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Octerror 2020 Event and Blog Updates [October 2020]

Welcome back to the Train, friend! Here to kick off the new month is a freshly baked update post for you. Hey, I just thought of something. Now, I love food. While it wouldn’t be my career choice, I do thoroughly enjoy cooking and such. I noticed that I tend to use food and its phrases metaphorically speaking many times on the Train. In light of this, I challenge you guys on a scavenger hunt type thing to hunt down and comment on this update post all the various times I bring up food throughout my reviews. Good luck to those who… actually desire to do so! Man, off to a great start, aren’t we?

Any who, on the topic of announcements! As it is the Halloween season, the entire month is going to be a marathon of spook-filled reviews and whatnot. Of course, one episode of Out of Order where I’ll share a few of my favorite Halloween themed Tv specials, including the classics and even one or two odd picks as well. Thankfully, there’s more Thursdays in October because of the first day being, you guessed it, that one day. We’ll kick things off with a review of Joe Dante’s Matinee this Thursday; don’t miss it!

The Train is additionally nearing 100 grand passengers soon, so keep spreading the word! I have something incredibly special indeed planned for that special post, trust me on that.

Otherwise, I wish you the best on your journey, whatever that may be. Stay stellar, and g’ night!

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What is Lighttrain?

Welcome aboard friends and travellers alike to the LightTrain! I’m your conductor, but you can call me Gavin if you prefer. I am open to feedback on my features so I can improve upon it.

I have a fixation with film and cartooning, and those things combined with my great writing and a unconvincing backstory make Lighttrain! My favorite things include films and vintage adverts, a good slice of cornbread (or a pan for that matter!), people, book stores, comics, and writing for you guys! I’m a sucker for the blend of the whimsical and dark humour. I play games like X-wing and Dungeons and Dragons often, as well. For my taste in music, I adore such bands as: The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, They Might Be Giants, Journey, Death Cab for Cutie, Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, and too much more to count.

The Lighttrain isn’t all film though. We also occasionally cover video games, magazines, television and such. Every Thursday is a new post, so stay tuned! Our shows include Reviews, which are exactly what they sound like; Out of Order, a monthly series usually counting down a top five list or covering lost media; add some updates every month, short stories, art and marathons like our annual Octerror, themed review blocks, and exploitation trailer trash and sprinkle those in there as well.

Thank you for reading and maybe check out a review if you would like to. And if you choose to follow the train by punching yourself a ticket then thank you once again for supporting my work. Have a excellent rest of your day and stay stellar!

*last edited by G.h Nowak on November 13, 2020*

Catch Me If You Can Review: The True Story of a Real Fake | Lighttrain

Hello friends and welcome back to the Train; I am your host and conductor for this evening continuing our very merry espionage Christmas. Foremost, thank you all for the warm feedback from the first outing in this marathon, where I reviewed the classic comedy TV series Get Smart. This week we’ll look over the Steven Spielberg semi-sweet caper Catch Me if you Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Let’s get this show rolling!

In a biographical depiction of a real-life con artist, the tale follows the timeline of Frank Abagnale Jr.. Imitating in his father’s footsteps, he fabricates intricate replicas of checks and extorts thousands of dollars. He is a man of many faces, posing as a doctor, an airline pilot, and a lawyer, all while being pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The charismatic criminal leveraged by many ironic twists and a handful of narrow escapes is able to maintain a years-long cat and mouse game with the bewildered Feds.

This doesn’t feel like a Spielberg film in the normal regard, although there are many great touches added into the experience, especially a certain one. The performances, in particular Hanks, DiCaprio, and Christopher Walken as Frank Abagnale Sr., are astounding. Our leading role has the facade of a charming young fellow, masking his less-than-savory, fraudulent methods. Hanks provides unquestionable confidence and gusto for the officer constantly trailing the con man at every side road. And I could say we can all admit that Christopher Walken isn’t always a hard-hitter, but his job here is executed well enough to blossom into one of my favorites from the actor.

A thing I do not recommend is being turned off by the roughly 140 minute length of Catch Me if you Can. Honestly, the intimidation was oh-so palpable for me, but I was pleasantly relieved when I found myself swept up in a easygoing breeze. Not much feels stretched thin or utterly unfeasible, just steady and a nearly effortless watch. I also tend to be a sucker for opening title sequences, and this one’s was no exception. By the way, the art style of the extended titles has an appetizing story behind it featured on ‘artofthetitle.com’, which I immensely suggest to those whom wonder.

Do I have any problems with this Spielberg outing, I ask myself. Not necessarily, it’s filmed and written and directed well-done, thus a fresh inquiry comes knocking at my door; why isn’t this a so-and-so perfect film? Well, in my square mindset, there is two notes I believe in this situation. One, I’m not sure there really is a flawless motion picture. Nothing’s perfect, after all. And on the contrary, it relatively boils down to personal preference. Flaws can be transparent, but some flicks might not have the novelty of pure entertainment, scene consistency, nor all-around admirable characters. Allow me to phrase it in this sense, DiCaprio presents a marvelous performance as Abagnale, even if I don’t truly root for his role in the traditional manner. Yes, his con man personality is wrong and criminal, neither of which I respect, although the acting shines well.

In conclusion, Spielberg’s Catch Me if you Can is a lively ride with never a dull moment in it’s over two-hour runtime. The experience, thanks to the engrossing disjointed narrative and pleasurable execution, it barely takes a moment in-between the lines. Not as brilliant as, say, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, but most viewers will guaranteed have a whiz-bang time. Written with sharp wit, richly acted… folks, this is top notch stuff! Switch on and enjoy.

RATING: 8/10 “100% Raw Recommend (or your money back)”

HAVE A MERRY ESPIONAGE CHRISTMAS!

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NEXT WEEK | More Lost Media, including the infamous Dr Goldfoot and the Unused Coraline Album by They Might Be Giants, on {Out of Order}

From TOY STORY 3 to INSIDE OUT: Every Pixar Film Reviewed Vol. 3 | Lighttrain

Hello everyone! It’s a pleasure to see you here yet again for my review of every Pixar animated feature film to date. For my thoughts on the last 10 movies, here are the links to them:

Pixar Vol. 1 >> https://lighttrainreviews.com/2020/06/20/from-toy-story-to-finding-nemo-every-pixar-film-reviewed-vol-1-lighttrain/

Pixar Vol. 2 >> https://lighttrainreviews.com/2020/08/14/from-the-incredibles-to-up-every-pixar-film-reviewed-vol-2-lighttrain/

The groundbreaking animators have touched the hearts of many and connected audiences with a plethora of sympathetic characters by taking old tropes and adding a drop of their own unique spin. Although their creative genius shines in the earlier features, a sudden influx of tripe continuations throughout the 2010s have staled the studio’s influence. Diving into the duds, the masterpieces, and everything in-between, this is the third collection of Pixar films reviewed. Let’s get this show on the road!

EDITOR’S NOTE: My editing program to touch upon the featured drawing isn’t exactly functional at the moment, but when you check in next week I’m sure the drawing will be in much better quality. And now, on with the show!

