Avengers: Infinity War

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MAvengers: Infinity War

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Based on the Marvel comics by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Steve Ditko, Joe Simon

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (with input from James Gunn)

Produced by: Kevin Feige, Mitchell Bell, Ari Costa

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Stan Lee, Trinh Tran

Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson.

Emerging a shaky shadow of my former self after watching the last tantalising scene following the credits for Avengers: Infinity War, I was reminded of some dialogue in one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. The grandfather has been reading a book to his sick grandson who asks, “Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end. Somebody’s got to do it.” The grandfather replies, “Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives.” The grandson replies, “You mean he wins? What did you read me this thing for?”

And that is exactly how I felt after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. Obviously I don’t want to spoil this film for other fans who have invested the last ten years of their lives building a sense of rapport and family around these Marvel characters across an 18-film arc, but to say I left the cinema feeling the opposite of uplifted isn’t giving too much away (hopefully). At least I wasn’t sobbing into my popcorn like some others in the packed audience.

The film opens fairly much straight after the last scene of Thor: Ragnarok, and from there the action and unfolding plot never let up. It’s safe to reveal that the main focus of the film is centred on the galactic overlord Thanos, who is after all six Infinity stones, whose combined power would allow him to unleash his insane plan across the known universe. Of course some of these stones are currently in the possession of a few of the Avengers, whose lives are imperilled as a result.

The Avengers try to prevent Thanos’ audacious plan from being realised, as we jump across continents on Earth and around far-flung locations scattered throughout the cosmos, re-meeting those heroes we have come to identify as our friends, the people in whom we have invested so much of our emotional energy. I’ve seen all 18 movies in this Marvel cinematic universe at one time or another but don’t consider myself an expert, but I found the plot reasonably easy to follow, and from the bits of exposition anyone not overly familiar with Marvel’s films should still be able to follow the main story line.

The film is awesome in the sense of being a major cinematic event, full of light, action, a majestic score, and breathtaking, incredible special effects, as well as a clever screenplay that ensures the characters get to interact with others, have a moment to shine, and plan their line of defence. The pace seldom lets up while the rare quiet moments between characters are welcome and genuinely heartfelt, their willingness to possibly sacrifice themselves for others is nobly heroic, while the snippets of humorous dialogue lighten the sense of impending gloom.

Even the CGI Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) is convincingly lifelike, unlike that Steppenwolf guy from the Justice League movie, so he’s not your typical 2D evil villain dude. The fact that I could even understand if not condone the rationale for Thanos’ actions speaks volumes for how well his character was developed and portrayed.

One critic thought the film was “funny”, but perhaps they were referring to some of the much-needed humorous exchanges, especially involving the Guardians of the Galaxy crew (whose dialogue was provided by GOTG director James Gunn), since this film overall was not funny in tone, but rather increasingly WTF? and emotionally devastating. If ever a film needed a part 2, this is it, so I hope Infinity War Part 2 is being made right now, otherwise “I will be seriously put out”, to quote Prince Humperdinck.

Rampage

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MRampage

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Screenplay by: Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel

Story by: Ryan Engle, based on the video game Rampage

Produced by: Beau Flynn, John Rickard, Brad Peyton and Hiram Garcia

Director of Photography: Jaron Presant

Music is Composed by: Andrew Lockington

VFX Supervisor: Colin Strause

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

After an experiment in space goes wrong with the Subject destroying the spaceship and allowing canisters containing a genetically mixed pathogen to fall to the Earth – all hell breaks loose as animals’ breath-in the pathogen to exponentially grow into giant mutant monsters.

The focus of the story revolves around Primatologist Davis Okoy (Dwayne Johnson) who has a close relationship with an albino silverback gorilla named George.

So when George inhales the pathogen, it’s up to Okoy and genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to save the once docile primate and find an antidote.

It’s a solid storyline written by Ryan Engle and based on the video game Rampage – with many of the crew from San Andreas (2015) collaborating again to create Rampage: the third film from Johnson, director Peyton and producer Flynn.

The music is also once again composed by Andrew Lockington, giving the same feel as San Andreas but instead of a disaster film we have a monster film with VFX supervisor Colin Strause returning to create the realistic monsters.

I have to say, as with all the action/adventure films, there’s always that added humour – the quips here a bit weak.

