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Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films!

 
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Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 21/4/2012 10:35:42 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
Another day, another countdown!

You voted in your hundreds (well not really, but it sounds better than the actual number) and I'll say right now the results aren't to my liking. You've all let me down

Please keep all discussion to this thread - http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=3306085 - and enjoy the list!

In any Mod folk could kindly sticky this in place of the sci-fi list, it'd be appreciated.


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!
Post #: 1
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 21/4/2012 10:45:51 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
100. Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (2007, Gore Verbinski)

I saw this at the cinema and I came back and wrote a rather lengthy review. A few weeks later I saw it again on the big screen and pretty much still agreed with what I’d written. 4 years on, I still, to an extent, agree. In fact I probably like it more, having now come to terms somewhat with any problems I had. For fear of boring you all silly I won’t repost that review, but the problems I had weren’t with the quality of the film itself, but some of the ways in which the story veered. They still bother me some, but not as much, and there’s so much to like anyway. Depp, Rush, Nighy are all perfect, the music must, must, must, get an expanded release, all the set pieces are superb with the final battle being as great an action as you will ever see and it’s surprisingly heartfelt in a way that the first film never came close to. It’s also gorgeous top look at. Much to my shame, I omitted this from my list for the Visual Films poll. I would now place it 9th (this is where elab and Rawls weep, knowing what films come behind it!). To quote just a bit from my original review “It's majorly flawed, but hugely, gloriously, wonderfully, thrillingly, superbly, stupidly, ridiculously entertaining at the same time” A bit like the trilogy as a whole really, a trilogy that has but one superior.

Gimli The Dwarf

-----------

The first one is great but I'd prefer to watch Cutthroat Island than the sequels.

garvielloken




99. The Land That Time Forgot (1975, Kevin Connor)





98. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006, Gore Vebinski)

ROTK and Were-Rabbit aside, this is the film I’ve most anticipated in my life. In the past and I’ve said I’d place this film above the first. Now, probably not, but it is its equal in so many ways. The sheer entertainment of Curse has now been pushed aside slightly for something more epic and grandiose, but it works brilliantly. Everything that was good about the first still is, and there’s many new elements to adore. Davy Jones is the best special effect ever created and Zimmer’s score is outstanding. That final scene is the only time outside of LOTR when I’ve actually felt my heart pounding when watching due to sheer excitement.

Gimli The Dwarf

-------

*Various random swear words*

Lots of forumites


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 2
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 22/4/2012 1:52:55 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
97. The Devil's Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro)





96. The Secret Of Kells (2009, Tomm Moore/Nora Twomey)

The film tells the story of how the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated version of the four gospels from around twelve centuries ago, came to be written. A young boy, Brendan, is asked by the famous illuminator Brother Aidan, to help him illustrate one of the key pages to the book. But in order to do this he has to leave the walls of the abbey and venture into the forest, which has been forbidden by his stern, protective uncle, the abbot. Upon visiting the woods he meets the forest spirit Aisling and encounters Krom, a terrifying monster that dwells in the darker places of the world. And all this is underscored with the threat of the North Men, hideous Vikings that are roaming the land, pillaging and leaving no one alive.

Kells is instantly recognisable by it's unique, gorgeous 2D animation and indeed it's one of the strongest animations visually I've ever seen. Inspired by both Christian imagery, most notably the Book itself, and traditional pagan mythology, every frame of the film is a perfectly composed work of art. Shapes are integral to the film – characters are a series of rectangles and semi-circles, and sequences are themed along particular forms. So Brendan's first exploration of the forest is made up of circles, with the trees gloriously reminiscent of the writing in the book, whilst the Viking invasion is represented by much harder lines of squares. The confrontation with The Dark One is something else entirely, and it's invention has to be seen to be believed. It's a difficult, expressionistic aesthetic to describe, and you really need to see the film to experience it.

Such incredible visuals are supported by an excellent voice cast who add authenticity and humour to the story. Brendan Gleeson exudes a quiet power as the abbot, but crucially he allows hints of emotion into his voice when the third act demands it. Mick Lally as Brother Aidan is the jolly, endearing balance to the sombre abbot, whilst the five other illuminators inject a lot of fun into the proceedings. But it's the child stars that really shine. Evan Maguire as Brendan is a brilliantly curious and warm protagonist at the heart of the film. Christen Mooney, meanwhile, is absolutely wonderful as the forest spirit Aisling, as is shown even in the little segment at the Oscars last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtHXICLmaW0). The two of them together create an utterly enchanting central pair.

Enchanting is a word that summarises the film as a whole – magic flows through each cell on the screen, and it has an ineffably bewitching atmosphere that permeates the entire film. This may sound a little vague, as if I'm incapable of fully putting into words the appeal of this film for me. And really, that is partly true. Kells is a film to be savoured and experienced, a wholly enriching work of cinema that has no parallel. From the opening whispers of the film, (which I borrowed from to create the article title), there is a sense that Kells is going to be something entirely different, completely beautiful and perhaps just a little magical. An enthralling eighty minutes later, and only the most cynical of viewers will be disappointed. There's nothing out there like it, and that just makes it all the more special.

Best: I'm stumped here. It's not the best Irish film, it's not the best animation... hmmm... Best film about the Bible? Suck on that, Book of Eli.

Swordsandsandals




95. Olivier, Olivier (1992, Agnieszka Holland)


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 3
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 22/4/2012 7:36:07 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
94. Mysterious Island (1961, Cy Endfield)





93. Fanny and Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman)

Ingmar Bergman's last film to get a theatrical release is also one of his best, and my reason for choosing this for the Hall of Fame comes down to the fact that it might be considered the summation of his life's work, and also, being his most accessible. Most of the themes that Bergman investigated throughout his career; family, death (in two moments Death itself appears), fear of death, religion, faith, the lack of God, grief, the persona, ghosts, relationships are found in this sprawling five hour epic and it also features a fair degree of ambiguity created from a point of view seen from one of the titular children, Alexander. We see the film from his point of view and even when we are not, it might still be his, and in his point of views, fantasy and reality mix together. We see ghosts, statues gaining life, the Grim Reaper at the start, ghosts, all in Alexander's imagination. This is just part of the plot though.

The film is about the Ekdahl family, an upper class family whose Alexander and Fanny belong to. When Alexander's father dies (in one of the most stunning, sorrowful moments Bergman has ever directed) his wife Emilie inherits his theatre. She falls for a local handsome widower, a bishop, and marries, and this will prove the downfall of Alexander's family, as they are taken to his home and are "imprisoned”. The rest of the Ekdahl family try to force the Bishop into a divorce but this is all in vain. It's all quite entertaining actually. Though some of Bergman's films can be really hard watches (Winter Light and Autumn Sonata, I'm looking at you, you great, bleak, sad films), this is actually quite entertaining for it's five hour run and doesn't bore one bit. Sven Nykvist cinematography is as usual, stunning, and here combined with Bergman's mise-en-scene, it is brilliant. The house of the Ekdahl's is full of colour and life, the house of the bishop is greyish with little décor and feels oppressive. He is also blessed with some great actors, from child actors Pernilla Allwin and Bertill Guve and older actors such as Ewa Frowling, Gunn Wållgren and Jarl Kuller just to mention a few in a formidable cast, but the most memorable here has to be Jan Malmsjo as the Bishop Vergerus, who tortures Alexander and brings his family nothing but pain. Hypocrite, cruel, mentally sick yet never dehumanized and always human (even by Alexander's perception), he is not just a great character, but one of cinema's greatest villains.

As said before it's all seen from Alexander's point of view. Life here is an empty spectacle as shown in it's opening, but animated by Alexander and his imagination. Other moments like the Bishop's introduction is seen from this POV, we already see him as a malice, but Emilie is fascinated by him. I could write more but I think I jumped the limit. It is a great film in all quarters, profound, but never too heavy on viewers and it is a great a great introduction to Bergman's work. And make it the superior five-hour version of the film. There are some great moments there not seen in the Theatrical version and it feels more like a rich work of art.

Deviation




92. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974, Jacques Rivette)




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 4
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 22/4/2012 7:42:01 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
91. The Holy Mountain (1973, Alejandro Jodorowsky)

The film starts with The Thief lying unconscious on the ground. He is befriended and resurrected by a limbless dwarf and he soon enters the nearby city to observe the madness of modern life. His resemblance to Jesus inspired people to use his likeness for various ends. Tiring of the city, he soon spots a bag of gold lowered from a tall tower. The thief climbs the tower and meets the alchemist who lives there. The thief shits, which is then turned into gold by the alchemist. The thief is then introduced to seven powerful people who represent the planets and personify the worst aspects of that planet. The alchemist instructs them to burn their money along with a wax image of themselves. The characters are then led through death and rebirth rituals before journeying to Lotus Island to learn the secret of immortality from the masters who live on the holy mountain. They plan to learn their ways and then replace them. On the island they become sidetracked by people who have abandoned their own quests for the holy mountain to engage in other activities. They manage to break away and ascend the mountain to discover their own personal visions, but the alchemist has one last surprise for them.

The Holy Mountain is loosely based on both The Ascent of Mt. Carmel by St. John of the Cross and Rene Daumal's Mount Analogue, but Jodorowsky fills it with his own mystical beliefs, including many references to the tarot. The Thief is said to represent The Fool as well as Christ, and various other characters also have tarot counterparts. Even the tower where the alchemist lives is a reference to a card. This religious symbolism is said to have been something Jodorowsky drilled into his actors. The cast members are reported to have undertaken three months of spiritual exercises before filming, featuring lessons from various religions, as well as living in a commune style in Jodorowsky's home. The Actors also took mushrooms during shooting to help their spiritual exploration.

The highly confusing narrative has given many to dismiss the film over the years, but that goes back to a desire for clarity at the expense of artistry, something that's always been a bit irritating to me. I think there's a vast difference between directors who neglect story because they think that the visuals and quick thrills are enough (Bay, Cameron et al) and directors who make you work to understand their ideas. Although they're often dismissed as pretentious for even daring to challenge an audience.

The film has a dark wit running through it and the ending reveals just how subversive the film actually is. We're constantly being warned about the dangers of illusion and the end scene takes that distrust a step further. It's fitting that Jodorowsky cast himself as the alchemist, because as a director he himself is a magician, often turning shit into gold. It's difficult to grasp everything Jodorowsky is trying to tell us here and I'm not sure exactly how much of the film is being played as a wink to the audience, but it's a daring and enthralling film either way. A true classic that deserves far more than a cult audience.

Rawlinson




90. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)

There's no denying the impact that Charlie Kaufman has had on the last decade of cinema. The 90s closed with his script for the masterful Being John Malkovich, a film that also established Spike Jonze as a filmmaker of great talent, and throughout this last decade he also worked with one of the decades other bright new stars, Michel Gondry, before turning to directing himself with the incredible Synecdoche, New York. His greatest moment however is Eternal Sunshine, a film where all his daring touches come together with heartfelt characters and a truly moving storyline.

The film is about Joel Barish (Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Winslet) a mismatched couple who meet during a train journey from Montauk. Despite being complete opposites (he's a withdrawn loner and she's a fucked up free spirit) they're drawn to each other. What they don't realise is that they've just spent the last couple of years in a relationship together and have only recently separated. After a fight, the headstrong Clementine visited Lacuna, Inc. Lacuna are a firm that deal in erasing memories, she has had all memories of Joel removed. When Joel finds out he decides to have the same procedure, however while unconscious, with the procedure already underway, his subconscious rebels and tries desperately to hold on to his memories of Clementine. From there on most of the film takes place in Joel's mind, we visit places and times in their relationship and when Joel realises that they are all vanishing, he attempts to bury her in childhood memories, hoping that the Lacuna engineers won't find her there.

While Joel desperately tries to save his memories, the lives of the Lacuna employees performing the procedure are examined. Patrick (Elijah Wood) is shown to be an incredibly creepy young man, basically a memory rapist he uses his knowledge of Clementine's case, the things that helped her and Joel fall in love, to manipulate her into a relationship. Stan (Ruffalo) and Mary (Dunst) are in a relationship and they show their irresponsible side by getting stoned and partying while erasing Joel. But Mary has a crush on Howard (Tom Wilkinson) the brilliant doctor who invented the procedure, but there's a dark secret waiting to be discovered by Mary, one that could threaten the very future of the company.

Gondry takes a decidedly lo-fi approach to the technology in the film, and all for the better. The idea of Eternal Sunshine being overwhelmed by pointless special effects is actually pretty disgusting. As it is now, with the special effects dedicated to simple removals of memories (buildings disintegrate and disappear, picture and sound quality becomes fuzzy, details fade from view) the film feels oddly realistic. The use of forced perspective to help you see the adult actors as children in some scenes also adds a startling quality to some of the memories, especially to some of Joel's childhood humiliations.

The film is heartbreaking, there are very few romances that manage to capture the same sense of devastation at the breakdown of a relationship as Eternal Sunshine, something greatly helped by the non-linear narrative. When we're introduced to Joel and Clementine they're strangers, then we jump to them at a point in time where they near hate each other, it's only through the slow reveal of good times that we understand exactly why they were a couple in the first place. The moments of happiness are made even more painful because we only get to see them as they're being stripped away from Joel and we know that Clementine has already lost them forever.

Beyond the deeply moving storyline, the film is graced with Wilkinson and Ruffalo at the top of their game, small roles from Jane Adams and David Cross and career best turns from Carrey, Dunst, Wood and even though Winslet is one of the most consistently brilliant actresses of her generation, she's never been better than here as the highly dysfunctional but absolutely magnetic Clementine. To think that she lost the Oscar to Hilary Swank's one note turn in Million Dollar Baby is hideous. Not just one of the greatest films of the decade, Eternal Sunshine is one of the greatest films of all time.

Rawlinson




89. Clash Of The Titans (1981, Desmond Davis)


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 5
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 23/4/2012 1:47:59 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
88. The Thief Of Baghdad (1940, Michael Powell/Ludwig Berger/Tim Whelan)





87. My Winnipeg (2007, Guy Maddin)

My Winnipeg takes that idea of autobiographical cinema and warps it by presenting itself as a documentary, but one that focuses on such bizarre facts that you're never sure what's real and what's just another one of Maddin's elaborate deceptions. Here Maddin mixes together his own love for silent melodramas with fact and fiction about his family (a theme he's visited often of late), a loveletter and critique of his hometown and the nature of personal mythology. This is one of the most honestly personal films I've ever seen, even if so much of the film is a deceit.

Maddin describes his home as 'Snowy, sleepwalking Winnipeg' and that could be a perfect description for the film itself. Maddin poses the question about why he's never been able to leave his hometown and tries to answer that question through memory, history, dreams and legend-building. How many of the 'facts' presented to us are true? Does Winnipeg really have the the highest sleepwalking rate of any city in the world? If true, is it down to a deep-seated desire to escape? Did the incident with the horses who become encased in ice really happen? Did people really play and picnic on their magnificent frozen corpses in tribute to their loss? Is it really a city law that if a former resident of your home sleepwalks their way to your door that you have to give them a bed for the night?

Maddin rents out his childhood home and recreates his early life with actors. His mother is played by the great, near-forgotten, Ann Savage and one of the many glories of My Winnipeg is that brought about a fresh interest in her other masterpiece, Detour. Maddin himself is played within the film by an actor, even though he himself narrates the film. I think it's more fitting that real Maddin rather than actor Maddin guides us through this mystical and snowbound little town. But is the real Maddin really real? Or is he as much of a mixture of fact and fantasy as Maddin's Winnipeg? I don't think it matters, the film is called 'My Winnipeg' after all, the Winnipeg of Maddin's mind and I choose to think of everything here is the truth as Maddin understands it.

Maddin calls it a 'docu-fantasia' rather than documentary and it's a perfect description. Even if some of the ideas seem a little loose, the film is beautiful and funny and I think it's as true a memorial as any of us could provide of our own hometown and beneath some of the seemingly ludicrous events, there is sensitivity and genuine emotion. My Winnipeg is an absolute masterpiece and the finest film of the last decade of cinema.

