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Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina [Import]
Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina [Import]
DVD ~ Jodi Benson
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 5.47
27 used & new from CDN$ 1.61

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, Oct. 2 2010
The story of Thumbelina was originally a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. It's the story of a thumb- sized girl and her adventures in life and love. The film begins with an old woman. The woman is lonely and has always wanted a child of her own, and one day a fairy grants her wish and gives her a small seed. The old woman plants the seed and kisses it when it's ready to bloom, and inside she finds a tiny girl no bigger than her thumb, whom she then calls Thumbelina. Thumbelina is quite contented with her life on the old woman's farm. She tries to help out with chores, but only seems to her herself into scrapes whenever she tries to help. She loves her mother though and is happy. One night, Thumbelina is singing to herself in her room when, as chance would have it, the prince of the fairies flies by her bedroom window and is enchanted by her voice. He takes her for a ride on his pet bumblebee and they sing and fall in love. He then returns her to her room with the promise of returning. On that romantic ride through the meadow, a frog over hears Thumbelina singing and thinks to herself that this small girl would make a great addition to their travelling show and would make her son a good wife. So she kidnaps her that very night while Thumbelina slept, before the prince could come back to marry her. When Thumbelina awakes and discovers what the frogs have planned for her she runs away from them and tries to make her way back home, but being so small she can't see above the grass. The frog whom she escaped from is hot on her tail so quickly makes her way through the company of various bugs and birds and rodents who both try to help her and try to capture her. In the end the swallow, who also is the narrator of the story, helps her find her way to the vale of the fairies, where she hopes to find her prince. They end up getting married and Thumbelina grows a pair of wings to match her prince's and they all live happily ever after.

I liked this movie a lot when I was a kid. I''d sing the songs with my cousin when we watched the movie together, though apparently according to Wikipedia the 'marry the mole' song won the worst original song award. I remember feeling kind of awkward that all of these creepy guys wanted to marry Thumbelina and I guess that sort of took away from the movie a bit for me, but overall the memories are pleasant. Thumbelina isn't a strong character by any means, she sort of just gets tossed around by fate and always needs rescuing. The prince also isn't any knight in shining armour. He acts as a boy would, shirking responsibilities and spouting idealism without having anything to back it up. The villains are also kind of one-dimensional in their drive to get Thumbelina. Besides being struck by her voice, which isn't enough to make someone fall in love, there isn't really anything substantial in their desire to marry her. Besides a few character flaws however, this really is a sweet film. The songs are catchy, I like the animation, and the story is adventurous with a kiss at the end, short, sweet, and nostalgic.

The Gnome-Mobile
The Gnome-Mobile
DVD ~ Walter Brennan
Offered by Mikani Collectables
Price: CDN$ 8.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 6.31

2.0 out of 5 stars bland, Oct. 2 2010
This review is from: The Gnome-Mobile (DVD)
This movie was actually something of a disappointment for me. It moved rather slowly, and to be honest I was kind of glad when it ended. The story is about this rich lumber owner named Mr. Mulrooney, and he's having his grand kids from England come over to visit him. The grandchildren are the kids from Marry Poppins, that's actually how they're introduced too. So Mulrooney takes the kids to a forest he owns for a picnic and while he and the grandson set up camp, the granddaughter goes off for a walk and comes upon this gnome who asks for her help. She rushes back to get her grandfather and brings him back to the gnome. As it turns out the gnome's grandfather is dying. Gnomes only die if they've given up the will to live and the grandfather has given up the will to live because he and his grandson are the last gnomes in the forest and he will never see his grandson married. The grandfather offers to take the two to another forest where there might be more gnomes and they agree to go with them to this forest in the grandfather's car, now effectively, the gnome mobile. The party has to stop off at a hotel for the night and grandfather gnome gets angry at Mr. Mulrooney who gets angry enough to call off the trip and storms out of the room. A travelling freak show owner happens to pass by as this happens and see the gnomes. He then proceeds to kidnap them as they will make for an interesting new attraction. When Mr. Mulrooney finds out the gnomes are missing he calls his security team to help find them, but when his employee hears what he has to say he thinks he's gone mad and has him put in an insane asylum. His grandkids break him out and they go retrieve the gnomes and get to the forest, where the young gnome finds some girl gnomes to fight over him and they all live happily ever after.