And alligators (one of the monsters) and crocodiles have two eyelids, not one as shown here.  I don’t know why I was particularly distracted by this oversight, probably because the effects were otherwise so realistic.

Seeing giant mutants tearing up a city is always fun to watch on the big screen – and the effects here were outstanding (except for that missing eyelid!).

And I couldn’t help but warm to George, the not-so-gentle giant.  A little like Primatologist Davis Okoy as the seeming gentle animal lover – who doesn’t get along with humans but loves animals because you always know where you stand and like George, he’s not always so gentle.

So, there were some good parts and some not-so-good making the film a little trashy, but good-trash.

As a side note, the humour in an action movie can make all the difference for me.  If there’s some surprising dark humour or a loveable funny character (George, here, I guess), it raises the film-going experience.

The action and effects were high quality here, I just felt the humour was a bit lazy.

Over-all, good fun on the big screen with Johnson firmly at the helm, this time his massive arms over-shadowed by his monster-friend George.

So you get the feel with muscled action, big crashes with explosions mixed with a bit of warmth and humanity: classic Johnson, but better than San Andreas because I like seeing giant mutant monsters tearing up a city.

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Abracadabra

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: 18+Abracadabra

Director/Writer: Pablo Berger

Produced by: Pablo Berger, Ignasi Estapé, Mercedes Gamero, Mikel Lejarza

Music by: Alfonso de Vilallonga

Cinematography by: Kiko de la Rica

Starring: Maribel Verdú, Priscilla Delgado, Antonio de la Torre, José Mota, Quim Gutiérrez, Joep Maria Pou, Javier Anton and Rocίo Calvo.

Language: Spanish with English subtitles.

If it was a choice between an egotistical, abusive and dismissive husband or a loving, appreciative but crazy murderer, who would you choose?

Abracadabra is kind of a love story, if you can call the choice between a chauvinist and a murderer romantic, mixed with weird humour and eye-brow raising moments of blood and drama and fantasy.

After Carmen (Maribel Verdú) with daughter, Toñi (Priscilla Delgado) finally drag husband and father, Carlos from watching the football to a wedding, they wonder why they bothered when he continues to listen to the football match with headphones shouting, Yes !!! right as the priest asks if anyone contends this most romantic and completely loved-up couple from marrying (their current feeling expressed in precious promises the complete opposite to Carmen and Carlos).

The wedding reception show-cases Pepe (José Mota), the mighty hypnotist, (and obsessed with the sequined, gorgeous but somewhat gaudy Carmen) daring an audience member to volunteer.  Carlos doesn’t like the way Pepe looks at his wife, so volunteers confident in his domination over the powers of the eye-lined hypnotist, Pepe.

While mocking the powers of Pepe an opportunistic ghost possesses Carlos changing him from macho-nasty to doe-eyed lovely, breakfast-in-bed included.

When Carmen and daughter Toñi realise it’s too good to be true, the last straw his greeting of Pepe with a kiss and hug, they consult the mighty Dr. Fumetti (Joep Maria Pou) to find the truth of who inhabits the body of Carlos.

And on the story goes, reaching into the bizarre with a flavour of comedy that held the film from falling into a complete mess of over-dramatisation.

It was those subtle details that were funny: the vibrant white of Dr. Fumetti’s teeth while posing as a dentist; the frothing and spitting of the real estate agent to re-enact blood spurting as a mother’s head was sawn off by the hand of her schizophrenic son… I love a bit of dark humour and there were many moments well executed (ha, ha!) by the cast.

If you don’t like funny-strange humour, then stay away.  The film was also melodramatic with emotion shown with that, hand to mouth, Oh! face, often.  But as the film plays out there was a bit of lead in the story.

An interesting movie experience into the unexpected and absurd, with the drama of weddings and unrequited love and madness that was surprising and silly, pushing the suspension of belief as the script skipped across disaster by keeping the underlying humour present in those unexpected and bizarre details.

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Mary and the Witch’s Flower

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: PG

Mary And The Witch's Flower
©2017 M.F.P

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Producers: Yoshiaki Nishimura, Will Clarke (English version)

Written By: Riko Sakaguchi, Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Based on: ‘The Little Broomstick’ by Mary Stewart (novel)

Starring: Hana Sugisaki, Lynda Freedman (English adaptation)

Pleasantly surprised. Fantastic storytelling, took me back to my childhood, back to the early days when I discovered films were a window into another world, an escape from reality.

