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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Journey To The Beginning Of Time (Cesta Do Pravěku)

Director – Karel Zeman – 1955 – Czechoslovakia – Cert. PG – 86m

*****

Blu-ray/DVD available from Second Run.

I’ve written about the pioneering Czech director Karel Zeman in these pages before regarding his 1961 film The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (BD/DVD, cert U, 85 mins). The latest of his works to see a release in a beautifully restored version is 1955’s Journey To The Beginning Of Time (BD/DVD, cert PG, 86 mins) in which four young boys go back in time to find a trilobite and see numerous other prehistoric beasts on the way, realised by an astonishing array of animation and special effects techniques.

The film flows very naturally and has a commendable awe of the created world. The subtitled Czech version is the one to watch first. The disc also includes the surprisingly effective US dubbed version with its different opening sequence at the American Museum Of Natural History and a different closing sequence with stock footage of volcanoes and a gratuitous voice-over about the Genesis creation myth.

Trailer here:

This capsule review originally appeared in Reform in 2019 as part of a wider Watch And Talk review roundup.

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Animation Art Books Features Live Action Movies

Harryhausen The Lost Movies

There’s nothing else quite like the filmography of stop-frame animator and special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013). A new book, Harryhausen The Lost Movies, is an undeniable treasure trove for those familiar with his films, which include such gems as Jason and the Argonauts and One Million Years B.C. and incorporate fantastical, stop-frame animated creatures and additional bravura special effects into live-action movie narratives.

Compiled by documentary film maker and author John Walsh from over 50,000 items in the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation archive, this coffee-table book sets out to provide an overview of the film maker’s oeuvre through his various unmade projects, lavishly illustrated with photographs and drawings.

I review Harryhausen The Lost Movies for All The Anime.

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Features Live Action Movies

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Director – Steven Spielberg – 1997 – US – PG – 129m

***

UK PAL laserdisc review.

Originally published on London Calling Internet.

Given the original Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) movie left out some of the best bits of a brilliant book, had a plot so full of holes it was virtually transparent and still elevated itself to the level of technically groundbreaking, cinematic achievement (not to mention making more money than any other movie ever) the quality of any sequel movie was nothing if not uncertain. Michael Crichton’s uninspired follow-up novel, with all the un-Spielberg-y rough edges removed, didn’t bode well and while audiences flocked to see the second film, most critics responded poorly to it. Their main criticism – it has a weak plot. Or scarcely a plot at all.

Basically, having escaped Jurassic Park, chaos theorist Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), his ideas this time round largely reduced to the repeated phrase “life finds a way”, journeys to the second island to bring back palaeontologist girlfriend Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), who’s there documenting the dino-wildlife for founding billionaire Hammond (Richard Attenborough) before his nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) – who has just wrested control of the InGen company from his uncle – arrives there with an army of men and an arsenal of big game hunting weapons under the command of big game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite).… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Jurassic Park

(Review originally published in Third Way, May 1993.)

Director – Steven Spielberg – 1993 – US – PG – 127m

*****

A wealthy philanthropist brings dinosaurs to life from preserved fragments of their DNA to populate his island theme park– in cinemas from 16th July 1993

“God creates dinosaurs.

God kills dinosaurs.

God creates man.

Man kills God.

Man creates dinosaurs.”

– Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), chaos theoretician.

“Dinosaurs kill man.

Women take over the world.”

– Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), palaeobotanist.

“Creation is an act of will: next time, it’ll be flawless.”

– John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), creator of Jurassic Park.

Set to become the biggest grossing movie of all time (if it hasn’t already done so by the time you read this), Steven Spielberg’s latest offering concerns rich industrialist John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) theme park built around his dream to delight children with wonders come to life. The wonders are dinosaurs, cloned from dino DNA ingested by prehistoric insects subsequently drowned and preserved in amber. For more on this aspect of the story, read co-screenwriter Michael Crichton’s original (and best-selling) novel; Spielberg, who races through small chunks of plot as quickly as he can, isn’t interested in them half as much as he is in dinosaurs.… Read the rest