Hocus Pocus

95d7bb7e8815898cdc893c0d72e7856b547682d6Hocus Pocus is a 1993 film about a teenaged virgin who accidently lets out a trio of century old witches who steal and eat children’s souls in order to maintain their youth.  Oh and it’s a comedic children’s movie.  With snappy songs.

This was recorded two years ago around Halloween.  There were audio problems and it’s kind of short, but what the heck here it is anyway.  Happy Halloween!  In March…

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman Movie PosterSnow White and the Huntsman is a 2012 fantasy film directed by newcomer Rupert Sanders.  The film stars Kristen Stewart, Cherlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth.  There is defintily more style to the film then substance.  However, the film isn’t as shallow as it would first appear.  It does some very interesting things with the evil queen’s back story. Charlize Theron steals every scene she is in.  Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth do the best with what they’re given, but they’re largely archetypal compared to Kristen’s Stewart’s fascinatingly broken queen.

The film is worth watching alone for its imaginative portrayal of magic.  There’s a scene for instance, where the evil queen slowly drags herself from a pile of raven ichor until she slowly solidifies into a woman once again.   She doesn’t rise magically or form from a mist… She has to painfully drag her broken body from a pile of corpses.  Her magic is dirty, bloody, primal and comes at a drastic cost.

Overall, the film isn’t a study on the human condition, but it isn’t a shallow special effects fest either.  Want to hear more? Listen to the podcast below!

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Merlin Season 3 – 4

The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin, aka. The Adventures of Merlin, is a British television show that started in 2008. It stars Colin Morgan as a young Merlin who must hide his magical powers because Camelot has outlawed all magic on threat of death. He spends his time secretly protecting Arthur and Camelot in hopes that Arthur will someday grow into a great King.

This review is for season (or series) 3 and 4 of Merlin. If you have not seen season 1 and 2 I encouraged you to check out our season 1-2 review or simply go watch the show. This episode does not even attempt to describe the premise of Merlin and completely spoils all of season three and four. So beware! This is no holds barred magical Arthurian spoiler time!

This television series just keeps getting better! The show makes a steady incline in quality throughout season three until its a really great show in season four. Does that make up for some of the lack luster episodes in season one? Yes, actually. I think it does. Many aspects of Arthur’s character development are finally barring fruit in season four that had seeds planted way back in season one. Merlin himself still has lots of room to grow, but he’s shown some welcome steps into becoming more pro-active instead of reactive (and ignoring Gaius’s terrible advice). Hopefully, in season five we’ll finally see him become the warlock of legend.

The series does have some problems, mostly involving Morganna’s strange character development. In season three, they take some dramatic shortcuts in her development. While its certainly plausible, the show doesn’t bother explaining or even showing the path it took her to reach her new persona. Furthermore, she doesn’t appear to have any remnants of her old persona at all. There’s some weird slippery slope fallacies going on there and odd inconsistencies. I wonder if this was because the writers were so determined to follow the path of the actual Arthurian legends? Who knows, but she’s definitely the weakest link in season three and four.

We highly recommend you check out this series. Make sure to start from the beginning though! If you watched season one and two and are on the fence about watching more, we think you should reconsider. The series gets continually better and really rewards long time listeners.

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Tinman

Tinman Cast

Tinman is a 2007 Syfy Miniseries directed by Nick Willing.  It is loosley based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz book series.  Very loosely.

The miniseries has great production values, intriguing writing, and most of the cast are talented.  Zooey Deschanel gives an odd almost autistic portrayal of the main character D.J.  I’m not sure if she was directed that way or if it’s just Zooey Deschanel being Zooey Deschanel.  The rest of the cast is fantastic, particularly Neal McDonough and Kathleen Robertson.

The world building rivals a Hollywood film.  Everything in the world, from the steampunk technology to the rare glimpse of magic fits well into the world. The technology, politics, history, etc of the O.Z. is well thought out and has its own internal logic.  The world feels like it could really work.

The miniseries updates the world of the O.Z (pronounced ‘Oh Zee’) without disrespecting the original.  There are a lot of homages to the original books and films some obvious, some not.  You can tell there’s a real reverence to the source material.

The miniseries is easy to obtain.  It’s often on Netflix Instant Watch in the U.S. and readily available on blu ray and DVD in most countries.  Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.


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Stardust

Stardust is a 2007 fantasy film directed by Mathew Vaughn based on the book by Neil Gaiman.   It has a pretty star studded cast (ha ha ) of Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert Deniro, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Stardust Movie PosterPlot:   An awkward young man named Tristan Thorn crosses a wall into a fantasy realm in order to retrieve a falling star for his beloved Victoria.   Only when he gets there, the fallen star is actually a woman named Yvaine.   And unfortunately, he’s not the only one trying to retrieve the fallen star.

This episode came out okay.   I tried to edit out more of the pauses then I was previously taking out as Podcast Squared suggested.   Can anyone tell a difference?   I didn’t want it to be super snappy, because I wanted to preserve the feeling of just listening to regular people talk about movies.   I think it’s possible to become too polished and come off sounding fake and generic.

