Pinocchi-O-Rama #2: Pinocchio: A True Story (2021)

Let’s get the “meme boy” one over so we can kill any mystique it could possible accrue in time, by tackling one of the more recent adaptations, the Russian 2021 one that pretty much nobody would have cared about if the english dub had Paulie Shore delivery such a stock effeminate – and most importantly out of place – performance as the titular Pinocchio, especially notable in the clip you’ve seen of him talking to Gepetto of how he wants to see the world on its own, as he ready for it.

Tybald being Pinocchio’s horse, which he never had in the original story, but then again, it bound to be expected from your movie when it can’t even have the gall to call itself “THE true story”.

Just one of the many. Whatever.

I guess someone finally saw Tangled and wanted to have a funny horse character, so much it presents the movie as a story he’s telling you about, giving the basic gist of Pinocchio being carved by Geppetto, dissing the “growing nose” thing and then actually… preseting more than actually narrating the whole thing. Liar. And odd as a Jiminy Cricket replacement. Sort of. Not really.

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Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010) [REVIEW] | Castiel, M.D.

There’s a free bingo slot in the schedule, so you know what it means: randomly picking of a B-movie from my watchlist on Amazon Prime Video, discarding the ones that are not available at the moment or require another paid subscription on top of the Prime one, despite being included before.

I’m SO not paying 10 to 30 bucks so i can watch Ghoulies II.

So instead we are going with the everabundant disaster movie choice, there are enough of these made for TV ones to craft a new artificial landmass, in case need be, and this time we’re doing Stonehenge Apocalypse, from our other recurring peddler of low budget TV movies about disasters, monsters and cheesy B-movie stuff all around, Cinetel Films.

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[EXPRESSO] Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023) | King Kang

Ah yeah, the sequel to that one most people (me included, to be truthful) plain skipped, until they had to hurriedly watch it in order to follow whatever was gonna going on Quantumania.

I say this because i get the feeling many threat this series as “multiverse marmite”, a byproduct of this fucking decade long MCU plan, a lot more “skippable” than others, even if this is supposed to be the movie to kick off Phase 5, i had my expectations fairly low as expected by now, thanks to the evergrowing Marvel fatigue – itself tiresome to point out, even if it needs to be, as years of Marvel movies pile up – doesn’t help.

Anyway, this time Ant-Man and The Wasp….and basically the entire quantum scientist team get sucked into the Quantum Realm, which is quite different than before, housing a myriad of unknown species and races of humanoids, all theathrened by Kang The Conqueror, helped by his servant MODOK, and YES, the screenshots were right, he looks like he escaped from the music video of Peter Gabriel’s Steam, but then again, its a silly design, what the hell did you expect?

He’s actually kinda one of the best things about Quantumania, as the quantum world is very, VERY Star Wars-esque, the villain is decent but feels like purposefully underveloped for future MCU movies, the plot it’s so ironically tiny and feels tacked on (pun), direction is unremarkable, the cast seems to be kinda phoning it in (aside from Jonathan Majors as Kang), and action isn’t great, just incredibly average for these movies.

It’s okay, as in, it’s not boring, it has its moments but it’s just plain “mid”, fairly uninspired, and honestly the two previous Ant Man movies were better, smaller in scope but just more fun overall.

[EXPRESSO] Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2021) | Solid As They Come

Did not 100 % expect to see this one arrive in theathers here since it’s technically a 2021 release, but it has just now, and i just HAD to see it.

Based on a series of shorts of the same name by the same director, Dean Fleischer-Camp, this mix of stop-motion animation and live-action tells of a recently divorced documentary filmmaker, Dean, whom, while staying at an AirBnB, discover the titular Marcel, a one-inch high, talking, antrophomorphic seashell with one eye and “feet gloves”, living there with his granma Connie.

Fascinated, Dean starts filming the seashell’s daily routines, and when he blows up on the internet, Marcel hopes his newfound success can help him and Connie in finding the rest of his seashell community that used to live there, but was swept away after some kind of incident in the past.

Aside from the hilarity of having the Chiodo Bros (of Killers Klowns From Outer Space fame) deliver the top notch stop-motion animation for this utterly wholesome subject, it’s worth noting that – as other critics have pointed out – this movie does remind one of the japanese style of slice of life anime entertaiment, as it understands the appeal and finds the “magic” in everyday activity and routines, with the oddity here being these decorated seashells that are just alive, can talk, etc.

