Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review : The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass : Based on the well known novel 'Nothern Lights' by acclaimed writer Philip Pullman. The story is set in a parallel world, young Lyra Belacqua journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organisation.

Now it's interesting to mention that this film is based off a book, with a different title and yet has no recollection or reference to the writer's efforts at all. I mean for instance, the writer Philip Pullman isn't even acknowledged on the advertising for this film. If you look at posters you don't see 'based on the best selling novel by Philip Pullman' anywhere. I see that as being deceitful

The film is flooded with an all star cast and wondrous production values to add to the hollywood propriety of it in order to entice a viewer into watching it, i.e. making the film income a profit to make up for the big budget spendings. It's how all the films are done. Sometimes, the films income in the movie box office is a larger income and sometimes a movie makes less. Golden Compass's budget was around $180 million and made a profit of £7,243, 984 in it's opening weekend in the UK, and turned a gross profit of $70,083,519 in the US. So it did about average in terms of bringing the money it.

If I had to sum up this film in one word it's 'commercial' this film is just 'commercial' and plays on the strengths of Hollywood glamouring a book up and taking the words of a page and alternating the story in the script, and putting the words from script to screen. There isn't much story in this film at all. Not really. It was incredibly boring and detracted my interest because I didn't feel challenged watching this.

I clearly identify that this film looks good on the screen, has an all star cast of good actors. But it doesn't excite me. 

I do understand that this is supposed to be an action packed fantasy based on the first book in Philip Pullman's best-selling trilogy but I actually wonder what effect this might have to young children who see it and enjoy it, not being to aware of things such as production values and CGI Effects and just being amazed by what they are seeing on screen. That to me is what's interesting how everyone seems to have different views.

For instance in this you have  Animals and Children are in constant peril, and young kids will be upset by the threatened separation between the animals (daemons) and their humans. There are also many tense, violent scenes (chases; fierce, growling animals; shooting), as well as a fairly graphic battle between two enormous polar bears (one knocks the other's jaw off). 

And there's a major clash between children and adult troops that includes guns, arrows, swords, clubs, chains, hooks, and explosions. The main character is a 12-year-old girl who rises a rebellion against evil forces to save her friends. 

The film is heavy on plot. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, however with so much to cover, the editing between scenes can be quick, choppy and the digital effects uneven. The most wonderful and cunning "effect" in the film is Lyra. A 12-year-old girl surrounded by digitized creatures, spires, and sailing ships, Lyra is a singular delight for me when viewing this and probably one of few good things I liked about the film, at once curious and stubborn, thoughtful and impetuous. Though she faces a series of daunting challenges that take her far from home, she remains brave, moral-minded, and smart. A girl much like the little girls who might be watching her on screen.

Overall, I would probably leave this one up to you. Is it worth watching? I won't stop you if you want to give this film a try. Just don't go in with high expectations, because you may be disappointed. 6/10.

NEXT: Horrible Bosses


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review : The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel : A film about culture and life story of how a man came to buying the property of a Hotel in Budapest, once run by an extraordinary man 'Gustave H'. The film allows the audience to experience the fascinating adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Wes Anderson invites you to stay at 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' another quirky, irreverent by from mr Anderson, but includes more violence than his previous films. There’s some gory violence; one character is a killer who attacks his prey with glee, stabbing them, cutting off their fingers. All of it’s cartoonish and exaggerated but still, expect blood. A brief scene depicting a woman performing a sex act on a man flits across the screen so quickly you can almost miss it, but it’s there. There’s lots of swearing too, words too rude to repeat but if necessary it has a reason for being there. 

Why watch this? I think as a viewer. It's a real treat from start to finish. You are not going to get a film as diverse and mildly eccentrically wild as this for a very long time. Yet within the boundaries that the film sets itself in it always remains to stay sophisticated, from the scenery, from the props, from everyone. The cast are excellent, Ralph Fiennes as a prime example is amazing in this film and an inspired choice. 

What's the story? The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the times of the first and second world wars taking place, and Zero Moustafa, who starts off as being the common lobby boy and blossoms to become Gustave's most trusted friend. 