Toy Story 3 (2010)

“Hello?” “You ain’t ever getting out of here… “

11 years following Toy Story 2, Woody and the toys have become distraught due to Andy moving on to his college years, no longer a jovial kid fidgeting around his room with playthings. They land up in a kindergarten daycare in the hopes of finding a bright new horizon being played with forever by young children. They soon come to the attention that the daycare toys, including the pink teddy bear Lotso, perhaps have something more sinister going on under wraps…

For the first time on this blog so far, I may have a controversial opinion on a film I’ve reviewed. Before we dive into this anomaly, remember that I wouldn’t label Toy Story 3 as a so-called “bad” flick, I just have varying thoughts on the whole thing that definitely deviate from the nearly universal consensus. I believe a factor to my review have to relate with the bar being raised do high; once more, with a catalog this prime, even the great efforts fall in the middle. And personally, this Woody and Buzz adventure is just meagerly decent.

But in other notions, the writing and direction is honestly quite well-done. This is a peculiar case when the paths the premise drove down and the tone draw my criticism, yet I can admit they handled it the best they could. I’m not sure. Perhaps my least favorite of the Toy Story tetralogy, but nonetheless entertaining, unexpectedly grim, and emotionally vivid.

If I were to shift down the gold nuggets present, I absolutely adore the evolution of the previous two’s themes, such as one’s owner and how to spend their time as a toy. To be loved my dozens? To have a special individual? To be on display? It’s such a welcome wonder how a series with this kind of plot has removed the fat and rendered something so brilliant with the dullest of potential. The characters continue to charm, and the Great Escape inspired plan is wildly fun to watch play out. My seething problems that arise are Spanish Buzz, which clones the same pattern as Toy Story 2‘s sub-plot (and is also kind of a odd idea in the first place), as well as the stark tonal strike away from the prior installments. Lotso’s hate-filled rant at the dump and the furnace sequence feel so pitch coffee black in contrast… will kids actually be enjoying themselves too?

In summary, my rating on Toy Story 3 is going to be a mixed bundle. There are some fantastic elements sprinkled throughout, but again, was a prison escape buildup the best pitch they had? Not bad per say… an extremely scrambled mindset on this one.

RATING: 5.5/10

Cars 2 (2011)

What an odd trailer. And yes Mater, or course the pope-mobile is Catholic

The Cars franchise, echoing what I said in volume two, is generally regarded lower from other Pixar offerings. A couple of folks I know, including the passenger Vic, are fans of the first automobile animation. But, what do those people think of the sequel, Cars 2? In the film which spoofs James Bond storylines (the Espionage Christmas strikes again next Thursday), the country-slang spewing tow truck sidekick Mater is lassoed into the smoke and mirrors underworld of British Intelligence and car-imploding emitters while his friend, speed demon superstar Lightning McQueen, competes in a worldwide racing event. Will Mater prove his innocence and save McQueen from the despicable threat in motion?

This movie is a Shakespearean tragedy. Up until this point, Pixar had an unprecedented decade-long streak of critical acclaim. A Bug’s Life and Cars have been slightly less glowing, but the reception still displayed warmth. This was the poison that brought a dissatisfying drop of signature quality; according to a handful of my sources, the Pixar team behind the scenes also took a toll on their morale due to the newfound lukewarm feedback. But even despite all that, I may one of the few “critics” who doesn’t despise Cars 2.

In fact, I might not even genuinely regard myself as a critic. I prefer more of a “film romantic” sort of image. I love film through and through, and I frankly don’t see the commonplace art of criticism.

Heh, I’m not even paying much attention to the flick at hand, am I? So ricocheting back to that, obviously the animators are remarkably gifted, as proved through their previous work in the studio. All the colors and background design is well-done, seeping with professionalism. The opening action scene on the buoyed oil rig with Finn McMissile, the lead British secret agent of the film, is pretty ambient and entertaining, even if the next scene cuts to Radiator Springs. What a way to bait my interest then drown it, Pixar.

A handful of scenes in Cars 2 aren’t all that terrible, though the promotion of Mater from sidekick to protagonist as well as the klunky script drag the film down due to the heavy baggage. This is one rusty van that is worthy of the junkyard.

RATING: 4/10

Brave (2012)

That one gag about the Lord’s war hero son actually did manage a chuckle…

Set in the Scottish highlands, Merida is the unruly and objectionable daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. She has been arranged to be wed to one of three princes, but her passionate desire not to do so churns the kingdom into disarray. Fleeing home and using her archery talents and arcana for aid, Merida must take a stand against her own family as well as the elements to resolve an equally beastly occurrence.

There is also a center-stage emotional turn of events from the second-third of the way through, but for viewers who haven’t seen Brave, I’ll keep the drapes over. Now, Merida is arguably the most unlikeable main character in all the Pixar catalog. She’s always making a fuss about everything, her sour rebellion against her parents, and the fact that she does something so unspeakably antagonistic that it completely drains all the credibility the “hero” could have had in the first place. And yes, it literally is unspeakable since it ties in with the midway plot twist. But if you’ve watched this movie, you’ll understand what I’m jabbing at.

Honestly, it isn’t just Merida. Her bitter personality was so repugnant that it spread like a blight onto the other side characters! None of them are nearly as bad, but they range fro either being grading, make irrational choices, or deliver truly unpleasant humor. The word for those kinds of characters are “comic reliefs” in theory, but in Brave, they just end up being “comic woe”. Or “comic misery”, whatever sounds better in your ears.

What’s the real comedy of errors is that it feels as if Pixar and Disney exchanged animated features that year, Brave and Wreck-it-Ralph. Think about it, the offering here has the tone of a sub par Disney princess flick the studio has been milking for a rough century, and Wreck-it-Ralph presents the question ‘what if video games had feelings?’, which is a interchangeable phrase applied to every Pixar film. So what does that make Brave‘s term… ‘what if redheaded Scots had feelings?’

Not awful, but lacking in every way I can imagine. The smug demeanor displayed from the writers, holding their so-called clever subversion of a tired trope, doesn’t add any new spritz or sham to make it feel earned. Throw in cliched plot points, an abysmal bunt at laughs, and an out of place ensemble and wa-la, Brave is created. And as the flick seems to get weaker the more I dwell upon it, it’s probably best I end the review here.

RATING: 4/10

Don’t go away, reviews of Monsters University and Inside Out will return after these brief messages…

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Thank you so much for 100 subscribers to the Train! I never even dreamed of getting this far, and I give a kudos to every single passenger who have come back to read my thoughts on movies and television each week. I merely started the blog, not really for any fame or fortune or recognition, but so that I could have a creative outlet to express my love for media. I would honestly be happy if all I ever got was 20-something loyal passengers in my planned 5 year runtime (yes, five years… this is only my second season!). So from my heart to yours, thank you once more. Stay stellar out there in this crazy world, and safe for that manner as well.

All the best, G.h Nowak

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I’m glad you’re still here, now back to the show!

Monsters University (2013)

“I love college. “

Another sequel? Oh, apologies, a prequel! *sigh* To be fair, Monsters University isn’t actually all that it makes itself out to be. A precursor to the classic Monsters, Inc., it shows wannabe “scarer” Mike Wazowski meeting his future close companion James “Sully” Sullivan in college. Despite their eventual friendship their beginnings would be less than so, first as budding accomplices transitioning to a bitter rivalry. Will Mike’s ambition land him in a dark place? Or could Sully’s outgoing nature get the duo expelled?

I couldn’t agree more with Keith Phipp’s review of this film which states; “The perfect movie for 8 year-olds who are also college students”. Jokes aside, a lot of folks seem to share the same idea that this attempt is easily not one of Pixar’s worst and packs a punch during the final 15 minutes or so, which I suppose is true, but it’s additionally disappointing and unengaging during the rest of the film. The climax offers great tension and atmosphere, but it simply doesn’t provide Monsters University worth enough value for viewer’s to switch on.