Rawlinson




86. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953, Kenji Mizoguchi)

Quite possibly as close you'll ever come to seeing a perfect film, Ugetsu Monogatari is Mizoguchi's take on how war can destroy people both physically and spiritually. Two neighbours, Genjuro and Tobei live in a small village. Genjuro is a potter, while Tobei dreams of being a samurai. A civil war is raging and, taking advantage of the shortages caused by the war, Genjuro suddenly finds his pottery in high demand. When the village is overrun by rampaging soldiers, both men and their wives flee the village in order to try to sell Genjuro's pottery. In the face of danger, the men send their wives back, but both women return to the village to meet unpleasant fates at the hands of the soldiers. Meanwhile Tobei uses his profits to become a samurai, while Genjuro finds himself seduced away from his family by the ghost of Lady Wakasa.

The film is ostensibly a ghost story, and it skilfully evokes an otherworldly quality, but even as it creates this ethereal and dreamlike state, it still manages to set the supernatural firmly within the context of the real world. It mixes the real and the supernatural until there's nothing that clearly separates them. The film accepts the supernatural as part of everyday life, the otherworld exists within our world, and it uses this duality it creates as an allegory for the dichotomy in the human soul, the split between our pragmatic and our spiritual natures.

Mizoguchi's direction is flawless. He combines a restrained feel to the characters with poetic sequences like the justly celebrated scene where the characters flee from the village through the night fog, encountering a ghostly ship drifting down the river towards them. It is a stunningly beautiful film, combining a lyrical and serene nature with an at times brutal realism.

Mizoguchi was always a director who displayed a great deal of sympathy for his female characters and here he again explores the role of women in a patriarchal society. Here, both of his female leads are tragic figures. Destroyed by rape, murder and the cruelty of men. Yet Mizoguchi wasn't a sexist director, destroying his female characters for some sense of noble suffering. He uses their fate as an attack on chauvinistic attitudes. But despite his seeming despair and disdain for men, Mizoguchi was one of cinema's great humanists. At its heart, Ugetsu is a moral tale about appreciating the things you have. It's a simple story of greed and betrayal, men abandon their wives for sex and for dreams of glory. Yet this simple narrative takes on subtle and transcendent qualities that make it one of cinema's great tragedies.

Rawlinson



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 6
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 23/4/2012 1:54:39 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
85. The Corpse Bride (2005, Tim Burton/Mike Johnson)

Alright - some really good scenes, some not so good.

MovieAddict247




84. Jason and The Argonauts (1963, Don Chaffey)





83. Tangled (2010, Nathan Greno/Byron Howard)

If this is a look into where Disney is going, then I'm all for it. Superb animation, great blend of almost classic-looking animation but in CGI. Anthropomorphised animals is what Disney does best, and Maximus and Maurice (horse and chameleon) are brilliant. For Chuck fans, the main guy - Flynn Rider - is voiced by Chuck himself, Zachary Levi.

homersimpson_esq

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My emotions of Tangled can be compared to the bi-polar emotions Rapunzel felt wen she left the tower. The music is possibly the worst I've heard in a Disney with the exception being a funny song in a bar. It has the most innocuous villain to ever feature in a Disney film with even Izma the kitten was more threatening than this old harmless aunt (OMG SHE WILL STAB YOU) and she gets defeated in the most anti-climatic way imaginable. The scene with the lanterns is also cringe-worthy and it is possibly features the most nondescript fantasy land to ever disgrace a Disney feature. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, it is also great fun when this problems are not showing. The characters are lovable, particularly Eugene and Maximus and Rapunzel is endearing. It's also hilarious, having some of the funniest moments in Disney's career not in The Emperor's New Groove and massively entertaining when a song is not played. So I guess it's pretty passable really.

Deviation


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 7
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 23/4/2012 5:42:56 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
82. Let The Right One In (2008,Tomas Alfredson)

Young Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is being bullied, his parents are separated and he is a wane little thing. A new "family" move into his complex and he soon develops a relationship with a young girl, the mysterious Eli (Lina Leandersson). At school despite being the focal point of beatings he fantasises about stabbing his tormentors as his relationship develops with Eli, he becomes not only self and sexually aware but also an independent figure, or so it seems…

It's always difficult when a film comes along and is subjected to praise that borders on sycophantic hyperbole, it creates baggage and unnatural expectations. When I first saw Let the Right One In, I thought it was good, not game changing but good, solid. On subsequent viewings I have been endlessly impressed. I adore how the film looks, it looks cold but striking and director Alfredson has created a wonderfully precise film that delights in the small and the perverse, especially the perversity of love.

I'm a fan of dubious endings and I think this film has at first what appears to be a touching and triumphant finish, however there are questions that should be asked, what now for Oskar and Eli? We know from the brilliantly developed relationship in the film that they would do anything for each other, yet how far would they go? What happens when much like Eli previous friend, Oskar grows up? This is what get's me every time I watch Let the Right One In. The film has flaws, it's too long, the bullies though do what it says on the tin, are pretty much caricatures and it manages to botch some key moments from the book however taken on it's own merits, Let the Right One In is a superb film.

Twiglet not for you? Try Sweden during the eighties

Impqueen




81. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow 2 (2011, David Yates)

It finally ends and it ends on the best note. The series finally all the action it has kept away from us in four years and ends with a big literal, spectacular and emotional bang. So yeah, I loved it. The Snape flashback is a highlight of the series.

Deviation

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It all ends! The conclusion to the worldwide phenomenon! The cinematic rapture is here! Your childhoods are going to end! Children will die this film is so good! Needless to say anticipation for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II was high. The premiere was one of the biggest cinema events ever seen in the UK, whilst people the world round were seemingly in competition as to who could be the most emotional about it. This film was going to be A Big Thing from the moment they first started making the films. And sure enough, it went on to make a quarter of a billion. In one day.

So is it any good? Well, yes, actually. In a last minute surprise from the franchise, this turns out to be a pacey, exciting thriller filled with memorable moments and a cast of characters that in spite of only half the film franchise being any good, we've come to love anyway. Sure, it suffers from all the familiar traits of a Harry Potter film (clunky exposition: check, key plot points skimmed over: check, ghastly ending: check) but somehow in this film it all seems to work a lot better. For instance, the tension here is almost unrelenting, with the final hour mustering more drama than the rest of the series put together, even for those who already know the plot. The final fight between Voldemort and Harry is the weakest part of the show, a rather bloodless GREEN V RED SPARKS again even though it didn't work particularly well the first time. No, the rest of it is much better, with kick ass moments from McGonagall and Neville that outshine the main hero somewhat.

There's also more emotion this time round. Sadly they really rushed crucial moments – three rather key deaths happen, as with the book, off-screen. It wouldn't have used too much screen-time, particularly in the shortest film of the series, to see them go down in a blaze of glory. But this is all made up for in the Snape sequence, a blur of memories brought together in a truly emotional lull in the manic proceedings. Although it is a little creepily freudian how much Lily looks like Ginny.

In short, this is probably the best film of the franchise so far. Sure, it's not perfect, not by a long way. But it is so breathlessly entertaining you may not care.

Swordsandsandals




80. Cat People (1942, Jacques Tourneur)

When RKO decided to launch a horror line of its own to rival Universal's, they decided to put Val Lewton in charge of a film with a title of Cat People, and they let him take it from there. The end result was one of the best films of the 40s and the starting point for one of the greatest series of horror films produced by any company.

Cat People begins as Irena Dubrovna (Simon) sketches a panther at the zoo and is picked up by Oliver Reed (Smith) She believes she's cursed by the same curse that afflicted her village, one that can transform people into cats when their passions are inflamed. The story goes that a Satanic cult invaded their village and converted the people into devil worshippers. Irena believes she's descended from the Satanists. Regardless, Irena and Oliver marry, but Irena's fears cause her to withhold sex from her husband. Soon her husband seeks affection elsewhere, and Irena becomes jealous.

Lewton wanted to take the supernatural away and put the emphasis on what is suggested rather than what's shown. He wanted us to never be sure if there really is a monster, the film's two most famous scenes, where Oliver's friend Alice is stalked by Irena are notable for the fact that you're never sure if it is Irena or a panther following Alice. When Alice is stalked by an unseen menace in a darkened swimming pool, and when she's followed home past the zoo, ending in the infamous "bus" moment, shows the film to be a masterpiece of misdirection. If this sounds like all of the acclaim is being given to Lewton's position as producer, kudos must also be given to the masterful direction by Tourneur.

Even good and evil aren't as straightforward as in other horrors, Irena may be the probable villain, but she's also one of the most sympathetic characters, Simon's empathetic yet chilling portrayal is the finest performance in a particularly strong cast. Irena is a woman trapped by fate, her life is cursed by her own fears. One of the significant themes of Cat People is how guilt, repression and sexual frustration can fuel our fears. And those neuroses feed the horror in the film. Irena's psychological problems, played out against a noir-lit New York, makes this spin on the werewolf genre a fascinating tale of sex and the psyche.

Rawlinson




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 8
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 23/4/2012 5:52:56 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
79. Aladdin (1992, Ron Clements/John Musker)

As Disney were releasing the likes of The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), as a young pre-pubescent boy I couldn’t care less about them. They were girly films, and alien to me. So, when Aladdin came along in 1992, the eleven-yr-old me was transfixed. Here, finally, was a modern Disney that I could actually enjoy! Time has not worn that enjoyment.

At its essence, the film is a simple retelling of the classic Arabian Night story. As a young boy I devoured the Arabian Nights book I had, so I already loved the tale. Add in the really great songs and the casting of one significant person, and the film is a certified classic. I used to watch “Mork and Mindy” (obviously, repeats, not the original broadcasts…) and loved Robin Williams’ comedy. Granted, his star has somewhat fallen of recent years, comedically-speaking (although his twin dramatic roles in Insomnia (2002) and One Hour Photo (also 2002) were excellent) but back then his input to Aladdin was genius. He turned what could have been a straight comedy role into a whirlwind of referential humour, multi-character, comedy par excellence. I just enjoyed the fact that it was Robin Williams at the time, but age has enabled me to better appreciate the many in-jokes in his performance.

Aside from the Genie-us performance (sorry) the film has plenty of other aspects to promote it. The afore-mentioned songs are infinitely hummable (even if a media-whoring Z-list celebrity couple try and steal the main song for themselves). The characters are richly drawn, with Princess Jasmine bringing plenty of sass to the table, as the boldly-spoken daughter of the Sultan, who is in turn desperately trying to find a suitor. Abu rivals the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark for “Best Monkey” award. But, possibly one of the best achievements in the film is the personification of such an inanimate object as a small, oblong rug. The silent character is a marvel of emotion, encapsulated only by using the four tasselled corners as arms and legs, bringing all the emotion through their movement alone. It’s a brilliantly animated character.

As with the best Disney films, the film-makers put story first and foremost, and while the skeletal story is traditional, the small touches that permeate the film make this the special film it is – whatever age you are.

homersimpson_esq




78. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971, Robert Stevenson)

This was one of my favourite films when I was a kid. Angela Lansbury rocks!

Beetlejuice




77. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984, Hayao Miyazaki)

There are some films that take cinema to new levels by embracing the fantastical and abandoning mundanity of any kind. These films understand that with the clever use of a camera or an artist, you can transport an audience to a whole new world, and can immerse the viewers in that world. Nausicaa does just that. Realism be damned, this is a brilliantly realised flight of fancy, and it showcases exactly why animation is so appealing, and as the first Miyazaki Ghibli film, why the director has such a good reputation. It’s one of the most inventive films I’ve ever seen, and achieves things that could never happen in a live action film. Well, not without the help of a greenscreen anyway. Quite simply, I was blown away.

It’s set in a world with various tribes and lands, including the titular peaceful valley, the vaguely Arabic Pegites, and the warmongering Tolmekians. It’s an intricately crafted world, with distinct landscapes and a well defined steam-punk aesthetic. There is clearly a huge amount of craftsmanship and dedication that goes into the birth of these worlds. It’s the type of devotion to quality that is often forgotten in modern animation, a principle that can be ignored due to the simplicity of CG animation. There are, obviously, some Monsters Inc. shaped exceptions to this, but more often than not, we don’t see the sheer love for quality that is shown in Nausicaa any more. The world of animation has just got a bit lazy.

Gratefully, though, not so here. What I was trying to say in a more structured way in the previous paragraph is that this film is absolutely stunning. Take, for example, the first scene after the credits, and Nausicaa is exploring the toxic jungle. Luminous spores line the walls, making it seem almost like an underwater world seen only in Planet Earth. It begins to snow spores, and the princess just sits underneath a kind of bubble like shell of an eye from an ‘Ohm’ and watches it rain. It’s a beautiful scene, as the princess rather irritatingly points out. The film is filled with loads of scenes like this, ranging from the sparse beauty of the world underneath the jungle to Valley of the Winds itself. Miyazaki keeps coming up with fresh ideas for places and ways to tell the story. There is a very moving flashback section that is almost in the style of Raymond Briggs. And the climatic revelations are absolutely beautiful. I won’t ruin it for those that haven’t seen it, but lets just say it adds a totally new ethereal element to the standard concept of fields of wheat.

The plot is as intricate and compelling as the animation, making sure this isn’t just a series of pretty pictures. Presciently dealing with pollution and the environment, it’s a fairly complex plot about living in harmony with nature (a frequent theme in Miyazaki’s work). It’s a foreboding message that nature has destroyed the world, after the world tried to do the opposite. This irony is as convincing an argument to try to save the planet as any Powerpoint presentation. Yet far from being preachy or boring, as the film races towards its exciting climax, it becomes a gripping, poetic action film, as Nausicaa attempts to stop two warring nations. It’s evident that this is so much more than a children’s film.

Sadly, however, this film just stops short of perfection. It’s got one or two huge flaws that hold it back from truly reaching that greatness that it is only within touching distance of. I saw a version with an English dub that was poor to say the least. Alison Lohman gives such a dry, slow voice performance as the princess that isn’t helped by awkward lines such as "My heart is pounding!" I mean, who actually says that to themselves? I mentioned earlier the scene with the spores snowing, and she keeps talking to herself. With such a lacklustre voiceover, it’s just a hindrance when you’d rather watch it in silence, and drink in its beauty. Shia LaBeouf also features on the 2004 dub, and fares OK, but his voice is too recognisable for the character he plays that he becomes distracting.

Which is all very well, as I could just as well watch the Japanese version. But sadly the Japanese version cannot remove the occasionally awful moments of scoring. During some of the faster action sequences, the usually light, airy score that accompanies most Miyazaki films is replaced with a jarring techno score that seems to have comes straight out of one of those terrible 1D computer games you got in the ‘80s. You can’t help but wonder why this ended up being on such a beautiful film, as it really does detract from the otherwise dynamic scenes. It just makes it seem a little silly. Still, this is a small gripe in the face of the rest of the film, which is almost unrivalled in its skilful creation of a fantasy world, and is, quite frankly, a remarkable film.

In Short: A poor lead vocal performance and inexplicable choice of techno music stop this from being Miyazaki’s finest so far. Yet the mind-blowing beauty of the world that the master creates, combined with a breathlessly exciting and complex plot, make this an unmissable cinematic experience.

Swordsandsandals

-------

God, make it stop

Gimli The Dwarf




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 9
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 5:58:11 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
76. Army Of Darkness (1992, Sam Raimi)

I know there are those out there that will sigh or gasp at my next statement but these days this has become my favourite Evil Dead film. Yes while the overall tone and nature of the third film is say slapstick and more of a cartoon kind of feel, you can not help but watch it these days and just marvel at the fantastic Bruce Campbell who is just having the time of his life as the icon Ash in what is now probably the last film of the character. The movie is a blast from start to finish. Some cracking one-liners the "Well hello Mr Fancy Pants! let me tell you something pal! The only thing you leading around here is Jack and shit! and Jack just left!"....and "give me some sugar!" are just two that tell you the level this film is at!