The film’s story is based on a children’s novel The Little Broomstick, written in 1971 by the English author Mary Stewart, long before Kiki’s Delivery Service and the Harry Potter series. When I watched Mary and the Witch’s Flower, I did not know that, and even though I noticed certain similarities, to focus on these would not be objective nor fair.

I love Japanese animation and the word ‘love’ doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I feel about it. I grew up rewatching season after season of Dragon Ball and Captain Tsubasa to name a couple. Combine that with films such as Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and you’ll know what I mean. I had expectations, I won’t lie.

The storytelling is strong enough to fly high.  I was skeptic for about 30 seconds but then I was charmed. Popcorn in hand, I became a child again, sitting at the movie theatre and going along with Mary’s adventure.

Mary and The Witch’s Flower is much more than an animation based on a book. It all started when producer Yoshiaki Nishimura was charmed by one bit of dialogue that he read in the original story: “And it wouldn’t be right to use the spellbook to unlock the front door, either. I’ll do it the way it’s used to, even if it does take longer…”

Set in a magical world, Mary goes through many fun and scary adventures filled with heart-beating excitement, thrills and suspense, flying the skies and travelling beyond the clouds. After these dazzling adventures, Mary finds herself without any magical powers, only a simple broom and a single promise she made. This is when Mary discovers the true strength within her.

Unusual harmony with one musical instrument is heard throughout the film. It is the sound of the stringed percussion instrument called the hammered dulcimer. In search of an uncommon musical instrument to set the tone for the entire film, producer Nishimura learnt from animation director Isao Takahata, about the hammered dulcimer, Nishimura decided to make it the central instrument for the film.

After leaving Studio Ghibli at the end of 2014, Yoshiaki Nishimura established his own animation studio on April 15, 2015. The origin of the studio’s name, ponoć, comes from an expression in Croatian meaning “midnight” and “the beginning of a new day”. The current film Mary and The Witch’s Flower is Studio Ponoc’s first feature animation, and involved a large number of creators and staff from Nishimura’s days at Studio Ghibli.

The attention to detail throughout the film makes me excited about what’s to come from the new-born Studio Ponoc, where talented artists and creators who worked on past Studio Ghibli productions have come together to work on director Yonebayashi and producer Nishimura’s newest work.

If I were you, I would be keeping an eye out for them. I know I will.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MStar Wars: The Last Jedi

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Based on Characters Created by: George Lucas

Music by: John Williams

Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Billie Laurd, Joonas Suotamo, Amanda Lawrence, Jimmy Vee, Brian Herring and Dave Chapman.  

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was the best episode of Star Wars made to date…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) is epic people!

This film has everything: fantasy, drama and conflict and betrayal and action with lightsaber fights that last just long enough…

And I was surprisingly emotional through-out the film with General (Princess) Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) filmed and thankfully not animated so she looked so real and so there.

It was such a pleasure to see Carrie Fisher up on the big screen for the final time… See what I mean about emotional?!Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director and writer, Rian Johnson has spent a lot of time getting the detail of the story right.  There’s new characters mixed with old that keep the story interesting with the familiar and the excitement of seeing new critters adding to the lightness and wonder of this visual story.

Rian Johnson also wrote and directed, Looper (2012) and has brought that same attention to the script here, revealing layer upon layer of story to take the audience on a journey totally unexpected.

And I liked how the film was set both in space and on land – the effects of space fantastic on the big screen and the grounding of seeing the ocean crash into rocks and the salty sand of the desert kicking up red dust visually surprising.Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The island where the previous episode, The Force Awakens, leaves us with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is expanded upon, the thought put into the vastness of the landscape impressive with new sea creatures and those cute Porgs (that look like a cross between a penguin and a puffin) alongside old favourites like Chewbacca.

This episode sees the story unfold around the never ceasing Resistance as they fight The First Order led by Supreme Leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis) as he takes hold of the universe.  The final threads of the Resistance making that final last stand with Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeking the return of the equally resistant Luke Skywalker hiding on his island after losing all faith when his student and best friend and sister’s son, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) turns to the Dark Side.Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Adam Driver has really grown into his role as Kylo Ren (the highlight for me) – the film taking time to explore this new character, making him as deep and fascinating as Darth Vader.