The story itself involves many adventurous thrills which make the drama diverse : the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune; all against the back drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

Here's a preview 

It's a very enjoyable compelling drama because The Grand Budapest Hotel is complied with so much whimsy and beauty and point of view wrapped up in a comparatively running time of 100 minutes. 

It's a witty, irreverent film, and just when you think you've regained your footing after yet another bizarre, hilarious and ultimately charming plot twist, it trips you up again. I tend to like films which are clever in that way and it shows that the Director Wes Anderson creates such specifically visual, detailed, delightful visions in his story telling, and yet somehow leaves the viewer with plenty to think about afterwards as well. 

While the film brings you delight and makes you laugh, it's also destabilizing you with resolutions that are quite complex to comprehend. It'll make you think about friendship and loyalty, and transport you to a world that is not quite accurate as what you think you see. It's not all what it seems both strange and familiar. 7/10

NEXT TIME : The Golden Compass.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Review : Disney's Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo: Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

I am very fond of the flying elephant with the big ears, mainly because the story is about low self confidence, and having the confidence in yourself to achieve your full potential, and sometimes you need help a long the way in order to enable you to ensure that you realise that.

So the story goes that Mrs Jumbo, is expecting a baby and the baby arrives but the baby had huge ears, and he is mocked by these horrible gossiping elephants who are up their own arses and practically disown Dumbo as being an elephant. They see him as a clown.

The main problem with Dumbo, is of course his generous ears. It's not natural to see an elephant with ears the size of Dumbo's. And during the time period in which the film is set anything that is different or out of the ordinary, is mocked. But Dumbo's Mother can't stand by and watch others laugh at her baby, so she lashes out and is considered to be 'a dangerous elephant' and is put in solitary confinement.

The Ring Master of the circus, who is the villain of the piece, is a very cruel man. He see's the bigger picture and see's what the public see, and is an entertainer, but what makes his character so evil is the fact that he does come across as quite selfish, and really mean. He one of those undermined Disney villains who was there from the early days but isn't so much a big star villain who stands out like : 'Cruella De Vil', 'Jafar' or 'Scar' for example. He's just ordinary.

What amazes me about Dumbo is that it is the shortest hour of your life. You watch this film and you think that this short and sweet story about a shy little circus elephant with supersized ears is considered controversial, because of its depiction of the black crows. On the one hand, critics claim the crows who were in fact all voiced by African-American actors, are animated minstrels, whereas Disney apologists say the crows are the only likeable characters besides Dumbo, his mother, and Timothy the mouse. In my eyes the crows in Dumbo can come across as racist remarks at the time, which in the time of the 1940's is just shrugged off an ignored and passed off as being sensible. 

If you're okay with the representation of the crows, there are still a couple of disturbing scenes, particularly when Mrs. Jumbo is captured after defending Dumbo. Plus, Dumbo and Timothy accidentally getting drunk and hallucinate the "Pink Elephants on Parade" segment, that's alternately trippy, creepy, and cute. Overall, the message is that we should celebrate and not mock each other's differences.

So it's a sweet film, and I admire it a lot.  9/10!

NEXT: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Friday, 26 December 2014

Review : Horrid Henry - The Movie

Horrid Henry finds himself doing things he never ever thought he could do, and more. When is school is in danger of shutting down, he gangs up with Moody Margaret and the Purple Hand Gang to come up with a plan to save the school!

Now, overall public consensus who have seen this, will convey that this film isn't very good. I would be inclined to agree with that. I do like Horrid Henry. I think Francesca Simon does a terrific job with the books and those books are brought to life as wonderful audio plays, read by Miranda Richardson. But really? A live action film, with real actors? Really? I actually had objection to watch this because I couldn't bare watching it, hating it and having my books ruined. 

So you have the main character; in this instance it's Henry, a prankster and trouble making boy who hates school, has ambitions and dreams of becoming a rock star, and revels in stinky, scatological "boy humor." Families who are averse to fart and booger jokes I would advise that you'd want to stand clear from approaching this, but otherwise the only thing objectionable is the number of insults that are hurled in the film.

