Category Archives: Cotested Sequels

Contested sequels: Batman Returns

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This film came out three years after Tim Burton’s first Batman movie.  It was nowhere near as successful, which usually happens with a sequel.  It is debated about whether it is darker than its predecessor or lighter than it, and whether it is a better film. The differing views are due to the completely different focus

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This movie is far from a rehash.  The most notable change is Batman’s increased role.  In the first film Batman is in the shadows, as Joker and Vicki Vale both take center stage over him, as it is told from the point of view of most Gothamites. This film gives Batman center focus along with the hidden motives of Penguin, Shrek, and Catwoman.  Only Batman, Alfred, and Gordon remain from the first film.  While this makes it not stick out like Batman does, it gives it a different feel as a more traditional non-origin superhero film, as Batman now dominate the screentime for the non villainous people of Gotham.

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Batman Returns is known for its dark tone best exlempified by Penguin’s parents throwing their newborn into the sewers on Christmas, however its tone is best shown by the opening action scene.  The villains are from a circus and look the part. One immediately pulls out a doll house, and then a machine gun barrel comes out and fires.  It is very cheesy and dark, and that is the best way to describe this film, dark cheese.  In the first film this is mostly limited to a few of Joker’s actions like killing his girlfriend off screen.  In the sequel Penguin put missiles on penguins to make them into kamikazes.  Many viewers find this dark, but others find it funny.

Batman Returns along with Batman are among the films I annually watch.  it depends on the year witch one I prefer partly, because they each give something different while still feeling like they are portraying the same Batman and Gotham.  One focuses on Batman and feels like he fights goofy  yet killer clowns, and the other focuses on normal people and have Batman face off against killer yet goofy clowns.

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DTV Wonders of Summer 2017

School is done meaning DTV wonders is returning.  The first step is to edit some older posts for spelling errors.  I will also redo The Land Before Time 14, 13, and 12 in the style I started using for 11.  I may do the same for Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.

For new videos they will be done in this order.

An American Tail III

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It will be followed by the fourth film in the series.

After that will be Balto II

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It will be followed by the third film in the series.

Afterwards will be Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase

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After this it is time to return to Disney with The Lion King 1 1/2.

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This will be continued with Aladdin 2.

I will then work on more Warner Brothers films afterward.

Contested Sequels: All Dogs go to Heaven

Vs.

Here it is, another Don Bluth vs. non-Bluth film.  1 was made in 1989, while 2 was made in 1996.  They were both theoretical.  Unlike all my other Contested Sequel reviews I have equal nostalgia for both films and plenty of it.  For history I think both have problems.  2 did spawn a TV series, but it did not do nearly as well at the box office.

I think more people like Charlie in 1 than 2 considering a Google image search is dominated by pictures of him in 1.  In 1 he is extremely ambiguous with his motivations.  Almost everything he does can be interpreted as either good or bad once he comes back from the dead.  He clearly has a very vengeful and greedy side, but he did in Heaven talk about hating to steal, he does make the most sacrificial move I have ever seen in a movie not about Jesus.  In 2 his motivations still make sense considering their interpretation of Heaven is incredibly dull.  He does have a good heart, but too many problems are caused by him, and if only Annabelle appointed anyone but him the plot would have been over really quick.  I did see a good heart in him still, so other than still making a deal with an obvious devil I think Charlie is clearly the best part of both films.

In the first film Ann-Marie is the main side character followed by Itchy.  I really like the idea of an animal with a human sidekick, and she is my favorite morality pet.  Itchy is the hyper competent sidekick, and actually comes to represent Charlie’s negative side, while in 2 he is more moral.  In  he is actually less compassionate than Charlie.  I always found David to be boring.  I never got anyone liking Sasha. She is vain, annoying, hates Charlie, then randomly loves him.  The Whippet Angel/Annabelle is way more interesting in 1.  The side characters is another win for 1.

In 1 Carface is the main villain.  He is not subtle at all, but that is because he is so scary he does to need to be. Red is the main villain in 2.  He is also aggressive but not nearly as scary.  He has a strange villain song with bad and confusing animated segments but great lyrics.  It gets much better in the reprise because his minion, Carface, join in.  Carface is now a way less threatening minion, but he still is more intimidating than Red due to being a very good minion who does all the actual work.   I think the villains, especially Carface ,are major strengths in both films.

For songs 1 has way better ones.  Thy are sadder, the singing voices are not obviously different from the talking voices, and they reveal stuff about the characters.  From 2 the reprise to “It Feels so Good to be Bad” and “It’s too Heavenly Here” are good, but that is it, and there are so many of them.  I at least really enjoy all the songs in 1.  2 does have the better score.

