The Hobbit (1977)

Hobbit DVD CoverThis time around we review the 1977 animated film The Hobbit.  The Hobbit was adapted from a 1937 Tolkien book of the same name by Rankin-Bass.  Rankin-Bass were the same production/creative team that also created The Last Unicorn, and all of the stop motion holiday classics that ABC Family shoves down Americans throats every winter.

This production was a made for TV movie for children and it shows in the final product.  The animation is stilted and the movie does its best to avoid showing violence while still oddly implying it.  The budget restraints of a made for TV movie are pretty apparent.  The animation is stilted and a large scale war between multiple armies is depicted like a giant dust cloud.  However, there was obvious love for the source material in the production.  The art design is quite nice.  Top Craft, the Japanese studio the animation was filmed at, created some really beautiful hand painted backgrounds.  They production company also respected the source material and didn’t try to add to or dramatically change the story.  Despite it’s short comings, they did the best they could with a TV movie’s budget and time.

Should you see this?  If you’ve read The Hobbit before by all means go for it.  It makes a fun diversion while waiting for the Peter Jackson version.  If you haven’t read the books give it a pass and wait for the live action movies.

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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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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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Willow

Willow Movie PosterWillow is a 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard and starring Warwick Davis.   Willow is a young farmer who goes on a quest to save a baby’s life from an evil queen who believes the child is destined to overthrow her.   Along the way, he makes friends with a quirky cast of characters and finds the inner strength to become a hero.

What can be said about Willow? It’s a cult classic that’s been on our ‘to do’ list since first deciding to do a podcast.   The film holds up very well and is still a joy to watch with adult eyes.   If you’ve never seen this film, by all means look it up.   It’s readily available and is even on Netflix’s Instant Watch service.

We were both rather sick when we recorded this episode, but we only sound slightly froggish.

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Slayers

Slayers castIn this episode, we finally review Slayers! This nineties fantasy anime series is near and dear to me and Melanie’s hearts.   It was the anime series that made me an anime nerd and holds up quite well to this day. It’s still my favorite anime series.

Slayers is the humorous fantasy tale of Lina Inverse badass sorceress supreme who steals from bandits and gives to herself. Her love of money is only equal to her love of food.   Steal Lina Inverse’s ham sandwich and you’ll quickly wish you were never born.   Also, don’t mention she’s short, flat-chested, and has a bad temper; really it’d would be best to avoid her at all costs.   Maybe take a vacation to another city if she’s headed your way?

Lina is joined by a crew of quirky sidekicks all of which are pretty darn interesting in of themselves.   Through various circumstances the Slayers often have to save the world from total annihilation (mostly because they’d be  on  the world when the annihilation would happen).

Slayers is the first season of this totally awesome anime series which is followed by Slayers Next, Slayers Try, Slayers Revolution, and Slayers Evolution-R.   There are also some O.V.A.s where Lina runs around with different characters from the series, but I don’t recommend them.

Definitely check this series out if you haven’t seen it already!   The first three seasons are dirt cheap on Deep Discount.   Look forward to our reviews of the rest of the Slayers seasons on later podcasts!

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Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant Book CoverSkulduggery Pleasant is a Young Adult Fantasy series by Derek Landy that so far consists of the books, The Scepter of the Ancients, Playing with Fire, and The Faceless Ones.   The premise is that a twelve year old girl  named Stephanie Edgely is saved one day by a talking skeleton detective. That day she discovers that magic is in fact real.   However, unlike most people upon having their world view turned upside down her response isn’t ‘Waaaah I want my life to be normal again!’

No, her response is, ‘CAN YOU TEACH ME TO  THROW FIREBALLS WITH MY MIND?!’

Well, that’s her response after she passes out.   No one’s perfect.

Skulduggery Pleasant is one of the best book series I have ever read. I sincerely hope that it’s able to one day rise to Harry Potter level of fame.   It more than deserves it, and is a beacon of light to anyone who yearns to read about a heroine who kicks  butt and doesn’t appear to have an emo bone in her body.

This episode is meant for those who already know and love the series. We discuss and analyze the plot of the first three books and theorize on the plot of future books.   So please, come back to this episode after you have read the books.   Otherwise, you’ll be cheating yourself out of one amazing ride.

If you haven’t read the books already, you must check them out.


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