The acting in this movie was horrible. It was so forced and stereotyped and fake, it was almost painful to watch. This film is by Disney, and because of that I was quite disappointed with the overall quality. Darby O'Gill and the Little People was also a Disney film about faeries and it was quite well done so we know they are capable, but this is definitely b film material. The songs were cheesy, but I'm less distraught about that as many b film songs are usually quite poorly done. Many parts of the plot weren't given enough explanation. Some scenes seemed to flow along as they did because it would best suit what happened next and not so much because it was a logical scene that fit into an overall plot. Some of the actions taken by people in response to the gnomes, for example, were too extreme or convenient to be taken seriously by the audience. The special effects are pretty good and the guy who does the voice for the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland makes an appearance as one of the gnomes, I think that's all that can be said for this movie. All in all, ok for an initial viewing, but definitely not a keeper.

DVD ~ Sally Hawkins
Offered by MountainMamma
Price: CDN$ 59.99
13 used & new from CDN$ 12.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed, Sept. 10 2010
This review is from: Persuasion (DVD)
Persuasion is not one of my favourite Austen stories, but it's a good story and I enjoyed the 1995 version of the film. This version, however, is absolutely horrible. Many of the more recent (made in the 2000's) BBC adaptations to Austen novels have been more... artsy than previous interpretations of the novels, and to date I've enjoyed them. Sense and Sensibility was really well done, the older version of Emma was better but the 2000 one was still good. But Persuasion is where they drop the ball. This is more of an art film than it is a period piece and was almost painful to sit through. I found myself so bored at some points that I would think back to how the 1995 version did it and compare them just to keep occupied. There are so many over played emotions that are lost to the plot because the cameraman was given too much artistic liberty and you get lost in the angles and lenses instead of the plot and characters, and not in the good way.

All I can say is that, if you have watched this film and haven't seen the version with Amanda Root as Anne, go watch it. She is not as pretty as the actress in this film, but Anne isn't supposed to be a world renown beauty, she's rather plain. It's a much better adaptation than this one.

Pagemaster, the [Import]
Pagemaster, the [Import]
DVD ~ Macaulay Culkin
Price: CDN$ 9.99
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, Sept. 10 2010
This review is from: Pagemaster, the [Import] (DVD)
For me this is one of those films that every time it's suggested as a film to view I don't initially want to watch because I think it will be cheesy but then end up enjoying a lot.

The story is about a very cautious young boy who is afraid of just about everything he comes in contact with. His father, who wants both to spend some time with his son and help him get over his fear, is building him a tree house. His dad sends him out to buy more nails for said tree house, but Richard (the boy) gets caught in the middle of a rain storm on the way and runs into the nearest building for shelter, and this building happens to be a library. When he enters the library he is bombarded by a very passionate librarian who is more than willing to help him find any number of stories, but Richard is just looking for a telephone and goes on his way to find it. As he is walking through the stacks he comes across a huge mural on the ceiling of a rotunda. As he's admiring this mural the paint starts to melt off the ceiling and drop onto the floor, turning everything it touches into a cartoon. Richard of course runs away and this paint chases him until both he and the entire library have been turned into a cartoon. He meets up with three books, Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror, and with their help, face three challenges (found within some classic books from each genre) as they make their way to the exit sign.

This plot of this movie sounds so cheesy, like one of those direct to film movies designed to make a quick buck, but instead it's one of those hidden gems that encourage imagination and self- confidence. Christopher Lloyd plays the librarian as well as The Pagemaster, and I think he was one of the best actors for the job. He speaks with a mixture of both a hushed and an explosive passion that could make you see the magic in a wet dish towel and draws you in so completely to the plot. It inspires both reading and imagination and is a fast paced adventure, to be enjoyed by young and old.

31 Ways to Change the World
31 Ways to Change the World
by We Are What We Do
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.39
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars great, Sept. 10 2010
This is one of those activism books for kids, aged 9- 12. I like it a bit more than the other `how to' activism for kids books out there because it isn't telling kids to fight the world's evils, it isn't telling them that the world is going to end unless they do this, and it isn't at all large-scale. Many of the suggestions in this book only immediately effect the person who is doing them and the person/ people they're interacting with. Instead of listing all of the actions I'm just going to summarize the gist of them by category.

There are a few actions that suggest how to interact with people more, like your parents or your grandmother. In general, many of the actions tell the reader to do more things with people. This is an important suggestion with the rise of technology. Kids are spending more and more of their free time alone in front of some electronic device or another, and while this is fun for them for the moment, too much of this behaviour can alienate them from their friends and family.

So in addition to the do things with people group of actions, there are the `do things' actions. Things like playing or writing a letter, grow something and eat it, these help get kids off the couch.
Then of course there are the environmentally aware actions, but it goes about presenting this in a kid friendly way. One of these is to love your stuff, it doesn't say this, but by loving your stuff you won't rush out to buy new stuff and you'll value what you have. There are also the standard `don't waste power' actions, but they give you some real life examples like shower time and junk mail.