                    The real big thing in 1’s favor is its influence.  There are two basic qualities of a good film, how much enjoyment form watching, and morally changing the viewer.  The first film is why I became a Christian.  The Hell scene scared me into it.  It presents Hell as something seemingly escapable but not and full of torture.  It is the first time I thought of it as something other than school, and the whole time I realized everything shown is almost real.  Almost because the real thing is far worse.  This film still makes me closer to God whenever I watch it.  2 has nothing to compete with that.

When re-watching 2 I kept thinking of things it could have done.  1 heavily implied that Carface would get his redemption (which happened in the third film).  I think that would have been a good plot for the second one as he fights a demonic force.  Another possibility is Charlie facing a fallen angel instead of a demon as the primary threat.  As a child I watched 1 for the wonderful movie and the horror.  I watched the sequel to remind myself of it without being so scared.  As a young teenager I had no interest in 2, and I was too scared to watch 1 despite really wanting to.  As an adult and late teenager  consider 1 to be the third greatest animated film ever.  I occasionally watch 2 for some nostalgia.

 

 

DTV Wonders: Pooh’s Grand Adventure, the Search for Christopher Robin

There is one Disney DTV sequel that I have as much nostalgia for as most of The Land Before Time movies.  This is it.  Despite having some sequel elements I always thought it was more of a film of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh partly due to having more of its actors and animation style.  When I was younger I really loved it, and today I still like it and enjoy the songs.

Right away the trailers talk about how Disney always offers “something new and exciting.”  It then does ads for lots of films that are at least eight years old.

The storybook look is gone, a butterfly looks ahead in fright foreshadowing the coming darkness, and the coloring is now darker.  As expected it begins with Pooh being happy, and he gets even happier when he runs into Christopher Robin.  Christopher Robin has a British accent unlike the TV series but like the film.  Pooh Bear is still voiced by Jim Cummings from the TV series.

An incredibly versatile actor.

Christopher Robin has to tell bad news, but Pooh does not want to hear it.  He sings “Forever and Ever” about how long it can wait.  It is the least good song in the film, but it has plenty of the charm that the character naturally brings.

They then “do nothing.”  A reference to the first film.  It also contains the quote “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  I have heard this originated here, not in the book, and I could not find it in the book, making this movie the birth of many senior quotes.  Pooh cannot remember it, but some of his attempts (“longer than a goose”) are funny.

He then awakens the next morning to find it is Autumn (when school starts).  He finds a honey pot and wonders who sent it.  He starts to doubt he can eat it, and he decides to ask Christopher Robin, but he is not around there, or here, or anywhere.  With him gone he is becoming lost.  It is Pooh’s main arc.  He then goes to Piglet (still played by John Fiedler).  He is trying to conqueror his fear of heights like Christopher Robin said, but he is now stuck on top of the tree.   until he is bounced by the greatest Disney character ever, Tigger.  Tigger is still voiced by Paul Winchell.  Hi arc is introduced as not being strong enough, which is similar to Rabbit’s but not Piglet’s arc.  Piglet is the odd one as his is something he often struggles with, while Rabbit and Tigger have issues with their own gifts not being enough.  He tries to bounce up and rescue Piglet, but he cannot and Piglet falls from the tree where Tigger does save him.  at the meantime Eeyore makes his appearance.  Eeyore is not important to this film actually.  Rabbit’s arc about going by the book too much is briefly shown.

Even rabbit cannot read the note on the honey pot so they go to Owl who proceeds to misread it that Christopher Robin is in danger from Skull.  I would think that with the ending reveal that there was no real danger this would be lighter on a rewatch, but the colors are so dark, the characters are so dramatic while still clearly being themselves, and the images are similar to that of a haunted house to makes this very intense even on a rewatch.  Owl says they must go on a quest, and he sings about it.  As a kid I loved this song, and as an adult I still love I.  I have hummed it many times.

The animation is creepy, and Owl comes off as sadistic talking about how they will all die like it is great, and I love every second of it.  It somehow does this while feeling so natural to the main series by keeping everyone in character.  Owl does refuse to actually go with them, as he salutes them away.  Some fans are mad that Kanga, Roo, and Gopher did not appear, but I thin they are unnecessary characters for this story, and Roo seems to have a major role in every Winnie the Pooh film since this one.  Owl did write them a map, which Pooh is carrying.  It is constantly saying an area is full of dangers and writing objects like trees with scary eyes on them.  He also warned them about the Skullasaurus, which we later learn that even though they constantly hear it, the Skullasaurus was actually Pooh’s tummy.  That was referenced in The Tigger Movie.  When they hear it everyone runs around in circles except Pooh until Rabbit takes the map and goes to what the map calls “This lovely meadow.”

