Author: Derek Fleek

DVD Review: Return From Witch Mountain

In this sequel to Disney’s beloved family classic Escape To Witch Mountain, Tia and Tony return from Witch Mountain to find a duo of criminals who are determined to manipulate Tony’s powers and unleash a diabolical plan. With the help of a gang of kids and Tia’s supernatural powers, they must find a way of stopping Tony from using his powers for evil. Return From Witch Mountain contributes to the many unwanted Disney sequels by being entirely uninspired and mundane. As the original amused audiences with its cheesy effects and foolish dialog, the sequel can’t even embrace a solid moment of entertainment. Return has the same director and same leads as Escape, but lacks in the lively buoyancy and shabby chuckles of the original. Not only is the magic entirely gone thanks to a hackneyed script and uninspired acting, but it’s an all around poorly made flick. The directing is off-key, the special effects even less exciting than those of its predecessor, and it falls just short of scraping the bottom of the barrel. Even veteran actors Bette Davis and Christopher Lee, though decidedly relevant villains, seem bored by the concept. It’s disheartening, tiresome, and fails to resonate as a classic. Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann do improve their line-reading, but still fail to charm and their chemistry is nearly absent thanks to being separated through almost the entire...

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DVD Review: Escape To Witch Mountain (1975)

The original 1975 Walt Disney classic Escape To Witch Mountain is, unfortunately, dated, and it doesn’t fully provide the magic it would have needed to make it more than just another run-of-the-mill Disney affair. It is occasionally fun and diverting, but otherwise mundane, and the special effects are of decidedly inferior quality even for its time. In addition to the cheap imagery, the high-flying finale lacks of visual marvel. It starts off on level ground and never takes off, thanks partly to cast members Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who give a vibe much too creepy for a family film. Escape To Witch Mountain definitely has some of the qualities of a classic, but they’re basic and fundamental rather than qualities of style and interest.  Nevertheless, though the film looks inexpensive, and most of its cast is inadequate at line-reading, Escape To Witch Mountain does have the ability to keep viewers mostly amused through its 97-minute running time. John Hough, director of the 1974 cult classic Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, here switches his apparatus to much less action with nearly no authenticity. Rent it for its curiously large quantity of cheesy moments that tickle, and some enjoyable quotes. It’s pleasant enough to warrant a one-time viewing, especially if you grew up in the 70s. But from the perspective of 30 years later, Escape To Witch Mountain is lacking in...

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DVD Review: Happy-Go-Lucky

I’m giving Happy-Go-Lucky one star on the silly, controversial rating scale and tossing my hands in the air. It is a ridiculous film. My not being fond of British humor, nor glorified stupidity, Happy-Go-Lucky lacks any sort of appeal and meanders on for two hours. The story revolves around Poppy, a childish and slap-happy 30 year-old woman who refuses to live life soberly and tries to make the best out of everything she encounters. However, there are many people around her who don’t exactly live life to the fullest, including her cranky driving instructor and heated ballet instructor. Even when encountering these deadbeats and her own life issues, Poppy maintains to embrace life like gold. Though Sally Hawkins gives an enthusiastic performance, her character Poppy is naïve, arrogant, and overly-enthusiastic, leaving viewers more or less bothered by her headstrong antics.  Her character proves that watching someone routinely happy becomes simultaneously irksome and depressing. Unfunny, overrated, and entirely random, director Mike Leigh’s moderately improvised tale of Poppy is unbearably aggravating and one of the most over-promoted films of 2008. Nominated for an Oscar for best writing, the only thing I found worth celebrating here are the rolling of the credits once the film ends. It feels like and looks like a mess, unable to please those not fond of British banter. This British comedy is something that one must acquire a taste...

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Movie Review: 70th Anniversary 2-Disc Platinum Edition of Pinocchio

Walt Disney Pictures resurrects the Academy Award-winning masterpiece Pinocchio, for the first time issued in Blu-ray and standard DVD in one package. Digitally restored to perfection with brilliant animation, inspiring music, and a danger-filled story as charming as it is intrepid, this “70th Anniversary 2-Disc Platinum Edition” of Pinocchio is, simply put, one of Disney’s most cherished releases. This review will concern itself with the standard DVD rather than the Blu-ray version. As a carpenter, Geppetto is a man with the talent to provide more than enough clocks for a single household and make puppets out of wood. His favorite puppet happens to be Pinocchio, a puppet he one day hopes will become a real boy. As silly as it sounds, the night he wishes upon a star, Pinocchio is brought to life still in puppet form.  Pinocchio must go through many challenges including a trip to Pleasure Island where bad is good, peer pressure is tempting, and danger is inevitable, while learning that growing up, and being human, is hard. The well-known character first appeared in the 1883 novel titled The Adventures of Pinocchio written by Carlo Collodi and was adapted to film in 1940 by Ted Sears and a host of others, who together made what is regarded as one of the greatest Disney films of all time. Perhaps what makes Pinocchio so idolized is its lovable characters, handcrafted animation,...

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DVD Review: Role Models – Rated and Unrated

In a time when foul-mouthed cinematic comedy is at a high point and crossing the line is considered an achievement, Role Models is raunchy comedy done right. Offensive and touching, rude and meaningful, Role Models is uneven yet gratifying and deep down has a big heart. After an accident with their company’s energy drink vehicle, Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are sentenced to choose between fifteen years in jail or 150 hours of community service. Taking the only logical choice there is, the two must straighten out their act and are forced to volunteer at the Sturdy Wings youth center to mentor a couple of troubled kids. During their time spent at Sturdy Wings, Danny and Wheeler do their best to manage their two “littles” and soon begin to realize these kids are merely misunderstood. Nominated for a 2008 Critics Choice Award for best comedy, Role Models is a film praised for its raunchy charm and clever jokes. To my surprise, it exceeds expectations by being dead funny and irreverently smart. Role Models is an occasionally crude, mildly offensive, and always entertaining romp with another deadpan performance from Jane Lynch (The 40 Year Old Virgin) who knocks it out of the park. The young cast includes Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the teen with an overactive imagination and Bobb’e J. Thompson as the unmanageable fifth grader with a...

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