Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Enchanted Musical Edition

Written by Senora Bicho

Disney had been working on Mary Poppins for two years when it was put on hold waiting for final approval by the book’s author P. L. Travers. In the meantime Walt found another book, Mary's Norton's Bedknobs and Boomsticks, which featured a magical lady caring for children. He brought this to the his creative team so they could start putting together the story and songs, but Mary Poppins was then approved and Bedknobs was put on the shelf for several years. The go-ahead finally came in 1969 and it was released in 1971. While the movie was not as popular and is not as well known as Mary Poppins, it did win the Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects and is still impressive today.

It is 1940 and England is fighting World War II. Young Charlie, Carrie, and Paul are forced to move from London to a small village. Miss Price (Angela Lansbury) lives alone and is asked to take them in. The children soon discover that she is an apprentice witch. In order to keep them from telling her secret, she gives them an enchanted bedknob that when re-attached to the bedpost will take them anywhere they want. Miss Price is nearing the end of her witchcraft correspondence course when she learns that the school has been shutdown before receiving the last spell. She believes that she can use this last spell to help England win, so she talks the children into letting her use the bed to find Professor Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson), the headmaster of the school. It is from here that their adventures begin and even includes a visit to the animated Isle of Naboombu.

There are several bonus features included in the DVD collection. “This Wizards of Special Effects” explains how the special effects were done and is hosted by Jennifer Stone from Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers” explores the music in the film. Interestingly, the film’s best song, “The Beautiful Briny,” was actually written for Mary Poppins. “A Step in the Right Direction” is a reconstruction of one of the songs that was cut from the film. Several songs ended up on the cutting room floor to keep the running time under two hours. Most of the songs were put back in the 25th anniversary edition, but the picture portion for this song has never been found. There is also a recording session of “Portobello Road” by David Tomlinson.

Bedknobs and Boomsticks doesn’t have as strong of a story or soundtrack as Mary Poppins. The Enchanted Musical Edition contains an extended version of “Portobello Road” and includes several songs I had never seen before. At just a little over two hours, this extended version may be too long and boring for younger viewers. I even got bored at times.

There are several moments that contain terrible audio. At times, it is clearly obvious the voices were recorded later, not even matching the original actors in some segments. The sequences where the live-action blends with animation still looks good and the visit to Naboombu is the highlight of the movie.


Written by Pirata Hermosa

Based on a 1998 comic book by Greg Rucka, Whiteout stars Kate Beckinsale as Marshal Carrie Stetko. She’s the lone law-enforcement officer assigned to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, which is filled with scientists and from the looks of it a fraternity house.

But never fear, Marshall Stetko is here to remove a dozen or so layers of clothes, walk around in her bra and panties, and bend over nicely so the cameraman can get a good close-up of her butt. Not that I am complaining about that part or the long steamy shower she takes afterward, but it made me laugh that this was the first impression they want you to have of her. And of course, for the rest of the film she is dressed up in a giant parka with a big Russian fur hat.

While waiting for the plane to arrive, Stetko receives notice that Delfy (Columbus Short), one of the local pilots, saw what appeared to be a body lying out in the middle of nowhere. When Stetko examines the body, it sets off a flashback to her last case she worked on before coming to the station. Throughout the film she has many flashbacks that help to explain why she requested to be assigned to the world’s most desolate outpost. Along with her own personal flashbacks, the film uses a similar technique to the CSI television shows where they flashback so you can see how somebody was killed.

After finding the victim’s head caved in, a giant gash in his leg, and a pick axe wound to the chest, it’s determined that not only was it murder, but the body had been thrown out of a plane. Bringing the body back to base camp, Doc (Tom Skerritt) examines the body and they are able to identify it as one of the geologists who was working out at one of the old Russian stations. When they try to contact the station, they receive no answer and finally another of the missing geologists contacts the Marshal and asks her for help.

Once again, Delfy flies Stetko out into the cold expanse, but now it’s -65 Celsius (-85 Fahrenheit). Expecting the worse, they enter the Russian camp cautiously and find that all of the geologists have been murdered. Nobody there has been left alive, except for the ski-mask-wearing murderer who chases Stetko around the camp.

In order to get from building to building there are ropes run between them to keep travelers from getting lost or blown away during storms. To ensure their safety even more, they use carabiners clipped onto the rope when they move. It makes for a less than exciting chase scene as Stetko must stop and clip herself on while her attacker swings an axe at her. Of course, at one point she can’t unclip herself and is almost caught, but fortunately the axe wielder finds his clip stuck as well.

Barely escaping with her life, Delfy finds her unconscious and brings her to safety. Shortly after she awakens a mysterious stranger, Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht), shows up claiming to be an investigator for the United Nations. Not knowing whether or not this new person can be trusted, the three of them search the site where the geologists had last been excavating.

When they pretty much have everything figured out, they head back to camp to find the killer. Soon after they return, Delfy is stabbed and Stetko is attacked. Fortunately, the murderer is overpowered and they discover his identity. If the killer hadn’t acted, they may not have figured out who it was because they didn’t have any real suspects.

Pryce and Stetko leave the captive locked up in a room, which he manages to escape from. This leads to several more confrontations, a surprise co-conspirator, and another outdoor chase scene using ropes and carabiners.

I must admit that I went into the movie with an over-critical eye, mostly because I’ve spent a good portion of my life living in a climate where it would get as cold as -65 Fahrenheit in the winter, and I tend to be picky of Hollywood’s portrayal of cold weather. But they did an okay job of it. Whenever they were outside you could see their breath, even though it was obviously CGI. When Stetko grabs a metal door handle without gloves, her hand sticks and she ends up getting frostbite.

They also missed a few things. When it’s that cold, if you are in a vehicle or a small airplane, it’s going to be just about as cold inside as it is outside. The wind always seemed to blow directly into their face no matter what direction they turned. Stetko went from one building to another and back and the wind was blowing against her both ways. And finally, even though they were tied to the ropes the wind wasn’t blowing them over, but as soon as they were unclipped it would fling them 20 feet in the air.

I didn’t hate the film, but thought it was just okay. The characters were never really developed and I just didn’t care what happened to them. The only reason I was rooting for Steko was because she was Kate Beckinsale, and that’s not the reason you should have during any film.

The flashbacks didn’t add anything to the film and were more of a distraction. A much better movie could have been made, but it failed more through execution than because of the storyline.