    The map is clearly a little off, but eventually Piglet flees and he arrives at the real meadow.  We now know the map is a little off, as the meadow was a little further than it was on the map.  Piglet plays with butterflies until they carry him off like a flock of hawks.  I know this sounds like a comical scene, but it comes off as incredibly dark.  Even the most innocent looking things in the most peaceful place may kill you.  Pooh while misquoting the earlier quote eventually gets Piglet down.  One little problem is Pooh is so good at solving their problems he does no actually seem very lost.  Rabbit, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet seem more lost.

We then get to the rabbit’s song “If it Says so.”  I am having bad memories of “Say Soes” from The Wisdom of Friends when typing that, but this is actually my favorite song in the film, and I have hummed it and sang it many times.  Rabbit’s problem with taking the map at face value instead of thinking to himself is a major problem I also have.  As you can probably tell from the picture the compass is wrong, and the map constantly says to go the unnecessarily long way.  Rabbit accidently loses half of the map and Tigger chases it over a gorge.

Despite that poorly animated still the gorge scene’s animation is very good.  Tigger cannot get the map, and the log falls.  He is now miserable about not being able to get it and he rescinds himself to death.  Pooh then tries to get him out resulting in a stuffed animal ladder.  Somehow Piglet is holding both Pooh and Tigger.  Eventually Eeyore lets go of the root, and they all fall.  Piglet sees his friends rising from the mud and thinks their monster until Pooh points out that they are his friends.  It does help further solidify Pooh as the most important member.

Even with the other half back the map is nearly useless, and Rabbit cannot figure it out.   He gets really depressed and for a third tie Pooh cannot remember Christopher Robin’s comforting words right.  They eventually find a cave to sleep in, while they are very depressed.  After a little comic relief from Tigger and Rabbit Pooh sings “Wherever you are.”  It gets hard to believe that his actor did this and some notable villain songs like “In the Dark of the Night” and “Be Prepared.”  The song has many verses that are a dark reprise from “Forever and Ever,” and it is very sad to see Pooh so depressed.

They wake up to see Skull.   It is not worth the build up on the outside, but the inside seems like a bottomless pit.  They go inside and split up.  Some mist looks like a waterfall going up.  Eeyore gets stuck in a piece of wood making him look like a monster.  Tigger is chased by bats.  Rabbit falls down a hole, but the last one is played more for comedy than drama.  Pooh can just hear their screaming.  Besides Pooh they accidently run into the eye of skull, but it is way too high up for them, and pooh falls down a cliff like area.  Everyone else hears his screaming and assumes he is dead.  This is really getting dark.  In order to make Pooh happy the main characters minus Eeyore finally overcome their problems to get to the Eye.    Meanwhile Pooh…

This shot is the worst part of the film.  He gets out only to get stuck in a  huge chasm.  He eventually realizes he will just starve to death in it.  I have mostly neglected the honey pot in this review to save it to hear.  It represents Pooh’s thoughts that he is forever separated from Christopher Robin, and he clings to it.  They are only reunited when he is willing to abandon it.  Pooh finally remembers Christopher Robin’s words and he realizes in a way they will never be apart.

The rest of the group are all up thanks to Rabbit’s plan, Tigger’ strength, Piglet’s bravery, and Eeyore’s… extra weight slowing them down?  They then see a scary shadow thinking it is the Skullasaurus, but it is Christopher Robin.  I still do not know how he got there, but at this point I am happy to finally see the characters be happy again.  Christopher Robin takes the note and reads out loud what it actually says.  He also finds Pooh, and he rescues him with a huge honey pot he somehow carried over there and a rope.

They leave Skull and see it is not scary looking anymore, and other places from the movie are shown to no longer be scary as well.  The ending song is “Everything is Right.”  I always really enjoyed it.  It is very happy and the characters are shown using their new confidence and waving goodbye to the audience.

Despite its late plot holes and misuse of Eeyore I really love it.  It is by far the best of the Disney DTV films so far, and it is almost as good as the early odd numbered The Land Before Time sequels.  The characters are still lovable, and I got to see them going through something harder than ever before.  The writing is very good.  The songs are great.  I loved it so much as a kid I know most of the lines by heart.  I heavily recommend it for children because of its dark yet child friendly tone.

 

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 10 The Great Longneck Migration

This is one of the most remembered films in the series, and it I often considered the best.

The  Beethoven’s 5th commercial is better than the film.  I like the other trailers except for Sinibad.  It is a fine film, but the trailer is a reason why it bombed terribly.