My main bed bug with the film is just how diabolically cringy it is, I mean you just look at it and don't believe what you're watching, it's so over the top, and tries to stick to the books as much as possible and there are some nice sensitive and humorous moments in the film which compliment the books well, but most of the time, it's cringe worthy and very easy viewing. I don't feel challenged by watching it. One thing I will say is the child actor 'Theo Stevenson' who played Henry was really good. I thought he was well cast and he has the devilishness and the mischief about him which matches Henry in the books.

While wildly popular in Great Britain, Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry books haven't found the same kind of success across the pond. Most American audiences, therefore, won't have the built-in familiarity that they have with, say, the Ramona or Wimpy Kid stories. Maybe it's better that way. Perhaps if Henry was a character dear to someone's heart, the feature film would deserve one less down a mark.
Henry is your standard Dennis the Menace problematic class clown. But Stevenson's portrayal of Henry is so over the top as is every aspect of this production that it seems better suited for a TV special than a full-length film. 
Poor Richard E Grant, a good actor presented with a part that my own dad could of played. It's one thing getting par'd off by a bunch of children, and another to do all the rest of the ridiculous comical stuff he had to do. It's just painful to watch.
In short, the film may be good in connecting with child audiences, but for my tastes this film just isn't designed for me. It's a ridiculous waste of money which could of been used creating something much more worth while. 3/10!
NEXT: Disney's Dumbo.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Review : Gnomeo & Juliet

Gnomeo & Juliet : Shakespeare's love story told in an imaginative, new and diverse way. Providing a festive way of interpreting the story and this time... there is a happily ever after.

There are many ways to tell a Shakespeare story, and there have been many different versions of Shakespeare's plays because there all really good; and I suppose if you create characters and stories that are so memorable there is a desire to see more of it, in many different ways. There is only so much you can do, only so many times you can imitate a shakespeare play and again, and again, and again.

In this version, the neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet are at war, but the gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, are in love.

I think there is something about the comedic side of this which make it all the more appealing, to me anyway. Overall this Shakespeare-inspired animated feature film, contains some of the same themes as the original Romeo and Juliet story, minus most of the bloodshed and the tragic ending. Although there's still serious enmity between the Montague and the Capulet gnomes, the violence isn't as prominent, which detracts from the grittiness of the play and makes the drama of Romeo & Juliet intense. 

For a family film, I can understand by not having such heavy violence and replacing that with comedy and toning that down slightly, really does make the film itself better for the audience because it can be enjoyed more and people can laugh a lot.  A couple of gnomes do get smashed, or maimed, but most of the destruction is to the gardens themselves amongst. Language is limited to insults and slang like "shut up," "codger," and "daft." And this film might be good in terms of preparing younger audiences, young children going into their teens who enjoy the story may be ready for setting them up for the real play or more serious Shakespeare adaptations.

Here is a trailer.

I will be honest at first, the premise of this story sounds a bit off-putting; Shakespeare's much-beloved tragedy with CGI gnomes? Really, the title is very clever and it was advertised very well. however, of course, that's what purists must of thought when they first heard about West Side Story, and that's regarded as being one of the most enjoyable musicals ever. So going into Gnomeo and Juliet with an open mind, I think you will be surprised in terms of how well you receive it, and you may find this adaptation quite original and amusing and equally a tribute to producer Elton John as it is to Shakespeare. 
John's best songs including "Bennie and the Jets," "I'm Still Standing," "Crocodile Rock," and "Your Song" are all incorporated in the score, and the talented composer even recorded two songs especially for the soundtrack, 'Hello Hello' is a brilliant song and Lady Gaga contributes to it very well. The end result is a familiar accompaniment to an even more familiar tale much like a Baz Luhrmann production for children and parents.
Grown-ups familiar with Shakespeare's works will have fun noting all of the movie's Bard references like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Movers, Tempest Teapots, and a line from Macbeth, to name just a few and watching the tragic tale transform into a comedy performed by some of Britain's finest actors and comedians. 
So overly the film does have that 'Shakespeare' feel to it and it intakes you in, to see a newer version of the well loved story on screen. 7/10
NEXT: Horrid Henry - The Movie.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review : The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (2006)

The Chronicles of Narnia : The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe - Four evacuated war children travel through a wardrobe to the magical land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it from the clutches of an evil witch who has covered the land in ice and snow, and with the guidance of a mystical lion they will help restore peace to Narnia.