There are also the `educate yourself' actions. These suggest that you learn another language or learn about a cause to support or to bug your parents about. One of the actions is to simply ask why, which is always a good tool for learning.

Overall I think that this is one of the better elementary school aged activist books I've come across. It's short and sweet but has a lot of valuable things to say. It's also very colourful and full of pictures so is easy on the eye. What I like about this book the most is that it doesn't only talk about how to fix your environment or how to make a political or social change, it also talks about how you should make more time for the people you see everyday. How you should be more active and more social, because believe it or not those tiny and `insignificant' interactions are what will shape your world the most and are what will determine your happiness. And if more people are happy, the world will indeed change for the better.

The Trouble with Angels
The Trouble with Angels
DVD ~ Rosalind Russell
Price: CDN$ 14.99
10 used & new from CDN$ 11.27

5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, Aug. 31 2010
This review is from: The Trouble with Angels (DVD)
This is a great comedy about two reluctant girls, Mary and Rachel, who meet up and become best friends when they are sent to a convent school. Mary is a very head-strong, mischievous girl and comes up with several 'scathingly brilliant ideas' for her and Rachel to get up to and more often than not these escapades get them in trouble with mother superior. The girls are your average delinquents, skipping out on classes and trying to spice up an otherwise unpleasant experience, but they put their hearts into everything they do, which more often than not ends up in their scrubbing pots.

I guess one of the first things I'd like to say about this movie is that though it takes place in a convent, there's no more religion in it than there is in The Sound of Music. When I attempt to recommend this movie to people, the one who aren't religious don't want to watch it because they think it will be all about religion and the ones who are want to watch it for the same reason. But it's not a religious film at all. There's more focus placed on the trouble the girls get themselves into and the situations they're faced with than there is on this movie try to convert you. Yes they talk about God and how great religion is, but that's how society was back then, and many older films will have religious sentiments expressed' but unless you are very insecure about your own stance on morality, there is no reason to avoid an otherwise pleasant and comedic film.

Onto the film itself. I really enjoyed the characters. Mary was such a headstrong girl and was very reluctant to be sent to the school in the first place, but she never had any malicious thoughts or intentions about anybody. Her schemes that got both her and Rachel into trouble were only thought up out of boredom. She's one of those people in your life that will leave a mark on your memory. She's like a shooting star, a bright, energetic person who will always be proactive and optimistic no matter the situation. Rachel on the other hand was more of a follower, but was just as energetic and rebellious as Mary.

The film is a comedy, but is not slapstick humour, nor is it like present day cheesy Hannah Montana ish comedy either. It's more situational humour, like I Love Lucy. It's not all comedy either. There are a few serious moments, and actually one very sad moment that always makes me tear up. The scene when they're in the old folks home and Mary overhears mother superior consoling an old woman whose family won't be visiting her this Christmas. Gets me every time. But the serious moments make the funny moments that much funnier, and make the film over all that much more memorable.

Dragon's Milk
Dragon's Milk
by Susan Fletcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.87
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars great, Aug. 28 2010
This review is from: Dragon's Milk (Paperback)
Dragon's Milk (the first book in The Dragon Chronicles) is the story of a girl named Kaeldra who goes in search of dragon's milk to save her sister from a life threatening illness.

Kaeldra was something of a social outcast, even within her own home. She was adopted into the family and is of a race at war with the race of the family that took her in. She was different both in appearance and mannerisms from the other women in her village and family and because of her 'foreignness' was sometimes blamed behind her back for unfortunate events. Kaeldra was also the owner of green flecked eyes, and it was rumoured that people with green eyes could communicate with dragons, troublesome monsters that stole livestock and killed people.

Kaeldra's young sister Lyf comes down with a life threatening fever, and Grandmyr, the matriarch of the family, tells her that the only hope of a chance they have at saving her life would be to get her some dragon's milk. Grandmyr informs her that one of her own ancestors was also deathly ill and was left for dead at a cave, but after a dragon took pity on her and nursed her, she fully recovered, and received a pair of vibrant green eyes. So Kaeldra goes up the mountain near her home and in exchange for the milk, watches the dragon's children while she goes out to hunt. On one of these outings the mother gets killed by a dragon hunting party and the draclings are left in Kaeldra's care. She then goes on a quest to ensure that they are put into the care of another dragon before they too are slain.