What is a major difference between Charles Grosvenor and Roy Allen Smith, the only two directors to do more than one film in the franchise?  Grosvenor is better at coming up with plots, while Smith is better at developing them.  The tenth film had on paper and screen the best plot of at least the sequels and maybe even the original.  It had a big plot that took full advantage of being so late in a series, and it made many right moves with red herrings, songs, twists, and a mystery making it on paper by leaps and bounds the best sequel.  There is one problem I cannot find out, and hopefully I will figure out why I do not consider it to be the best.

Of notable significance is this ends the full CG trilogy, which let the internal conflict come from the internal instead of the other way around.  It also is the first film to use no music composed by James Horner.  The usual list of creators is present.

I love this opening with the lava and a sharptooth fighting a longneck foreshadowing the climax.  It then has Littlefoot having a dream where there is less gravity.  Alec Medlock is now voicing him.  Going in reverse order this is normal, but in normal order this is important since Thomas Dekker was involved in his voice for a record five movies.  Normally scenes like this leave it as a small twist, and I was happy the writers did something different.  It then get a little odd as the sun literally falls, and it is revealed Grandma and Grandpa are having a similar dream.  It is never explained why all longnecks have this dream, but it seems to be part of intuition and a mystery that the viewers need to solve.  I think it is instinct, which further shows how bad The Land Before Time XIII The Wisdom of Friends (13) is.

The next scene is surprisingly poor.  It is the group playing tag, and eventually Littlefoot is too caught up in the sun, which results in him telling them about his dream (“Sleep Story”).  Ducky and Petrie’s dreams are too generic to species instead of personality, but Petrie’s could be interpreted as getting braver.  Cera calls them all dumb prompting Littlefoot to get some complicated revenge hurting her “brag bone.”  After another night in a well done slow scene Grandpa tells Littlefoot they will be going on a journey, and this is the first time that a grown up suggested the journey.

It leads to our first song, “Adventuring.”  I love it, and it is the new top song.  It promises adventure, heroism, Cera’s cynicism compared to everyone else’s optimism is funny.  It gives Mo a cameo (my brother was excited to see that in the trailer).  It also involves very fast editing to give an action scene feeling, and at the end it asks to what will be an important part of the movie, Littlefoot’s friends wanting to come too.

After that when Littlefoot leaves it is strangely shown that he is sad when he was earlier happy.  Maybe “Adventuring” does have a problem about not being too relevant to the story.  This is actually the first scene that is better on the rewatch where the tune to “Bestest Friends” is played when Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike are missing him.  The Longnecks are then in the desert part of the Mysterious Beyond, and then the rainforest later.  Over there they meet Sue.  I spent a bit of time wondering what Sue’ seemingly meaningless role is until I realized why it works.  She is a red herring main guest character.  It makes the real guest star even more of a shocker later.

 

 

Then comes Cera’s nightmare, the funnies part of the franchise.  I think this is the last appearance of the brown stegosaurus.  It always gives a really good laugh and it seems to show Cera just being arrogant, but also that she fears missing out on important adventures, and most importantly that she knows something incredibly important is about to happen.  The little part with Mr. Threehorn cheering for Littlefoot the loudest is very fitting in chronological order.  He had been warming up to him since at least The Big Freeze (8) and maybe even The Stone of Cold Fire (7).  With that Cera rounds up the rest of the group to follow Littlefoot.  It shows how much Cera has developed that she is not leading them to certain death.  Based on earlier sequels and the most recent Spike would be in charge, but consider it middle installment weirdness.  After some atmosphere is shown with the Longnecks to again praise the film the rest of the group follow their footmarks to find the swamp with a prehistoric crocodile.  It is a very good action scene except for too much dumb luck saving the group and the crocodile deeming Petrie a better meal than Cera.  I guess fliers taste wonderful compared to threehorns.

I think the reference is unintentional

 

After escaping the first gray sharptooth in the franchise that is not a velociraptor (still a first to make it stick out), and with how dumb it was fortunately it will not be important to a serious climax later.   They meet an old longneck named Pat.  Pat is important to the theme and climax but not to the main story.

The Longnecks are now in an enormous herd, and they stop in a giant crater that they think was made by the sun.  It is never explained but theoretically a meteorite from a long time ago or potentially giant moles.  In the crater Littlefoot gets in a fight with Shorty, and Shorty’s surrogate dad, Bron comes.  In a rewatch this is better, as we know Bron is being a surrogate dad and an unknowing biological dad at the same time.  After he gets Shorty to apologize Grandpa comes up and gives the franchise’s biggest (or second biggest) wham line “Littlefoot, this is your father.”  This scene does not work nearly so well on a rewatch, but I remember being very surprised as just a month before watching it my family was talking about how Littlefoot’s dad almost certainly died before the first one or in the great earth shake.  Littlefoot then captures the longtime audience perfectly by running away and wondering where was he all this time.  It also captures Bron’s sadness fairly well.