The newly introduced characters are kind of there, you know. Not bad, but predictable and not used to effect the plot. That position is mainly steered by Mike and Sully, and the emotional arc that eclipses is nice and all. The animation is… alright, by this stage I don’t think it’s practical to point out the gorgeous animation for each and every feature of theirs, unless it peaks their boundaries or is vital to my criticisms (both will happen in the future). But for the pantheon from here out, remember that the beautiful maestro of moving sketches is a given. Also, my only strong feelings towards something in Monsters University is the new college band style theme, which has a great melody even if it pales against the original jazz tempo present in Monsters, Inc.

In the metaphorical sense, this sequel, er, prequel, whatever it is, is lacking that snazzy and fast-paced wonder of the first. Instead it is filtered with a tune, while still good, has a distinctly different flavor but is more run-of-the-mill. So yeah, the theme music that highlights the duo speaks for the respective film’s creativity and beat. Screwy, ain’t it?

RATING: 5/10

Inside Out (2015)

This one felt the most proper for a Pixar review marathon, with the clips and all

Here we are folks, the final film of the night. This was the third outing for director Pete Doctor, who is a key player for the studio thanks to his works Monsters, Inc. and Up. Does this one live up? In lieu with Doctor’s recurring intrigue with abstract imagination, Inside Out details the main emotions operating a girl named Riley. Ever feel happy? Of course, I love a good slice of pie. Down in the dumps? I’m melancholy whenever somebody betrays me. Frightened? Death is my worst nightmare. I could go on. However, what would take place after Joy is snatched off and Sadness goes nutty? If you assume that Fear, Disgust and Anger don’t handle the dilemma very well, you would be correct.

This production is a masterclass in evoking connection, memory, and obviously emotion. I think my greatest gripe is that the story is very thinly structured, and unresolved points in the premise are as frequent as potholes on an average road. Maybe skimming the problematic issue is earned; since the sentiment is prime rather than practicality I understand fully why not a ton of things need to make perfect sense, or how there are multiple conveniences sprinkled about. For all I know though, the structure is the weakest link by a landslide.

The casting on the other hand… that’s something special. Only lingering in my mind because of her performance in Parks and Recreation as Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler was an excellent choice for the sunny embodiment of Joy. Phyllis Smith, portraying Sadness, and Mindy Kaling as Disgust both come off the backs of Parks and Recreation‘s sister show The Office and do solid jobs. Bill Hader is a favorite of mine, and he nails the living reincarnation of Fear, anxious and worried on the constant. Anger, played marvelously by Lewis Black, steals every scene he’s in by creating such a hilarious persona for the fiery midget. To be honest, most of the jokes do stick the daring acrobatic stunt, with an unforgettable gag about a gum advert that leaves me in shreds on every rewatch.

Creatively delectable, but not in an overwhelming way. The acute ideas are executed with the finesse of a real auteur. A chunk of the drama is somewhat forced in my opinion and the plot as related is far from strong, but Inside Out is heartfelt and funny and bewitching to an extent where those critiques are vaporized. I will revisit my favorite Pixar feature of the 2010’s again very soon.

RATING: 7/10


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NEXT THURSDAY | Espionage Christmas will Return!

New Year’s Hiatus and Blog Updates for 2021

Hey, how’s it going? Welcome back to the Train; I am your conductor as usual. Well, we have a new year ahead of us, 2021. And, despite all the pitfalls and rough times and shutdowns regarding this historical era, I can see a glimmer at the end of the tunnel. This up and coming year will definitely have it’s struggles, but I’m positive things will stitch up and we could have a sense of normalcy eventually. With that mentioned, I’m here to provide you folks with information on my projects mapped out for 2021. Let’s get cracking!

First and foremost, today would be a day where I upload a brand new review or episode of our series Out of Order. However, this is not so. This Thursday and the next will both be vacant of the common weekly content. The train is just taking a two-week period away from blogging simply to have air to breathe and to recollect my clutter and focus a bit more on additional aspects of my life. We’ll return with a massive bundle of five Pixar films reviewed as part of our ongoing series on January 14.

As you may have heard, A Very Merry Espionage Christmas has already been kicked off with a retrospective review of Get Smart… what you might not have known are the three following episodes in the marathon. I mean, why celebrate the Christmas spirit for 25 days when we can spread it out throughout this difficult winter instead! The next volume will be released in January while the final two will bookend February. Stay tuned for more of that spy-fi action, and don’t forget to check out the Get Smart review from the week prior if you haven’t already (in such case, thank you!).

What will become of Out of Order? It will continue once a month like it has been circulating for a while now, but starting in May the show is taking a short hiatus. It’s unfortunate, but all television programs similarly need to have a break every now and then. The 14 total episodes will become season 1. Luckily, Out of Order has been renewed for a second season as well, set to premiere sometime in August. A ranking of each and every Mandalorian episode, which clocks in at 16 entirely, and a surprise April Fool’s special are among the last couple in the first season to look forward to.

My novel, Volt Vulture, is a recurring name for longtime members of the train. But, how has it been going? I want to be honest here with you guys, progress on it has come to a halt. I’m trying my best to get back to working on it, now that the holidays have passed. I’ll make you guys a surefire promise; I will without a doubt complete writing through it sometime this next year. Publishing is a whole other puzzle to solve on its own, but I will hold the project’s finalization as a high priority.

And that’s all for this evening; tell me in the comments more of what you want to see from me, as well. Whether it be more reviews, more Top 5s, lost media… always feel free to suggest ideas. I can’t wait to spend another 365 more days of posts with you guys! Enjoy your New Year’s and, please, wear a face mask and respect each other. Aloha! Over and out.

See you again in two weeks!

The History of Get Smart: Mel Brooks’ Original Spy Satire | Lighttrain

Heya, Chief! I’m Agent 23 here on this Christmas Eve show tonight. Regarding the whereabouts of the Conductor, I’m afraid the details must be kept under wraps. I really enjoy segments from Get Smart. Would you believe that back in the day I enlisted for CONTROL, the secret agency Maxwell Smart operates in? Didn’t actually exist, surprisingly. If you’re only familiar with the Steve Carrell film adaption, don’t worry, because I’m here to fill in for the Conductor and look over the fruitful history of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry’s Get Smart. Who knows, maybe this writing project will earn me a raise in the organization. Well, what am I stalling for?

Starring Don Adams as the slapstick meld of James Bond and Inspector Clousea, Get Smart featured the titular Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, going on undercover missions with his partner, the gorgeous Agent 99, most of the time to infiltrate the dastardly schemes planted by the KAOS society. The intro displays the oddball over-the-topness of many popular espionage programmes that lavished in the first half of the 60s. The phone booth entrance to a subterranean narrow hallway, leading agent Smart through an unnecessary excess of top secret sliding doors. Couldn’t they just erect one giant metal security wall rather than a multitude of openings, though? That’s how it’s done where I’m at. Amateur mistake.