Aiming more for the teenage crowd that left horror fanatics up in arms at the time, this is simply an homage to the likes of Jason and the Argonauts and fair play to big Sam. He knew that Evil Dead was an all time classic, the sequel being more of a re-make than anything else, so instead of just doing the same old cabin story, he went for a laugh and a joke, and while there is no raping tree in sight! The results are a joyful romp full of gags that not only makes full use of the much loved Ash character, but its probably the film that Campbell will be most remembered for.

Following on from the end of the second, Ash is now stuck in middle ages where he must fight the deadites once again before he can return to his own time. On his way he must regain the Necronomicon Ex-motis (while uttering the words Klaatu barada nikto) and fight his very double, miniature Ash (an homage to Fantasia) and a horde of army skeletons. The true strength of Army Of Darkness is displayed at the climax, its cliff-hanger that smacks of brilliance that makes you wish they stop mucking about with this remake idea and just get on with what the fans want, Evil Dead 4, Blade Runner style, now who would not pay to see that?

HughesRoss




75. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009, Terry Gilliam)

Contrary to what some quieter-than-last-year internet murmurings would imply, this will not yield post-humus Oscar number two for Heath Ledger. In fact, when you compare it with two of Ledger's defining performances, in Nolan's superhero adventure and in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain”, Parnassus is an underwhelming film. And that's not a word I thought I would be using in this review, because Gilliam's latest is an endearing, vibrant, and challenging film that makes an incredible impression. But, in truth, Ledger isn't the main reason for it being so. At times, the performance seems cluttered, and it's nowhere near the standard that you'd expect – or rather hope – to see in Ledger's last film. But, fortunately, Ledger isn't the main reason that you should see this film. Go for Gilliam, and for Christopher Plummer. Plummer, as the titular doctor, is outstanding. His Parnassus is an aging, bewildered man, too lost in his own thought to truly understand what is going on around him, and too concerned with the world to really look after himself. It's a very melancholy performance, and one that is hardly overflowing with smiles and positivity. I haven't seen enough of Plummer's work to call this his best role, but his unseen films will have a way to go to match the gravitas and reflective melancholy of Dr Parnassus. And then there are the three men who took over from Ledger in order to finish the film off. Their presence is probably one of the main reasons for Ledger's performance failing, because the film's supposed star – and the man who it is dedicated to – does not get to play a part in his three best scenes. It's Johnny Depp who really stands out amongst the three, perfectly made for a short but inspired turn as the first re-incarnation of Tony, channelling Captain Jack Sparrow and Isembard Crane to become a key part of perhaps the film's best sequence. Jude Law and Colin Farrell aren't quite as impressive, but you can just imagine what Ledger – letting his kooky and inventive side out – would have done with these small snippets of surrealist genius. And then there's Terry Gilliam. I'm a fan of the director, particularly because of his three previous masterworks. There's "Twelve Monkeys”, the Bruce Willis time travel sci-fi, "Brazil”, the dystopian satire, and "Monty Python's Flying Circus”, which pretty much speaks for itself. If I had to compare this, his latest film, to one of his previous ones, it wouldn't be a film at all. It would be the short animated sequences that link together the sketch comedy in Gilliam's big break. They host the same nonsensical, whimsical surrealism, just with a thousand times the budget. It's probably the first time that Gilliam has let himself loose and completely disappeared down the rabbit hole since he worked on Flying Circus, and although "Fear and Loathing” hosted some pretty messy scenes, none of them compare to what we get within the Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam, by way of Dr Parnassus.

Piles




74. Cars (2006, John Lasseter)

Glossy and Soulless, Lucas does Pixar

elab49


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 10
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 6:05:01 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
73. Amelie (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Films these days are a largely predictable affair. Most modern films conform to genre stereotypes with a few variations. Many don't, and go on to be great films. Some surprise you so utterly that despite the very film-specific techniques used (effects, voice-over, flashbacks, and so forth) that should send you out of the illusion, you are so very captivated that you forget it's a film and invest every emotion in the story. Amélie (to give it its mercifully shorter English title) is one such film. Jeunet isn't a director I know a huge amount about, except that the two films of his that I've seen I've enjoyed. (For the record, the other film is 1997's underrated Alien: Resurrection, which while it's the worst of the quartet, still has a lot to recommend it.) Clearly I enjoyed Amélie far more, by merit of its inclusion here.

I mentioned a few films ago that there is a fair proportion of films in which sentiment plays a significant role. Not all of these are American. So far, "sentimental films" include E.T. (U.S.), Forrest Gump (U.S.), A Matter of Life and Death (U.K.), and Amélie (France). Interestingly, it is the American films which tend towards being overly-sentimental, where as their European cousins steer towards an altogether more rounded and genuine sentimentality. It is no accident that the American films appear further down the list (although their inclusion itself shows that I still love them). Amélie is a tour de force of inventiveness, joyousness and wonderment as we accompany Amélie through her tales of childhood, joy, vengeance (a wonderful sequence), delight (who hasn't turned around in a cinema to look at other people's faces after watching this film?) and, ultimately love. It is the innocence and naivety of Amelie that sparks the film - her view on the world affects our view of the film, and thus of the world within. The way we are privy to details of various characters is something that was used to similar wonderful effect in Tykwer's 1998 film Lola Rennt, where each secondary or tertiary character affected by the differing plotlines is shown by a series of photos of their future lives. Here we don't have the same rapid photo montage, but the intimacy and sweetness is the same.

There are few films that can inspire such joy while watching it that aren't out and out comedies. Amélie is one such film. The score by Yann Tiersen is sublime, Jeunet's direction assured, but the real star is the titular star herself. Audrey Tautou has the perfect eyes for that wide-eyed innocence through which we see her affected view of the world. Eyes are often said to be windows to one's soul - here, they are windows to the soul of the film.

homersimpson_esq




72. A Bug's Life (1997, John Lasseter)

My third least favourite Pixar, but Heimlich and the other circus bugs make it worth it.

MovieAddict247




71. Hugo (2011, Martin Scorcese)

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a Parisian orphan, living in a train station where he spends his days maintaining the station clock and trying to escape the station cop (Sacha Baron Cohen). He puts his mechanical skills to work trying to repair an automaton that belonged to his late father, something that will bring him into the life of a young girl, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the mysterious toy-shop owner, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley). The idea of Martin Scorsese directing a children's film in 3D raised more than a few eyebrows when it was first announced, in typical Scorsese fashion, he takes material that brought accusations of the great man selling out and turned in one of his most personal films to date. Scorsese takes us on a journey through the birth of cinema, one that brings home the life-changing magic of a great film, and the importance of preserving and paying homage to our cinematic heritage. It also works as a thrilling adventure film, one of the best family films in a long time, and one of the greatest films in Marty's career. Only Scorsese could make nostalgia seem so relevant.

Rawlinson

-------

Hugo reminded me of The Terminal at bits. That wasn't really a good thing

elab49


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 11
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 6:11:18 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
70. Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)

During the late 90's, scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman went from door to door in Hollywood, trying to sell his offbeat script to various executives. Though I wasn't a fly on the wall on any of these meetings, I can imagine the responses he got as each executive hesitantly turned another page in the now Oscar-nominated script. I'm guessing there was some of them that didn't get it, some that didn't like it, while some might actually have enjoyed it, if not necessarily possessing the courage to actually buy and distribute it. Ironically, Kaufman did finally manage to sell his masterpiece and now, seven years later, the term "Kaufman-esque" has already become a well-known phrase for movies that have one foot in the real world and one in a world where the only inhabitant seems to be the crazy mind of Kaufman himself.

One of the movies that has followed in the foot-steps of Being John Malkovich is the Will Ferrell-comedy Stranger Than Fiction, which sees Ferrell's character faced with a delicate issue, in the sense that he starts hearing a voice-over narrating his life. That movie was a great one, and it gave Ferrell a chance to prove he was just as good a dramatic actor as he was a comedic one, but it lacked the one thing that makes every Kaufman-script so enjoyable: it didn't have the guts or the inventiveness to be as surprising in the third act as it was in the first. We talk about twists all the time when discussing movies, but Kaufman's films never get much attention in that area, even though there isn't a single second in any of his movies that could be predicted by anyone. Perhaps because he is so adept at it, we take it for granted.

Taking Being John Malkovich for granted is a very big mistake, though. If only more scripts shared its humor, its originality, it's ability to make the syncopated notes sound like they are just on the beat. At first I found it odd that director Spike Jonze, famous for his great music videos, took such a flat approach to the direction, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The genius of the script is not that it throws every oddity possible at us, but that it treats every one of them like they were just day-to-day happenings. Had this been a more normal Hollywood-script, a long portion of it would be devoted to everyone not getting the fact that John Malkovich has a tunnel that leads into his head. Which would be pointless and would have slowed the film down. Also, the flat style eludes it from being a 'weird' movie, proving that just because its premise is off-beat, doesn't mean we need to be subjected to acid colors and psychedelic dreams sequences. In other words: it's not treated a drug movie, and thank God for that.

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a poor puppeteer who one day discovers that his work-place contains a tunnel that leads right into the head of the actor John Malkovich. Entering the tunnel allows him to see the world through Malkovich's eyes before he is dumped on a ditch near the New Jersey turnpike after 15 minutes. Unsurprisingly, Craig gets a kick out of it (it is the ultimate puppeteer-experience, after all) and shares the news with his girlfriend Lotte (an unrecognizable Cameron Diaz) and his office crush, Maxine (a stellar Catherine Keener). Soon, though, things start to go wrong, especially when Malkovich himself gets suspicious of these events. The scene where he confronts Craig and Maxine (who have set up a business for people who want to be someone else) and travels into his own head has to be seen to be believed.

Yet, there is even more to the film. Yes, it is funny and touching, but it is also smart, dealing with the subject of identity and the wish to be someone else. It would be easy for me to look at it with a critical eye and applaud it for its courage to side-step the boundaries of the movie world, but the truth, I enjoy this movie like I enjoy any other movie, because it engages and entertains me. The reason it is on this list, though, is because it does both those things, but also much, much more. Just a weird movie? This movie is not weird. In fact, when other movies are compared to it, it is they who are weird.

Dantes Inferno




69. The Mummy (1999, Stephen Sommers)

Fun, but forgettable.

matty_b



68. Presto (2008, Doug Sweetland)

This spectacular homage to classic cartoons sees a cute little bunny named Alec who desperately wants a carrot. The only problem is that he's due on stage as part of a magic act with Presto the magician. Presto needs Alec to perform the traditional 'rabbit out of a hat' trick, but Alec can see some carrots waiting in the wings and he's determined to get them. Presto's top hat is linked to another magic hat, and when he reaches into one, his hand appears through the other, no matter how far away, and when he tries to grab Alec it gives the crafty little bunny the opportunity to cause mayhem. Over the course of seven minutes, Presto is electrocuted, sucked into a vacuum, caught in a mouse trap, slammed into a ladder and maimed in any other way Alec can think of. The short becomes a running battle between a frustrated William Powell-esque magician and one ravenous rabbit.

An obvious tribute to not just Bugs Bunny cartoons, but also the shorts of Tex Avery. There's a definite hint of Magical Maestro about this. It also uses Avery's repetition and enhancement of a joke routine that he perfected in cartoons like Bad Luck Blackie. While it may never reach the same glorious heights as its inspirations, it's a hilarious and anarchic short and Alec and Presto have plenty of potential to appear in other shorts and even become a running double-act for Pixar.

Rawlinson




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 12
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 6:40:01 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
67. Labyrinth (1986, Jim Henson)

Daft fun, and good daft fun at that.

Rebel Scum




66. Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)

For me, Pixar haven't really put a foot wrong since their first feature length animation Toy Story. Their films have exemplified the most consistent performance of any single studio of recent years. There have been but two films where they have stumbled, but not fallen: A Bug's Life, and Cars. I enjoyed them both enormously, but with the calibre of films already produced, expectations were understandably high. Fortunately, after the latest 'stumble' from 'superb' to 'really rather good', Pixar are back in their rightful place, with Brad Bird in prime position. From his work on "The Simpsons", to The Iron Giant, to The Incredibles, Brad Bird has been force with whom to be reckoned, stamping his own voice (quite literally with Edna Mode) on films predominantly aimed at children, but with a firm eye on the accompanying adult audience. With Ratatouille, those two cinematic worlds for children and for adults comes together as perfectly as the two distinct flavours Remy combines - and with the fireworks that Remy tastes.

Briefly, the film concerns the trials and tribulations of a young misunderstood rat called Remy who, upon separation from his family, finds himself at the restaurant of his idol Chef Gusteau. There he befriends a 'garbage boy' Linguini, and through a distinctly animatic conceit, together they create some mouthwatering concoctions, all the while watched by the current diminutive Head Chef.

The living beings in the film - be they quadruped or biped - are "cartoony" in the way all Pixar characters are. Realistic, but not photo-real. The surroundings - cityscapes, rivers, sewers, countryside, kitchens - all are photo-real, and phenomenally so. But we have come to expect this of Pixar, and to dwell on this would be to detract from the true joy of this film which is, as always, the story and the characters. All the main protagonists are fully realised characters, and they breathe life into the CGI that is so often lacking in sub-par films.

Remy's hallucinations allow us neatly to hear what Remy is thinking, and provide the sort of conscience dialogue that goes back to Pinnochio and Jiminy Cricket. The humans cannot understand Remy, but (inexplicably) he can understand us. The one way comprehensions leads to some poignant moments of misunderstanding and frustration as Remy cannot relate to Linguini his feelings or intentions.

The music is, while stereotypically French with the use of the accordion, superb. The song as Remy is first 'fixing' Linguini's disastrously altered soup, and which is reprised at the film's close, is wonderfully heart-aching, and instils just the right emotions. It binds the strands of the story together, until the whole is a sumptuous feast of colour, emotion, and music. If only we could taste the film - and in a way, we can.

The acting is more down to the voice talent involved. Ignoring the US accents of Remy and Linguini, the other actors attempt a Gallic accent with gusto (pun unintended). The story is warmth, but not without a sense of danger lurking around the corner for the atypical duo. The emotions that come together at the close of the film, and what the scene means to those involved is heightened by the music, but never overpowered by it. For a film with such a troubled production, the end result is almost flawless. Pixar may have stumbled from their lofty perch twice, but Brad Bird is on solid ground. Ratatouille is a sign of things to come, and with Wall.E those signs are shown to have been well-founded.

homersimpson_esq




65. Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson)

Fantastically imagined and wonderfully performed.

elab49



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 13
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 8:59:56 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
64. Where The Wild Things Are (2009, Spike Jonze)

Adapted and greatly expanded from the classic childrens' picture book (which in itself is one of the greatest books in creation) the film focuses on Max, a young boy who feels unappreciated by his family, following his latest tantrum he runs out of the house at night and finds a sailboat besides the river. Max's boat drifts until he finds himself on the island of the Wild Things, a place where the line between excitement and danger is blurred to the point of invisibility. The Wild Things are giant, untamed creatures who crown Max as their King, but what could happen if they discover he isn't fit to rule? As the projection of a young boy's troubled psyche, the island is a perfect visual representation. Wild and untamed and full of sadness. There's great potential for fun, but also great areas of desolation and loneliness. Max dresses and acts as a wild beast in his real life, so on the island of the wild things, the creatures are his emotions at their rawest and most primal. The most striking of these is James Gandolfini's Carol, a hulking beast who looks cuddly but can flip between sweet-natured and frightening rage in an instant. Wild Things is about children but not for them, it's a very adult look at the loss of childhood and it has one of the smartest screenplays in many a year. Brilliantly acted by an impressive ensemble cast, with young Max Records shining in a demanding role, there never really was any competition for the film of the year, Wild Things is pretty much perfect.

Rawlinson




63. Indiana Jones And the Last Crusade (1989, Steven Spielberg)

Save perhaps from the love interest, Crusade does virtually everything better than its predecessors. It is the funniest film in the series. It is the most thrilling. It is the most emotional. It has the best music. It is simply the greatest adventure-film Steven Spielberg ever created (which leaves it close to the top when considering his mastery of the genre).