But like life, there’s dark and there’s light.  There’s good and bad in everyone – the conflict of the Force in Luke and Rey and Kylo adding to an otherwise action and suspenseful film.

And, for me, the most suspenseful Star Wars so far.

The Last Jedi is a further exploration into the Dark Side giving this episode a sharper edge and depth – the fantasy element making the story more griping and thought-provoking than the usual Sci-Fi weight of the previous instalments.

And the timing of the story was perfect.  The twists in the tale, many.

Prepare for an epic experience: it’s a long one (2h 33m) but well worth the journey.

The Mummy

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MThe Mummy

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Screenplay by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Screen Story by: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet

Executive Producers: Jeb Brody and Roberto Orci

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe.

Welcome to Universal Picture’s Dark Universe:  A series of Monster-Verse movies to be distributed in the coming years beginning with the release of, The Mummy.

This is the first time we’re seeing the monster as a female mummy – Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess cheated out of her rightful place as ruler and a god amongst men.

Ahmanet draws on the power of evil to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers only to be thwart at the verge of succeeding.  Erased from history and imprisoned for 5000 years, she’s unwittingly released by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a careless soldier of fortune who has no scruples using anything and everyone to get what he wants.  The perfect match for a monster.

But is he evil or just an idiot?

There’s chemistry between Nick and the British officer of Cultural Heritage, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), with a sprinkling of humour that sometimes missed the mark for me but made the pair tolerable.

Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), Nick Morton’s side-kick, was a bonus providing comic relief, lifting the film out of taking itself too seriously, allowing the audience to laugh intentionally.  It can be a close call – to laugh with or at seemingly ignorant action-types.

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was well-cast as the evil Egyptian princess.  The costuming (Penny Rose) and make-up (Lizzie Georgious) creating the rune-style writing on her skin very effective and the double iris a unique look l’ve never seen before.

This leads me to the explosive effects and setting which made the film worth watching on the big screen.  Shot in three countries from the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford for those creepy dark and dank moments, to Namibia in southeast Africa for the heat and desert surrounding the discovery of the Sarcophage containing, The Mummy.

If the story remained the light-hearted, explosive action, sometimes scary zombie, Mummy-come-to-destroy-London movie, this would have been a familiar, successful formula.  What I don’t understand is the addition of Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  Adding a character so different to the rest of the story stretched the suspension of belief too far leaving me to question – why?!

I was absorbed with the explosive opening and the effects, so-much-so, I put off that desperate need for the bathroom because I didn’t want to miss  what was coming next.

But there was a wrong turn in the story with too much weight put on the already thin character of Nick.  Add the Henry Jekyll character and you’re losing the audiences enthusiasm for the characters’ survival.

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Wonder Woman

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MWonder Woman

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg

Story: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs

Produced by:  Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Richard Suckle

Executive Producers: Stephen Jones, Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, Wesley Coller and Rebecca Steel Roven

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock and Said Taghmaoui.

With the couple ahead in line, kissing.  Just a quick smooch, but often.  Making that, kissy-kissy, sucky-wet sound, constantly.  Perhaps out of nerves or because they’d just found each other and were terrified the other would disappear if they didn’t lock lips and suck the air out of each other’s mouths every 30 seconds…

You can probably tell I wasn’t in the mood for a romance.

And unfortunately Wonder Woman wasn’t all Amazons and action, there was romance here with love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American World War I fighter pilot who finds himself in the Amazonian magical world of Themyscira while being chased by the Germans.

Which brings me to the classic Wonder Woman guitar rift.  You’ll recognise it when you hear it and it does add to that cringe.

But that’s all I have to complain about.

Overall, Wonder Woman was a well-thought and executed film.

The story of Diana (Gal Gadot), growing up in Themyscira allowed a beautiful setting of crystal clear blue waters and souring cliffs, and women warriors fighting from pure white horses with long braids falling down their backs.  This magical place allowed the story of the gods to be shown like a moving painting brought to life to then shift to WWI and all the shock and tragedy of death.

After hearing of the violence, Diana vows to fight in the war to bring peace, as she was trained to do.  All very dramatic.

But the addition of humour made the film for me, particularly Charlie (Ewan Bremner), the Scottish marksman suffering from shell shock and Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) the ever reliable, can-do secretary.  I was constantly tickled by Etta Candy’s humour and the writing here is to be commended.  As is the story of the film.