One of the series’s sole creators was Mel Brooks… ringing any bells? Before his work on Get Smart he wrote alongside Woody Allen and Neil Simon on Sid Caesar’s sketch comedy Your Show of Shows. And then, following the show’s success he slammed the momentum towards Tinsel town, including the sugar-coated witzeg risk The Producers in 1967 and later the controversial mockery of the politicos, the Wacos, and the Warner Bros. in 1974’s Blazing Saddles. According to those features with both riffs on Nazis and African-Americans, he pushes in some naturally no-holds-barred comedy and stereotyping if it will earn laughs. Does Get Smart follow in those footsteps? To an extent, namely the Chinese tong arranged by “the Claw” and the often comic and heavily exaggerated accents of the villainous antagonists. But, the spoof aspect of this show definitely bounces back in the rest of Brooks’ works, with parodies of aforementioned Westerns, black and white Universal monster flicks, and space operas all continuing the tradition.

With that out of the way, I personally believe that the episodes have aged like a wine. It’s been 55 years since the initial premiere in ’65 and a majority of the jokes are golden even today. Although watching a lengthy string of episodes in succession can blossom into a bit too much for my tastes, the snack-sized portions are a testament to the writers and actors who did wonders with the concept. Perhaps the glue that practically bound Get Smart together as a respectable comedic force was the acting chops of Don Adams as Maxwell Smart. His stand-up gigs prior proved himself ideal for the role as the resourceful yet absurdly clumsy high-ranking talent within CONTROL. Adams provided the character with the elements, perfecting his timing and physical humour along the ride. Agent 99’s undercurrent romantic chemistry between her and Smart and the patient friendliness glowing off the Chief also combine two equally strong flavours of rapport to the brilliance. But in the end, the amusing lines sneered from the villains turn the tables to inspire myself to root for them. So conniving, but oh so charming as well!

This retrospective remembrance of Get Smart will return after these messages…

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When all else fails, there was always creative set design and fictional gadgets that influence a smile here and there. And years before the government could access your email, agents on covert affairs would hide in foot lockers, mailboxes, and washing machines. The “Cone of Silence” , which was of course invented by the intellectual Professor Cone. Easily the most infamous of these was the hidden telephone on the bottom of Smart’s shoe. In fact, the television block Nick at Nite actually offered a real replica of the widget in the 90s, albeit expensively priced. Imagine that!

In conclusion, Get Smart was a very consistent and, should I say, smart series. It’s legacy, while not dimmed, has certainly remained under the public knowledge. Three films – the self-explanatory theatrical misfire The Nude Bomb, the TV reintroduction Get Smart, Again, and the fairly recent 2008 cash-grab of the same title – haven’t helped much leveraging this remarkable classic piece of television. If you’re late to the party and are able to track down the dvd box sets for the first season, I’d recommend giving it a whirl. It’s a ripe highlight of Brooks’ career and well worth watching any given cloudy Sunday day.

Happy birthday, Get Smart. Moreover, I’ve got a promotion to collect with the old article trick… over and out.

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Trailer Trash Special Vol. 2… From the Grindhouse With Love | [Out of Order]

Hello! How’s it rolling? I’m your conductor on this Winter’s episode of Out of Order, here to take quite the gamble. “What’s that, a gamble?” you may be wondering on the other side of the screen. On a very early installment of the show I watched and laughed at a couple of trailers for some rather foul features. Although the episode apparently underperformed, it has always remained a personal favorite idea for an episode. So yeah, at long last it returns. Striking yet again are the moldy oldies, the out of the ordinary, and a few one-hit wonders, here’s volume 2 of trailer trash. Let’s get this show on the road!

Grab a couple of snacks at our concession stand… It’s Intermission time!

Theatre of Blood (1973)

Starring the great Vincent Price, Theatre of Blood is a masterfully and darkly comic tale of a stage performer who, though believed dead, begins killing off the 8 critics who mocked his acting prior. *gulp*, hopefully nobody hunts me down for disliking their film, geez! The movie is also partially inspired by another grotesque comedy starring Price called The Abominable Dr. Phibes. And when I mean inspired, I instead sort of mean that it is an utter duplicate of Dr. Phibes‘ premise and style. No, I’m not even kidding myself.

Superbman (1981)

Man, the new sequel for Man of Steel certainly looks… interesting. Created as a clear spoof of the Richard Donner Superman installments from 1978 and 1980, Superbman was a remarkably odd creation that sounds like a weak joke someone in your friend circle would through out. The project is pretty hard to come across; to be honest, this was the only available trailer footage that I could implement here. I’m not sure I would be drawn to view this parody, primarily as it feels too similar to the actual Superman series, give or take the updated, more silly character names and a cream pie battle. Yes, really. Who knows, perhaps it’s even better than Superman IV!

Hold That Ghost (1941)

Okay, the film actually is free from ghosts – but there is still nothing more scarier than haunted mansions, crooked mobsters, stolen cash, and the Andrews Sisters! Among one of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s strongest pair-ups in a motion picture, Hold That Ghost was ignited off or the duo’s previous series successes Buck Privates and In the Navy. They were such a catastrophic hit with audiences that at the time about 4 individual Abbott and Costello films played in the cinemas. Wow, that’s bonkers!

The Apple (1980)

Fueled by lots of hallucinogens, The Apple was an incredibly odd blend of Christian themes, Illuminati conspiracy, and disco. The rock musical is set in the near future world of 1994 where people jazzercise to no bound and wear fashion probably made out of tin foil. It’s so bonkers and out of the rocker that it has in fact amassed some fans over the years. That, to me, proves that if you think you’re weird, there’s a whole other league of folks that are on a different level! Tell me in the comments, would you pay the price of admission to see The Apple? A relatively perfect example of a midnight movie, but a severely dated and rotten fruit indeed.

Star Crash (1979)

Ah jeez, not again. This exploitation miracle is majorly a rip-off of the superior Star Wars feature, a smash surprise on release in 1977. But with Christmas lights and babes in bikinis. I mean, okay. Though the searing question is this – how on Earth did Star Wars hit big, yet not Starcrash? It’s an outrage! In all honesty here, Starcrash is a fantastic description on how passion when creating a motion picture will always make it better than one with the foundation being to collect loads of money. Even some really terrible flicks such as Birdemic or Plan 9 From Outer Space you can give the benefit of the doubt that at least the directors had a vision and had a blast making them. Here? I don’t see it. Sorry, Starcrash.

Foodfight! (2012)

If you are a cinema lover like myself, you may have heard of this certain film. Foodfight! is notoriously recognized and loathed by the critic community, often titled the worst animated feature of all time. This trailer isn’t the finished product though, as you may have thought. To the crew’s dismay, hard drives of footage were stolen in a work of espionage. Many theorists have believed that Foodfight!‘s director was behind the act, and that he thought that his creation would flop. Instead of the animators simply quitting from the dead film like the director would think, they pressed on and had to rush out entirely new rigs and tests and movements. In a way, I do feel bad for the crew if that’s what took place. It’s like making the same movie twice! And the critical dumpster fire was the icing on top of this mess of a cake. To be fair, this early version doesn’t cause my eyes to melt off, so there’s something. Maybe the plodding story and nonsensical dialogue would have remained, though the animation could have been generally lively and passable. At least we could have gotten even the slightest sliver out of it!

This trainwreck is such a deep and frustrating topic to converse about, so much so that perhaps it can be explored further in a future episode of Out of Order. If you guys are interested in a lost media post like that, please share your encouragement. And if you do want to plunge into the final feature’s visuals online elsewhere you can go right ahead after this post. But do be warned! The trailer is somewhat symbolic too, because just like Chester the Cheetah, the director sped out of the doomed production soon as he found the opportunity.