In my opinion, the film's ace of spades is the casting of Sean Connery as Henry Jones, sr. It is a well-known fact that Spielberg wanted to do James Bond before getting persuaded by George Lucas when he trumped that idea with Indiana Jones. Of course, Spielberg got the last word when he cast Bond himself as Indy's dad. Sean Connery has never been the greatest of actors, but here he provides some well-needed pathos (and tons of humor) into the series. Save for the excellent umbrella twist, his character may be completely useless in battle, but he provides an insight into his character that previously had seemed redundant. The film's excellence might not lie in its borrowings from drama, but it elevates what is otherwise a very good film.

Still, the film is just as much a feast for the eyes as the heart, and some of the set-pieces here rivals the best in Raiders, with my personal favorite being the long (but never tedious) battle with the tank in the desert. There are also a plethora of great lines here, with Denholm Elliott's proof that the pen is better than the sword being just one of many. "No ticket", "she talked in her sleep", "this is a new experience to me"; I could have easily replaced the review with just the best quotes. The decision to expand the universe of the series by using a prologue with the young Indy was another wise one, even though it may have indirectly created the Young Indiana Jones-series. Foreshadowing many of the characteristics of its protagonist (most prominent being his fear of snakes), the opening scene might not be as iconic as the one found in Raiders, but it is equally entertaining and funny, with the late River Phoenix proving to be a good replacement for Harrison Ford's disability to act younger.

I usually don't sit down just to get a good thrill out of a movie. When watching The Last Crusade, I never remember why that is so. Endlessly entertaining and brainless without ever being insulting to the brain, this is a movie well worth seeing over again and again.... and again... and again.

Dantes Inferno




62. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, Hayao Miyazaki)

Kiki is a teenage witch in training, she takes part in the tradition of witches that dictates she leaves her family to live alone for a year, in order to practise her supernatural skills. She sets off with a few possessions, her broom, and her familiar, a black cat named Jiji. Kiki finds herself in a small city where she determines to prove herself as a capable witch. She finds work as a courier for the local bakery, delivering the goods by broom and learns to take responsibility for herself.

It's a sweet story, simple and pretty basic by Ghibli standards. Not that basic has to be bad and sometimes the simplest tales are the best. Miyazaki doesn't seem to be interested in external conflict here. Kiki is looked upon as an outsider, but only in the way that all strangers in a small town are. Even though Kiki is looked upon with a little wonder for her powers, she's not treated as a freak. The film doesn't follow the other possible route of giving her bullies to overcome, or having her long for acceptance among the locals. She just gets on with things, working through her inner conflicts in order to grow.

And that's what interests Miyazki here. In many ways this is a Ghibli film with more in common with Whisper Of The Heart than Spirited Away. The supernatural here is always a secondary concern. The focus is on Kiki and how she grows up and learns to accept responsibility for her life. The story is in the characters, their warmth, their depth, their soul. It also manages to avoid the trap of becoming overwhelming sweet, Miyazaki delights in the tranquil moments. For all of the sweetness in the tale, there's also a lot of thoughtfulness. There's a sadness and a bittersweet quality to the story that brings levels of shade to the film that are often missing in live-action films, let alone animated ones. For some reason, Kiki's Delivery Service often seems to be regarded as somehow lesser in comparison to Miyazaki's other work. I've never really understood why. It's a beautiful, serene and surprisingly mature work, one of the great director's finest accomplishments.

Rawlinson




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 14
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 9:04:25 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
61. Edward Scissorhands (1990, Tim Burton)

Oozing with a macabre gothic beauty created by a director at the height of his game, this modern retelling of Frankenstein is Tim Burton’s best work. In spite of an enduring plot that still resonates 20 years after it was made, it is surely the visuals that are the reason people keep returning to this modern fairy tale. Providing a masterclass in how to use the look of a film to tell the story, Burton crams every frame with gorgeous detail, bright colours and surreal art to create a mood that sets the entire film. Changing from sinister to comical and back again with ease and smoothness, our emotions are led by the way the film looks. It may sound a little too overt, but it’s done with such flair and style, only the biggest cynic could care. Edward Scissorhands marks Johnny Depp’s best performance, Tim Burton’s peak of creative genius and one of the best films of the 1990s.

swordsandsandals




60. The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton)

The Innocents brings to the screen one of the greatest ghost stories ever written, Henry James's magnificent, 'The Turn of the Screw'. Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) finds herself a new post as a governess for two orphans at their uncle's country estate, Bly. Bly seems like Paradise at first, but Giddens soon begins to suspect evil there. Looking after Flora (Pamela Franklin), Miss Giddens thinks it's a perfect job. But when Miles (Martin Stephens) returns home things start to go wrong. Miles has been expelled for being a corrupting influence on the other boys at his boarding school and this coincides with Giddens hearing tales of her predecessor, Miss Jessel and the former valet, Peter Quint, Jessel's lover. There are rumours of an 'unnatural' relationship with the children and Giddens begins having visions of a mysterious man and woman she thinks are the ghosts of Quint and Jessel, come back to reclaim the children by possessing them.

From its oddly unsettling opening, where a child sings a song of sorrow while a woman prays, The Innocents marks itself out as unusual and memorable. But is it a ghost story? Some people claim its instead a psychological drama about a sexually repressed woman's overactive imagination. It's worth stating outright that Henry James himself considered it a ghost story, but there is a central ambiguity that fascinates nearly everyone who comes into contact with it and whichever way you interpret the story, it works.

The idea that Giddens is simply creating these phantoms from her imagination has some bearing in the fact that she has all the hallmarks of an unreliable narrator. She clearly is sexually repressed with a fixation on the children's uncle. Her obsession with the sexuality of the dead lovers, and of the belief that they somehow involved the children in their sex-games also appears to be largely of her own creation. This could easily be seen as a side effect of the way single women had to repress their sexual desires in Victorian Britain. She's even oddly attracted to Miles, despite his youth. Miles obviously learned his charm and his anger from Quint, and there's a disturbing sexual tension between the two. This leads her to begin to feel Miles is a contaminating force, just like Quint was.

The notion of innocence and of corruption of innocence are recurring themes. The title change from The Turn of the Screw to The Innocents is the most blatant example of this. At first glance it's an obvious reference to Miles and Flora. But Miss Giddens seems just as much of an innocent, in fact the children seem far more worldly than her at times. The opening sequence with Flora singing her favourite song, O Willow Waly, a heartbreaking ballad of an abandoned lover leads you to believe she has already seen more of the world than a child her age should. Giddens believes the children were corrupted by Quint and Jessel, and for certain they didn't have the finest role models in them. But one of the film's great strengths is we never know for certain exactly what went on between them and the children, and if it was more innocent than Giddens believes then her obsession with their sexuality is surely corrupting them.

The trio of lead performances are staggering, all the more so because two of them come from child actors. The children are remarkable, especially Franklin in what was a huge role for someone so young. Stephens, fresh off Village of the Damned, is chilling as young Miles. The stand-out performance however comes from Kerr, we are thrown into the mind of Giddens and we are left to decide for ourselves what the truth of the situation is. Kerr has to walk a fine line between playing a woman who could either be slowly going insane or just deeply perceptive and sensitive to the evil around her. If she pitches her performance even slightly too much in one direction the film falls apart. Luckily, Kerr turns in a riveting, note-perfect performance, in my opinion, her strongest screen work. Michael Redgrave also impresses in his brief role as the children's uncle and Peter Wyngarde creates a memorable figure of evil simply through his imposing presence.

What makes The Innocents such a powerful film and one of the few filmed ghost stories to actually capture the atmosphere of the original story is that it realises that the atmosphere is more important than blatant shocks. The eerie mood is aided by Freddie Francis' exceptional cinematography and Georges Auric's score. But most importantly of all, everyone involved takes this seriously and treats it with a respect that isn't often given to horror films. The Innocents isn't just one of the greatest horror films ever made, it's one of the greatest films ever made.

Rawlinson




59. The Green Mile (1999, Frank Darabont)

Frequently mistaken as an overindulgent clone of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile is actually a fine film, one that is up there with the best of the Stephen King adaptations. Starring Tom Hanks as a prison guard named Paul Edgecomb, the story takes place at death row in a prison during the Depression. One of the prisoners is a large man called John Coffey (remember those initials), who towers even above the largest guard and seems like he could snap your neck with just one hand. In actuality, he is a fragile individual who is scared of the dark and whose gentle spirit is a stark contrast to his monumental appearance. Brought in on a double murder charge of two girls, Coffey turns out to have extraordinary skills of such a nature that Edgecomb and his colleagues begin to suspect if he actually is innocent. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, and even miracles can't last forever.

Speaking of clocks that tick: The Green Mile is a long film with its three hour running time, but under the assured direction of Frank Darabont, it never feels plodding. Every detail is important to the narrative, and the patience of the film gives the audience a sense of familiarity the closer we get to the end. We start to know the prison and his inhabitants during the story, and although it may not be a place that we would want to work, we still miss it somewhat when the film is over. Besides, the film features several scenes that would have been unbelievable if it wasn't for Darabont's ability to combine the extraordinary with the ordinary. For you see, the seemingly unimportant parts matter. This is a film about believing in what might seem unbelievable. How can you do that if you do not even believe what it is taken for granted that you are supposed to believe? Life is trivial, and miracles come at life's most trivial moments.

Dantes Inferno

-------

On the same level of manipulative shiteness as Shawshank

Rawlinson


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 15
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 9:18:20 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
58. The Wizard Of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)

Still a spectacular adventure. Great songs, memorable characters and a great villain. Superb entertainment for the entire family.

Beetlejuice!




57. Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Stalker is set in a tiny town on the outskirts of 'The Zone', a wilderness that's been cordoned off by the government. The Stalker is a professional guide who works to take people in and out of the Zone, much as a stalker is used in hunting, to a hidden room said to grant someone's deepest wishes. Some previous occurrence has turned the area into a place where the normal rules of physics no longer apply, something that could have been alien in nature. The Stalker's family doesn't approve of his work, his wife hates the legal risks but he goes to meet his clients, the Writer and the Professor, anyway. The Stalker tells them of extreme danger surrounding them at all times and insists on them following his rules and guidelines to the letter, and much of the drama comes from the tension between the seeming lack of danger and the Stalker's safety rituals. The heart of the film however comes in the philosophical discussions between the characters over their reasons for wanting to visit the room. The Writer fears a loss of inspiration, the Professor wants scientific greatness, the Stalker dislikes the lack of faith in modern life and feels he's doing good by taking people to the 'Room'. The Stalker warns them however by implying that our deepest desires are unknown even to ourselves, a variation of 'be careful what you wish for', something illustrated through the story of another stalker, Porcupine, who revealed the darkness in his heart to his great cost. Along the way we discover that the Professor actually plans to destroy the room with a bomb, out of fear that it could be used for evil. The Professor backs down and they find their way to the room, but we only see them sit outside. As they wait, a rainstorm begins indoors, possibly the film's most beautiful moment. The films ends on the same note of ambiguity that it's played with all the way through, as we're left wondering if we've witnessed some miraculous display of power from the Stalker's child or not.

Compared to the complexity of Mirror, Stalker is quite simple. The Stalker leads two men through a forbidden territory to a room that grants you all your desires. But for all of that, Stalker holds just as many little mysteries and riddles as Mirror. Are the ideas of the traps in the zone true or imagined? Does the room hold any real power? What is the nature of the Zone? Tarkovsky deliberately left the meaning of the Zone ambiguous. The incredible close-ups he films of the faces of the lead trio demonstrates that Tarkovsky's more interested in the human ramifications than of the true nature of the Zone. If the journey is toward anything, it's the chance of inner enlightenment rather than a big dramatic climax.

It's no shock that the men of reason are being led by a man of faith. There's deep spiritual crisis at work in the characters here and the Stalker is the only one suited to survive the Zone because his life revolves around faith. He has to believe that he's doing something good by helping people achieve their desires. You can take the film just for its incredible sensory pleasures, but there's also a great inner purity and beauty in Stalker, but you have to be willing to meet the film halfway. If you're not then this could be a trying experience. I think it's one of the most thought-provoking and astonishing films I've ever seen, even if I haven't discovered all that it means to me yet.

Rawlinson

-------

My first Tarkovsky film and...well, he takes no prisoners, does he? Action (in the loosest form of the word) that moves at a glacial pace, camera movements that are seemingly attached to a snail as it crawls towards the actors and long scenes of philosophical rumination and profound mutterings from characters that may or may not have something to do with what's actually happening on screen as they traverse their way through the Zone, a mysterious area deep in Russia, cordoned off by military guards where danger but also great power lurks. Having said all that, it is a brilliant, mind-boggling experience for the non-sleepy. SPOILERS Having not much of an idea of what was going to happen, the change in visual style from outside the Zone to inside caught me completely off-guard and is a brilliant touch. Outside the Zone, the film itself looks infected by rust, perfectly capturing a world that seems to be rotting and decaying to nothing; while the colourful Zone immediately brings up memories of Oz. That's only first impressions, however, as Tarkovsky makes it an eerie, desolate place where nothing malign seems to actually happen, yet you can't shake the feeling of encroaching dread amongst the ruins of previous civilisation (the location shooting is just amazing). The three men travelling through debate their reasons for visiting the Zone, clash philosophically and succumb to various fears and paranoia and while there are certainly patience-testing sequences of the film it's rarely less than totally engrossing. I can't pretend to fully understand the ambiguity of the Zone and of the film (rather hilariously, to my eyes the final scene seems to be setting up a sequel that's going to be an X-Men prequel) but that's not the point. It's an unsettling and immersive experience like few others.

matty_b




56. King Kong (2005, Peter Jackson)

I love Peter Jackson's King Kong. it has everything, great characters, great costumes, great sets, great music, amazing visual FX and of course a wonderful and classic story. I think his remake is one of the best remakes of all time and it delivers in an epic way. I love movies that are more of an event than a movie. I remember 2005 dearly and the run up to Kong's release, i was so excited. The trailers were incredible and really whet my appetite. They did give quite a bit away in terms of set pieces, but that only served to tantalise me more. I absolutely LOVE the look of this film and particularly that of Skull island. The whole midsection of the movie set on the island is cinematic perfection to me. So much great action, fx and creatures in one of the best environments i've ever seen on film. My favourite scene in the movie seems to be the one that gets some of the worst flak. namely the bronto stampede sequence. This is in my top ten all time action scenes, i love the scale and magnitude on display. I wish more movies were constructed on the scale of King Kong. Every area excels and the production design is beautiful. The CG work on Kong still looks amazing (this is one hell of a gorgeous Blu Ray) and you feel feel for his character, and believe in the bond that develops between him and Ann. My King Kong obsession has led to me buying almost all the incarnations of it since its release. I got the production diaries first (just prior to release), the region 1 two disc DVD, the region 1 three disc extended version and of course the blu ray. I think at the time some people were waiting for jackson to take a fall. After the tremendous success of LOTR he was giving us another huge and very long blockbuster. A lot of people seemed to feel that the length spoiled the movie, but i think it helps turn it from a movie into a real experience. it's a pleasure being in this world for 3 hours and 15 minutes. There had been some world of a possible CG follow up but all has gone quiet on that front for a while. I would've loved a straight live action sequel. I think there is still so much potential left for more adventures on skull island (minus any Kong characters). As far as epic movies go, they dont come much bigger than King Kong.