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I will add that the longnecks in the background look very distinct.  There is an Ultrasaurus and a Saltasaurus.  They are all different colors.   Bron finds Littlefoot and tells him what happened.  He left to find the right place for a nest and was gone longer than suspected.  This does fit into the story of the original, as they stopped going to The Great Valley only to nest.  Apparently he got really lost, which is justified as he did not know where the nest was made earlier.  It also makes it easy to assume he had some great untold adventures.  He only quit looking when he became a leader of a herd due to helping every young lost longneck he found, and there were many due to the recent deaths, and he had great evidence Littlefoot was dead.  It was very important to make this good  since many fans looked forward to Allie or Doc showing up again in this film, and many fans thought Doc was  Littlefoot’s father.  I think this explanation is great.  It keeps him very likable, but sows a real vulnerability.  It leads to a sweet song, “Me and my Dad.”  It ties well into having to choose family or friends and is a very sweet song.  It is the least good song in the film, but it is still good.

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After that it is shown that Shorty feels like Bron will now ignore him like everyone else.  I think Shorty is the worst character here, as he is too one dimensional annoying despite having a complex back story.  With Pat, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike Pat tells the story of how they think an eclipse is the bright circle falling.  I like part of the mythology like the moon being jealous of the sun, but I think it makes parts of the climax underwhelming when there is no real danger.  For some reason they are going through a place full of lava, and it burns Pat’s foot really bad.  He tells everyone else to go on with out him, but they choose friendship in need over friendship that is not in need and excitement.  It is a good scene that is very important to the ending and tying the two major plots together.

The climax basically starts with Shorty leaving until Littlefoot acts like he is a brother.  It also shows more and more that Littlefoot will have to choose between his dad and grandparents.  Bron wants to be with Littlefoot and supports him to come back with him.  Grandpa is less decisive, but he thinks Littlefoot will choose his dad, and he is being supportive of it.  Getting Littlefoot and Shorty out is an excuse for them to run into Petrie who tells Littlefoot his friends are coming.

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Good fist impression of Shorty’s new brother’s friends

 

The climax has so many incredible parts, but also it has two key mistakes.  I was wondering when I saw it why it was not the earlier Gray sharptooth.  I quickly forget when Pat throws him against a tree.

It looks good that the children will get to the safety of the crater and Pat has brown sharptooth beaten until the camera show his burned leg, and it becomes apparent Pat cannot stand well.

Fortunately Bron hears it and comes to the rescue.  I should probably mention that the more active role they hinted at in “Adventuring” was more rock throwing.  It is underwhelming compared to 3, and it really does not do too much to help Pat.  Also Shorty, Ducky, Spike, and Petrie stay still afterwards for a surprisingly long time.  At least the music saves that part.  With Bron there he distracts the sharptooth and knocks him over by sliding under him and using his tail to knock him over.  That was cool to see.  I really should add that sharpteeth in this series have incredible durability compared to the herbivores and with the exception of 1 and 3 it is shown the most here.  The sharptooth gets up and does very well against Bron until Pat comes to double team him with heroic music, but it is actually dark foreshadowing.  After knocking the sharptooth all the way to a hard rock he gets up.  To make it worse the gray sharptooth shows up, and then a green sharptooth reversing the heroic reinforcements.  This is the first time the sharpteeth have received reinforcements since Six, but this is actually less intimidating.  In Six they had to fight ambiguously “The biggest, meanest, most ferocious sharptooth ever” or the one from the original.  Here it is the dumbest one in the series, a tough brown one and a random green one.  It also leads to the first major problem in this climax, the huge longneck herd.  Obviously Grandma and Grandpa join in.  The rest are mostly excused for not wanting to risk death for a few strangers but I would think Sue (and he new boyfriend because of her) would join in making it 6-3.  The sharpteeth put their smarter two members on Bron, as he is probably the best fighter in the franchise besides The Lone Dinosaur.  With Pat having a bad foot the dumb gray one is on him.  Littlefoot rushes to help his dad, and Cera’s reaction to him having a dad is too good.  Littlefoot does distract Green sharptooth long enough for Grandpa to make his own sliding head slam.  He later uses his head for bait, which sounds too risky,

to move sharptooth forward where Grandma can trip him off  cliff.  It is the first time they fought together since Two.  With the gray sharptooth Pat is overmatched, but Cera knocks one leg up by ramming him (I will buy it) and Shorty gets underneath the other leg, which trips Gray Sharptooth instead of squashing him.  As an adult I find this to be a major problem, but as a kid I thought that was cool, so I will let it pass.  Gray falls down and Bron guides Brown Sharptooth into his fall taking them both out.  An important moment to the theme is Littlefoot goes to his dad first.  If he had to make the choice now he would choose his dad, but Bron tells him to go to Grandpa.  It gives an implication his Grandpa needs Littlefoot more than Bron does, and it is implied he is keeping his son away from Brown Sharptooth, the most dangerous.  We then get to the second major problem with this climax.