My only caution element to people who watch this film, is not to get too caught up in the drama of the fantasy. Overall viewing it, the film has some sad, scary, and violent scenes for it's PG film. The film begins with a realisation of the horror of the time in which it's set, the time where bombing during the Blitz in London was going on. The children are separated from their mother, which could upset some younger audience members. There are other sad scenes where animals die; including principle characters. So there are some intense moments of upset and worry to watch out for, because sometime the film goes too deep into drawing out the sentimental values of it's audience that it crosses a line a bit and goes over the top.

For instance A witch yells at a young boy, chains him in prison, and stabs him. She also abuses her servant, stabs her enemies with a sword that turns them to stone, martyrs the lion, and leads troops into battle. The children learn to fight, then engage in hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting; one sister shoots an enemy with an arrow. There is a pitched battle with deaths and grave injuries. While not overt, the film includes graphic violence and fan-sank which has nothing to do with the books, also contains christian imagery and allegorical story lines.

Here's a clip.

Long directed by Shrek's Andrew Adamson, Narnia makes a case for love among siblings by granting them a common enemy to fight against, however what can four children who are not heroes do against a White witch?. I think I would say the scariest scene for me personally, and I'm sure for many others who view this as well comes at the start: a night sky is filled with smoke and warplanes. As the Germans bomb London during WWII, the Pevensie children scramble to the backyard bomb shelter. designates moral positions in part by associating certain animals and mythical creatures with them. 
The battle scene at the end is very much like Lord of the Rings franchise, assembled according to beauty and horridness: sleek and elegant animals like cheetahs and horses and centaurs form Aslan's crew; ogres, dwarves, and minotaurs constitute The White Witches' fearsome assembly. None of the christian elements are obvious and a viewer can watch the film without realising any of this, as apposed to say reading the book.

The final battle returns the children to the film's opening, so everything runs full circle and they end up back at the Professor's house. All works out well at the end, and of course it leaves off the possibility of 'will there be anymore Narnia stories'? It is decidedly so. There have been two more preceding this one, and they're both terrible. As for this, I'll give it a 6/10, It's okay, but not anything special.
NEXT: Gnomeo & Juliet.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Review : Paddington

PADDINGTON A young English boy befriends a talking bear he finds at a London train station. A live-action feature film based on the series of popular children's books by Michael Bond.

I love Paddington. I will put that forward as a bold statement when I talk  about the film, I do love Paddington. I loved the books growing up as a child, and so to bring the books from paper to screen, and to have such a good cast of actors involved in it. The temptation to see this was too great, it was treat. I watched a trailer for it and just thought 'this looks delightful, I really fancy seeing this'. What a joy it was to view it.

For a cinematic experience, Paddington is nothing extraordinary or special, but what it is is a film which unites families as they watch it on the big screen and get caught in the adventure behind it, how a bear who is brought to London to cause accidents becomes involved in a family and a new life. he's sleeping in the attic of the Brown's house. Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) who isn't so kean on having a bear in the house is very neglectant to having Paddington around, a bear from darkest Puru who likes to eat Marmalade sandwiches.

Millicent wants to kill and stuff the bear, because a long time a go, her father Montgomery Clyde went to darkest Puru as part of an expeditionary trip for the geographer's guild to look into this group of bears and he didn't bring back a specimen because he thought it would be inhuman to bring back a specimen with him, so his membership gets revoked and he opens up a petting zoo and since then his daughter vows revenge and hence fourth wishes to capture the bear, kill him and stuff him and put him on display at the museum.