Donovan Kurtwood

-------

Better than the original

Gimli The Dwarf


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 16
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 24/4/2012 9:31:45 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
55. Batman Begins (2005, Christopher Nolan)

The ultimate post-September 11th piece of mainstream cinema, Batman Begins eschews the neon-nineties Schumacher-Batman flicks for a film grounded in fear. The over the top enemies of the earlier films are no longer part and parcel of the Batman franchise, instead we see terror reign, in a world where the imagination is the one true enemy.
It's easy to forget just how well made a film like Batman Begins is, especially when viewed in the light of its overt commercial success. Alas Batman Begins has a genuinely effective emotional crux point at its core. In fact, the section of the film in which Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered is handled incredibly, with a pitch perfect pace and incredibly effective subdued tone.
While they may lack the spectacle of the manner in which the self-produced expansive/inclusive Marvel pictures, or indeed can they lay claim to being the initial rejuvenating force within the comic-book led Hollywood assault, the Christopher Nolan directed Bat-flicks contain a level of accomplishment thus far untapped by any other film producer. That's not to say that there aren't any other 'great' comic book based pictures, I hold the second X-Men film in very high regard, and genuinely adore the Spider-man films, but even they haven't reached the sort of legitimacy that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have. The disjointed narrative structure of Batman Begins is what sets it higher than its successor for me.
To say that Batman Begins was a creative success would be a huge understatement, but not only did it do the seemingly impossible and kick start the Batman franchise, but it changed the focus of the way in which Hollywood operates. And while it's influence may not be entirely welcome, for Hollywood became obsessed with the films concept and born a culture of reimagining, rebooting and remaking in it's wake, but I would argue that Batman Begins is a good enough film to make up for the deluge of unoriginality that followed in it's footsteps.

Adambatman82




54. The Fisher King (1991, Terry Gilliam)





53. Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante)

It's a shame that Dante doesn't really get as much praise as his '80s contemporaries, as the best of his work is up there with anybody elses, really. In many ways, Gremlins best sums up his work - wildly anarchic, a shockingly black sense of humour at times, a deep love of cinema (specifically the b-movies of his youth) resonates throughout, and a perfectly-pitched narrative and feel for the characters. The Gremlins themselves haven't dated one bit and Dante's gleeful destruction of everything we hold dear about Christmas is as inventive and daring as ever.

matty_b



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 17
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 25/4/2012 9:37:53 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
52. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971, Mel Stuart)





51. Howl's Moving Castle (2004, Hayao Miyazaki)

The only Ghibli I've seen, I really liked it, especially the bouncing skeleton and Billy Crystal's talking fire.

DCMaximo

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After an encounter with a mysterious young man, Sophie falls foul of the Witch of Waste and is put under an aging spell. Stumbling out of town she finds her way to the titular moving castle, home of the Wizard Howl, his young apprentice Markl and the 'tamed' fire demon Calcifer.

So far so faithful to the original novel by British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones. The characterisations of the leads stay very true (including the dark desire of the witch to actually consume the hearts of others), and many might be surprised to know that much of Calcifer's sulky teenager dialogue and behaviour actually comes from the book too – but that wonderfully anthropomorphic drop of fire on screen, bullyed and all but enslaved, is all Miyazaki. And Howl is as far from a traditional romantic hero as you can get – self-obsessed, vain (utterly bereft when his hair changes colour). But it is Sophie's character which soars on screen – quite unexpectedly the spell has freed from her plain humdrum life and she almost revels in what she can get away with as 'granny' Sophie and it is this coming to life that starts the cracks in the shell the enchantement has created.

As well as forgetting Wales entirely, Miyazaki transfers the story to a kind of half-way house world of steampunk – you still get the Victoriana and the machines, but they don't feel as forced and clever-clever as this repetitive idea is increasingly becoming. He slots it in organically, into the kind of town Kiki would fly into it, and adds a world at war and the redemption of the spellbound.

While I understand that Spirited Away is many's favourite Ghibli, I prefer Howl's. I think you can feel the texture of the source and that many of the themes in it's predecessor, and characters, were really just try-outs for this film. The all-out inventiveness of the world across the river in Spirited is concentrated into the ins and outs of a walking castle in a world of gorgeously deep pastel colours as Miyazki takes the viewer on a journey of far more mature emotional depth than you might expect.

I should make clear that this is a review of the original Japanese with subtitles. I am content these are true to the script as they are also true to the book. As opposed to the loathsome English dub – it might be star-studded but the script seems to have been written by 'scripts for dummies' alumni and much of the emotional nuance and depth is removed and blunt Mills and Boon crap added instead. Criminal.

Elab49




50. Coraline (2009, Henry Selick)

A great children's film. Not as good as Nightmare Before Christmas, mind.

paul_ie86


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 25/4/2012 9:59:30 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 18
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 25/4/2012 9:43:43 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
49. Toy Story 2 (1999, John Lasseter)

Don’t get me wrong, the original Toy Story is a fantastic film in many ways – ground-breaking effects, good-natured charm, brilliant story. It would definitely make my top 200. However, I just feel that Toy Story 2 is that rarity – a superior sequel. It has better effects (those cheese puff specks on the stubbly cheek are photo-real), a better story, and better jokes. Well, the jokes are about the same, because they are sterling in both films. What makes the film so superb are the characters. We already know the characters well from the first film, so rather than re-treading old ground, we cover new, with new characters. Similarly, the events these characters undertake are constantly developing from the first film. The first film is the story of how an older toy is superseded by a newer toy. The second film is about how toys altogether are superseded by something else, as Jessie was. A mooted third film could look at the toys actually finding a new home, which would complete the arc for the main characters that Jessie technically completed by being rehomed with Andy’s room.

Anyway, to this film. As with many of Pixar’s finest, the references and in-jokes are entirely self-contained. You can fully appreciate and enjoy the film for its core story and character interactions. And yet everything is that little bit enhanced for getting the references. The reoccurring characters have developed from the end of the previous film. Significantly, there is the family dog bringing apparent chaos to the room. Mr Potato Head now has a nagging wife, and Buzz and Woody are best pals. The status quo is nicely balanced until Mr Squeaker gets taken to a yard sale, and the toys hatch a rescue plan. The larger rescue for Woody once the collector spots him leads them on a brilliant chase across the town. The film-makers exploit the different specifics of each toy – Etch draws the map; Rex has difficulty playing the Zurg video game because of his anatomical structure; and most memorably Buzz discovers the wall of toy Buzz Lightyears in the toy store (in a knowing wink to the underestimated demand for the actual toys after the release of the first film), all of whom are as deluded about their identity as he himself was. The only missed joke was a potential “Spartacus” moment with the different Buzz Lightyears all believing themselves to be the ‘real’ one. (“I’m Buzz Lightyear… no, I’m Buzz Lightyear…” and so forth.)

Regardless of one’s feelings about Pixar’s output (and I for one see them as the third great animation house, after Disney, who admittedly co-produce Pixar’s films, and Ghibli) Toy Story 2 is their second finest film. With Toy Story 3 on the distant horizon (2010, I believe) I really hope it can make a perfect trilogy. Considering Toy Story 2 was very nearly a DTV title, rescued to have a full cinematic release, I have every confidence in the team to make the third in (hopefully only) three films the perfect end. As it is at the moment, Toy Story 2 is the second half of a near-perfect duo of animation.

homersimpson_esq




48. Time Bandits (1981, Terry Gilliam)





47. Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows, part 1 (2010, David Yates)

I think for someone like me, who's never read a single book in the series, all the films come across as bitty, truncuated and highly reliant on excised scenes. This is again true, as I was fairly baffled at times by what should be a relatively straightforward children's film. It also meanders quite a lot, with only a vaguely defined, nebulous threat hanging over our characters - it certainly doesn't feel like it's hurtling towards a climax. Still, I think the three leads have all become very engaging, there's some brilliance in the supporting performances and the Three Brothers story was amazing. And, yeah, I guess the death at the end was fairly moving.

matty_b


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 19
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 25/4/2012 9:50:18 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
46. The Truman Show (1997, Peter Weir)

The Plot: Truman Burbank is initally unaware that his life is a reality television show, broadcast 24-hours-a-day to billions of people across the world. However, he soon becomes suspicious of his surroundings.

When I was younger, I was convinced that I was the only real person in the world, and everyone else was acting around me (once I left the room, they would drop character etc). Whether this belief was down to paranoia or just extreme narcissism (I was an arrogant kid), I don't know, but it creeped me out a fair bit. The Truman Show reminds me of that.

Truman's home town of Seahaven is a 1950s style utopia - white picket fences, smiling neighbours and no reason to leave whatsoever. The script is brilliant. The obsession with reality TV is written brilliantly (but it's made even better by people just switching over at the end - they don't care what they're watching, as long as the TV is on). The humour in it is wonderful (the product placement in the show always makes me laugh). It's also desperately sad - the scene that always gets to me is Truman asking his friend for advice, but we can see that his "friend" is being told what to say by the director. And the scene with his dad is wonderfully done - we know that he's not Truman's real father, but he's the only father he's known.

The performances are wonderful. Jim Carrey is perfect as Truman; he's an actor who rarely picks roles that show how good he can be, and I'd love to see him do more of this type of film. Ed Harris as Christoff, the show's director and creator, is great and Laura Linney is fantastic as Hannah Gill, the actress who plays Truman's wife.

The music is beautiful too.

Best Scene: When he reaches the edge of the world and crashes into the wall.

MovieAddict247




45. It's A Wonderful Life (1946, Frank Capra)

Long regarded as a festive favourite, It's A Wonderful Life deserves far more than to be pigeon-holed under this very narrow definition… It is possibly the most bittersweet and uplifting film ever made. At is centre is George Bailey (the peerless James Stewart), a man who's lived his life suppressing his own aspirations for the good of his family and friends, only to find himself facing prison and financial ruin due to misdeeds of others.
At the height of despair and contemplating suicide, Bailey finds a saviour in Clarence (Henry Travers), a guardian angel desperate to earn his wings. After George tells Clarence he wishes he had never been born, the angel shows him what life would have been like without him through a series of nightmarish visions. It is through these trials and dark moments that we realise the miracle of life, as well as the power of salvation, of redemption and of human nature.
The film boasts an excellent cast. Stewart is nigh on perfect whilst Travers is utterly endearing. The support is pretty special too. Donna Reed is charming as Baileys loving wife, the ever excellent Gloria Grahame oozes sexuality as the town harlot and Thomas Mitchell is typically excellent as the forgetful Uncle Billy. However, special mention must go to the great Lionel Barrymore, whose performance as the tyrannical local businessman is the embodiment of pure Dickensian evil.
It's A Wonderful Life is more than just classic cinema. It's a film with a Universal message of the strength of the human spirit and the joy we can find if we only look around. In lesser hands, such a message could have been considered trite. However, director Frank Capra keeps a steady hand on the material, diluting any potential mawkishness with a dark humour or a moment of absurdity. Even the darkest moments of the film are laced with humour. At heart, without the shackles of any yuletide preconceptions, It’s A Wonderful Life is a deliciously cynical black comedy.
Whichever way you choose to read it, It's A Wonderful Life will leave you teary-eyed and elated no matter how often you return to it.

Harry Lime




44. The Lion King (1994, Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff)

Imagine, if you will, a four year old going to the cinema for the first time. He is awestruck by the huge screen, excited by the very concept of cinema, and a little unsure of whether he is going to last the length of the film without needing the toilet. The film begins to roll and a piercing voice in Zulu (although to the four year old it's just “African”) echoes throughout the theatre and a sun begins to rise above the savannah. Birds fly over the haze of a waterfall, giraffes step out into the sunlight and guinea fowl try to avoid the stomp of the elephant's foot. The four year old is immediately captivated, entranced by the film, the world and the song. A love of animation, and of cinema in general, is born. 16 years later the four year old is at the cinema once a week, writing for an up-and-coming film website and seeing the stage adaptation of the very same film and falling in love all over again. The film is of course The Lion King, the four year old is obviously me.

There is, therefore, an obvious amount of nostalgia for me when it comes to Disney's masterpiece. Yet The Lion King remains a film that feels just as magical every time I see it. As well as being my first ever film at the cinema, and the first I remember seeing, it also has the honour of being my most viewed film. It is one of those stories that I can always return to and feel like a four year old all over again. Yet beyond my history and unabashed love of it, The Lion King stands as one of the greatest animations of all time. It is a film that entertains and enchants, makes you laugh and cry, and has a wealth of heart to back it all up. In short, it's everything cinema should be.

Let me back up that admittedly audacious statement. With a plot lifted from Hamlet, although with all the messy incest and madness subplots thrown away, The Lion King is an age old story of death and guilt, and finding your place. Such universal themes mean that in spite of the main characters being lions, children and adults alike can find themselves relating to the story. Who hasn't come close to shedding a tear when seeing little Simba trying to get his dead father to wake up? It is surely one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever in a film. That it is in the same film as the exuberant “Just Can't Wait to Be King” sequence and the stunning opening just proves how the scope of human emotion can burst vibrantly from a mere 90 minutes of running time, and how a work of cinema can take you from joy to sadness to fear to excitement and back again all in one night.

This passion and emotion is beautifully conveyed through some of the finest animation the House of Mouse has to offer. After the glory days of the artistry of Disney's earlier work (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is one of the most beautifully drawn films ever) the studio began churning out rather uninventive work that, whilst never poor, lacked inspiration in the way they looked. Robin Hood, The Aristocats and The Sword in The Stone, whilst each full of merit, are examples of this dry period. The advent of CG brought with it increased opportunities within animation, and Beauty and the Beast's stunning ballroom scene is a landmark moment in animation history. Yet it is with The Lion King that the studio once more managed to leave audiences breathless with awe. The stampede utilises the then state-of-the-art CG trickery, but it is “The Circle of Life” that truly impresses. Capturing the majesty of the Serengeti through a sunrise, and bringing all the animals improbably together, it is easy to see why both four year old me and twenty one year old me were so enthralled.

There have been accusations of racism levelled against The Lion King. Those joyless cynics determined to detract from the happiness of this film claim that because the hyenas are played by ethnic minorities, and the film's final act revolves around what happens when they are not put in their place, that the film is therefore encouraging white dominance in society. What this fails to pick up on is that the regal Mufasa is voiced by James Earl Jones, the hyenas are also portrayed in a Nazi like manner (a group of people not famed for their tolerance) and the fact that in nature, there is a hierarchy known as the food chain. This film, in spite of the unlikely menagerie in the opening, does not shy away from the fact that some animals eat others. To describe the film as racist is to describe nature itself as racist. Perhaps such an interpretation is politically-correct film theory gone too far.

For the Lion King's pleasures are quite simple really. It's a film that appeals to the simplest of emotions, and for those of us still willing to engage with our inner child, this is a cinematic experience like no other. Even for those who are all grown up, there is much to enjoy here. So a truly brilliant film when viewed through the eyes of a student's nostalgia becomes a film firmly rooted in my list of all time favourites. Now, everyone sing with me: “Hakuna Matata...”

Best: Disney film; song in a film (The Circle of Life); theatrical adaptation (really, go see the stage show); childhood film

swordsandsandals


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 20
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 25/4/2012 9:56:59 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
43. Big Fish (2003, Tim Burton)

Big Fish isn't one of the best films ever. Closer to the other end of the scale. The sentimental scenes are too sentimental and the fantastical scenes are kind of plodding.

Rawlinson




42. Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979, Terry Jones)

When I posted my review for Holy Grail one or two people said that, while they enjoyed it, they thought Life of Brian was superior. I had a little laugh with myself, thinking, "a ha, me too! But they don't know that!". I'm easily amused. Which, incidentally, has more than a little to do with my love for this film. For when a comedy of this quality comes along, it's hard not to be amused. In the running for the title of My Favourite Comedy Ever, Life of Brian is a hysterical heretical (not blasphemous, as is often presumed) trip through an alternative biblical tale. Having grown up in a particularly Christian household, I am at least thankful for the biblical knowledge garnered during this time to further deepen my appreciation for this masterpiece.