Stardust is a mixed bag.   It has some great visuals, fun character moments,  and a stellar cast.   But it also has some major plot problems, and the main couple are anything but star crossed.   However, overall it’s a fun movie that’s worth watching at least once.

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Merlin Season 1-2

Merlin CastMerlin also known as The Adventures of Merlin is a British BBC One TV show that started in 2008.   It was created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps.   As of this recording in May 2011 it has three television seasons with another slated for next autumn.   The series was created to be a family drama that children to grandparents could enjoy together.

PLOT: Camelot has outlawed magic.   Anyone seen practicing magic or helping someone practicing magic will be put to death by order of the king.   No exceptions.   Magical creatures are killed on sight, whether they are dangerous or not.   The king even killed every dragon in the land save one, which he imprisoned below the castle to serve as an example to anyone who dares to defy the King.

Merlin is sent to Camelot by his mother to stay with the Camelot royal physician named Gaius.   Through a series of fortunate (or unfortunate depending on who you ask) he comes to be the manservant of Prince Arthur.   Now, he must use his powers in secret to help Prince Arthur become a great king someday, knowing that if he is ever found out to be magical he would be put to death.

OH My God.   We must never talk this long again.   It took me 7 hours to edit this episode.   This episode covers only season 1-2 of Merlin.   There are no spoilers for season 3 and onward.   We might go back later and do another episode that covers season 3.   This series has some problems, but I think its a fun ride and worth the effort of tracking down if you’re a fantasy fan.   The first two episodes are a little rough, but the show continuously improves as it goes on.

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The 10th Kingdom

The 10th Kingdom DVD CoverThe 10th Kingdom is an American fantasy television miniseries that was first released in 2000.   The story stars a young twenty something waitress named  Virginia Louis who lives at the edge of Central Park.   One day she accidentally runs into a dog while riding her bike to work.   But its no ordinary dog.   Its in fact, a prince from a fantasy kingdom whose been turned into a dog by an evil step mother.   This drags Virginia and her disaster prone father into an epic fantasy adventure full of trolls, magic, sheep (?), witches, dwarves, fairies, true love,  and one very confused but very sexy half wolfman.

This episode does NOT contain spoilers (or has very little spoilers).   Unlike many works we discuss, the 10th Kingdom is underrated, undervalued and under watched.   In discussing this show, we hope to simply let more people know of its existence.   It’s a fantastic show that not many people have heard of and not very many people watched when it first aired.   Buy this show or rent it from Netflix if you live in the U.S.   You won’t be disappointed.

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The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn DVD CoverEpisode  18 is here and it’s infused with UNICORN POWER! We’re reviewing the 1982 animated classic The Last Unicorn. This film was produced by Rankin/Bass for and animated by Topcraft who would later become Studio Ghibli.   The film is beautiful to look at and really shows its pedigree, especially in the hand painted backgrounds.   There are some really beautiful pastoral scenes in this film.

The Last Unicorn is the story  of a unicorn who one day finds out that she may be the last unicorn in the world.   She goes on a quest to discover if this is true and if it is, to free the rest of the unicorns.   It’s a fairly simple setup but the characters are very well developed and bring a depth to this animated film that isn’t often seen in english produced productions.

Thanks  for requesting this  episode  Doe and Monica!

Links:
Buy a Signed Copy of The Last Unicorn novel by Peter S. Beagle!
History of Topcraft/Studio Ghibli
 

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving CastleThis episode we  discuss the Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle AND the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.   We had two requests from Tora-chan and Monica G for the Miyazaki directed Howl’s Moving Castle, but decided to also include the book in our discussion.   I read the book long before I saw the movie, and its far far superior to the lackluster Ghibli film.   Sophie is a much more fiery and proactive heroine in the book.   She was very much Howl’s equal.   Furthermore, most of the narrative problems with the movie stem from the nonsensical add ons that Ghibli stacked on that were not prescent in Diana Wynne’s book.   There was nothing about the enviroment in the original book, and the war was something that was only  mentioned briefly.

This episode is a little short.   Melanie’s connection was going out so we had to end the discussion about 10-15 minutes early.   The episode is still a half an hour long, though.

So what was your opinion on Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle? How do you think it holds up to the book? Were you even aware there was a book?   Got requests?   Please comment, we love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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Slayers Next

Slayers Next CastSlayers Next is the second season of Slayers, and by far the best. The series improves greatly from Slayers.   The animation quality increases, the humor hits home more often, and the plot can be quite powerful at times.

In this episode, we get into the nitty gritty of the plot of Slayers Next and also some of Slayers Try. As of this recording, however, we had not yet watched Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R so you don’t have to worry about being spoiled on those.

If you haven’t seen the show and are interested, the series is really easy to obtain. Deep Discount has the first three series (Slayers, Slayers Next, and Slayers Try) for less than $50 dollars. You can also watch all three seasons of Slayers legally for free on Funimation’s official website    and on some of the  episodes are also up on  Funimation’s youtube page.

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