Casino Royale (1967)

A movie marketed as “too much for one James Bond” with arguably too many James Bonds, Casino Royale was among many of the classic series’s rip-offs rooted from the psychedelic 60s. So sadly, no, not the Daniel Craig installment. The film holds some promise, particularly in the decent ensemble cast; Peter Sellers, a pre-success Woody Allen, David Niven, and a bevy of gorgeous women all grace the screen. They even roped in Orson Welles himself as the secondary villain, how about that! Even considering its high box office numbers, the 5 directors, almost a dozen screenwriters, bagpipe machine guns, false advertising and flying saucers are enough to imply the sloppy legacy. Also, isn’t it wonderful how possibly the best and the worst James Bond films both have the exact same title? Oh the irony.

I’m glad you’re still tuning in! We’ll return after these messages…

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THURSDAY, CHRISTMAS EVE

“A Very Espionage Christmas” Begins with a Review of the Classic Spy Spoof Get Smart


Pull up a Couch and Get Yourself Comfortable… We now Return!

Defenders of Space (1984)

I’m sorry but I didn’t get the name of the movie; could you repeat it again? All jokes aside, Defenders of Space was selected for this list at random. I had a friend scroll through “cult film trailers” and pick one based off the thumbnail and title. Guess this is what he got. But this trailer really is all over the place. There is a duel between two Transformers or something. A innocent robot being shot at. Lasers, as well? Then these two anime kids have to uncover the Secret of the Pheonix? And then the booming narration dissolves into action choreography. Not sure what’s going on there, but alright. My largest brain-scratch here has been unsung; is it ripping off Transformers, Hanna-Barbara, or Star Wars again? Place your bets.

Who’s Minding the Mint? (1967)

Let’s take a look at this kooky comedy directed by the one and only Howard Morris. Sound familiar? Chances are you’ve come across him in one form or another. He had tidbit roles in tens of hundreds of movies and television shows including Jerry Lewis’ masterpiece The Nutty Professor and High Anxiety, and in addition did vocal performances in a medley of cartoons like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Having coming off of the celebrated sketch comedy Your Show of Shows he directed a couple of features, with Who’s Minding the Mint easily being his best. Heck, it may even be one of the funnier It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-esque endeavors. Add in a magnificent score by Lalo Schrifin and a interesting look into the US Mint, this is among my favorite underlooked screwball fests.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

The last trailer! In lieu of the holidays I knew something had to be tossed in here. Funny enough, instantly my mind knew which cruddy Christmas junk would be used. Can I also come out from behind the buzz surrounding this flick and say that the title is lying to you. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians sounds like a remarkable idea for a B-movie! It is as if there was a movie called John F. Kennedy Destroys the Trix Rabbit… I’d pay good money to be entertained by something that ridiculous. But rather the extraterrestrials are jealous because Kris Kringle doesn’t deliver them presents, so they kidnap him. Does Santa escape and crown himself king of Mars and become a dictator, maybe enslaving the Martian race like elves? No, he spreads some transparent holiday spirit to the aliens. Very original, don’t you think.

Good riddance, that was a hot bundle of trailers. Enough trash to stuff one evening, for sure. Thank you bunches for reading this episode! I hope to see you back again next week, and if you haven’t joined our subscription as of yet it would mean a lot. Only 8 to go until 100; you could be in the first major milestone if you wish! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a stellar New Year to you. Peace out!


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The Macabre Side of Fantasy: An Underestimated Technique | Lighttrain

Grab a potion brew and don your boots as we venture into the woods tonight. Hello and welcome to the Train, where we explore the realms of film. My name is Gavin, but you would know me best as the conductor. Now, fetch a freshly made cup of cocoa on this cold winter’s night while I talk about a most adventurous genre of Fantasy. Yes, the wizards, the dragons, the daring swordfights, and all the mystical wonder that accompanies it. Some well-realized series in this aura are The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. But here on the tracks, some of you may recall our deviation from more mainstream media. Instead we enjoy the strange projects, ones that never saw the light of day, or others whom have been forgotten in the nostalgia flush. So, in that regard, what about darker fantasies? Oh yes, the bedtime tales that are infused with some realistic or twisted storytelling is what we’ll be looking back on here this evening. What makes them so interesting, how they accomplish it, and ways to recreate this rare appetizer. Let’s get this show on the road!

How Can the Genre be Done Right?

That’s an excellent question. Is it comparable to a certain style that must be mastered to get correct? Or could it be like comedy, in which the quality is somewhat subjective varying from person to person. First, let me develop my particular speculations on the ever-growing genre. I see it as very misunderstood through the big picture, but when it’s funneled down into the details it can be remarkably complex. I could hastily slash this conversation off with a simple explanation; the dark fantasy genre is grim and somber. But am I? No, I have passengers I’m incredibly grateful for hearing my thoughts! I can’t simply put out terrible content or answers. Thus, we shall delve further into the rabbit hole here. Now we should probably advance forward by defining fantasy. As the name implies, it in fact contains the fantastic like magic, monsters, unorthodox lands, and a well-knit battle against the forces of good and evil. However, dark could define a wide meaning of explanations. In my mindset, a dark fantasy has one key deviation away from normal fairy tales. The clean cut separation of morality is scrubbed indefinitely until it becomes fuzzy. This paves a pathway for either villains to be fleshed out a smidgen or our formerly daring and courageous do-gooder to become spearheaded with flaws and insecurities. Division between the opposites rather absorbs into a whole ensemble of struggling characters sprinkled with their own goals, allies, rivals, and demons.

As with nearly anything you may come across, a couple of indecent scums must additionally be pointed out to those who dip their toes in the genre. One, don’t go so far as to create unlikable characters, because then the audience will easily drop all interest towards the plot. Always notice the difference between flaws and pure despicable nature. Second, shoehorned shock and depravity doesn’t make a dark fantasy. Writing something that’s so outrageously violent or explicit should not be an assumed must for every piece of fiction in this category. With that out of our way, let’s look at two films in this peculiar subgenre to explore if they qualify as a dark fantasy, and what does or doesn’t click within the established cognition.

Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984)

The film follows Billy Petzler, who is gifted a “mogwai” named Gizmo for Christmas. Unaware of three very important guidelines, Gizmo begins spawning scaly, devious imps. With a trusty soak of water, they multiply by the hundreds and instigate violence and mayhem in the quiet town. I know, there isn’t any majestic realms here, but stick with me. I feel that Gremlins has all the workings of a modern dark fantasy classic. Well, does it work?

I’m not sure. The flick does have very clear good and even more recognizable evil to boot. In this convoluted case, I would eventually determine that the tone is 100 percent of the dark but the construction isn’t. Gremlins did have a good start in the fast lane by having Billy’s father and a shopkeeper’s son making an exchange for Gizmo against the owner’s will, a point that could make the father seem conniving. But the rest of the road doesn’t continue the cycle, apparently so. The movie is by no means a bad one, it’s actually among my favorites, though it is not really worthy of the title we’re discussing. Still, the undertones of American consumerism and the amusingly malicious nature under the wraps of a holiday coating is inches close to absolute perfection. Not a dark fantasy for those scouring for such entertainment, but a recommended Christmas treat that will delightfully subvert your expectations. Maybe I’ll talk more about this movie in a more in-depth individual review on a later date…

RATING: 8/10 IS IT DARK FANTASY?: Not Quite

Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)

From the director of Nightmare Before Christmas despite everyone claiming it was Tim Burton comes Coraline. This was the creator’s big return to the cinema screen following the mammoth failure that was Monkeybone, and it was also a beginning for other creative minds. Enter the Oregon based stop-motion studio Laika, which was overflowing with imagineers prepared to aid in a new masterpiece. Based off a children’s novella, the story takes root at the Pink Palace Apartments, where the young Coraline Jones is down on her last legs. Away from home and neglected by her workaholic parents, she soon discovers an alternate world. Everything appears to be lively, bright, and whimsical in contrast to reality’s gloom, even if the replacement of human eyes for buttons sows in a skeptical urge to leave the merriment behind. With each of her escalating visits to her other family, things begin to take a terrifying turn.