So, why when Holy Grail has the bigger number of laughs, as I think I said in the review of said film, do I consider Life of Brian superior? The main reason is that these are to be considered as films, and as such need to work as films. Holy Grail, for all its multitude genius, comes across as a series of vignettes in much the same way as the series did. There is a very loose connection, as the picaresque adventures of King Arthur and his Knights unfold, but the film suffers from a lack of focus (which, thankfully, does not impact the humour, hence its deserving place in my list). Life of Brian however brings together a series of on-the-nose jokes into a very real, and very topical story that is self-contained and referential, if not reverential. What we have is the story of a man who was born at the same time as Jesus, and the events of his life. He falls in with the People's Front of Judea (or the Judean People's Front, I always get the two confused so) and their chaotic terrorist activities against the establishment ("what have they ever done for us?"), gets an impromptu lesson in Latin (which still sends shivers down my spine at the memory of Latin lessons), and attends a gathering where cheesemakers are to be blesséd. Little vignettes pepper the film, such as Brian's attempt to buy a beard but, "won't 'aggle", the stoning itself, the ex-leper ("there's no pleasing some people", which is apparently just what Jesus said) the whole Welease Woderick scene, along with guest appearance by Biggus Dickus, and much, much more. What we get is a seriously funny film with some outlandish humour that digs not at God Himself, but at the organised religion that sadly surrounds Him. The scenes as the crowd ignore anything he says to the contrary with Catch-22-style arguments, worship his sandal, and start an alternative religion around Brian are absolutely stupendous in their frightening accuracy. And all the funnier for it.

In a sense it's sad that the Pythons had to grow up and do documentaries, travelogues, more straight acting, and such like. Indeed, Terry Gilliam, the least vocal Python on account of his non-British accent, is still truest to those roots, making films as crazy as anything he drew in his time with the Pythons. However, this is their legacy. Several excellent TV series, radio shows, and four films of varying quality of which Life of Brian is the pinnacle. If you have yet to see this, and (hopefully figuratively) pee your pants at the humour, then you're a lucky, lucky bastard. If you have seen this and loved it, then, well, I guess you're lucky too. You win either way - which is what happens when you always look on the bright side of life.

homersimpson_esq




41. How To Train Your Dragon (2010, Chris Sanders/Dean DeBlois)

It's such a well told story. My love of this has grown and grown during the five times I've seen it. I love the characters, I love the animation, I love the flying sequences. John Powell (who composed the score) is currently top of my Last Fm artists thanks to the soundtrack for this film.

swordsandsandals



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 21
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 26/4/2012 7:38:32 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
40. Sleepy Hollow (1999, Tim Burton)

If I had got round to voting in the 250 greatest visual films poll, Sleepy Hollow would certainly have made my top ten. It's absolutely gorgeous, utterly atmospheric and straddles the line between necessary artifice and realism superbly. Like a Hammer Horror film with a budget, the blood flows frequently and the misty woods surrounding the tiny village under attack by the Headless Horseman are a brilliant setting for Depp's nervy Ichabod Crane to investigate. The cast is great and it's a role for Depp when his work with Burton was still fresh and interesting, but it also gives lie to the criticism that Burton can't direct action. There are several impressively done sequences, including a climax both fiery and bloody. Very grim at times - it's often forgotten that a pregnant woman and a young child are among the Horseman's victims here - it only stumbles when Burton's usual failings with plot rears its head. There's a complex mystery to the resurrection of the Horseman here, but Burton dumps all the ambiguities and twists in two big info dumps that bog the film down in exposition. Still, it's top drawer Burton and entertainment all the same.

matty_b




39. Hour Of The Wolf (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

It is the late 60's and Ingmar Bergman was a very busy man, making a film trilogy of (unconnected) films with Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman. Two of these films were the flawed but great Shame, dealing with a couple living during a civil war happening in an alternate reality Sweden and the yet-unseen The Passion of Anna. The most bonkers of the three though, is without a doubt his only foray into horror, Hour of the Wolf. Something of a companion piece to Persona, a haunted tortured artist and his wife go to live in isolation on an island. There they meet a bunch of aristocrats (who are also demons) who proceed to torture and humiliate the artist with the wife being unable to help her husband. The eerie atmosphere, the creepy and unforgettable imagery, Bergman's excellent camerawork and stunning performances help to elevate the film beyond its flaws (it's clear that Bergman late in the creation of the film wanted to focus more on Ullman's wife rather than Sydow's artist). It's a chilling affair, with the demons themselves being capable of being both odd and chilling, Max von Sydow doing what he does best (going insane) and the Gothic and surreal visuals towards the end just compliment to the mood. Bergman's films with their themes of existential angst and misery always had an element of horror in them-even in something as light as Wild Strawberries- so watching Bergman finally do an all out terror was something that was both apt and perfect, with the biggest shame being that Hour of the Wolf turned out to be Bergman's only venture in horror.

Deviation




38. Wings Of Desire (1987, Wim Wenders)



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 22
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 26/4/2012 7:40:44 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
37. Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981, Steven Spielberg)

The last time I watched this, I was amazed at how much the big family-friendly blockbuster could get away with in those days. People diced by propellers? Bloody melting faces? Demonic ghosts appearing from a box? You don’t see that shit in Prince of Persia. This is a great example of the sort of blockbuster that, sadly, doesn’t really get made anymore-a great, fun blockbuster that’s made for adults that happens to get a rating that allows children to watch it too. While there is some stuff in to keep the littluns happy (A monkey!) there’s a lot more there for adults. All the nods to classic 30s serials, straight from the creators’ own love of the genre, would sail right over kids’ heads.

Adding to that is a surprisingly complex hero who we inexplicably remember as a morally awesome guy, although here he’s way more than that. This is partially due to the writing, but mostly due to Harrison Ford’s great performance. While Han Solo always had a roguish charm about him, Indy goes a little darker without going over the edge into an anti-hero. For instance, he’s shown going a little mad with power as his hired help dig up the Well of Souls, and there’s hints that he’ll do anything to obtain the Ark. It makes the scene with the rocket launcher come as a surprising bit of character development-he’s grown so fond of Marion he’s willing to forgo getting the Ark back AND stopping the Nazis.

Speaking of, the main thing that people remember from this film is the action, and it’s still great fun to watch. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the rolling boulder sequence is justifiably famous, and I love that truck chase-the stunt work is incredible. But what keeps me coming back is the subtle nuances in the dialogue, the banter between characters that adds depth without slowing the film down. It’s a great, great script, one of cinema’s best. Amazingly, though, it’s not the best Indy film!

BEST SCENE: Indy and Belloq meet up in a cafe(?) and talk about the nature of the Ark. It’s brilliantly written, incredibly tense, and ends with two great lines:
“You wanna talk to God? Let’s go see him together, I’ve got nothing better to do,” and
“Next time, Doctor Jones, it will take more than children to save you.”

Rebel Scum




36. Batman (1989, Tim Burton)

I’ll come right out and say it – I don’t care for Nolan’s Batman. While I did enjoy Batman Begins hugely, I HATED The Dark Knight so much that it made me not want to watch either film.

That said, for myself and a large number of people, this is THE Batman film. It’s got everything – a dark, dingy Gotham City, a badass villain, a suitably moody Batman, Danny Elfman’s score, and THAT Batmobile. And people will still be talking about Jack Nicholson's performance as The Joker long after the Nolan films.

Sure, the Prince soundtrack dates it somewhat, and there are areas where the effects have aged a little, but this film is still immensely enjoyable on every level.

DazDaMan




35. A Matter of Life and Death (1946, Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger)

There's a fair proportion of films in this list (both before and after this mid-way point) that have a decent dose of sentimentality. It's often seen as typical of the American film industry, and as with any emotion when concentrated on for long enough, can often descend into pastiche becoming mawkish and sickly sweet. However, when done well, sentimentality should not be seen as a pejorative term, but as a genuine ideal for a film. A Matter of Life and Death is not American, and perhaps that goes some way to explaining the balance - sentiment reined in by that most British reserve: Upper lips are suitably stiff throughout. It is, however, a wonderfully inventive, dazzlingly brilliant fantastical account of one man and his quest to allow him to continue his life.

Seven years prior to the release of A Matter of Life and Death a children's musical film had exploited the contrast between black& white and colour photography to great effect to show the difference between the real world, and that of Oz. Similarly, Earth is shown in glorious Technicolor, while Heaven - one might presume to be an even more glorious place - is shown in monochrome, a stark, almost sterile place. It shows Earth as being the preferred place, and makes Peter's quest all the more believable - even if it weren't for the love of Kim Hunter's June. This was a time when people fell in love immediately, especially given the stressful situation. As would be noted in a film 49 years later, it's a well known fact that relationships that begin under stressful situations rarely pan out. Here then is the exception. We have an English pilot and an American radio operator who meet under an incredibly stressful situation - imminent death - and through a foggy confusion are allowed the time to fall in love. Time that never should have been. Lost in the fog, the 'conductor' who is to transport Peter up to Heaven (the most fey incarnation of "Death" ever seen, I believe) misses Peter, creating a 'fatal' interval. The ensuing trial in Heaven is as curious as a Heavenly trial might be.

However, it is the design of the film that is its most remarkable feature. From the set designs in Heaven, to the effective use of Technicolor and monochromatic colour, and to the visionary techniques of freeze-framing and muted sounds we get a plethora of conduits for a host of concepts that enrich the world. Jack Cardiff deserves more than a mention for the cinematography, but Powell and Pressburger craft a startlingly original film that stays the right side of overly-sentimental, allowing the audience to enjoy the characters as much as the visual and aural aspects of the film. A triumph from start to finish, this is essential viewing.
HomerSimpsonEsq

Let me start this essay (about a film thats brilliance I can never overstate enough) with a massive understatement. I don't believe in Heaven. It's true! I don't believe in God or angels or any notion of an afterlife. We live, we die, the end. That's how I see the World. However, if I were to believe in such supernatural shenanigans, my idea of Heaven would be the one presented in A Matter Of Life And Death. So overwhelming is the beauty, warmth, wit and power of this Archers classic that even a grumpy old atheist like myself can find his soul stirred with spiritual flights of fancy for two hours. That alone should recommend this film to all that know me!

The story is simple. In the skies over war torn Europe, British airman Peter Carter (David Niven) chooses certain death by jumping from his doomed burning plane without a parachute... Only to survive! At first perplexed by this miracle, it soon turns out that he should indeed have died and that the Heavenly Conductor (a gloriously dandified Marius Goring) assigned to collect him, lost the pilot in Britains notorious fog. The conductor attempts to rectify his mistake, yet Peter refuses to follow him citing that his new found love for a young American radio operator, June (Kim Hunter) has given him new responsibilities. However, he agrees to stand trial at a Heavenly court and, with the help of a friend Dr. Reeves (the brilliant brilliant brilliant Roger Livesey in one of my favourite performances ever) he begins to build a case to help him stay on Earth.

Directed by the greatest of all British partnerships, Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger, A Matter Of Life And Death is one of the most beautifully crafted films ever made. More than that, it is the movie which best represents the richness and fertility of imagination that the duo infused British cinema with in the 1940's. The invention that Powell & Pressburger employ in this movie is astonishing. Earth is portrayed in sumptuous technicolor, Heaven in stark monochrome. These two Worlds are bridged by a mind boggling stairway to Heaven that has rightly become a part of movie iconography whilst the Heavenly court beats any modern CGI spectacle for disbelief suspending grandeur. Time stopping, tears on rose petals, an opening that starts across the galaxy before honing in on a World in turmoil. A Matter Of Life and Death delights and inspires from start to finish.

Yet, like any truly great film, A Matter Of Life and Death doesn't just enliven the senses, it touches the heart too. It is charmingly philoophical, disarmingly witty, slyly satirical (about USA-UK relations in particular) and, above all else, this is one of cinemas great romances. The relationship between Peter and June is simple but all the more affecting for it. When June is told in cross examination that love is nonsense, she agrees... "There is no sense in love".

It's a line that sums up perfectly the essence of the whole film. Love may make no sense but life is all the more wondrous for it.

Harry Lime


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 23
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 26/4/2012 7:48:16 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
34. Beetlejuice (1988, Tim Burton)

The quintessential template for all Burton's work comes in this wildly creative and wacky supernatural comedy. I have loved this film since I was a kid and there's something about this warped world that Burton has created that has fascinated me for the past 20 years. I can, and have, watched this film on a loop and I never grow tired of it or to paraphrase Beetlejuice himself "I've seen it about 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it!"

This was the film that established Burton's individuality. His unique stylish touch runs throughout the film and it's clear that he has total creative freedom with the film. The designs of his underworld creatures are bizarre and amusing (who can forget the shrunken head guy in the ghostly waiting room) and he sets up some brilliant setpieces (Beetlejuice's intro in the graveyard, the Harry Belafonte dinner party, the disastrous seance).

The story follows a young, recently deceased couple Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis - ably keeping a straight face amongst all the madness around them) who are struggling with their new roles as ghosts. Especially since, the Deitz's have moved in - a family that take eccentricity to a new level. This is especially because of the matriarch of the newcomers, Delia (Catherine O'Hara). I have harped on about the excellence of O'Hara's performance many a time and I still to this day think it's one of the greatest female comedic roles I've ever seen. She nails the uptight, pretentious society climber with a no-holds-barred energy. She's definitely the main reason why the bonkers dinner party sequence has been so fondly remembered. It's a shame there's not more of her in the film. Also we have Jeffrey Jones, a welcome presence as the father of the family who is thinking positive about the move to the country (he's had a breakdown) and a delightful role for a young Winona Ryder as the depressed Lydia who creates a bond with Adam and Barbara. Special mention to Sylvia Sidney as well as the weary case worker for the Maitlands. Then of course, the star of the show - Michael Keaton is Beetlejuice! The Maitlands decide to call upon this reckless ghost for help with their situation and the minute they meet him they know they've made a big mistake. Keaton is a whirlwind of hyper-manic vulgarity, as nasty and disgusting as the character is, you instantly take a liking to this goofy ghost. Keaton is hilarious in the role and he's never topped it. Despite being the title of the film, Beetlejuice is barely in it, but he leaves a big impression whenever he arrives.

Another star of the show is composer Danny Elfman - he creates an instantly recognizable, sprited score to the film which has been used many times since. It's best suited here though, it's zany, fast paced and eerily atmospheric. Just like the film itself. The special effects used in the film are ace as well, whilst some may have dated a little it's the same case as with the Ghostbusters film - they give a cartoon like energy to the film that doesn't require excellence. The make-up on the other hand is spectacular (and rightfully won the film's only Oscar) and Beetlejuice is still a common Halloween favourite for fancy dress.

If the film has any flaws (I'm sure there will be some more obvious ones to those who don't watch the film through rose tinted lenses) is that the film doesn't always follow the underworld rules that its sets up. When Lydia asks the ghosts if they can do any tricks to prove they are ghosts, they say they can't even though they have and do again later in the film. Stll, it's a small flaw in a film that in no way is trying to be a docudrama. I feel dirty for even pointing out a flaw!

Anyways to round it up, it's one of my all time favourite films, genius work from Burton, a great cast, excellent score, it looks gorgeous and it's a whole load of fun. And forget that silly 15 rating (one swear word!) and let your kids watch it. It's good-natured humour that everyone should get to enjoy.

Beetlejuice!




33. Batman Returns (1992, Tim Burton)

After defeating Joker, Batman now has two new rivals to fight, the grotesque, bird-like, psychotic yet strangely never truly despicable Penguin(played by Danny DeVito) and the acrobatic, feminine, dangerous, sexy and vengeful Catwoman. The film starts with the Cobblepot's abandoning their baby son, the future Penguin, in a marvellous scene that resembles the Old Testament, and is later adopted by penguins. It later jumps to 33 years later, where Penguin finally decides to kidnap Max Shreck(the film's third villain and played by Christopher Walken) to finally rise among the citizens of Gotham City. Max Shreck convinces Penguin to go to politics and all snowy hell breaks loose. Selina Kyle(Michelle Pfieffer) is one of Shreck's victims in his ruthless game of power, and in one strange, Burtonesque, she becomes Catwoman. Batman/Bruce Wayne is everybody's favourite dark anti-hero, psychologically hurt, like all the characters in this film, and in this film, wonderfully mysterious, and yet, he is propably the most complex of all Batmans, in the dark, forced to hide himself from the public. He is not the lead of his film though, no one is. Batman, played very well by Micheal Keaton, is at his least heroic here, not having a problem with murder, slowly disintegrating in his duality, Batman and Bruce Wayne. Catwoman played excellently by Michelle Pfieffer, is is out for revenge for all the men who have hurt her, feminine and sexy in that suit of hers, yet like Batman, she is hurt and her duality of hers is soon bound to be her end. Penguin, played very well by Danny DeVito in a character that could just have been a man obsessed with birds, is abandoned as a child, desires some respect among those of the surface, but is manipulated by Max Shreck, is is possibly the most psychotic(his final plans, as a result of an outburst of rage, are quite evil) of all the four. Max Shreck manipulates Penguin, and all those around, he works in the background of the film, never being directly a threat to Gotham City as much as Penguin, but is still just as ruthless as Penguin, but is possibly responsible for all the events of the film. All four characters interact with each other, ally or fight with each other.