There’s a slow build.  And yes, it felt like a lengthy movie, understandably at 2 hours and 21 minutes.  But the time spent on building the momentum was worth it.  There’s plenty of action and funny bits so as the story developed, the further I was pulled in.

So even with a bit of cheese and romance, I found the character, Steve Trevor better than expected, and more down-to-Earth (just can’t resist a pun) then James T. Kirk played by Chris Pine in the recent Star Trek films (but hey, I liked those films too), and that comes down to the fantastic script.

There was a tug and pull of the lasso for some depth into human nature.  But like the above statement, it was somewhat half-hearted.  Wonder Woman is more about how Diana evolves into a superhero.

By playing with the time sequences and using clever camera work and images (like the moving painting montage), the film is given a bit of spice.  It’s always good to see something different as it keeps the attention.  Because wow, there have just been so many superhero movies that the trickery of the director becomes the point of difference; Patty Jenkins succeeding here with help from director of photography Matthew Jensen.

I wasn’t blown away but this is a quality film with the resurrection of a fantastic character who we’re left in no doubt will return in the very near future.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold, Steve Clark-Hall

Screenplay: Jody Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Story by: David Dobkin and Jody Harold

Starring: Charlie Hunnam (Arthur), Jude Law (Vortigern), Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Mage), Djimon Hounsou (Bedivere), Aidan Gillen (Bill), Eric Bana (Uther).

I love a good action film with a healthy dose of fantasy, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword delivered.

This isn’t a tale about King Arthur and the Round Table, this is more about the magic of Excalibur.

Director, Guy Ritchie has taken a classic story and turned it into something else.  If you can forget all you know about the previous tales of King Arthur and all the romance, gallantry and honour, it’s worth letting go and getting taken for the ride.

King Arthur is one of those big budget films with thought put into the camera work with director of photography, John Mathieson bringing the audience right up close to run along-side the characters.  Add burning towers, giant snakes and elephants as big as football fields, weird water creatures and the magic of The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey): you’ve got an entertaining film.

Jude Law as Vortigern, brother of King Uther (Eric Bana) and uncle to Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), gives a solid performance, legitimising the film by making the villain of the story believable.

No-one can pull a look of disdain like Jude Law.

Not to take away from Hubbard.  There is a consistent air of nonchalance he gives to every role: the laid-back smart arse hiding a sharp mind.  Deviation from this persona brings disaster, think of his role as Dr. Alan McMichael in Crimson Peak.  But he was cast well here, with the action scenes and sword fighting perfect for his physic (not that I’m a perv, well… maybe a bit…).  And the comradery with his mates, growing up in a brothel and learning the hard lessons of life off the street reminiscent of his character in, Sons of Anarchy (of which I’m a fan).

There was certainly the Guy Ritchie-esq feel to the film with fast

exchanges of dialogue and sharp changes in camera work, jumping from past to present to future in seconds.  The technique reminding me of scenes from Snatch (2000).

To get the audience up-to-speed this way can be exhilarating; to catch a train of thought, to run with it to flash to the next part, the exciting part.  But there was some definite glossing over of story that was sometimes OK and sometimes not, leaving me with the thought, That’s just lazy.  And glossing over essential aspects of Arthur’s character weakened the story.

The cracking soundtrack and music by composer Daniel Pemberton helped to lift and smooth each scene; the first thought after the film finished being, ‘Jeez, the soundtrack was good.’

And there were satisfying circles of storyline but the pacing felt patchy
with weight and time given to some scenes where essential timelines were past in fast forward.  And this was the biggest downfall of the film.

So, although the editing and story was not always consistent, the strong performance from Law and the cocky English, Guy Ritchie flavour, kept up the entertainment factor to reach expectation.

Beauty and the Beast

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: PGBeauty and the Beast

Director: Bill Condon

Producers: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman

Screenplay: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Based on: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Music: Alan Menken (composer), Howard Ashman (lyricist), new material by Tim Rice

Starring: Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (Lefou), with Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Stanley Tucci (Cadenza), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette)

Watching the live action re-make of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which has been successfully updated without losing the original’s charm, the first thought that occurred to me was why has it taken so long to make this film?