Now this is how you do it! What I love so immensely in Coraline is the characters and imagery. Coraline isn’t exactly a role model, being as she’s brash and sometimes rude to those around her, especially Wybie in their first scene together. But, her bravery in the face of unspeakable horror is admirable. In fact, the whole cast of larger-than-life personalities are usually morally grey or struggle with their deeds as well. And yes, I can already hear the remarks daring to me that the Beldum is quite obviously the villain, and you’re correct on that regard. Meanwhile in the setting, the uniquely sculpted world is beyond stellar. Admittedly, the folks over at Laika don’t receive enough praise for the long nights and artistic patience working within this medium. They can convey the creepy atmosphere you need, and the ever-present whimsy is always supporting. And I’m general, Coraline is a delectable and rather magnificent journey into the peculiar depths of Selick’s imagination; a welcome addition to his creative catalog.

RATING: 9/10 IS IT DARK FANTASY?: Yes


Here’s to wrapping up this venture! What’s your favorite dark fantasy media? Thanks for 90 subscribers to the Train and I hope you visit again next week. Later.

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NEXT THURSDAY | From the Grindhouse With Love…

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Review: and the Heart of Blockbuster Cinema | Lighttrain

Back in April of 2019, which I can’t believe has been so distant from now, I sat in a cinema with an enthusiastic crowd to watch Avengers: Endgame. Of course, taking into consideration the fanbase the Marvel films have accumulated over the last decade, filmgoers cheered and shared their equal satisfaction. I may not have been absorbed to the following, but I enjoyed the blockbuster bursts anyhow. And even, the contagious energy and the entertainment found in the feature all in all still makes me sit upon the nature of these Summer Blockbusters. More importantly, what elements can uplift one? I lately took a whip at Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a flick I had dwindled to the sidelines for many years. Then, my mindset was altered completely.

Well, what’s the premise of the film? In San Dimas, California, two slang-slinging friends Bill Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan aspire to rock out in their own band. However, they flunk remarkably in school, and it may take nothing short of a pure miracle for them to excel in an upcoming history report. If they fail, Bill would be sent off to a military service in Alaska, severing their friendship. Luckily for the two, folks from the future are equally concerned, and send a man named Rufus to the past to aid Bill and Ted with the report. With a time machine coming in dandy, they travel through the past, abducting a group of historical figures such as Socrates, Joan of Arc, and Abraham Lincoln for some useful information. Can the two dull fellows succeed in their task, or will it end up absolutely bogus?

We’ll return more on the subject of a blockbuster gold later. Additionally stay tuned until the review’s end for updates on this coming month. Trust me, I have quite exciting news!

The 1980s sure were a magnificent and frankly very odd decade to be apart of. Any kid from that era would remember playing on their Intellivision or Colecovision, listening to Prince, and repeated viewings of Beastmaster on HBO and Nick at Nite. Those were the times alright! And pushing aside the hilariously flashy fashion and dominant mullets, the decade paved way for many iconic products, commercials, innovations, shows, and film. I mean, the Chicken McNuggets were introduced in ’81 for Pete’s sake! And highlighting the film aspect, one of these freshly baked classics was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, released in ’89, nearing the 1990s close behind.

The movie prevails where some other time travel plots can; not focusing on complicated quantum mechanics of space-time continuums. Although there still remains complex but enjoyable films of this kind, notably the 80s own birth child Back to the Future and Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, I admire this more laid back and straightforward approach. The pace and story actually line up with the boneheaded yet likeable main leads rather nicely. Everything flows by, jumping place to place, dilemma to another, but not feeling disconnected. This was my primary complaint towards Gilliam’s own Monty Python and The Holy Grail, in that it felt more like a medley of loosely woven together sketches instead of a storyline. Bill and Ted almost stumble into that valley, though they stand tall above it overall.

Maybe the film also might have botched up if it weren’t for the amusing performances, particularly Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin, despite the latter’s limited appearances. Winter and Reeves share a charmingly dynamic pair with each other so well. It’s hard to describe what binds this whole experience together so strongly. Whatever the glue is, this duo was “most excellent” indeed. Assisted by the amusing script, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure definitely ranks high on the fun-o-meter, as long as you’re brain is switched off for the runtime!

As a boomerang richochets back to its former coming, I now segway into my deliberation on blockbusters. So, honest to myself, these big blowouts aren’t popular to me for their exquisite quality and attention to details. They’ve always seemed to be raw time spenders with meager substance beyond that. But since watching this picture, I think the answer may be “relatability” . The audience should have something to root for and connect with. Not action, romance, explosions, big budgets, nor hollow paper cutout stereotypes. This response can be utterly unimpressive. A universally acknowledged consensus is very unlikely. But for me, that’s my head canon.

Yes, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an unabashed absurdist folly, and an inspired one with that. In a world that is growing bleaker day by day, Bill and Ted’s buoyant smiles are like a beacon of hope. And I believe we should all learn a little bit more from these optimistic dopers. So, always remember to be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes.

RATING: 7/10 RECOMMENDATION RATING: 10/10

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UPDATES FOR DECEMBER

Hey ho again! On this month’s episode of Out of Order, we’ll take a second gamble and watch some retro B-movie trailers and commercials! From the good, the bad, and the Christmas goodies, stop by on Thursday, December 17 for the holiday hullabaloo. We’re also kicking off our “Very Merry Espionage Christmas” , a quad-post marathon spread out across December, January, and February reviewing the most obscure of spy fiction. Who says Christmas lasts one month? Join us for our marathon, which kicks off with a top secret review on Christmas Eve. However, with every good news there is also some not-so-great news. The Lighttrain will be having a short break; therefore, no normal reviews on Thursday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve – or Thursday, January 7. We’ll return with the next installment of the Espionage Christmas followed by Every Pixar Film Reviewed volume 3 beginning January 14.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, and I wish you the best for the Holidays up ahead. Thank you for 87 subscribers to the blog; spread the word and let’s get this show to a hundred!

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NEXT THURSDAY | The Dark Side of Fantasy (In-depth Analysis of Coraline, Gremlins, and how it works)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: A Turkey Day Retrospective | Lighttrain

In the not too distant future (next Sunday A.D to be exact), there was a guy named Gavin, not too different from you or me. He conducted aboard the Lighttrain tracks, chatting about movie knacks. He had a good time sharing on his thoughts, then Turkey Day came so he had to review a single name… Mystery Science Theater 3000 of course! For this Thanksgiving season, allow me to talk about MST3K, as the fans dub it, and remember my standout episodes and my memories of such. Without further ado, let’s get this turkey stuffed!

The series was the love child of Joel Hodgson, a former entertainer who created the show for the newly formed Comedy Channel. It starred Joel basically playing as himself in personality; a dry witted, soft spoken janitor whom is shot up into the cosmos and forced by a mad scientist and wannabe world dominator to endure a bevy of cheesy sci-fi films. To keep him company as well as his sanity, Joel creates robot companions, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, to riff on each terrible flick with him.

