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Archive for April, 2017

A classic that you probably saw when you were a kid.  The environmental message of the story is filtered through amazing animations, witty humor, and fun songs.  The voice cast is top-notch, including the beloved and sorely missed Robin Williams and the always impressive Tim Curry.  There isn’t much to complain about with this one unless you want to pick at a few minor plot holes.  Even if you’re against environmental messages in your movies, it’s still a fun adventure.  The villain is amazing, the other characters are funny and sympathetic, and there is always something beautiful to look at in the background.  Some have described this movie as corny and cheesy, but it is full of laughs and wonder.

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This documentary came out a number of years ago but is still relevant.  Although it gets a little overdramatic sometimes, it makes some excellent points about the environment and climate change.  The pacing is a little slow at first, but the visuals are gorgeous, National Geogrphic-style images of our planet.  And the story of our world is well-told and impactful.  Unfortunately, all of this adds up to a sad story, one that most people are already familiar with.  This is the sort of movie that will mostly affect only those who are already behind its goal and in support of its message.  Those who are not are unlikely to take it seriously.  I would still recommend it to them if only for the cinematography, but the people who will enjoy it the most already know its story all too well.

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More typical Rankin/Bass entertainment. It’s cute, it’s fun, it has good music. The weirdest thing about this one is its focus on religion without using any overt religious symbolism or caricatures. It’s mostly in the music, with chickens singing about Noah’s ark as the solution to the “chicken or the egg” riddle, and out-of-place single lines, like the narrator commenting that the kids worship god in their own way. Considering the fantastical nature of the story itself, it feels odd to shoehorn in such blatant preaching. There are also strange historical elements, such as their attempt to explain where holiday traditions came from, but that’s par for the course for Rankin/Bass stuff. But if you can ignore all of that, or even subscribe to it, this is a cute little Easter cartoon with an interesting plot.

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The main song will make you warm up to this show right away, but the rest of it may make your enjoyment a bit more difficult. The story is a cute tale about a somewhat irresponsible Easter rabbit and the villain, voiced by the delightful Vincent Price. Strangely, it has us hopping around to visit different holidays, which can make it tough to call this cartoon an Easter show and might also explain why fewer people have seen it. It’s another Rankin/Bass special, so that makes it cute and endearing, even if the set-up is a little unusual. The voice acting is superb, as always, and the music is fun. It’s a great show for the kids, even if it might seem odd to watch it on Easter.  But then, Rankin/Bass had a habit of combining various holiday tropes in their specials, so maybe you’re already used to that.

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First Easter Rabbit

This is one of Rankin/Bass’ lesser known works, possibly because it has Santa Claus and the North Pole making a front-and-center cameo in an Easter cartoon. But it’s as cute as any of their other works, and even better than some. Burl Ives is the always-welcome narrator/singer, and other familiar voices populate the cast list. The music is adorable, like always, and the animation is both familiar and entertaining. The story is a little different from the usual Easter bunny fare, but it steals plot points from a few other classics. Still, it’s worth the watch and very appropriate for an audience of any age. If you’re already a fan of old Rankin/Bass cartoons, this is a good one.

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Neverwhere

An old BBC miniseries, this is based on a Neil Gaiman story, which automatically predisposes me to liking it. The acting is mostly good, the characters are sympathetic and interesting, the visuals and music are compelling. The story itself is difficult to quantify and can seem a little confusing on a first viewing, but it is utterly fascinating and fun. There could have been so much to come back to for a sequel, but of course, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as good, as sequels tend to go. There was a radio program made recently as a sort of sequel/spinoff, however. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I am pleased that it focuses on one of my favorite characters. Quite simply, exploring London Below is well worth the time it takes to track down this show and watch it. There are even a few familiar faces that will please fans of BBC programs and other UK shows.

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