Film Review: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Release Date: March 11th, 1977
Directed by: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Vance Gerry, Xavier Atencio, Ken Anderson, Julius Svendsen, Ted Berman, Eric Cleworth
Based on: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Music by: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman (songs), Buddy Baker (score)
Cast: Sterling Holloway, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Paul Winchell, Howard Morris, Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner, Clint Howard, Sebastian Cabot (narrator)

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, Buena Vista Distribution, 74 Minutes

Review:

“It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” – Eeyore

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen this animated Disney classic but I loved it as a kid and I think it still plays exceptionally well.

The story is narrated by the great Sebastian Cabot and it features a bunch of small tales set in the world of Winnie the Pooh. So this is more of an anthology featuring the same core characters than it is a feature length story.

The animation is smooth and dreamlike and I still think that this is the best adaptation of the written material and the quintessential Winnie the Pooh film to introduce to kids that might like the character and his world.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also features a pretty stellar voice cast that brings these characters to life in a remarkable and memorable way. Sterling Holloway, especially, achieved legendary status with his performance, here, as he gave the world the voice and personality that we would forever associate with Pooh.

I also didn’t know until now that Clint Howard provided his voice for Roo, the little kangaroo character. That, in its own way, adds another layer of coolness to the picture.

Rating: 7.75/10

Comic Review: Star Wars: Visionaries

Published: 2005
Written by: various
Art by: various
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 134 Pages

Review:

I bought this and read it way back in 2005. Back then, I liked parts of it but other than the Darth Maul resurrection story and the General Grievous origin story, I didn’t remember anything else.

Reading this again, for the first time in over a decade and a half, I can see why only those two stories stuck with me out of this anthology of ten tales.

The stories were crafted by some of the creatives that worked on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. So with that, the results were a mixed bag and I think we’re really supposed to look at these as “what ifs”. Although, the Darth Maul story and his new look did inspire the character’s canonical return in the Clone Wars television series.

I’d consider that Darth Maul story to be the most important one featured in this because it legitimately inspired his resurrection and hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I also really enjoyed the Grievous story, which showed him on his home planet in his natural form before he had to be rebuilt as a four-armed cyborg warrior. Since reading this, originally, I’ve always wished that we’d get to see more of Grievous’ backstory in other mediums. His story and his people are pretty interesting.

Apart from that, everything else in this is a creative misfire. None of it is bad but it all just comes across as fan fiction and honestly, that’s what this whole collection of stories is. 

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: The Simon & Kirby Library: Horror!

Published: March 4th, 2014
Written by: Joe Simon
Art by: Jack Kirby

Titan Books, 320 Pages

Review:

While Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, as a creative tandem, are probably most known for their Captain America work, they also did a lot of other comics for other companies that spanned just about every genre you can think of. This is a collection of their collaborations in horror.

With that, this is my favorite collection out of the many hardcover editions of their old work that has come out.

This is a thick anthology with dozens of tales that utilize just about every type of classic monster or horror trope that you can think of.

The writing is good for the time and I always liked Simon’s style and pacing. I especially like his dialogue and how he can convey a good deal of plot and information in limited space.

More than anything else, I love this for Kirby’s art. Before superheroes became his norm, the man was known for creating some of the coolest monsters that ever graced the pages of ’40s and ’50s comics.

I get that this may be a really outdated piece of work for modern sensibilities. However, for those that actually appreciate what modern things evolved from and who have a soft spot for history, especially in pop culture, this is a really cool hardcover comic book collection to own and read.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: ‘The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard’

Well, I have reached the final book in this great looking Robert E. Howard collection by Del Ray. These Del Ray editions are my favorite Robert E. Howard collections, aesthetically, physically and in the way they’re organized and decorated with incredible art, giving the stories more life and some visual flourish that fits exceptionally well with Howard’s incredible and beautiful prose.

Since this book doesn’t focus on a specific character, a lot of the stories here are also in some of the other Del Ray volumes for Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane. Also, this shares a lot of stories with another similar book I reviewed about a year ago, The Cthulhu Stories of Robert E. Howard (see here), which tied many of Howard’s famous characters with the work of one of his best friends, horror maestro H.P. Lovecraft.

All in all, this is really f’n solid and it’s just a good collection of Howard’s more horror-centric tales.

