Thursday, February 29, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLVI: Bad and good luck tales


Directed by Bob Hathcock
Written by Alan Burnett

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLIV: I'm bored from leering my horrible glances, and my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances


Directed by Henry Selick
Written by Caroline Thompson, Michael McDowell, and Danny Elfman (based on the poem by Tim Burton)

Spoilers: moderately highish, I guess

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLIII: You ain't never had a friend like me


Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Ron Clements, John Musker, and what appears to be the entire staff of Walt Disney Feature Animation

Spoilers: moderate

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Disney's Challengers, part XI: Après moi, le déluge


Directed by Don Bluth
Written by David N. Weiss and numerous others (based on the play Chantecler by Edmond Rostand)

Spoilers: moderate

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Monday, February 12, 2024

Reviews from gulag: The red [door/car/nosed reindeer]

As we continue our clean-up of 2023 with a series of reviews for movies that may or may not have deserved their own entries, we arrive upon Insidious: The Red Door, annoyingly both the fourth and the second sequel to James Wan's 2011 horror superhit, Insidious, picking up the Lambert Saga ten years after Wan finished it in Insidious: Chapter 2 for no obvious reason besides giving perennial supporting-actor champion Patrick Wilson his first crack at directing; Ferrari, Michael Mann's biopic of Enzo Ferrari that, hypothetically, appeals to Mann's historic strengths as a filmmaker or should at least offer some good racing scenes; and Silent Night, John Woo's pun-titled, Christmas-themed experimental action film.  As the title up top indicates, there is indeed something meaningfully red in all three of these movies, but the actual secret theme of these graybles is that they all involve a director I respect a great deal, even if it's for reasons besides directing, nevertheless proving a disappointment.


I've suggested in the past that the Insidious franchise, prior to Insidious: The Red Door, is not good, and, having recently reacquainted myself with them (or become acquainted with some of them in the first place), I'm happy to recant that, albeit with faint praise; it's a horror franchise with the agreeable distinction of improving steadily throughout all of its first three entries, going from a low 7/10 for the first Insidious all the way to a medium-high 7/10 for 2015's Insidious: Chapter 3.  This was unlikely to continue apace and it did stumble, rather hard, with its fourth entry, 2018's Insidious: The Last Key, which at least had a few strong novelties to offset the feeling that the franchise had clearly exhausted most of its best moves already.  (The first three all had the benefit of being directed by one or the other of its creators, James Wan or Leigh Whannell, which makes more of a difference than you might be ready to guess, given how formulaic the scares and stories are.  Meanwhile, The Last Key was at least written by Whannell, which didn't save it, but it felt of a piece with its three predecessors.)  Other than The Last Key not being good, however, the worst thing about those first four films is that Chapter 3 took the unusual step of being a prequel focused upon Lin Shaye's paranormal investigator and spirit medium, Elise Rainier.  Obviously, insofar as Elise was almost objectively the single best element of the franchise, its focus on her was not the bad part; that's the "prequel" part, where Whannell blinked and took his franchise back in time to give Elise a new story, despite having already ended Chapter 2 with an inordinately strong sequel hook, for while that film concluded the "central" story of the Lambert family on a satisfying and happy note, it also promised Further adventures (ha, ha) with Elise and her sidekicks, irrespective of the fact that Elise had been dead for an entire movie by this point.  I mean, it's a franchise entirely about ghosts and the metaphysical dark mirror of the real world where ghosts hang out after they die; this was not some insuperable challenge.  The worst thing about the worst thing, meanwhile, is simply that, flying in the face of all logic, Whannell's prequel was still named "chapter 3."  This had to be awfully irritating when development began on Insidious: The Red Door, which finally does offer a chronologically-third Insidious movie, as well as another (and presumably the final) chapter in the story of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins), father and son astral projectors whose unique talents had tended to get them into trouble.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The annihilator


Directed by Nia DaCosta
Written by Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik, and Nia DaCosta

Spoilers: moderate

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Disney's Challengers, part VIII: Dog damn


Directed by Don Bluth (co-directed by Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy)
Written by David N. Weiss and zillion other people

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should


Directed by Phil Nibbelink, Ralph Zondag, Dick Zondag, and Simon Wells
Written by John Patrick Shanley, Flint Dille, and Sherri Stoner (based on the picture book by Hudson Talbott)

Spoilers: moderate