I like the art of the eclipse, and these sharpteeth are amazing to somehow still go strong, but the eclipse is just no real danger.  It gives Sue some lines that should have gone to grandma.  We then get to the choice that made me certain that Littlefoot was going to leave with his dad, and the franchise would end…  That is why this is no where near as good after the first watch.  It relies so heavily on twists and red herrings, and it works because I was so attached to these characters.  It took all of the viewers’ attachments  and made the emotional moments really strong.  It actually backfired later due to making it seem like we were outgrowing the franchise when we put it in again.  It leads to the new top song “Bestest Friends.”  Michele Bourman and Amanda McBroom really out did themselves here.  It is rightly played over the end credits, and this is a real tear jerker.  Besides “If I had Words” from Babe this is the saddest song I ever heard especially when you think of friends who left.  The actors singing especially Cera’s actress, Andi McAfee, are terrific.  This one had me one hundred percent convinced the series was about to end, and Littlefoot would go with his dad.  I was truly shocked when he chose to stay in The Great Valley.

Besides Sue the new characters are great, and I was disappointed Pat did not speak in the Later Sequel trilogy.  It had great music, a flawed, but very good climax.  Littlefoot was done wonderfully.  The rest of the gang blurs in this one as one great unit.  The two distinct stories merged so well.  Bron was wonderful.  This is the new top ranking film, and it will possibly have this distinction for a long time.

The five best songs are now 1. Bestest friends (10) 2. Adventuring (10).  3. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  4. How do You Know (13). 5. Things Change (12).

The climax rankings are now 10, 14, 11, 12, 13

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 13 (76 minutes).

The new film rankings are 10, 14, 12, 11, 13.

 

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 14 Journey of the Brave

Image result for the land before time journey of the brave box

After an eight year hiatus the series is back.  For me this was basically equal expectations overall. The editor was Luke Guidici, which makes this the first one since The Big Freeze (8) to not be edited by Jay Bixsen.  It has new producers and writers.  The director is Davis Doi, the writer of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  The master of fear himself is directing sharpteeth.  The writers of Balto are writing this making it the most prestigious group to make a film in the franchise since the first one.  Fortunately music composer Michael Tavera is back.  Despite these changes the franchise has dealt with no returning people before, and they had more time than usual to make a movie.

The film starts with one of the fun features of watching these, the commercials for Universal throughout the years.  There commercials used to be great, but now they are not.  I did not know Universal made the Barbie movies until they were advertised on The Land Before Time.  We then have a decent Thomas and Friends commercial, the only series where the characters look unnatural for moving their lips.

The Universal logo is by far my favorite.  The Earth in it is now designed to look like it is filled with cities.  To make it even better the shot of the logo and the opening is now one shot.  Strangely John Ingle is no longer the narrator for the first time since the first film due to his death, as Tony Amendola takes over.  It is a good impression.  What is truly strange is he does a title drop.  In thirteen movies no character or narrator said “the land before time,” except for one time.  The narration has to be made with a plan on weather the primary plan is to attract new fans or keep old fans.  They went with bringing in new fans, which is sound business sense and by bringing back Bron most old fans were still interested.

Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom returned to write the songs, but I finished watching it sure they brought in other people.  This is far from their best work.  Right away the main five characters sing “Today is the Day.”  It has good foreshadowing of the climax, and that there will be plenty of conflict between the protagonists.  Speaking of that this probably has the most screen time dedicated to the heroes fighting amongst themselves since the first one.  Normally something big happens making them argue, but here it is a chain of many smaller issues.  I still find it weird that the Great Valley has snow again, since it only happened once in recorded memory.  I guess Pteranto can come back after three more cold times.  At this rate he will be back for the Land Before Time 25.  Also Ducky’s mom has another litter.  I think at is he first since the second film.

Grandma Longneck is still voiced by Miriam Flynn, but with Kenneth Mars’s death Barry Bostwick is his new actor.  His voice is not similar to Mars at all, but it could just be assumed as he go older it changed, and he still can capture his wisdom, kindness, and alertness.  Since Bron and his herd are returning they go to look, but they do not see Bron.  Grandpa says he is sure there is nothing to worry about?  Considering the theory the characters are in Heaven makes the assumption Heaven is filled with dangers.  Grandpa tells his grandson, “I would say there is a lot to worry about.”  Right then Wild Arms runs in screming “Help!”