For a family film, its really funny. I always find that good jokes and light humour go a long way when your doing a new film on such a big scale which is meant to appeal to a universal audience. The challenge behind it is wanting to create a story which attracts the attention of the audience and keeping them interested throughout, and light-heartedness and comedy seems to be the best way of going about it I think, it's your safest bet, and Paddington gets unto some extraordinary adventures in London, and causes accidents, cataphoric accidents though quite unintentionally, he is a good bear but can't help but run into trouble.

Ben Wishaw as Paddington is absolutely adorable. Wishaw provides a distinctive quality to our loveable bear, he's polite, he's charming, he's charismatic and above all he is entertaining. As a title character, it makes a lot of sense that Paddington is entertaining, and he is. More so than another character in the film.

Keeping it short, I really like this film. The story wasn't difficult to understand at all, very simplistic plot with some mystery as to why the mysterious explorer could not be found. Only to later realise the reason that happened was due to the explorer being rejected by the comity for putting sensitivity towards the bears ahead of his family. It all runs full circle and makes sense and in time you do love 'Paddington' by the end, and he becomes 'A Brown'. 7/10!

NEXT: Narnia : The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review : Toys

TOYS military general inherits a toy making company and begins making war toys, his employees band together to stop him before he ruins the name and reputation of Zevo Toys forever.

The collaborative efforts of Director Barry Levinson and Actor Robin Williams invite you to endeavour in the adventures which happen at a co-operative toy factory 'Zevo Toys' where true wonders happen, bringing happiness and delight to children and providing fascination to a wide ranged audience.

The Story goes that the eccentric toymaker's last wish is that his brother (Michael Gambon) takes over the running of the business. However, The brother is a military General, and in fact doesn't know anything about toy making, and is very much out of touch with reality. Incidentally, the business should really have been given to Leslie (Robin Williams), who has much more talent and skill in his toy making like his father. When the General starts making weapons instead of toys, Leslie decides to rightly take action.

I should like to give anyone who has yet to see this film a word of caution because they need to know that, despite the title, "Toys" is not really considered to be a children's film, although the film is called "Toys" and its unrealistic universe that it lives in, does play to a child's information and the atmosphere of the toy factory and Robin Williams lightheartedness would allow positivity in terms of children responding to that, in a good way, but still it's not really 'A Kid's Film'.

I mean there's Swearing at a light PG-level. Plot involves the death and burial of an ailing father. Some of Leslie's favorite toys are imitation dog-doo, fake vomit, and other vulgar body-function novelties. Mid-90s jokes about Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, Mother Theresa, and other topics might leave audience members demanding an explanation, plus I'm not overly convinced that children under the age of 12 years would get all the jokes in it. Political bias is pretty thick: childhood innocence and sweetness vs a hostile military-industrial complex. There just a few issues to point out when you're considering about watching the film.

Here's a little taster.

Also I've personally never found this to be a film, which I can get into quite lightly, you do have to be in the right mood to watch it. And yes, there are a few films like that, but I think with this film, you really do need to be in the mood to actually sit down and watch it in order to get anything out of it. The film's plot summery sounds interesting and the story is good, it's very well cast and well directed to an extent of allowing the audience to believe in the boundaries that they are in, however this also creates limitations in the diversity of the story telling, so it's I think it's a clever technique and it works really well, but there isn't really much to go upon after a while.

Robin Williams, fantastic as ever and it is such a tragedy that he's no longer with us. But he's just doing the usual stuff : Funny, Kind, Sensitive and engages the audience as best he can through laughter and entertainment factor.

On a visual perspective Toys is breathtaking, a pastel and primary-colored nursery-room world, with optical illusions and false-perspective shots borrowed from great 20th-century surrealist painters. Even a shameless ad for MTV is so clever looking one almost can dismiss it. Almost. Sex gags, cussing, and the lack of child characters signify this is a more grownup toy story than Toy Story, but some teens might enjoy the lively vibe the film it creates, it's visions, and as I said before Robin Williams' energetic patter, and even the naivete of the politics presented in it. 7/10!

