Category Archives: Movies

Witches

The Witches is a 1990 British/American dark fantasy horror film based on the children’s novel of the same title by Roald Dahl. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg and produced by The Jim Henson Company for Lorimar Film Entertainment and Warner Bros., starring Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher. It is the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar before the company shut down 3 years later in 1993.

As in the novel, the story fantasises witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, but are foiled and exterminated by a boy and his grandmother after the boy is turned into a mouse. The film was very well received by critics but performed poorly at the box office.


A simple story about a boy who becomes a mouse and takes on a gaggle of witches. It’s fun and entertaining. As expected from Roald Dahl, things get dark and slightly scary. The ending is a disappointment as it’s not the same as the book and provides an unnecessary “happy” ending.

 

Madagascar 3

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a 2012 American 3D computer-animated comedy film, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It is the third installment of the Madagascar series and the sequel to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008). It is also the first in the series to be released in 3D. The film is directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon.

In this film, Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria are still struggling to get home to New York. This time, their journey takes them to Europe, where they are relentlessly pursued by the murderous Monaco-based French Animal Control officer Captain Chantel Dubois (Frances McDormand).

As a means of getting passage to North America, the animals join a circus, where they become close friends with the animal performers, including the new characters of Gia (Jessica Chastain), Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), and Stefano (Martin Short). Together, they spectacularly revitalize the business and along the way find themselves reconsidering where their true home really is.


They say that a good villain is important to a heroic story. Here we have one of the best. Capt Dubois is relentless and funny, despite not making any jokes. She drives the story forward and forces the characters to change. Also great are the penguins, they come up with the most amazing hair-brained schemes that work on first try.

Zippy, funny and ultimately rewarding everyone should enjoy this.

Valerian

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a 2017 English-language French science fiction action-adventure epic film, written and directed by Luc Besson, and co-produced by Besson and his wife, Virginie Besson-Silla. The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.

It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer in supporting roles.

Besson independently crowd-sourced and personally funded Valerian and, with a production budget between $177–210 million, it is both the most expensive European and independent film ever made.


It’s a big bright film overflowing with visual ideas. However they don’t extend to the characters and story. Dane DeHaan is Valerain, and has a voice that does not match this youthful looks, it’s a problem throughout the film. Cara Delevinge is Valerian’s partner and a better match to her character.

The film changes from exploratory Sci-Fi to urban Blade Runner cityscape to Military Sci-Fi and finally (oh, we have to put this in) a science fiction idea.

The best parts were just watching the visual roll over the screen. Unfortunately, when it came to telling a story, not that compelling, adventurous or thrilling. It ends up being very average.

 

Belle

Belle is a 2013 British period drama film directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay and produced by Damian Jones. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Sam Reid, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton and James Norton.

The film is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle beside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, at Kenwood House (below), which was commissioned by their great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, then Lord Chief Justice of England. Very little is known about the life of Dido Belle, who was born in the West Indies and was the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Mansfield’s nephew.
She is found living in poverty by her father and entrusted to the care of Mansfield and his wife.

 

This covers the abolition of the slave trade. The film Amazing Grace (2007) has a similar theme, but covers the work of Willam Wilberforce.

Belle is mainly a period romance, which detracts from the historical events it depicts.

She is taken as a young child to live with what turns out to be England’s Chief Justice. It’s her influence, alongside a young lawyer that influences him in his final decision of the Zong Massacre,

It’s a well made film with lots of sumptuous costumes and period interiors. Although the legal case at the  centre of  then film is an important step in the abolition of slavery, ‘Amazing Grace’ is the better film for explaining the history and how slavery ended.

 

Atom Blonde

Atomic Blonde is a 2017 American action spy thriller film directed by David Leitch, in his first solo directorial credit, and written by Kurt Johnstad. It is based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, published by Oni Press, which revolves around a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The film stars Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, with John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones in supporting roles.

Budget $30 Million
Box Office $28.9 Million (so far)


This R13 movie has enough bad language, blood and breasts to achieve it’s rating.