Then we have the relationship between Batman and Catwoman and Bruce and Selina. Bruce and Selina are attracted to each other, want each other but are both separated because of their duality, Batman and Catwoman. They remain nothing more than an attraction, never developing into something more personal because of their dualities. Both are plagued y being Batman and Catwoman, both are on different sides of the law, both have different motives. Pfieffer is best here, her Catwoman/Selina Kyle proving a tragic character, never bound to find happiness, even when she can obtain it, she has to reject it because of her duality. None of the villains are truly evil, Penguin has a father-like love to his penguins, Max Shreck is a loving father, ready to sacrifice himself for his son, Selina is kind to her cats and can be merciful, all have some positive qualities, it is these complexities that make these villains the finest to appear in a Batman film. The Batman Begins villains were already underwritten as they were, let alone alone show characteristics like these.

This is the most serious Batman, yet it still leaves place for humour and some great dialogue. Superior to it's predecessor in any way, this is a far darker film. The snow-covered Gotham City looks fantastic and will probably look as amazing as it did here, since it's gone all realistic in Nolan's vision. Memories of Adam West comical version of Batman are now gone(though they weren't a bad thing), and Batman suddenly achieved maturity. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman was amazing as well, fitting the mood exactly. Shame that it went all to hell with Schumacher's next Batman films, though Batman and Robin is so awful it is hilarious, it was Adam West to the max.

Deviation




32. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Robert Zemeckis)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the animated film noir featuring an alcoholic detective, ‘toon’ hating Judge Doom and of course the infamous, seductive Jessica Rabbit who is more memorable than the majority of femme fatales.
The film is of course filled with cartoon gags, (the ACME Corporation) but it also makes some insightful jokes into Los Angeles’ transport system, very much a film about the city.
The story involves Roger being framed for murder (that much you may have inferred from the title) and an alcoholic detective (Bob Hoskins) is called upon to help, albeit begrudgingly; having lost his brother to an evil toon he does not exactly see eye to eye with Roger.

Watching real actors combined with animated explosions and slapstick is where the joy comes from and this is perhaps the best film to showcase this. Forget CGI; drawn animation is where it’s at and this is why the film won’t age whereas a film like ‘Deep Blue Sea’ has already aged tremendously (and hilariously.)
Judge Doom is, visually the scariest villain imaginable, Christopher Lloyd with bulging, red cartoon eyes works as an object of fear. Even worse is his voice that goes to freakishly high cartoon pitches. This dash of horror juxtaposed against the cute, goofy and childish cartoons improves the quality of the film, as do the underlying themes of sex and crime. As a child I loved cartoons and anyone in the same boat will truly value this film but it offers so much more for the adult audiences/film scholars who will understand the references to the film noirs of the 1940’s. I would class Roger Rabbit as more of a tribute to these films than a direct parody i.e. ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.’

My favourite characters are the weasels that play the role of mindless thugs/henchmen to Judge Doom. It really is an odd combination witnessing a terrifying Christopher Lloyd as a cartoon (in denial) with a Hitler complex surrounded by these hilarious weasel cartoons but one that works in a strange, strange way. Even better the film has an anti-prejudice moral established on the basis that humans and cartoons should co-exist in harmony!

chambanzi


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 24
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 27/4/2012 5:41:18 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
29. Sherlock, Jr. (1924, Buster Keaton)

Buster Keaton's greatest work sees him playing a cinema projectionist who dreams of being a famous detective. He buys his girlfriend the only gifts he can afford but finds himself upstaged by a love rival with more expensive gifts. The only reason the rival has this money is that he has stolen a watch belonging to the girl's father and pawned it and he plans to get Buster out of the way for good by framing him for the crime. Thrown out of his girlfriend's house and feeling miserable, Buster head back to his job. While showing a detective film, he finds himself daydreaming his way into the movie (A wonderful sequence). In the movie within a movie, that parallels the 'real life' troubles, Buster is the famous Sherlock Jr., a detective on the trail of a missing pearl necklace. The Sherlock sequence is an amazing technical and personal achievement. Not only does it contain one of the most thrilling chase sequences in cinema., but it's also a brilliant pastiche of silent crime dramas. Sherlock, Jr. is one of the most entertaining creations of silent cinema, and possibly Keaton's greatest work.

Rawlinson




28. La Belle et la Bête) (1946, Jean Cocteau)

La Belle et la Bête" is a story we all know; Jean-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s iconic fairytale, translated to ‘the Beauty and the Beast’. But the reason that most of us – me included – are aware of this tale is Disney’s super musical animation made in 1991, which still remains the only animated film to be nominated for the Academy’s biggest prize, Best Picture. But Cocteau made this, his supposed masterpiece, in 1946; a fairy tale for very grown up kids. The story of Beauty, who gives herself up to the Beast in place of her condemned father, and ends up falling in love with the grizzled murderer. At the beginning of this film, Cocteau asks us – in his very own scrawled handwriting – to welcome the film as if we were children, and to let the magic that they believe in to our own hearts. And it’s not hard to do, because Cocteau has created a film that wears its majesty on its sleeve; a movie so grand and enchanting that you can’t help but stop, stare, and – what’s more – believe. But even if you don’t, there’s still so much to enjoy in this timeless moral parable. Cocteau’s (or should that be Leprince de Beaumont’s) themes of deceptive appearances (handsome faces mask malice, ugliness masks nobility) and love overcoming all odds. The performances are little more than standard, with Cocteau’s then-lover Jean Marais shining as the Beast only, and not as the humans Avenant or the Prince. Josette Day’s ‘Beauty’ matches the character description, but there’s little depth, and none of the other characters make much of an impact at all. The reputation of the film rests on the visuals, which are superb. Cocteau is the true success, and he’s created a fairytale land that is both enchanting and eerie, vicious and poetic. It’s often beautiful, and always gripping. The only pitfall of the film is its ending, where [SPOILERS] the Beast is transformed into a beautiful prince. It’s kind of a cop out, and goes against all that the film has stood for. This can be overlooked, as the scenes where the Beast pines after, and often haunts, his Beauty – she fighting against her ever present love for him simultaneously – are just about perfect.

Piles

-------

Give me Disney’s version any day of the week

Gimli The Dwarf




27. The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985, Woodly Allen)

Really excellent romance, edged with an underlying pathos and appropriate level of self awareness, centred around a high concept idea (I knew absolutely nothing about it before hand which was nice), amusing dialogue and good performances. I've always been slightly indifferent to Mia Farrow, but she was perfect in this role, adding just the right amount of depth to what could easily have been an insipid and bland character.

Rebenectomy


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 25
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 27/4/2012 5:47:02 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
26. The Red Balloon (1956, Albert Lamorisse)

Filmed almost entirely without dialogue, The Red Balloon is a stunningly touching film that rests on the visual double whammy of the architectural beauty of the streets of Paris and a superb use of colour detail. It is in many ways a perfect depiction of innocence, friendship, mischief and loyalty, coupled with a dose of magic; in short everything one wants childhood to be. Moving, without descending into smaltz and enjoyable at any age; it was a clearly labour of love for Lamorisse, whose own children feature and if ever there were a film to best describe the term 'family film' then there would be few that could out do Red Balloon in this case.

Rebenectomy




25. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003, Gore Verbinski)



Gimli The Dwarf




24. King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper/Ernest B. Schoedsack)

Aside from a slew of spin off films, this story has been brought to screen 3 times. Most recently a relatively unheard of Peter Jackson used CGI to bring the lead to life. The 70s saw a pretty much failed attempt to use robotics for the same performance. But this original with stop motion animation is still the best. I'll probably get roasted for this, but this is the Kong that I find most lifelike and one that I can empathise with. Kids today might find this film ropey. And I can't blame them really because this film is 75 years old. If this film were a motor car it'd be a Ford Model T sat next to a Ferrari. It shouldn't work, it should have been superceded many times and left. But I love it. If movies can suspend disbelief and bring you along emotionally so you miss the little flaws this can pick me up and give me a hug the big fella himself would be proud of. Willis O'Brien you are the King. This must have been 30s equivalent to when many of us got to see Jurassic Park at the movies and our jaws hit the floor.

We all know the story. Film director famous for shooting animal pictures rescues unknown from city for a real safe role in his production set on an unknown island. Girl is kidnapped by natives. Natives worship Kong. Kong falls in love with girl. Kong fights all kinds of nasties for girl. Kong is captured and taken back to civilization. Kong takes a climb up the Empire State Building.

Its by turns amazingly inventive. Brilliantly executed. Fantastically packed with action scenes. And here's the key difference, bloody moving. It must have been a labour of love to bring Kong and the other animals to life, so its fitting than this serves as an idiosyncratic, but wonderful love story.

Professor Moriarty


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 26
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 28/4/2012 6:52:18 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
23. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)

Ingmar Bergman's most famous work also contains one of the most parodied scenes in cinema. In fact, even people who've never seen the film or know little or nothing about Bergman are aware of the scene where Max Von Sydow plays chess with Death. I knew someone in university who remained convinced that this was the actual plot of the film and in a way they were right. Von Sydow is hunted by Death throughout the film, but I think the actual chess game is with the church and the prize isn't life but faith.

The film sees Antonius Block, a crusader knight (Von Sydow) and his squire Jons returning to Sweden to find it ravaged with the plague. Block finds his faith tested by the destruction he witnesses. He meets Death at the shore, in order to save his life and buy time to explore his lack of faith, he challenges Death to a game of chess. If Block wins he's to be allowed to go free. The game gets suspended at times while Block explores his world further, but Death is always on his trail and Block meets him in the most unexpected places.

The chess game is a brilliant conceit, besides providing us with one of cinemas most iconic images, it also works as a symbol for mankind's desperation to survive. All around him his world is falling apart, destroyed by the plague and by fears of the apocalypse, yet Block fights for his life by gambling with Death. How long can he possibly stave off Death? He has no chance of winning the game, because Death is always going to have the ultimate checkmate.

Some critics have argued that The Seventh Seal is another Bergman film about the silence of God. Others argue that it's Bergman reaffirming his faith. I tend to agree with the latter. You just need to make the distinction between faith and religion. Certainly the church is shown to be a corrupt place, somewhere Death is able to lurk, Death assuming the guise of a priest isn't so much about Bergman showing that his faith is meaningless, more that the church's view of faith is meaningless.

I can understand the parodies of The Seventh Seal, Bergman created a film about death, suffering and God. It's the thing satires are created for, and there's nothing wrong with someone pricking the bubble of the film a little. I just dislike when people dismiss this film, and Bergman in general. The Seventh Seal tackles mankind's fear of death, of a spiritual void, of the destruction of humanity. It even works as an allegory for fears about the effects of modern warfare. Despite its seeming ubiquity and it's standing as Bergman's most famous work, I think The Seventh Seal is underrated, most people know of it, but most don't seem to appreciate it. I just wish more would watch it with an open mind.

Rawlinson




22. Harvey (1950, Henry Koster)

You gotta love Harvey.

Rawlinson




21. Babe (2995, Chris Noonan)

Too sappy for me.

Harry Tuttle

-------

Harry, what do you have where your heart should be?

rick_7


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 27
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 28/4/2012 7:00:02 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
20. Muppet Christmas Carol (1992, Brian Henson)

Does nostalgia play a part in my love for this film? Perhaps, but only to a point. I did indeed see it 18 years ago at the cinema with my dad and my sister, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it at the time. However, it's only in the last decade or so that I started to truly love it, and emotional aspects have hit home.
Perhaps it's such a good film because it was the first Muppet film made the death of Jim Henson, lifelong friend to Muppets, and was directed by his son, so extra care was taken it making it special. Perhaps it's simply that the mix of Dickensian storytelling and colourful anarchy somehow just gels together. Whatever the reason, this is (almost) the ultimate Christmas movie and for me it is also the definitive take on A Christmas Carol, one that manages to give the story the unmistakable humour and slapsticky Muppet sheen yet still remain faithful, capturing the essence, and emotions of the book whilst never descending into mawkish schmaltz and melodrama, like other adaptations are prone to do. It's a testament to the strength of Dickens and his story that even a musical version re-enacted by puppets can be so good, and a testament to the Muppet crew that they can create the most outright enjoyable and engaging version of such a classic tale, especially a version that includes talking vegetables and singing lockboxes. Only the hardest of hearts (or even a Scrooge) would fail to be moved by the final 10 minutes. A masterpiece of yuletide moviemaking.

Gimli The Dwarf




19. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)

I finally saw The Dark Knight and yes it was pretty spectacular and I agree with everything that has been said about it that is of a positive nature with the exception of it being the best film ever made on planet earth. I thought Bale was again a great Batman and Bruce Wayne maybe a little dickish as Wayne but I think I like that smirk smugness of Bruce and I really like his messed in the head Bat, voice and all. Everyone has had their say on the late Heath Ledger so I won't bore you but he was fantastic and my perfect Joker pissing all over ham Jack whose portrayal of the Joker I've never liked or connected with. It is a great shame we will never see Ledger's version of the Joker ever again. I also thought Maggie and Aaron "CAPTAIN AMERICA” Eckhart were superb and Two-Face was an ugly fecker. However out of all the performances, I really appreciated Gary Oldman as the steadfast and understated Gordon he was sublime, an excellent piece of casting.

impqueen




18. Harry Potter and The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004, Alfonso Cuarón)

Vast improvements once Columbus hoofed his rear end away from behind the camera. Probably my favourite of the lot, some great set pieces and refreshing break from the Voldermont story arch, and Gary Oldman would totally get it.

Rebenectomy


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 28
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 29/4/2012 8:16:59 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Ang Lee)

The arrival of the sword Green Destiny in Beijing sets brings out a young thief and exposes a hidden murderess.

For many, Lee's breakout subtitled hit was the first time that they encountered wuxia. Here it's in a form not entirely dissimilar to the big Technicolor event films of mid-the last century – tales of unspoken love and women married off to strangers, romantic banditry and honourable warriors. It feels like the eastern equivalent of an old swords and sandals epic really, although this feels very short and more perfectly balanced than many of them could claim. The fight sequences are exciting and enjoyable choreographed with the occasional lovely comic touch (my favourite may by the look on one man's face when he realised the skilled fighter in the inn has a real hatred of those who bear his name along with the slight slap-stick timing of the aftermath).

Crouching Tiger is still, IMO, the benchmark for these breakout films and the likes of Hero and House of Flying Daggers really haven't come close to this one.

elab49




16. The Princess Bride (1987, Rob Reiner)

Two Line Synopsis: Heroes; Giants; Villains; Wizards; True Love. Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale.

Yes I pinched the synopsis, but it sums up this film so perfectly well. A source of much contention in the last round of Empire's Hall of Fame, The Princess Bride is apparently a marmite film. This came as a shock to me as I can't think of it in any way other than the great affection I have for it. Whether or not this is down to the fact that it is a superlative film, or whether I am unknowingly affected by seeing this in early childhood is an argument destined to end in bitter tears. With that in mind, I will avoid any defence of this film against its detractors and instead concentrate on what it is that I love so much about it.