NEXT: Paddington 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Review : Home Alone 2 - Lost in New York

Home Alone 2 : Lost in New York - Basically tries to make as much of a success of the first film, by putting the leading boy 'Kevin McAlester' on his own again, only this time to have a mix up between flights and he ends up going to New York.

So Home Alone 2, Some sequels for which this film is an example of sets out to see what worked best in the first film and how they can use those points to make the sequel just as good, if not better. So why not put the main character 'Kevin' in the big city. New York, and see what happens. Not a bad idea, and again it's set at Christmas, so it adds to the holiday mood.

I think anyone who have seen this film, should know the same kind of slapstick violence in this second Home Alone film, mostly against the robbers who picked on the wrong precocious child once again. The main character throws bricks, sets deadly traps, and more in attempts to stop the bumbling duo and is gleefully proud of himself every time they get hurt. Therefore knowing this, I advise viewers that they should also know that the films opens with quite a bit of family conflict and that there's a bit of fighting ; even some physical violence among siblings. 

So, Here we go again. Kevin McAllister already got left Home Alone one Christmas; now the following year he gets on the wrong plane and heads off to the Big Apple, New York City while his family jets off to Miami for a Family holiday. 

Kevin, once again is delighted to be free of his boisterous family, and sets out on another adventure, taking on the big city. His father's credit card rents him a suite at a wonderful Plaza Hotel. Slapstick moments are provided by run-ins with the original films goofball villains, Harry and Marv. The duo has escaped from prison and are planning to rob a toy store on Christmas Eve, learning of this plan Kevin's determined to stop them. Meanwhile Mum realizes that her son's missing and frantically tries to find him.

Here's a trailer.

It's basically the first film, but in New York. However, it never really boars me. I think it's really good and it feels different to the first film, not just in the setting but with the character development in Kevin and the Two crooks. 

The early family scenes in Home Alone 2 are some of the films most entertaining moments, as are Kevin's clever survival schemes at the hotel and on the streets of New York, and in the final showdown against Harry and Marv - Round 2!
As a sequel, the film with not much hard effort manages to be funny, if predictable, and occasionally levels on being quite heart-warming; in sentimental and touching moments, In this film Kevin befriends a homeless woman who until he met her only shared the company of pigeons and encourages her to reach out to people more.
It's easy to see why fans took to Culkin's "little big guy" routine in the '90s. He's a charmer. And as Kevin's Mother, Catherine O'Hara is a well-wrought mix of funny and sentimental.
Though there are some heavy violent scenes to watch out for which are not intended to be influential to children,  apart from being there to make them laugh as part of the comedy. I would say that this film is a great film for families, the main thing to watch out for really is the violence and not to take it so seriously. 7/10
NEXT : Toys.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Review : Kung Fu Panda


In the Valley of Peace, Po the Panda finds himself chosen as the Dragon Warrior despite the fact that he is obese and a complete novice at martial arts.

I'd like to take you back to 2008 when this film first came out, there was a time when this film was everywhere. And I mean everywhere. There was't a place you could go that didn't have a poster or a build board promoting this film and persuading people to go and see it.

This heavily promoted animated film, starring the electrifying and eccentric child fave Jack Black as the voice of the main character, Po. Has humor and a heartwarming, uplifting, fulfilling story which is not only appealing to children but grown-ups, too. 

The film tends to boost itself by focussing on positive messages about being who you are and believing in yourself, but with a martial arts-theme, so there is plenty to expect of fast-paced battle scenes with kicks, punches, falls, and all the rest, but it's all make believe or believed to be make believe action because it's animated.

It's the story about a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, named Po, who is the biggest fan of Kung Fu in the land, which doesn't exactly come in handy when it comes to helping his dad, serving noodles  at his noodle workshop. 

However, it is on a very special day that he is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po's dreams to become a Kung Fu warrior have taken a turn in Po's favour without him knowing it, and in reality he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five : Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. 

But Po's destiny is a dangerous one, as the vengeful and furious snow leopard Tai Lung has escaped from a maximum security prison and is heading their way for revenge, and it's up to Po to defend the valley of peace from the oncoming threat. In order to do that, Shifu's importance to the story comes in as he is the character who is there to turn Po's dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into a reality. Po puts his heart and his girth into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turns out to be his greatest strength. 