The plot it’s simple as expected, it does conclude properly and serves the needed purpose of tying together the various vignettes/situations the movie is composed of, but it’s not the strong suit, nor was it ever intended to be, that would be the amazing characterization, with Marcel being not just wide-eyed and charming, but also fairly relatable, quite chatty and surprisingly funny too.

Quite good one, that also cleverly keeps the runtime short for the better.

[EXPRESSO] Knock At The Cabin (2023) | Bautista Of The Apocalypse

Shyamalan is back to it after the aging beach shenanigans of Old, to tell the tale of a couple and their adopted daughter that, while going on holiday in a remote cabin in the woods, are visited by four mysterious, cultish individuals that invade their home, and then tell them they have been chosen and that the fate of humanity depends on them choosing a member of their own family to sacrifice in order to avoid the Apocalypse….

Quite the out-there premise, it’s a Shyamalan film alright, one that’s actually kinda difficult to discuss in any proper detail to avoid giving away hints of any kind about the “twist” could be, so i won’t be doing that (hence no talk about the ending, as you could assume by what i just wrote), but i will say that it’s quite intense and you never properly get to rule out definitely that these strange “home invaders” are saying, as you find yourself secondguessing what seemed like definitive proof, despite their odd behaviour and explained motives seeming truthful, so you end symphatizing with the antagonists as well with the couple and their child.

It starts out strong too, and it manages to keep the suspense all the way through, thanks to the excellent performances by the peculiarly assumbled cast of stars and the characters that make the movie stay consistent, the narrative gripping and help in make you overlook how heavy handedly are some themes approached (and some of the flashbacks feeling a bit like filler), making it all quite effective and honestly some of the best work M. Night Shyamalan has put out in recent years.

It’s perfect? No, but honestly it’s quite good and if you’ve ever liked one of the director’s movies, you’d be missing out by skipping this one.

[EXPRESSO] Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (2023) | Dynasty Gauls

We’re going into “eurocomics” territory today (AGAIN), as in, the beloved Asterix & Obelix series, which is indeed quite nostalgic for many older folks that grew up by either reading the many print adventures of the titular duo of gauls, or the many animated movies based on them, and it’s regardless a very influential comic book series, even to this day.

While i’m very familiar with the series, i can’t say as much for the many Asterix & Obelix live-action movies.

I really can’t compare how it fares against the previous ones, so keep that in mind.

This time we have the village deal with, Fu Yi, the daughter of the current Empress of China which – alongside with her trusted bodyguard – escaped to ask help in saving the Empress and stopping the schemes of an evil prince that guns for the throne.

Honestly i think the idea of having them go to China is timely (and no, this is not based on an existing story, it’s an original script), and it’s perfect for the deliberately implausibile-but-not-quite approach to history the series always had, i mean, it’s a movie where we have Ceasar use “vibrating cum ringtone” carrier pigeons, and soccer player Ibrahimovic plays a divo centhurion that has the Roman soldier sing his Queen-style knock-off anthem.

So yeah, french actors in cartoony costumes that can send a person flying into the stratosphere with a single flick can have some wuxia stuff to contend with, why not, but the characters of Asterix and Obelix are on point and the comedy it’s pretty cute.

I mean, it’s aimed at a “young audiences-family” target (as it would be), and for that i feel it’s a decent silly romp, you could far worse in terms of live-action films based on old comics.

Asterix & Obelix XXL: Romastered PS4 [REVIEW] | For Toutatis!

Oddly, this was the last of the Asterix XXL series to get the remaster treament, the first being XXL 2 in 2018, then we had the brand new XXL 3 in 2019, then the “romastered” version of the first game in 2020, the one we’re talking about today, to celebrate the release of a new Asterix & Obelix movie in theathers.

One of the live-action ones, but still, it’s new Asterix & Obelix material!

Originally developed for PS2, Gamecube and PC (with a GBA version that’s basically another game entirely) by defunct french studio Etranges Libellules and published by Atari Europe, this remaster was instead published by Microids (which pretty much took the place Infogrames had back then) and developed by the quite non-defunct (at the time of writing, anyway) french Osome Studios.

The plot sees the titular duo wander off of their little Gaul village to the ol’ boar hunt only to come back and find out Ceasar (yes, Julius Caius Ceasar from Caligula, exactly) has somehow managed to storm the village, capturing most people and sending them off to various distant ends of the Roman empire in order to have locked out sight and mind, hopefully for good.

But with the help of a fired roman spy, you find out that most of the imprisoned gauls most likely managed to get a piece of the map indicating their location, as Ceasar took the extra step – just in case – of ripping the map in pieces and scattering them in various locations.

