Re-Watch: The Last Unicorn (1982)

The Last Unicorn
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Writer: Peter S. Beagle
Based on: Peter S. Beagle’s novel
Cast: Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Tammy Grimes, Jeff Bridges, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Rene Auberjonois, Robert Klein
Seen on: 20.7.2015
[Here’s my first review of the film.]

Plot:
The Unicorn (Mia Farrow) hears that she is supposed to be the last in the world, the rest of the unicorns having been chased by the Red Bull. At first, she doesn’t believe those news and she decides to go looking for the others. But as she scours the lands, she doesn’t find them. Instead she hears more stories about King Haggard (Christopher Lee) and his Red Bull. Joined by Schmendrick (Alan Arkin), a rather inept wizard, and Molly (Tammy Grimes), a former robber, they make their way to the castle to find out about the unicorns.

They brought The Last Unicorn on a cinematic tour to Vienna. Peter S. Beagle was supposed to accompany the film, but it appears he fell sick, unfortunately. But in his place, they showed interviews with him and some other people who were involved in the making of the film, which was also very interesting.

It was the first time I saw the film in English, not German, and the first time I saw it in the cinema, and the first time I saw it after reading the book and somehow all three things took a bit of getting used to.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam BrownOrlando BloomEvangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt, Hugo WeavingChristopher LeeBilly Connolly

Plot:
The dwarves and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) have roused Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Smaug is on his way to lay waste to Laketown. But Bard (Luke Evans) manages to save the town from that fate by killing Smaug. Now the Lonely Mountain can be claimed by Thorin (Richard Armitage), who immediately starts looking for one particular gem – the Arkenstone – and slowly succumbs to dragon sickness. In the meantime various armies start to gather outside the Lonely Mountain, all with a different claim on the treasure and/or the people within.

I thought that the last installment of the movie really was quite disappointing. I mean, neither of the three can live up to The Lord of the Rings anyway, but at least Desolation of Smaug was entertaining. Battle of the Five Armies was too much battle, too little coherence and way too much Alfrid.

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The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Devil Rides Out aka The Devil’s Bride
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Richard Matheson
Based on: Dennis Wheatley‘s novel
Cast: Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Nike ArrighiLeon GreenePatrick Mower

Plot:
Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) is concerned about his god son Simon (Patrick Mower). After the death of Simon’s father, Richleau and his friend Rex (Leon Greene) have become surrogate father figures for Simon but now Simon doesn’t communicate with them anymore. So Richleau asks Rex to come to town and together they pay a surprise visit to Simon. They find out that Richleau was right to worry – it appears that Simon has joined a satanic cult and is about to be lost forever. Thankfully Richleau knows his way around dark magic.

The Devil Rides Out was fun, even though it was not particularly good. There is a certain strange humor and energy about it that does make it quite charming.

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The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man
Director: Robin Hardy
Writer: Anthony Shaffer
Cast: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt

Plot:
Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) flies out to a little Scottish island after receiving an anonymous letter informing him of the disappearance of a young girl. But all his investigations are undermined by the village inhabitants who are more preoccupied with their heathen belief. Howie, a devout Christian, is appalled at those practices and the non-chalance with which the disappearance, if acknowledged at all, is treated. He is convinced that something weird is going on – and determined to find out what it is.

I had only ever seen the Nicolas-Cage-remake of this film which was not particularly good as far as I remember (and every one else). But this version of the story is rather special and makes it clear why it is a cult film that got remade in the first place.

thewickerman

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Cuadecuc, vampir (1971)

Cuadecuc, vampir
Director: Pere Portabella
Writer: Pere Portabella, Joan Brossa
Based on: Count Dracula, which is in turn based on Bram Stoker‘s Dracula
Cast: Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Soledad Miranda

Plot:
Cuadecuc, vampir [literal translation: Worm Tail, Vampire] tells the well-known story of Count Dracula but with behind the scenes footage and scenes that where filmed along the actual shoot of Count Dracula.

The film provides a sometimes fascinating look behind the scenes, but I think that an actual behind the scenes documentary would have been nicer – clandestinely shooting the same film with the same actors for a second time might sound cool on paper, but doesn’t really work in the execution. (Or at least not in this execution of it.)

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Re-Watch: The Last Unicorn (1982)

The Last Unicorn
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Writer: Peter S. Beagle
Based on: his novel
Cast: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee

Plot:
The Unicorn (Mia Farrow) hears that she is supposed to be the last in the world, the rest of the unicorns having been chased by the Red Bull. At first, she doesn’t believe those news and she decides to go looking for the others. But as she scours the lands, she doesn’t find them. Instead she hears more stories about King Haggard (Christopher Lee) and his Red Bull. Joined by Schmendrick (Alan Arkin), a rather inept wizard, and Molly (Tammy Grimes), a former robber, they make their way to the castle to find out about the unicorns.

I am honestly not sure how many times I have seen this film. It’s older than I am and it has been with me through my entire childhood (we used to watch it at least once a year, usually around Christmas). I hadn’t seen it for a while now, so I was very glad when the film still carried the same magic for me as it did back then.

The-Last-Unicorn

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Plot:
Many, many years ago, there were dwarves living in Erebor, amassing huge riches until they were attacked by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). They lost their mountains, their gold and were scattered in many directions. Now Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) last descendant of Erebor’s king, is ready to get it all back. So he put together a group of loyal dwarves, but asks the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to find a 14th member for their party. Gandalf recruits the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is reluctant – as a hobbit, he generally doesn’t think much of adventures or leaving home at all – but he is finally convinces and so all of them set off for a great adventure. An adventure that proves more dangerous and connected to more things than initially assumed.

For practically anybody of about my age (and of a nerdy/geeky persuasion), the Lord of the Rings films were more than just movies – they were events that opened me and my friends up to many things, but especially to the intricacies of internet fandom and all that entails. It seems clear that 10 years later the Hobbit can’t quite reach that status anymore. But An Unexpected Journey is a film that I enjoyed for the most part.

The_Hobbit _An_Unexpected_Journey

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Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on: the TV show
Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham-Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper

Plot:
At the end of the 18th century, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his family emigrate to America, where they build up a town and acquire a lot of wealth. With them came Angelique (Eva Green) and her family as servants. Angelique falls in love with Barnabas. But when he tells her that he doesn’t share her feelings, she gets so angry that she curses him to be a vampire, kills the woman he loves and buries him for almost 200 years.
In 1972, Barnabas is freed and returns to his family – or what remains of it. But also Angelique is still there and ready to pick things up right where they left them.

I was not one of the people bemoaning yet another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration – I usually like when they work together and the trailer for this film looked perfectly charming. But unfortunately the film was very disappointing.

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Season of the Witch (2011)

Season of the Witch
Director: Dominic Sena
Writer: Bragi F. Schut
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron PerlmanStephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan, Christopher Lee

Instead of the usual review, this is going to be a blog-along. Because we all know this movie deserves it, and we should all bask in its glory.

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The Resident (2011)

The Resident
Director: Antti Jokinen
Writer: Antti Jokinen, Robert Orr
Cast: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee

Plot:
Juliet (Hilary Swank) just broke up with her boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace), so she’s looking for a new apartment. And she can barely believe her luck when she finds a huge apartement at a very low prize and with the really sexy landlord Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But things that seem too good to be true often are and so it quickly turns out that Max isn’t only into Juliet, he’s completely obsessed with her and watches her at every moment.

The movie has beautiful art direction and a great cast but it unfortunately fails to create any kind of tension whatsoever.

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