Therion gets to do a lot of great fight scenes and walks away from all of them. Which is the first problem.

There is plenty of 1980’s music, but it doesn’t get in the way of the action. The second problem is that songs are repeated, I lived through the 1980’s and there is a lot more music that could have been used.

But the third (and main problem) is the tone of the movie. It’s not an extravagant wink-wink Bond style action romp. It’s not a down and gritty blood and guts action film as the hero is almost invincible. And it’s not a tense, edge of the seat thriller. It just sits between them all and in the ends becomes just average.

 

Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a 2013 Japanese animated fantasy drama film produced by Studio Ghibli and is based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. It is Takahata’s fifth film for Studio Ghibli, and his first since 1999’s My Neighbors the Yamadas. It was released on 23 November 2013. The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.


The tale is simple, but the execution flawless. Beautifully drawn backgrounds with dynamic character movements. The English dubbing is excellent and clear. There is a bit of a deus ex-machina at the end, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

 

Magorium

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a 2007 Canadian–American family/children’s fantasy comedy film written and directed by Zach Helm. Music was composed by Alexandre Desplat and Aaron Zigman.

The film stars Dustin Hoffman as the owner of a magical toy store, and Natalie Portman as his store employee. Also starring Jason Bateman as the mutant accountant and Zach Mills as the hat
collector and his store volunteer.

The film grossed $69.5 million worldwide from a $65 million budget. It received a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 4, 2008 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

This got a Rotten Tomatoes score of 37%, but it’s better than that. The critics consensus was that “colorful visuals and talented players can’t make up for a bland story.”

It’s the story that is the problem. Portman, Hoffman & Bateman are fine as the characters. But more needed to happen to them during the story to make it interesting. There was a point about 3/4 of the way through were it was possible that the Bateman character could have changed to take on the role of store proprietor and Portman finally completes her piano composition. But it just doesn’t happen, instead everyone does what was predicted at the start.

Writer-director Zach Helm later admitted his film was “a trainwreck”, after the film was referenced on an episode of the AMC drama Breaking Bad.

Baby Driver

 

Baby Driver is a 2017 action film written and directed by Edgar Wright. It stars Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Bernthal. The plot follows Baby, a young getaway driver, who is coerced into working for a kingpin.


The director really knows what he wants here. It’s a merging of music, action and some fantastic car driving. Jon Hamm & Jamie Foxx really seem to be having fun, with their characters almost caricatures of their previous roles.

This has received critical acclaim and has grossed $123 million worldwide from a $34 million dollar budget. A have to agree, one of the best of the year (so far).

 

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. Set during the Second World War, it concerns the Dunkirk evacuation.

 


This movie is LOUD. Hans Zimmer is back with the church organ he used in Interstellar. If half a movie experience is sound then in this movie it’s three quarters. So many times the emotional content is transmitted by the sound, rather than the visuals.

As for the acting, the only actor I knew was Kenneth Branagh. He spent most of his time standing on a pier explaining the plot. The best character was Mark Rylance, who was really good in Bridge of Spies and here is a boat Captain.

 

Marnie

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There is a 2014 Japanese anime drama film written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, produced by Studio Ghibli and based on Joan G. Robinson’s novel of the same name, although it transposes the setting from Norfolk, England from the original novel to Sapporo.

The film follows Anna Sasaki living with her relatives in the seaside town. Anna comes across a nearby abandoned mansion, where she meets Marnie, a mysterious girl who asks her to promise to keep their secrets from everyone. As the summer progresses, Anna spends more time with Marnie, and eventually Anna learns the truth about her family and foster care.


A strange and sensitive tale of a 12 year old girl coming to terms with growing up and relating to others. It soon becomes apparent that Marnie is not real, but what is she; a memory, imagination or a ghost. In the end it doesn’t really matter, as it’s more about the emotional journey Anna takes over the summer.

A very emotional film that everyone should enjoy.