Monday, September 27, 2010

My Week In Movies - Ducks, Turtles, Giant Birds and a Sexy Robot

DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)[G] My, how I love this movie. This was the one and only film to come from Disney's MovieToons department, which was basically a unit set up to release animated films from Disney's television animation studio and not have them be lumped in with Disney's treasured classic cartoons. (This was at a time when Disney still announced every animated release with "Walt Disney's 28th Animated Masterpiece" or whatever number it was.) DuckTales was to be followed the next summer with a Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers movie but sadly that never happened. What we did get from Disney MovieToons is this great kid-friendly action/adventure pic modeled loosely on the Indiana Jones films. Uncle Scrooge and the rest of the cast from the afternoon cartoon show travel the globe looking for lost treasures. As the title implies, somewhere along their adventures they find a lamp and we all know what happens in movies when lost lamps are found and then rubbed. The Gennie, who just happens to be another duck, is voiced by comedy legend Rip Taylor. That's worth the price of admission alone! I've always loved this movie. It's bright and cheerful and has a fairly tight story and not once does anybody...or any duck...break into a song. The most amazing thing about watching this movie in this technological age is that it's all done by hand. There is no computer animation anywhere within the film's brief 72 minute running time. It will be a cold day in Duckburg before we ever see a truly 100% traditional animated film roll down the pike ever again! This gem is rated G because it was made in 1990 before it was a federal law that every kids movie had to have a fart joke in it.

The Living Desert (1953)[G] We had a rare double feature screening at the WWoB headquarters this week, and followed up the DuckTales movie with a visit to the desert via this 69 minute film which was the first picture to win the Best Documentary Oscar. The Living Desert is the first of several True-Life Adventure nature documentary films that Walt Disney produced. Back before 24 hour Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, or even PBS, this was people's first filmed glimpse at the world around them. If you've never seen one of the True-Life Adventures you are missing out on a great series of films. Each movies captures great footage of the plant and animal kingdoms and presents them in a humorous and informative way. In this particular instalment, you'll see giant turtles fight it out, tarantulas attacking their prey, snakes being snakey and all kinds of other cool creatures from the desert. My kids really enjoyed the footage and laughed and thrilled along to most of the segments. The narration is a bit over the heads of today's kids, with alot of phrases and sayings that you just don't hear anymore but with a bit of personal narration from Mom and/or Dad any kid should really enjoy this movie. It's also rated G, as all good old Disney films are. The grimmer parts of nature are left to the imagination. In 2000, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Rodan (1956)[NR] This Japanese thriller about a giant bird/dragon thing that terrorizes the planet is from the same people that brought us the original Godzilla film and 50 other similar tales of enormous creatures stepping on model sized buildings. Rodan actually starts off pretty intense when a group of miners discover dead bodies in their underground workspace and then discovery a giant caterpillar that tries to kill them. I wasn't expecting a killer caterpillar so when he made his first appearance I had an actual, genuine scare. The Japanese army kills the caterpillar in the first half of the movie and we somehow end up discovering another oversized creature, this time Rodan. Rodan terrorizes the globe much in the same fashion that Godzilla did a few years earlier. With a brief running time of 72 minutes, Rodan manages to stay fairly focused for one of these kaiju films. It's not rated but it was a bit more graphic and intense than other movies of it's kind. Still, in today's movie market it would probably rank a PG rating. If your kids wanted to watch it, they can probably handle it.

Galaxina (1980) [R] I realize that admiting on the internet that I watched DuckTales The Movie and Galaxina in the same week probably puts my name on some sort of FBI watch list, but I'm keepin' it real folks! Galaxina stars legendary Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorthy Stratten as a robot servant on a space cruiser police ship. It's an attempt at a space-age sex farce mixed with a lampoon on Star Wars and Star Trek. This film is fairly legendary among lovers of bad films. Perhaps if I had seen it when I was younger it would have a special place in my heart. The film tries hard to be silly and wacky but it's just so boring that it's bad. The first seven minutes alone consist of nothing more than scenes of spaceships flying and docking. Let's not forget that I didn't even crack a smile once during this deep space pile of do-do. Sure, Dorthy Stratten is hauntingly beautiful but that can't carry a film. Not even (one of my favorite) character actors, Avery Schreiber, could get me into this groove on this camp classic. The R rating is for innuendo galore however there is very little nudity.

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