Fantasy is a close cousin of SciFi - both deal with the extraordinary happening to the ordinary or the ordinary happening to the extraordinary. Where SciFi has spaceships and blasters, Fantasy has sea vessels and swords. What makes The Princess Bride so endearing is the way in which it draws various Fantasy elements together into a winsome film populated by various characters. We have a giant, a swordsman, a genius, a pirate, a princess, a miracle worker, a cleric, a prince, and a six-fingered man. We have fire traps, tar pits, and Rodents Of Unusual Size. And these elements come together to form a thrilling, captivating, funny, but above all heartfelt film about true love. Or "to blave". The film begins contemporaneously with an initial shot that sadly dates the film quite badly - a particularly 80s video game. That aside, we are introduced to a young boy, ill in bed, visited by his grandfather who has brought along a book, the titular "The Princess Bride". Far from a book about kissing, (although there is a few moments of that) we have Peter Falk (The Grandfather) narrating which slowly disappears as we move further into the events of the book itself. That we are experiencing a book allows for the Fantastical elements to come to the fore - we know it's not real, because he's reading the book. On a couple of occasions we come back to the boy's bedroom when things get a little tense, or a bit too kissy, but on the whole we remain in the fictional world. This mimics the novel in that the book returns to William Goldman's own fictional recollections every now and again.

The characters to whom we are introduced are necessarily stereotypical. This is, after all, a reading of a children's book. Still, they are invested with enough heart and soul to endear them to the viewer. Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) is inconceivably funny as the vertically challenged egomaniac. André the Giant is perfectly cast as the Giant, Fezzik, whose rhymes are brilliant - I mean it. ("Anybody wanna peanut?") And of course Mandy Patinkin is most memorable as the Hispanically-accented Inigo Montoya, in search for the six-fingered man who killed his father. The climactic scene in which he finally confronts him is a masterpiece in tension, ramped up by the simple yet persistent repetition of the infamous line which he has been rehearsing all his life. "Hallo! Mah name ees Inigo Montoya. Yhou keeled my fahther. Preparrre to dieee." (Roughly phonetically speaking.) His final line delivered to the six-fingered man still gets me.

As you may have guessed, the supporting characters are actually more interesting that the main pair. The Princess Bride herself is given little to do, and Westley is either under a mask or incapacitated (although this does afford us one of the great double bluffs). Nevertheless, the film is populated by such a veritable feast of characters - Miracle Max (a visually, if not aurally unrecognisable Billy Crystal and his hag-wife (Carol Kane), the Albino (Mel Smith), the Impressive Clergyman (Peter Cook - "mawwedge...") and so forth - that this is forgivable. And this is not to say they are uninteresting, just less so. The journey Westley goes on before his return, is recounted during an excellent scene with the aforementioned ROUSs.

The film is endlessly quotable, and his a remarkable rewatch value. It's endearing, and it's a joy to watch. Rumours of a mooted sequel are met with trepidation. While I would love to revisit that world, I can't help but feel that it would be very, very hard to recreate the original. My love for this film is like, if you will allow me, a storybook story.

homersimpson_esq





15. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Henry Selick)

I hate musicals. Hate hate hate hate hate them. There are a few exceptions (Sweeney Todd, Singin’ in the Rain, another one coming up later), but by and large I can’t stand any film where musical numbers turn up every five minutes to advance the plot, and this does extent to animated films, although Disney gets a pass because it’s Disney. The reason I’m bringing this up is because Nightmare Before Christmas is a film I have no right to enjoying as much as I did, it being a film where musical numbers turn up etc., not to mention a film that every wannabe goth has on their bag. And yet, every song in this film is a show-stopper, a wonderfully written explosion of creativity that is complimented by some of the best stop-motion seen on film. From the opening This Is Halloween, that introduces the premise, world and characters in three minutes, to the giddy joy of What’s This, to the delightfully gruesome Kidnap The Sandy Claws, the songs rattle along at a wonderful rate, with nary a dud in the mix.

Even excepting the songs (Which really do make the film) the rest of the film is still of a high quality. The visuals are fun and creative, it being made before Tim Burton started ripping himself off, and the characters are drawn just well enough that you wind up caring about what happens to them. There’s even a great script around the musical sequences, with plenty of witty lines (“I’m only an elected official, I can’t make decisions by myself!”) While it is arguable that the non-song bits of the film are designed to ferry us to the next musical number, it at least doesn’t feel like it.

BEST SCENE: Any of the musical sequences could qualify, but I’m going to tie it between This Is Halloween and What’s This?, being the most entertaining, catchy musical numbers in the film, with some of the film’s best visuals complimenting them.

Rebel Scum


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 29
RE: Empire Forum's Top 100 Fantasy Films! - 29/4/2012 11:14:30 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77793
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
14. Toy Story (1995, John Lasseter)

It’s rare that a genuinely groundbreaking film comes along and, come the mid-nineties, it had been a while since a true first had been seen. Here though, was a first, something unique. A fully realised 3D animated feature film. And even after 16 years, with the technology progressing in leaps and bounds and a CGI film every week, its looks remarkable. Sure, the humans and the environments aren’t so impressive nowadays, but the main focus, the toys, are still excellent. Maybe it’s the plasticy nature of such things that makes the easier to render, but the likes of Buzz Lightyear and, in particular, Rex, still stand out as being amongst the most realistic of beings in Pixar’s canon. Back on the big screen in 1995, I can only imagine what it must have been like to witness this.

However, it’s not just the visuals that impress. As so many similar films have shown since, great graphics count for nought without a great script and, I’m going out on a limb here, Toy Story has what is possibly the finest script in moviedom. Not as meaningful, deep or thought-provoking as others, but within the confines of the film and what the film intends to achieve, it’s nigh on perfect. It crackles with a wonderful energy, nary a singling line going awry. Its flawless and, just as importantly, terrifically funny, with each character beautifully crafted. Woody, the self appointed leader; Buzz, absolute delusion which gives way to poignant awareness; Sarge, the epitome of military precision, the cynical and sardonic Potato Head, the wisecracking Hamm, Slinky Dog, ever so slightly bit of a suck up, the brainwashed aliens and my favourite, Rex, the wonderfully insecure Tyrannosaur. The one-liners come thick and fast, the heartfelt speeches never veer towards cheesy sentiment, and it rattles along at a fantastic pace. It was nominated for an Oscar but was beaten by The Usual Suspects. A fine film and a fine script, but lacking the charm, wit and inventiveness on display here. Toy Story's script is what made it the funniest feature film to come along in almost 50 years.

The vocal casting is perfect. It seems almost impossible to imagine that neither Tim Allen nor Tom Hanks were the first choices for the roles. I’d rather not imagine what it would have been like had Bill Murray or Jim Carrey been included. Beyond the two stars though, a whole host a talent helps bring to life the supporting characters and it’s here where the casting truly excels. Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney, Don Rickles, John Ratzenburger, R. Lee Ermy. All spot on.

Combine, the looks, vocals and script and you have a film which delights on multiple levels for every single second of the running time. It’s never dull to watch as, even outside the overall look of the film, it’s peppered with wonderful sight gags, some of which I’m still discovering after countless viewings (I’m particularly fond of the toy snake that coils itself around Woody when the toys think he’s deliberately thrown Buzz out of the window). Line after line after line produce a smile, a chuckle, a guffaw, even a tear, especially when coupled with the wonderful delivery. “To infinity and beyond” has rightly become a pop culture staple (not in the AFIs top 100 quotes though. Idiots) It’s the sly asides and throwaway lines that win the most “Laser envy” is a winner, I love Rex's “I’m from Mattel” speech and I’ve lost count of the number of times my sister and I have, complete with hushed voices of awe, performed “The claw is our master, he chooses who will go and who will stay” and “I have been chosen. Farewell my friends, I go on to a better place” (Why, I have no idea, sometimes it just seems appropriate to do so!!)

What else. Ah, the music! Good ol’ Randy Newman. He gives us a really fantastic score, completely suiting the mood of the film. Suitably dark at times, notably brash and heroic at others, all the while in tune with the film. Rightfully Oscar-nominated, wrongly disregarded. His best work in the film though is with his songs. “Strange Things”, “I Will Go Sailing No More” and “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”. Oscar glory came close for the latter song, but to no avail, though I reckon “I Will Go Sailing No More” is probably the best of the three. It also comes at an emotional highlight of the film. Maybe it’s just my post-LOTR days that make it so, but I can't help but shed a tear when Buzz realises he can’t fly. It’s a terrifically beautiful and sad sequence.

To date, this is the only Pixar film that I first saw out of the cinema. But still, when I saw it I fell in love with it. I was 15 at the time, this was not the kind of film I was meant to love but love it I did. (Indeed, I was amazed then and I am now at people who just don’t like this film) Last time I saw it and I swear I’ve never loved it quite so much. I smiled and I laughed and I cried though every single second, my face was aching at the end. It’s genuine masterpiece. It’s that rare beast, a family film for all the family. I’ve even heard it said that it’s “too good for kids” and there’s truth in that, the phrase could have been coined for this film. It’s pure perfection, and that happens all too rarely. A film to be treasured.

Gimli The Dwarf




13. My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Hayao Miyazaki)

I don't know how much more there is I can say about My Neighbour Totoro that I haven't already said in various reviews I've written before, in articles for my animation column or even in my upcoming nomination for Hall of Fame. All I know is that Miyazaki's greatest film (albeit the one skewed towards the youngest audience demographic) is just about everything I love about cinema. Ok, so it doesn't have a big fight with some swords and bows and arrows, but apart from that it's checks off just about everything I could want from a film.

Imagination
As a child I had a wild imagination, imagining fantastical creatures round every corner, writing incredibly precocious stories about these fantasies (they were generally carbon copies of Lord of the Rings) and I was forever lost in a book. In particular I would have fights with my two friends in the same village, using sticks as swords and pretending to be mice, squirrels, otters and badgers (we were big fans of Redwall). The ability of a child to create worlds, people and situations in their heads is a precious gift, and as I've gradually become dull with the march of teen years and then even more boring as I'm now technically an adult, I've realised more keenly the need to preserve the imagination. Some films beautifully capture the importance of imagination – I'm a sucker for Finding Neverland, but Bridge to Terabithia is also effective in this sense – and anything that shows invention or creativity immediately tickles my fancy.

Hayao Miyazaki is a creative force who has never lost his wonderful imagination. The joy of watching his films is found in spending time in his imagination. Ponyo's seascapes were magical, Princess Mononoke has fantasy sequences to rival Lord of the Rings and Laputa: Castle in the Sky has moments of imaginative beauty almost unrivalled in cinema. But it is here, in Totoro, that he fully realises the potential of his mind. It is perhaps odd to say this when talking about one of his more restrained films. The fantasy extends to some pre-pokemon creatures called Totoro and a bus that is also a cat. But what is so genius is that Miyazaki praises the power of imagination whilst also exerting his own. Mei and Satsuki are such brilliantly drawn characters because the director perfectly captures their creativity. I hope that in years to come my imagination will have even half the glimmer of Miyazaki's brilliance.

Beauty
Whilst the landscapes here are not as impressive of those of Mononoke, and the bucolic idyll of their new home is something Miyazaki could do in his sleep, he imbues the film with such a warmth that the film is as visually inventive as the characters in it. The night of the growing trees is one of my favourite sequences ever in cinema, whilst the fall of a raindrop on an umbrella is rendered in a way that inspires untold joy.

Emotion
There is sadness here: why is their mother in hospital? Whose shoe is that? But have no doubt, the prominent feeling that this will create in you is that of sheer happiness. Happiness that films like this are made. Happiness that you had a childhood. Happiness that Mei and Satsuki are both OK. Happiness that the Totoro seem happy.

I defy you not to feel all warm and fuzzy inside when the group of them sit on the top of a giant tree and play some sort of instrument together.

Something Different
Let's take a look at the films in my Top 10 so far. Ran: war and death feature heavily. The Lion King: revolves around the death of a father and the guilt involved. Clear villain. Lord of the Rings: Good vs. Evil, Big vs. Small, West vs. East (awkward). Conflict abounds. Grave of the Fireflies: The Thin Red Line: It's about the second world war. Several people died. Gladiator: In spite of a pretention to challenging violence as entertainment, it gleans entertainment from violence itself. Scott Pilgrim: Not just one villain, but seven.

A slightly arbitrary list, it must be said. But it cannot be denied that conflict of some kind features in just about every film ever, and apparently especially in those I love. Villains abound (and often make for interesting characters) and cinema relies on the tension between protagonists and antagonists. Isn't it wonderful, therefore, when a film comes along almost entirely devoid of conflict, choosing instead to just observe a family go about their daily life, and their experiences with forest spirits. My Neighbour Totoro is an utterly unique film, a joy from start to finish and one that it is nigh on impossible not to love.

Best: Animation; Ghibli film; depiction of childhood; Japanese film; film that makes me feel all warm and happy inside.

Swordsandsandals

-------

Meh

matty_b


12. Monster's, Inc. (2001, Pete Docter)

SPOILERS The release of any Pixar film is now pretty much guaranteed to carry their gold standard of excellence. Sure, that standard occasionally slips - Cars and Finding Nemo, in my opinion - but otherwise, they continue to be astonishingly and consistently brilliant, with Monsters, Inc. still being one of their very, very best. Much like Toy Story, it takes a concept that all children easily understand - there's a monster under your bed and in your wardrobe! - and run with it. There are indeed monsters under the beds and in the wardrobes, but on the whole, they're a friendly lot, who merely capture the screams of children as a power source for their own city. They have a series of magic doors that let them gain access to bedrooms all across the world and run the business on a very efficient pattern of two-man teams. The two-man team racking up the biggest number of scares is Sully (John Goodman) and his point-man and trainer, Mike (Billy Crystal). However, the duplicitious Randall (Steve Buscemi) has designs on not just usurping them as top scarers, but doing away with them altogether - a scheme complicated by Boo, a little two-year-old girl who has accidentally followed Sully back into the world of monsters and forms an attachment to him - a huge problem as monsters believe that the touch of anything human, or belonging to a human, will contaminate their world. The world of Monsters, Inc. is a hugely colourful, vibrant and imaginative one; yet it also hums with the touch of reality. The monsters are weird and wonderful, but never so over-the-top that their fears and problems can't be related to, a neat idea helped by the fact that we can all identify with their job of clocking on, clocking off and reaching productivity targets. Sully may be a huge bear-like figure with fangs and claws, while Mike is a big green eyeball with legs, but they have the easy camaraderie of life-long friends and blue collar workers. Crystal and Goodman are both superb, generating a chemistry between them that easily traverses the barriers of thousands of pixels between them to the extent that they're still the buddy pairing that every subsequent Pixar film aspires to - yes, I'd even rate them higher than Woody and Buzz. Of course, it goes without saying that the animation is astonishing. Late in the film, Sully is trapped in an Arctic wilderness and for one wonderful moment, as he lies splayed out in the snow, we can see every hair on his body wave in the freezing wind as snow settles down around him. But equally wonderful is the script, easily the most farcical in Pixar's body of work. It moves at a frenetic speed, and has numerous comic moments the equal of any other 'adult' comedy you'd care to name. Take your pick from Boo causing panic in a monster's restaurant, Mike accidentally spraying disinfectant into his eye or even Mike and Sully's blatantly improvised musical number for their new show as they try to hide Boo's presence from every other monster around - Put That Thing Back Where It Came From, Or So Help Me...!, every one's a winner. But as Walt himself said, with every smile, a tear, and there's a huge, beating heart to the film. In general, the realisation from the monsters that they're terrifying the children, which is not a good thing; and more specifically the tenderly-etched relationship between Sully and Boo, particuarly when Sully realises he has to take her home. But of course, the Pixar way of doing things is to end with a tear of happiness. So, just think of that final line of dialogue - "Kitty!" -, that final shot of Sully's face, and tell me right now you're not furtively wiping away a tear or clearing a lump from your throat.

Key moment - Randall, pursuing Sully, Mike and Boo; instigates a jaw-dropping chase through the conveyor belt of doors that they use, with the characters spilling through endless new bedroom after bedroom. Words don't do this sequence justice.

matty_b



< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 1/5/2012 8:37:58 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 30
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