The thing with this installment is that some of the stories are recycled from other Howard collections. However, even though I had already read much of what’s here, I was still captivated enough by it to read those stories again in an effort to really embrace this volume for what its theme is.

Honestly, more than anything else, these various Del Ray collections just showed me how easy it is to revisit and re-read Howard’s short stories.

If you want to get into the man’s work, this is one of the books that is a good starting point. That is, unless you want to jump into a specific character first like Conan, Solomon Kane or Kull.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: ‘The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 2: Grim Lands’

I found this volume out of the two Best of Robert E. Howard anthologies to be the better one. I figured they’d blow their load in the first one but they really saved some good stories for this volume and there was more diversity in these tales from Howard’s most famous characters and the different genres he dabbled in.

This had great sword and sorcery tales, some swashbuckling, horror and a whole lot of action and adventure!

This book features solid stories with Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane. Each of those characters have a hefty amount of good material to pull from, though.

And sure, my preferences are subjective but the stories here are just ones that resonate with me more.

Also, these can be found elsewhere in other collections and even free online but if you really want to hold a thick, beefy book in your hand and enjoy some of Howard’s best work, this is certainly a good place to start.

Granted, I’d start with volume one but I’m OCD like that.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: ‘The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 1: Crimson Shadows’

This is the first of the final three Robert E. Howard books I have to review in this specific collection.

These final three books are anthologies of various stories featuring various characters. With that, many of these stories were already collected in other volumes. Still, I wanted to get this entire collection because I didn’t want to miss anything and well, they look damn good on the bookshelf. 

I’d say that this is actually a good starting point for those who might be new to Robert E. Howard, as it features a good variety of stories, genres and some of Howard’s most famous characters like Conan and Solomon Kane.

Like the other books, this is thick and packed full of tales. Also, it features a lot of art that helps tell the stories with some stylish, cool visual reference.

This is a solid collection, through and through. As a long-time Howard reader, I personally prefer the character specific collections but I would’ve really loved having this when I was just starting out reading his literary work.

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Season of Storms’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

I’ve finally reached the eighth and final book in The Witcher series.

This one is an anthology of short stories, most of which happen in-between the short stories collected in the two prequel books before the main saga begins. However, the final chapter in this serves as an epilogue for the entire series.

This was my least favorite of the eight books but it’s hard to top the last few installments of the five that made up the saga.

That being said, I still liked this but if I’m being honest, a lot of it felt like it was written to beef up enough short tales to make a full book.

I liked the epilogue and seeing things come to a proper close, reflecting on everything, I, the reader had been through with Geralt, his family and his friends.

However, I felt like maybe Andrzej Sapkowski had a hard time letting go and this was a bit of him hanging on longer than he should have.

If you ever do read The Witcher saga, I think all the books are necessary for added context and to get the full experience. Plus, even if this one is my least favorite, that could honestly be me running out of gas on this series, as it’s been a really long ride. Still, Season of Storms is worth your time if you do finish everything else.

I also know that at some point, I’ll probably read all these again. I rarely do that with books, especially lengthy literary series, but The Witcher was pretty special.

Rating: 7.75/10

Book Review: ‘Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures’ by Robert E. Howard

Out of all the Robert E. Howard collections that I’ve now read and reviewed, I’d have to say that this one was my least favorite, overall.

It’s certainly not bad and I liked that this featured the first non-comic book Dark Agnes story that I ever read. However, the overall quality of these stories lacked when compared to Howard’s best work.

This is a collection of what feels like random short stories that were thrown together because there was nowhere else to put them. They don’t specifically follow any sort of unified theme.

I think a lot of this stuff was unfinished work or, at least, work that Howard moved on from before actually reworking it to be at his normal level of quality.

This was also one of the more beefy collections and with that, it did feel like it was dragging in parts. Although, the best stuff in here was still rather good.

Ultimately, if I were going to recommend a Robert E. Howard book to a new reader, it wouldn’t be this one. This is something that’s more for the completist that wants to obtain all of the legendary author’s published works.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Robert E. Howard collections.