Here's a trailer.

I really like 'Kung Fu Panda' I've always liked it, as soon as I'd learned of it coming out I liked the sound of the film. I should say that the film is an absolute pleasure to watch, and Po has become an ideal animated incarnation of the engaging, Jack Black. He's wonderful as the character, giving Po the perfect mix of irreverence and sincerity. When he meets his idols, the Furious Five : Ferocious Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper, and Monkey, he's charmingly awestruck. 
To watch Po's progression of where he starts off from clumsy kung fu fan to master is a delight, and also gives children an example of the rewards of progress. If you try hard, you will receive the pay off of success. The underlined message here is that 'there's no secret to greatness besides faith in yourself' I find that to be very admirable and refreshing for the 21st century. 
There are many memorable quotes such as 'Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift. That is why it is called The Present'. It's meaningful sayings like that which are valid points to make. Especially when educating children.
Overall, yeah. Really like this film. Very entertaining, and the cast are splendid. 8/10!
NEXT: Home Alone 2 - Lost in New York.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Review : Disney's Hercules (1997)

HERCULES The son of the Greek Gods Zeus and Hera is stripped of his immortality and is brought up in a normal environment amongst mortals and must become a true hero in order to reclaim it.

Watching this as a young adult, I tend to identify this film much better than I did as child. It's a film which consists of what it really means to be a hero is a darker more mild tone than many other Disney films have demonstrated. There's a lot of gore and intense, scary stuff for a PG-rated motion picture, including gruesome monsters and end of the world images : floods, fires, ice storms and mass destruction that might overshadow the more lightheated musical components. Some younger audiences may also be confused or even upset to the extent of learning from the images of the grusome underworld and what happens when people die. Though let me reassure those poor souls when I tell you, It's nothing like what the film interoperates the underworld to be.

Going into the story; According to Disney, Hercules was the adored son of gods Zeus and Hera, stolen by Hades, ruler of the underworld, and made mortal so Hades can have him killed because Hades received a prophesy that he would release the Titans from their prison and take over as ruler of all, however the spanner to this plan was if Hercules should fight him, he'd loose. So in order to avoid that from happening Hades, had to find a way of getting Hercules out of the way, but you can't kill a god because their immortal, hence by making him mortal he is venerable to the threat of death

Hercules though is saved by two passing travellers who think that they've been blessed with a child, and they raise him as their own, trouble is Hercules just doesn't quite fit into a normal life. So he must become a true hero to become a god again so he can live with his parents on Mount Olympus. 

To do this, Hercules seeks out a grouchy satyr , who trains him in fighting techniques and strategy. When he saves some children and defeats the hydra, he becomes an instant celebrity, with action figures and "Air Hercules" sandals. He goes on to his other labors but finds that it's not enough to be a real hero; that comes from the heart, not the muscles. Meanwhile, Meg, who sold her soul to Hades to save the life of her boyfriend, must now try to find Hercules' weakness so that Hades can take over Olympus.

Here's a clip.

Is the film any good? Yes. Of course it is. It's a great story with a lot of adventure, thrill and suspense to emotionally engage the audience into really caring for the characters. Should say that Parents would need to prepare their children for this film as it is a lot for a child to take in, in terms of making them realise what they are seeing on screen being what is captured in 'As a story'. 

Scant exposition is provided by the movie's Spice Girl-style "muses" (a sort of gospel Greek chorus that's fun to watch, but hard to follow. The role of the three fates, who share one eye between them and cut a thread when a human's life is ended, is particularly confusing. Meg is tougher and braver than the traditional damsel in distress, but still very much on the sidelines. The movie's other weakness is its lackluster score.

The Quality of this film is immaculate, should you care to find it. As a child I never could engage with it. I always felt it lacked something and that it was too long and their were too many gaps between monster action and sensitivity. It did get a bid tedious and a bit boring, but I think a more mature audience will get more out of it because they can engage with the characters more. 9/10

NEXT: Kung Fu Panda!