To what I can tell Wild Arm is a popular character. He is never too funny to me, but never really slow.  He is a flat character and actually fakes hidden depths.  A common moral in this film is leadership, and he is the idiot who thinks he is a great leader.

Thus the second most important part of the film, the beginning is good.  It is a little later when it really shows that the primary audience is new fans.  It is hard to judge Littlefoot’s new voice actor in this one, because his main non generic leader guy characteristic is that he is the not-so-stoic.  Here it is a very emotional journey so of course he is more emotional, and that may be why he does not want his friends along, while in the older films he knew they would come.  I would think he is just joking around, but he clearly did not expect them later.  His plans here are still good.  He is still smart and full of compassion.  Littlefoot is still the driving force on success, but he is not dedicated to the group as usual.

Spike’s characterization was not as subtle.  Spike from films 2-9 was the clear second in command as shown in 4 and  7 where they looked to Spike for leadership when Littlefoot was indecisive or gone.  Most likely as he is the second most moral and can tell when others are truthful (4) or determined to help loved ones who need help (7).  Here when everyone else is suffering from internal conflict Spike is the one who constantly uses the time who notices smaller paths and other things that can help him.  It is easy to interpret him as a genius from this one who just cannot talk yet, while he was previously shown as an idiot who was occasionally brilliant.  He showed the leadership theme by showing good leadership in danger is focusing on the task rather than petty arguments (which Littlefoot usually does).

Cera is the most hostile she has been since at least 4.  It mostly shows that Cera is speaking for the others when she mentions important parts of a journey like sleeping, drinking, and eating.  Littlefoot wants to ignore those to get to Bron sooner.  Considering they nearly get killed when stopping the film is against Cera, but not her methods.  Oddly she is the one being quiet and less forceful about getting her way, which is the opposite of what happened in the first one.  I actually really like this part.  It makes perfect sense as she is not emotionally attached to Bron, and it is a good reminder to the original film, while not ripping it off or senselessly reversing from it.

Ducky…  I cannot think of a real point Ducky has here.

One part looks like filler, but it is very important to the themes.  Some Compy like leaf eaters declare Petrie their leader, as he can get food for him.  After he leaves they give the title to another who can get them food.  As a viewer could make out they are designed to look a little unsettling and not be a good thing.  They represent the idea that a leader is merely the provider.  When Petrie cannot give actual advice it shows there is more to it.  Even better when Ducky asks Petrie for leadership over Cera, as that is the funniest part of the movie.  Plus Petrie’s followers are ugly cute.  The scene is funny and a little scary.  It fits with the theme, and I think it is the best part of the movie.  besides this part there are parts where Petrie is misused like Littlefoot climbing a ledge to get a birds’ eye view rather than telling Petrie to fly up like in the previous films.  It depends on the year about whether Petrie or Littlefoot is my favorite character, and despite being pushed to the side here Petrie is the best in this film.

Just because the primary aim is the new fans the film still wants to keep old fans, and that includes the series.  I love the franchise, but the series stinks.  Part of it is 22-23 minutes is not enough time to use seven main characters and all the guests with plot instead of character driven stories.  To please fans of the series Chomper and Ruby were included, which really surprised my dad.  If you have not seen the series it makes no sense why Chomper is there…  Even if you have seen the series the explanation makes no sense.  The writers found a role for them, which could have easily been removed.  Sure there role is useless, but it does not take much time.  Just because something does not advance the plot does not make it bad.  It can show how life goes on for others, make fun scenes, or (like here) give the viewers a break from the main plot.  Their story gives a break from all the internal conflict.  It also gives the viewers time to analyze it.

Etta is one of those characters who is an unhelpful annoyance to the main characters at first and then becomes helpful.  She has quite a few rewatch bonuses, but she could have been removed without much of a real problem.

It could be argued their are some inconsistencies, but I think it still holds up.  Bron’s herd seems to have non Longnecks in it, but they are probably just temporarily joining with other herds for protection, and he does seem to only be in charge of the longnecks.  I already mentioned the snow, which is apparently common.  The narration does always say the world is changing.  The characters now know what feathers are, which they did not in The Day of the Great Fliers (12), but I guess they made a word for them since.