This was a really good read. The writing was surprisingly intellectual for the age group (pre to early teen) and was truly a pleasure to get through. I thought that even though Kaeldra was a very unwilling heroine, she undertook her quest with bravery and strength and thankfully didn't whine her troubles away. This is the first book of a trilogy with a fourth novel soon coming out, and I have to say that this is one of the best dragon books I've read. All who love fantasy and adventure will surely fall in love with this book.

Faeries [Import]
Faeries [Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars good, Aug. 9 2010
This review is from: Faeries [Import] (VHS Tape)
Faeries is an animated film about a sister and a brother, Nellie and George, who are sent to live at a relative's farm for a time. They are somewhat unhappy about this, Nellie in particular. Once they're settled in, the children go out to play. George wants to play hide and seek and scampers off to hide from Nellie, and while she isn't looking, disappears into a tree. While looking for George, a creepy looking man (Jeremy Irons!) appears and tells her of a prophecy. She is a little shaken by this stranger and runs back to the house (not seeing him turn into a crow and fly away). She gets back to the house and continues her search for her brother and comes across a hobgoblin in her cupboard. It appears as though her brother has gone into the fairy realm, and Nellie must hurry and bring him back before he eats something and is unable to return. The goblin takes her to the faery tree and she goes in to find her brother. When she does get to him though, he has already eaten faery food and cannot return to the human realm ever. Nellie calls the faery king and pleads for the release of her brother. The king contents to give them three quests, and if they complete these quests, George will be able to leave fairy land. The nature of the quests change after the prince see's the farm hand Brigit (Kate Winslet). There is also the matter of the shape shifter, who is after the fairy king's throne. It is of course up to Nellie and George to save the day.

This film has a mix of both classic 2D animation as well as an early 3D animation style. For the most part the classic cartoon animation is used for the characters and the background, but several movement shots are done in 3D. Fairy land might have been real life foam fauna as well.

Mommie Dearest (Widescreen) (Hollywood Royalty Edition)
Mommie Dearest (Widescreen) (Hollywood Royalty Edition)
Offered by WonderBook-USA
Price: CDN$ 5.96
12 used & new from CDN$ 5.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, Aug. 9 2010
Based on the scathing tell- all memoir of the same name, Mommie Dearest is the story of Joan Crawford's life 'behind the scenes' told from the perspective of her adopted daughter Christine. For the record, I haven't read the memoir, nor have I done any extensive research on Joan Crawford. My experience of this family is based solely on this film.

The story begins with a successful Crawford wishing she had a child of her own. She has a partner of sorts, a lawyer, and is established in her career, but she is unable to have children and therefore wants to adopt. At first the orphanages will not give her a child because of her somewhat notorious past. Ever persistent, she has her lawyer friend pull some strings and she receives a baby girl, who she names Christina. In the film, Crawford displayed a minor case of OCD and would personally get down on her knees and scrub her floors, even though she had several capable maids. In fact she would closely inspect her maid's work after she had finished to make sure it was done to her satisfaction. This, combined with the fact that her life was always under the eye of the press and the pressures of the film industry, created a sort of bipolar woman who would violently explode arbitrarily depending on her mood. Of course it was her daughter Christina who was made to suffer this. As Christina grew up her mother went from physically and emotionally bullying her, to sending her away to boarding school, to kicking her out of the house without a penny. When she died, Joan disinherits both her and her brother, and Christina ends foreshadowing the writing of her memoir.

This story had enormous potential to be disturbing and terrifying. The clip I saw that made me want to watch the film had Faye Dunaway (Crawford) maniacally chopping off her daughter's hair after seeing her play-act in a mirror. With the right stuff, that can be psychologically messed up, but unfortunately Dunaway was the only one who stepped up to the plate. Watching this movie was like watching a small child whining 'it's not fair' over and over again. Maybe Dunaway's acting was just too good and she was acting with inexperienced or poor actors, but I felt like every time Christina was mistreated by her mother she was faking her pain. I almost wanted bad things to happen to her because she was ruining what would otherwise have been a wonderful film' even when the actors switched. It felt like the actors playing Christina were trying too hard to be the sweet and innocent victim, while at the same time tried display a spiteful rebelliousness that wouldn't have been found in the innocent girl, and would have evolved into an all out rebellion in anyone who was truly discontented with their situation. So I didn't believe her pain at all and at the end of the movie was happy that her mother left her with nothing' taking my frustration with the actor out on the character.

But Dunaway's performance was amazing. In my opinion she carried this movie on her back. She created the perfect combination of insane, power-hungry actress and caring mother. She was fascinating to watch and for her alone would I recommend that anyone watch this movie.