One thing that drew me into the show in the first place was its concept. I love how creative and interesting it is on the surface, escalating depending on how absolutely bonkers the features they watch are. And you better believe they’re insane! The films they sit through and riff on are fascinating on their own level as well; some are entertainingly bizarre, some are hilariously low budget, and others are just plain rotten. You never know what you are going to get, nor whether the plot is going to go. It’s fun to laugh along with your own friends and imagine how these movies, which you may only vision in your dreams, be real.

The format is simple, but it works. A silhouette of Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow lounging in cinema chairs with their backs to the viewers and eyes on the backdropped rolling film. The jokes they crack are faster than a round of bullets, coming one after the other every 4 or 5 seconds. Since MST3K aired primarily throughout the 90s, some gags can be seen as dated, but often the deliveries from the characters still keep it funny. And even if a joke doesn’t land a belly laugh, maybe the next one will. They don’t drag forward with a dead remark, they simply move on to what they have next. I honestly don’t think the format of MST3K earns enough praise, because this ease ranks high with ageless brilliance. I know, a show about a janitor and two robots who make fun of drive-in trash? To others, that idea could sound stupid or odd, but the first class writing, timing, and enthusiasm serves (Servos, anyone?) as an amusing treat.

From Chinese spies, a strange goat-man, disembodied heads, lemon zesters of destruction, and Steves, the crew has certainly seen a wide range of stinkers. But which episode remain favorites? A classic installment, as well as the highest rated on IMDB, is Manos: The Hands of Fate, a movie that has been regarded as one of the worst. For a first time viewer of MST3K, this is a high quality candidate in my eyes. Some additional staples of the series include The Castle of Fu Manchu, Santa Clause Conquers the Martians, and Operation Double 007. I would love to hear about your favorite episodes of the show in the comments section after the post!

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Even though my praises thread deep in this retrospective look, there is a bit I feel I should mention. Not a problem at all, but a, uh… preference, I suppose. Since they watch the full flick in each episode, as shown in Manos they can be rather lengthy. So the novelty of “riffing at terrible shlockbusters” wears off after the first hour at best. And MST3K isn’t very bingable in the slightest; the hundreds of episodes, the sheer volume of each one, the overwhelming mind-numbing contents of them as well. It makes me shudder at the thought of back-to-back viewings! But when I do pop on an episode every once in a while I’m pleasantly entertained.

In conclusion, MST3K has left a big impact on me as a whole. If it weren’t for Joel and the robot’s screenings, I may have never developed my adoration and intrigue of B-movie at all. It ranks as one of my absolute favorites in TV land as of today; a fond relic of Saturday evenings and tearing terrible flicks to shreds with my own companies. It has a top notch apartment in my heart, where it will continue to live for years to come. Need I say more?

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10 ~ RECOMMENDATION: 8/10

Thank you bunches for tuning in, hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, have some cornbread for me if possible, and I’ll catch you again in December. Over and out.

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NEXT WEEK | Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Review… Party On, Dudes!

Moonrise Kingdom/Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Wes Anderson Duel Review | Lighttrain

Hi. Is that Wes Anderson-y enough? How should I start… I weigh less than a slice of bread. There we go! I’m your conductor, thank you bunches for stopping by. Since we are living in this gorgeous autumn weather, I was in the mood for some Wes Anderson films. To be honest, his style could be a genre all on its own. So, I re-watched two of favorites: his stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox, adapted in part by the namesake Roald Dahl children’s book, and Moonrise Kingdom, a delightful little farce of two starstruck runaway preteens who turn their island community on its head. Which do I prefer? Well, by Jiminy Cricket let’s get this show rolling!

Moonrise Kingdom Review

Set entirely on a fictional island called New Penzance, it follows two 12-year olds pen pals who feel as if they don’t fit into their community and families. So they put into motion a plan to run away from their respective caretakers to the lush wilderness. Meanwhile, the local police officer instigates a collective medley of the runaways’ acquaintances to recover them.

I watched the film for the first time and kept my expectations in a decent tier, having seen Fantastic Mr. Fox and others prior. My expectations were matched, and I found myself enjoying myself throughout. The sense of humour in the dialogue and the tone is very warm and, in an unorthodox fashion, charming. It sort of reminded me of the Peanuts holiday specials in how they’re both whimsically witty, but one cannot simply decipher why so. While Anderson’s earlier picture The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou earned a reputation for almost having a ton of Anderson’s dry deadpan that it became overpowering, like a bit too much of a good seasoning. Thankfully, since Fantastic Mr. Fox the auteur has been back on the right track.

If you’ve seen at least two of this guy’s films, you would agree with me that the cinematography, which is the shots and framing of the picture, is stunning. I mean, wow! Again, Anderson has a remarkably neat and different approach to film by articulating every shot to look like a drawing in a great chapter book. Or a painting, for that matter. The multiple shades of greens and yellows radiate that true botanical garden essence.

With what Anderson accomplishes with his visual magnificence, does he confiscate for characters? Anyone with a detail-attentive mind may realise that Moonrise Kingdom could fall apart very easily. If the child performers can’t pull off a convincing act, disaster could strike. So for those reasons, I highly appreciate the actors of Sam, Suzy, and even the Khaki scouts as well. Bill Murray, a staple of Wes Anderson’s experiments, is hilarious in many scenes, Jason Schwartzman does fabulously with his potential despite the little screen time he has, and Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray are all notable.

I really had a fun time with Moonrise Kingdom; it isn’t big or robust, nor flashy and pandering. Just a solid slice of Anderson’s pie. The flavours and color is worth at least one viewing. Honestly, go watch it already!

RATING: 10/10 “Lighttrain Reel of Excellence”


Fantastic Mr. Fox Review

Mr. Fox has long since left behind his debauchery and squab stealing lifestyle. Or, so we may think. After moving his family right nearby a trio of crooked farmers, the fat Boggis, the short Bunce, and the lean, mean Bean, Mr. Fox reverts back to his conniving ways and burglarises all three. In retaliation, the farmers destroy their home as well as cause strains between the foxes’ relationships. Can Mr. Fox overcome the farmers, and maybe even make things right?

As with most Roald Dahl stories, Fantastic Mr. Fox manages to entertain all age groups in the audience, from children to adults. And unlike most of Dahl’s movie adaptations which stray from his signature dry sense of humor and dark, mature themes, Anderson succeeds in this front. In many ways, both creative maestros have a lot in common. Yeah okay, the movies is definitely a smidge more lighthearted than Dahl’s books, but there’s still a fair serving of smoking, “cussing” , and a bunch of touches that will only click with older audiences.

The film is also unique when it boils down to the artistry and the characters. It’s a shame how many shiny, celebrity voiced computer animated family fests are dumped out today. Disney and Pixar release some good stuff now and then, and Blue Sky reached the stars on one occasion with the surprisingly amusing Peanuts Movie. However, the use of traditional and rough claymation is astounding in a way CGI never could be for this particular project. To me, the style and stop motion to hand in hand rather well. The characters are additionally one of my favorite parts of the adaptation. My personal favorites were cousin Kristofferson, a likeable and talented character that has a name I would genuinely give to a kid of my own. If I were to have one, that is! Another favorite is Wally Wolodarsky as the mild-mannered Kylie, an opossum who tags along with Mr. Fox as his sort of right hand man.