Film Review: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Also known as: Black Mask (working title)
Release Date: May 21st, 1994 (Cannes)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avery
Music by: various
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis, Phil LaMarr, Frank Whaley, Joseph Pilato, Steve Buscemi, Kathy Griffin, Alexis Arquette, Quentin Tarantino, Julia Sweeney, Lawrence Bender

Jersey Films, A Band Apart, Miramax, 154 Minutes, 178 Minutes (original cut)

Review:

“What now? Let me tell you what now. I’ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin’ niggers, who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.” – Marsellus

Where the success of Reservoir Dogs opened the doors of Hollywood to Quentin Tarantino, it was Pulp Fiction, only his second film, that took him mainstream and made him one of the hottest, young directors of the ’90s. With that, he was able to make movies the way that he wanted with minimal interference from the studio system and he’s still considered an absolute maestro today.

From 1994 till about ten or so years ago, this was a picture I watched at least once per year. Hell, in the ’90s, I probably watched this, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown almost monthly. I had them on VHS until the tapes either snapped or got warped to shit.

However, it’s now been several years since I’ve watched this. At least five, as that’s about how long it’s been since I first started Talking Pulp under its original name, Cinespiria. Seeing this again, though, was like coming home after a really, really long absence.

Everything about this film still feels right and man, it’s aged tremendously well and makes me yearn for a time where 99 percent of the films coming out weren’t dog shit.

Pulp Fiction is also a movie that birthed its own subgenre of of crime film. Many imitators emerged and dialogue in film changed around the mid-’90s due to this picture and Reservoir Dogs’ influence. For a film to really have that sort of impact on the entire American film industry is astounding but this did and dialogue is one of those things that really drives Tarantino’s work and many directors that followed and were inspired by it, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

The film is sort of an anthology but not fully. It has multiple stories going on but there is so much overlap with common characters that I can’t see it as a true anthology. It’s also told out of sequence, which isn’t a bad thing but I do remember the older generation being confused by the story when the movie came out. But ultimately, I like that there are these multiple plot threads, all of them very good, and none of them really being the main story.

Tarantino also pulled the very best performances out of his cast. This is incredibly well acted, so much so, that it revitalized John Travolta’s crumbling career and established Samuel Jackson as a long-term mainstay in Hollywood. Hell, that guy has been in so many damn pictures since Pulp Fiction, I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to reviewing them all and I review movies, sometimes multiple, daily.

The real breakout star for me in this movie was Uma Thurman, as she was able to show how skilled of an actress she is and thus, cemented herself as one of the top leading ladies of the ’90s and beyond.

The film also did great things for Ving Rhames’ career. He had some notable roles before this but it really opened a lot of doors for him too. Had he not done this film, he might not have gotten to be a big part of the Mission: Impossible film franchise alongside Tom Cruise and later, Simon Pegg.

Pulp Fiction is just a great film and one of the best of the ’90s, hands down. For Tarantino’s work, this along with the Kill Bill films are my favorites. It’s hard to choose between them but then again, the man’s worst work is still lightyears ahead of most directors’ best. He doesn’t have a bad movie, even if some of them don’t resonate for me on the same level as Pulp Fiction.

Anyway, you’ve probably already seen this movie and love it, so I’m not stating much of what you don’t already know. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not sure what sort of rock you live under and if you have seen it and don’t love it, you need to see a veterinarian because you’re not human.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: Quentin Tarantino’s other crime films.

Book Review: ‘Bran Mak Morn: The Last King’ by Robert E. Howard

Bran Mak Morn is a Robert E. Howard character whose stories I’ve wanted to read since I first heard about him. He exists in the same universe as Conan and Kull but he’s different from the Cimmerian and Atlantean dudes that are really similar. Bran Mak Morn is actually a badass Pict that forged his own badass destiny while crushing enemies and monsters in his way.

The Picts of Robert E. Howard’s mythos aren’t the same Picts that existed on Earth in the time of our recorded history. However, Howard stories typically take place in pre-history, so you may want to connect the two.

Bran Mak Morn, like Conan and Kull, exists in a prehistoric age. His time doesn’t overlap with either of the other heroes but his people and their history are tied to both Conan and Kull.

Bran has a harder edge to him than Conan or Kull and I kind of like his temperament and personality. It’s that personality that really carries these stories.

Overall, though, I didn’t like the tales as much as the ones of Conan, Kull or Solomon Kane. However, I’ve known some of those stories for a long time and maybe nostalgia gives them a bit of an artificial boost.

I certainly don’t want to take anything away from this collection of Howard stories, as his writing is still top notch with this character and his place in the shared mythos.

If you’ve already read a lot of Howard’s other work but haven’t delved into Bran Mak Morn, this is definitely worth a look.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Robert E. Howard collections.