Last Exile: Complete Series
Last Exile: Complete Series
DVD ~ Mayumi Asano
3 used & new from CDN$ 69.99

4.0 out of 5 stars good, July 31 2010
This review is from: Last Exile: Complete Series (DVD)
This anime is beautiful to look at. That is the first thing I will say about it because I'm sure that that is the first thing you will notice about it, and is what will probably keep you watching for the first half.

Last Exile is a story about two orphans, Claus and Lavie, who make a living as couriers. In the land they live in, people move around in the sky more than they do water or land, and the two fly an aircraft known as a vanship. All is normal in their lives until one day, during a vanship race in their home town (think star wars), a foreign vanship cuts off their path and crashes into the forest below. Claus, the pilot, decides that they should go down to make sure the people in the vanship were all right. When they get there they see that the pilot has been shot, but is still alive, and there is a dead person in the back seat holding a small sleeping girl. The pilot tells them that an enemy faction, The Guild, is after this young girl and asks the two to see his mission through to the end and escort the girl to safety. The Guild is an advanced race of people who have superior technology and almost silently rule the people below them. Of course the pair accept the mission and take the girl. This leads the two to eventually come on board a ship called the Silvana and on that ship, they will face wars with others and ultimately battle The Guild's control over them by attempting to prevent their awakening of a powerful and unknown entity known as 'exile'.

The first half of this anime bored me to tears. I'd heard so many rave reviews I couldn't believe that it could possibly be as bad as I initially perceived it to be' so forced myself to watch episode after episode. The beginning is king of pointless and disorienting. We see Claus and Lavie living life as usual, doing a mission or two, fighting in a race, but there was nothing that really drew me into the plot or care about the characters until around the twelfth episode. The story up until that point was kind of like the middle of an anime' boring and just filling up space. And at that point the audience doesn't have enough emotional history with the characters to care. I was so bored I spent more of the time picking out character flaws. Lavie is completely useless for most of the series. This is actually stated in the show by one of the other characters. For a majority of the first half of the show all she does is whine and yell. She continues to do this in the second half, but not as much because she is not in as many episodes. I felt that they could have done so much more with her character, there was so much potential there.

The show was not all bad though. As I said, the second half was much better than the first and I would say that the ending makes up for the pain of having the watch the build up. The flashbacks helped, as did the actual purpose given to the character's existence. The war inspired many emotional and political problems for the characters, and the characters were a defined a little bit better for the viewer. The Guild reminded me of the blue giants in the animated film Fantastic Planet, for those who have seen the film, both in how they acted and how they treated the people. The end of the anime was the very best part for me. I don't know why exactly, but as I watched Claus and Lavie flying over that field with Claus' overtone and the music in the background, I got this nostalgic sort of feeling. Kind of like the feeling I get after watching a Miazaki film, a feeling of endless possibility' but I have no idea how as I don't think I liked the show that much to have developed such feelings about it's final moments. But it is as it is I suppose.

The animation in this anime is absolutely stunning. It is one of the most beautiful animes I've seen artistically speaking. In regards to the scenery anyway. One of the funny things about this anime is that even though the landscape is so well drawn.. for some reason the characters can look very amateurishly drawn at times. There will be a stunning scene with some sort of aircraft or landscape or room and is so amazing that it will have you sighing in awe, but two seconds later there will be a scene with one of the characters positioned awkwardly or drawn with an arm or leg too skinny. Just in general I feel that the artists put so much effort into the world the story takes place in that they sort of just drew the characters in last-minute like 'oh ya this story actually revolves around people' we should draw some'. Claus and Lavie we see the most of because the show is about them, and Claus I'm fine with, I feel that his look suits the artwork surrounding him. Lavie, on the other hand, I do not like one bit. There is so little detail in her features that her face is literally a circle with huge 'anime eyes' and a big mouth. While the other characters are drawn seriously, like the characters of a drama, Lavie is drawn like the heroine of a high school romantic comedy' you expect her to go chibi any second. And since this is not a romantic comedy, and Lavie does not even serve as a comic relief in this story, her look is completely out of place and always takes me out of the whimsical mood the scenery has so beautifully created for me. Most of the other characters could also be drawn better, but Lavie is where they so obviously slacked or guessed wrong' I'm not sure which. And her haircut doesn't help.

I have mixed feelings about the anime, but for each negative point I have, there is a positive one to combat it. Overall I would say that it is indeed worth the watch, and you will probably enjoy it immensely at some point. The question is how much are you willing to put up with to find what you might intensely like?

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