There is something off with the pacing at times though; it’s a lot of short fragments and abrupt in’s and out’s, instead of a clear linear path. And for all its praises, it’s understandable that a minority of folks might not get Anderson’s trademarks and whatnot. If you’re looking for a movie to wholly quiet younglings, not going to do the trick chief. That’s just my inner critic though, and many will pleasantly overlook the bruises.

In a word, Fantastic Mr. Fox is fantastic. Tributing Roald Dahl’s genius and the lost art form of crude stop motion masterpieces, this film can appeal to anybody and everybody. Similarly to the Fall tones of oranges and yellows, the experience will leave you feeling warm and homey. It’s perplexing, beautiful, funny, smart, and adorable all at once. We need more films like Fantastic Mr. Fox, ones that can teach us how to be a carefree kid again, if only for a time.

RATING: 10/10 “Lighttrain Reel of Excellence”

Well, what do you know! Two 10/10 flicks. I wish you a very merry Thanksgiving and thank you so much once again for reading along this evening. What’s your favorite Wes Anderson movie? Please like, share, comment, or subscribe if you enjoyed our post and as always, stay stellar.

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THANKSGIVING DAY | A Retro Remembrance of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Forgotten Film Franchises: Fu Manchu, Tarzan, and Dick Tracy | Lighttrain

Hey, how’s it rolling? Welcome to this episode of Out of Order, the show where we count films down in a non-linear fashion. In the modern era, it seems Hollywood is always seeking out opportunities to create a cinematic universe of connected movies, jumping off the immense popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. So although big-budget franchises are common nowadays, there are still some film series that have been forgotten about. For this list, I’m looking for franchises with at least 4 installments that most people wouldn’t know of. Let’s get this train on the road!

RKO’s Dick Tracy (4 Films from 1945-1947)

This narrowly made it onto the list, since there was a Dick Tracy film made in 1990 which has reinstated the noir detective to a more recognizable status. This series has gone through many phases, believe me, ranging from radio serials to comic strips. But I’m focusing specifically on the RKO Pictures series from the 1940s. The most recognizable of the series was titled Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, starring horror icon Boris Karloff. This was a very obscure installment where Karloff played a “corpse-like” crook whom has escaped from jail. Morgan Conway was the tough sleuth for the first two, Dick Tracy and Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, while Ralph Byrd starred in Dick Tracy’s Dilemma and Gruesome. It’s rather difficult to catch this quadruple collection of pulpy detective farces, but if you can catch Gruesome then give it a watch and see two pop culture figures collide.

Universal’s Dark Universe (3 Films from 2014 – 2020 as of now)

Odd, huh? How a franchise so recent has already fallen from the public attention. I mean, if it was ever in the public’s interest at all. The idea behind the Dark Universe was that it would be a franchise of connected films similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with classic monsters instead of superheroes. The only three movies that have sprouted from the 6 year run were the mixed Dracula Untold, Tom Cruise featuring in a remake of The Mummy, and the recent reimagining of The Invisible Man. Well, where are the others? And why are each of these films released so far apart? Following the at best lukewarm reception to Dracula and Mummy, the studio reconsidered whether or not to move forward with the franchise. They are instead making individual remakes with further standalone continuations, similar to The Invisible Man, which fared much better critically.

So as of right now, the Dark Universe dream seems to have been left for dead by Universal. It’s kind of shocking how much of a failure this endeavor was. They had tons of features in the works, even including an adaption of the novelty hit “Monster Mash” . I don’t necessarily desire to see these scrapped projects, but I wonder what would have been if Dracula Untold and The Mummy were stronger.

Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan and Jungle Jim (12 Tarzan Films from 1932 – 1948, 13 Jungle Jim Films from 1948 – 1954)

What’s this? A combo pack? Just to clarify, both franchises star water polo athlete Johnny Weissmuller in the leading role and have to do with adventuring throughout the lush green studio backlot forests. First off, some of you likely are familiar with the character of Tarzan, a chiseled human man raised since a young age by gorillas in the amazon. But did you know about his 13 additional older films? I’m assuming not. On the other hand, we have the far less popular Jim. I mean, when up against a vine swinging howling gorilla man named Tarzan, little ol’ Jim the wildlife hunter isn’t going to strike it rich. Sorry Jim, maybe next time. Yeah, it’s unlikely you’ll ever run into a Jungle Jim fan. Overall, I haven’t seen a single one of these movies myself, but I am impressed by Mr. Weissmuller’s dedication. Granted, these collective 25 pictures were pretty much all of his filmogrophy credits, but it’s still a great feat nonetheless. Oh for heaven’s sake, I’m afraid Out of Order is glitching ou-

We’ll return with more forgotten franchises after these brief Messages

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THANKSGIVING DAY, NOVEMBER 26

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 RETROSPECTIVE FOR TURKEY DAY!! DON’T MISS IT.


We now return to Out of Order on the Lighttrain.

Carry On (31 Films from 1958 – 1978, 1992)

The Carry On movies have a clean cut reason for their misfortunate unpopularity; they originated from the United Kingdom, thus it hasn’t really crossed over. I had never even heard of this series before I did some research for this post, and the franchise is rather unique. Instead of the characters returning for every flick, a medley of British comics returned throughout, each time taking on a different role from the one prior. That sounds like a fun practice for an actor, though I can’t be sure since I’m not a professional. Maybe it was torture. In fact, according to my sources, it kind of was. Most of the recurring ensemble members were paid very little for a feature. In his journal, star Kenneth Williams picked bones out of the series for minor peeves, though he always said to have had a fondness for the franchise itself. On top of that, critics often panned the films one after the other, though a few such as Carry On Up the Kyber, Carry On Camping, and Carry On Spying received decent amounts of praise. And although the critics didn’t find too much to enjoy, audiences kept coming back for more of the returning quick-paced humor, hence why Carry On, well, carried on for so long.

Speaking of critics being incredibly wee with their compliments, I found that I prefer to be a “film enthusiast” rather than a “film critic”. Critics I find cannot simply have a good time at the movies since their job is literally to scour for problems. Not to say critics can’t simply find a film entertaining, but audiences are far easier to satisfy in this way. In that manner, I love films through and through, as you may have guessed. I still notice stains on a movie, but I don’t like to emphasize them. I hope that all makes some sense. Anyways, on to our final franchise of the evening!

Christopher Lee’s Fu Manchu (5 Films from 1965 – 1969)

Ah my good friend the exploitation trailer, back at it again!

This is it folks, the reason I wanted to make this whole list in the first place. Based off a collection of novels Sax Rohmer, the series stars the infamous Fu Manchu, a fiendish Chinese tyrant whom implements criminal syndicates and torture methods to take control of the world. Side note: why is it that villains want to rule the while world? That’s a lot of responsibility. I mean, what do they even plan to do? The plot is absurd, so why am I even questioning anything. From what I understand, the character has stirred some racial controversy in the past, impacting the series in a inconvenient manner. Through the thick and the thin of this dictator’s career, his highs are worth running mentions on the Train. Come on, the guy’s classic thin, long, and droopy moustache has in fact been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. And you know how we’re doing a MST3K review for Turkey Day, right? Well, that show actually did an episode with The Castle of Fu Manchu. And all because some author’s Ouija board spelt “Chinaman” to him.

No, I’m not kidding. I’m also not joking that Nicolas Cage preformed a cameo as Fu Manchu in 2007. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, but I have evidence supporting my claim, you know.

His most iconic role. But what is he saying?

~ Transmission Disconnected ~

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NEXT THURSDAY | A Wes Anderson Double Feature!