The songs are a mixed bag.  When watching the credits I was surprised to see that the main writers did them.  “Today is the Day,” while a fine song is not too good.  “Hot and Stinky” was panned by me for a year, but it grew on me some, mainly due to Cera’s lines, but there did not need to be a song around them planning on how to escape sharptooth.  “Look for the Light” tries to be a spectacle visually which the budget does not allow.  “Better off Alone” is the one I really enjoy.

 

 

 

Contested Sequels: Babe Vs. Pig in the City

Vs

Unlike an American Tail these films are generally more friendly towards each other.  It seems everyone likes the first one (by differing levels), but the second one is a base breaker.  George Miller, the writer and director of the Mad Max films, was the main writer of both films.  He directed two, but Chris Noonan directed one.  This gives a similar idea and moral, but a very different style.  One attempts to make every second enjoyable, while two relies on a few great scenes and the others build it, but feel like an afterthought.

I have more nostalgia for two.  I went through a pig phase at a young age.  I constantly saw trailers for one, and then bought the second one thinking there was only one.  The film still made sense without context.  I also saw the first one at a young age a few times, but most of m nostalgia is from the second one, which my pig phase made me watch constantly.  Like all Universal films at this era they have great trailers, but the second one especially has a really awesome Universal Theme Pzrk trailer with Spider-Man fighting Doctor Octopus, and that was my introduction to Spider-Man.

One has a superior opening.  One’s opening is slower and builds an atmosphere of a happy film with “If I had Words Playing.”  It makes a feeling of a deeply emotional film.  I also like seeing all the pig decorations, which are mostly about food.  It is some very dark foreshadowing.  It also shows the way things are, pigs are food, which is reinforced by the narrator.  The opening to two relies on having seen the first one by showing the trophy and parade.  After that…

Most people say the second film is incredibly dark and one is very light.  I actually think one is far darker.  How does one open?   With the narrator talking about how pigs leave to pig paradise, “A place so wonderful that no pig had ever thought to come back.”  It says that in a dark room, while the pigs are shown being packed in a  meat truck.  To make it more dark it does a very good job at making Babe sympathetic right away and portraying everyone else as content to wait their turn for death.  Two’s opening plot is the boss getting injured, but the writing makes it sound more like a poorly written comedy than a terrible accident but the writing in the next scene makes up for it.  Some well known dark scenes from two include a dog nearly drowning and that leads to the film’s best or second best scene, but an animal in danger was nothing new to me as a five year old who often watched The Land Before Time.  The clown having a heart attack and dying is dark, but I always assumed he was just having pains and needed to be in the hospital.  That is actually a major strength from two.  It shows how children could look past the darkness but still get the feeling of dread, but adults could see what is really going on and realize how bad things are getting for the main characters. The scene with the animals talking about being abandoned is very dark and it is handled well with a serious mood and then some needed comic relief from Ferdinand and Flea Lick.

Another major part of one’s darkness is Duchess.

Babe

She sure has changed. She is a wonderful villain.  She makes the main character try to die and she never tells a lie, a half lie, or leaves anything out.  She just tells how hard the world is and how unfavorable it is to pigs.  Her last shot is her being very happy.  She then gets refuted later.  She also has very little screen time to keep the focus on the heroes.  She is an incredible villain and makes one of the darkest scenes I have ever seen.  Normally the characters like this are reduced to only telling a half truth, but she tells everything.  As a result the main characters are speechless to respond.

Despite two going for the big scenes its best scenes are inferior to one’s best scenes, which include the best song I have ever heard in a film, “If I had Words.” IT is funny and tear jerking.  The farmer cannot respond with reason as he did get Babe to eat him for the reason, but he also right away saw something in him, and to regain his trust Hogget must communicate that.

In one Esme plays second fiddle to Arthur, while in two that is reversed.  They are very different, and that is good.  It helps show that two is not a copy and paste of one.  Their different personalities are used well, but Arthur is better, as he has a very clear major characteristic that fits the films’ moral.  He sees the value where no one else does.  He made a gate out of trash early.  Then he realizes there is more to Babe than a dinner.  That is how he finally gets the sheepdog grand champion.

The side characters are very good in both films.

Babe

Flea Lick is awesome.  Thelonius is great.  The others have such great potential, but the film is a half hour too short to take advantage of them.  In one Rex and Fly are the dominant supporting characters and they are very well developed.  Ferdinand is an important side character in both films.  In two he is good comic relief.  In one he is a major part of the moral about changing the bad parts of life.

Two does have better end credits.  Randy Newman’s song is great at the end.  The mice singing “If I had Words” is still very good, but not as good.

Two is better for kids, but one is superior to adults.  Two is hard to follow the plot but easy to follow the characters.  Making them get fascinated bu it.  One is the most emotional film I have ever seen.  It is a terrific movie, while two is merel very good and had a tough act to follow.