know this isn’t movie-related, but it was just to awesome to not draw attention to. It has been ten years since the debut of The Greatest Television Show In History, and to honour this illustrious occasion, some of the old gang are putting on a show. Read More

5-Word 365 #152 – Xanadu

I realised the other day that I haven’t watched too many musicals this year. Musicals used to be the pinnacle; the jewel in the Hollywood crown. Arthur Freed, Busby Berkeley, Gene Kelly, these names were spoken of with the same reverence reserved now for your Steven Spielbergs and Christopher Nolans. And when was this Golden Age of the musicals? The thirties, forties and fifties. Times of depression, war, massive upheaval. But inside a musical the world is better. People fall in love, they dance, they can’t help but sing their troubles away. When the real world is turning to shit, that’s when we need the escapism that musicals can provide. There have been sporadic bursts of life from this oft-maligned genre since then of course, but if you hold up a studio balance sheet next to a history book, guess what you see? And where are we these days? Wars, recessions, massive upheaval… So I figured I’d watch a musical today.

Read More

5-Word 365 #107 – The Wolfman

And we’re back to Monday. Honestly, I’m amazed that I could even concentrate on this film today, what with The Cabin In The Woods still running around being all smart and witty in my head. There is so much more I want to say about that flick, but I’ll leave it for a while longer I think. But in the meantime, here’s some more horror; this one more of the traditional mould. Read More

5-Word 365 #101 – Sleuth

Much as Kenneth Branagh seems to have built his career emulating Laurence Olivier – even going so far as playing the man himself in the recent My Week With Marilyn – Jude Law has done the same but to a lesser degree by dipping in and out of Michael Caine’s back catalogue. This is the point where all that history comes together. Read More

5-Word 365 #076 – Treasure Planet

This has been quite a difficult piece to write today, for the simple reason that I can’t really make up my mind about this film. I don’t hate it, but I’m not sure how much I liked it.

Treasure Planet

Everything seems cooler in space.

Surely everyone knows this plot by now, but here it is anyway: Young Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds a map to where the old pirate Captain Flint left all his treasure. He goes on a ship to find it, but most of the crew, led by the cook Long John Silver, mutiny and try to steal the treasure. Some fights happen, some pirates die, some are captured, Jim gets a share of the loot, goes back home and lives happily ever after.

There are a few slight differences to the original text however, chief among them being aliens. That’s right. With the exception of Jim and his mother, every character in this flick is some sort of odd-looking beastie. Some are merely anthropomorphised animals, while some are just all-out wacky. The captain of the Legacy – the ship commisioned by Jim’s mother’s friend Dr Doppler to make the voyage – has been changed to a female, probably just to dilute the sausage-fest that was the source book. She is an oddly-sexualised cat lady in fact, with the cut-glass accent of Emma Thompson. Cat lady as in Neytiri, not as in creepy lonely woman with too many pets. Dr Doppler, as played by Niles Crane himself, David Hyde Pierce, is a dog so of course these two end up together by the end. John Silver (he mustn’t be very long in this world *snigger*) is some kind of bear thing, I think. It’s hard to tell with the bionic arm and eye. The rest range from giant spider to thing that speaks in fart noises, and the look-out has about eight eyes that pop out on stalks. I suppose that comes in handy with his chosen profession. How much of a distraction you find all this probably depends on your age and familiarity with the novel. It wasn’t a huge deal for me, but I’ve only read the book once and that was not exactly recently.

The dog and the cat end up having kids together. Probably followed by an appearance on Jerry Springer. Or should that be Jerry Springer spaniel...

The bit I had more trouble accepting was what the filmmakers call the Etherium. In this universe, atmospheres don’t just occur around planets, but they fill all the space between them too. This means that a traditional open-decked wooden galleon can sail from world to world with a few rockets strapped to its keel. It seems like something they thought up over a few beers at lunch one day as a way to shoehorn in their central conceit, and it just ruined my suspension of disbelief.

You're gonna talk about suspension of disbelief? This is Treasure Island In Space. Disbelief has left the building.

This film has a lot of shared DNA with the superior (but equally unsuccessful) Titan A.E. directed by Don Bluth, and written by nerd-legends Joss Whedon and Ben Edlund. If you have to pick one of these, I’d go with that one.

In the credits for this 2002 Disney release, a group of animators are listed under the heading “Journeymen”. That’s a good word to describe this film as a whole. It’s moderately exciting, and paints over Stevenson’s classic novel with an artfully tarnished coat of steampunk sci-fi, but it’s not really exceptional or memorable in any way. I finished watching it about three hours ago, and I’m already struggling to recall a single line of dialogue. Coming out the year before Disney’s other, bigger pirate adventure, this was clearly the screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio’s dry run for Will Turner and Cap’n Jack.