Good enough as an excuse in terms of videogame logic to have Asterix & Obelix travel to various places like Egypt, Normandy, Greece and Helvetia, freeing their fellow gaul citizens and getting more pieces of the map along the way.

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Pinocchi-O-Rama #1: A Tree Of Palme/Palme No Ki (2002)

While it’s not completely unknown, i’d say A Tree Of Palme it’s quite obscure, definitely forgotten, overlooked and rarely discussed, despite being created, written and directed by respected anime veteran Takashi Nakamura, who also previously worked as a key animator for Nausicaa And The Valley Of The Wind, joined the acclaimed anime anthology of Robot Carnival in 1987, and just the next year would be animation director for a little movie called AKIRA.

It was also laboriosly made over the span of 6 years, and you can just tell by the cinematography that indeed A Tree Of Palme was treated as a big project that Nakamura wanted to cultivate as well as possible without compromises to his vision.

The story concerns the titular Palme, a puppet created by a man for his sickly wife, and upon her death the puppet becomes paralyzed by sorrow, until he accidentally stumbles upon a misterious woman (whom Palme mistakes for the man’s dead wife, Xian) being pursued, and she entrusts the puppet to deliver a certain special item to a sacred place called Tama.

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[EXPRESSO] The Plane (2023) | Militia Landing

There’s something to be said about a movie title that’s so incredibly generic and yet so apt it basically comes around to be perfect, as a plane it’s indeed the central focus, even when this big budget disaster b-movie about a pilot (played by Gerard Butler) trying to maintain order and make the passengers live through a ill-advised flight route (made worse as they’re forced to also take a convinct on board) over the South Chinese Sea…. well, it turns into another action movie about fighting off separatist militia thugs, because they happen to land into an island in the Philippines where there’s no real police or regular army presence, but local terrorists militia group/cartels control the place, forcing Gerard Butler to trust the convinct in getting the passengers back…

If you saw the trailer it’s exactly what you’d think it would be, that kind of unapologetic, moderately over the top (but not THAT over the top) action flick where Gerard Butler is here to save the day from generic action movie danger, the cliches overflow like blood from a goth fountain, but you could guess all of that by…. just the fact it’s a movie with Gerard Butler in it, let’s be frank.

You don’t go to see a movie like this to get out of your comfort zone, quite the opposite, as you want something that’s easy on the ol’ cerebellum, you want to snuggle with the expected stuff like the pilots keeping printed photos of their family with them and whipping them out to tempt fate, etc.

You want something predictable yet fun to kill some time, and i can’t deny The Plane it’s quite entertaining action movie junk food (but in a “good” way) all the way through, surprisingly a bit better than expected.

Decent timewaster.

Pinocchi-O-Rama: the 2022 “Pinocchio frenzy” and celebrating the 140th Anniversary of Collodi’s classic

No review today, sorry, but we’re doing something a bit special.

If you remember, last year was surprisingly full of Pinocchio adaptations, from the resurfacing of Guillermo Del Toro’s project, that cheap russian retelling/reworking with the infamous Paulie Shorie english dub (called Pinocchio – A True Story, FIY), and Disney continuining with their crusade of shitty live-action remakes of their classic animated films.

And italian audiences were also treated with a live-action Pinocchio movie in 2019, directed by acclaimed italian director Matteo Garrone (Dogman, The Tale Of Tales), and starring beloved italian actor Roberto Benigni, which already was world famous for playing the titular character in the 2002 Pinocchio movie.

If you’re like me, as in italian and pretty much hailing from Tuscany, living nearby Florence, hence more than familiar with the original book by Luigi Collodi, you’d be wondering why now, as it seemed random to see a resurgence of Pinocchio adaptations out of the blue. I mean, the book was already in the public domain in the U.S. since 1940, so i wondered if there was some anniversary relating some of the more famous adaptations…. but nothing that made sense.

As in, the original book was first published (in full, after it was published in a weekly children’s magazine starting 1881, then stopped and eventually resumed with the second part) in 1883, so the following year would mark the 140th anniversary, notable but not the kind of number that publisher choose to publicize some new edition of a popular book.

Doesn’t have quite that ring, but somehow 2022 was the “Year Of Pinocchio” regardless, so irked by this i’m gonna do “sumethin about it” and actually spotlight a noteworthy or overlooked Pinocchio adaptation or “heavily inspired by ” work each month of 2023, with special reviews, starting with a post/review at the very end of January.

There will be no precise release windows for each piece, just each a month for the entirety of 2023.