The new version is vibrant, entertaining, full of catchy songs, impressively realistic sets and gorgeous costumes plus energetic choreography, making the transition from animation to live action most effectively.

I watched the original version again after seeing the new film, and aside from a few lines of dialogue or moments of visual humour not being retained, the live action version works better because it provides the opportunity to create beautiful costumes and sets, and enlarge the number of performers in crowd scenes.

There are also new songs, which have transformed some characters from stereotypes to convincing individuals.

I particularly loved the Beast’s new song “Evermore” (sung with throbbing undertones by Beast Dan Stevens during the film and less heroically by Josh Groban over the end credits).

The townspeople clearly indicate their opinion of Belle as being odd in the rousing song “Belle”, which is how it was originally, but apparently the actress Emma Watson wanted Belle to be more in keeping with modern feminist portrayals so her independent streak seems stronger and she has added talents beyond being just a supportive daughter.

Although Emma Watson is not a strong singer, her solemnity and occasional hints of humour allow her to carry off her role with conviction, as she shows bravery and selflessness and is more than a match for the moody yet fascinating Beast.

A few scenes have been added or extended which help make Belle and the Beast’s burgeoning love seem more convincing as they go from being “barely even friends” to something more.

The updated screenplay has fixed a few plot-holes, including how long the curse has been in place. There is also an underlying urgency to end the curse because of the long-term effect it may have on the Beast’s servants, who have been animated beautifully, making me long to buy some of the merchandise.

The servants’ rendition of “Be our guest” is an absolute showstopper, this time with the added benefit of wonderful special effects and a fuller-bodied orchestra and chorus.

The villain Gaston is played with relish by Luke Evans, who is fêted during the boisterous tavern scene by faithful sidekick Lefou (a delightful Josh Gad). Gaston’s penchant for antler décor and his skill at “expectorating” are still laugh-inducing but he doesn’t appear as two-dimensional now, despite still being vain and self-centred. Ironically his inflated ego marks him as more “monstrous”, making him a far greater beast than the titular one.

A lot has been said about Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, who was an under-developed bumbling fool before, but who is now given depth, partly through his implied sexual orientation.

It’s pleasing to see Disney is trying to reflect modern-day sensibilities, while the racial diversity amongst the townspeople and servants at the castle is also refreshing.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and could barely resist humming along.

This version has refreshed and updated the original film without losing any of its enduring appeal, and no one should be “gloomy or complaining” about the result.

A visual and aural delight for young and old.

Power Rangers

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MPower Rangers

Director: Dean Israelite (Project Almanac)

Producers: Haim Saban (Power Rangers creator), Brian Casentini (Power Rangers TV series), Wyck Godfrey, and Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars, The Maze Runner franchise)

Executive Producers: Allison Shearmur, Brent O’Connor, John Gatins, Joel Andryc, Takeyuki Suzuki

Screenplay: John Gatins (Kong: Skull Island)

Story by: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold) and Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney (based upon Power Rangers created by Haim Saban)

Starring: Dacre Montgomery (Jason Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly Pink Ranger), RJ Cyler (Billy Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini Yellow Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack Black Ranger), featuring Bill Hader (Alpha 5 cyborg), with Bryan Cranston (Zordon) and Elizabeth Banks.

Having never seen an episode of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series (1993), loosely based on the Japanese 1970s Super Sentai TV series, I had no preconceptions or even expectations about the latest incarnation, Saban’s Power Rangers.

From the brief snippets I had seen, I knew there were energetic people who dressed in colour-coded costumes and leapt about doing heroic things, but that was the extent of my knowledge. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the new Power Rangers film entertaining, humorous, with effective use of the latest in spfx technology, and awesome Ranger suits designed by Weta Workshop.

The action is set in the small American fishing town of Angel Grove, and focuses on five teenagers, each with their own particular problems, who stumble upon an ancient, alien spacecraft and five coloured “coins” which bestow upon each of them extraordinary power and the ability to morph into Power Rangers, as they face a world-wide threat from an evil alien.

Television producer Haim Saban, who produced the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series, wanted the updated cinematic version to retain the original’s idea of five teens with attitude who must battle evil whilst also dealing with “today’s issues of cyber-bullying, peer or family pressure and the uncertain future.”

I appreciated that sufficient time was spent to develop each Ranger’s backstory so that they all emerged as clearly defined individuals rather than anonymous teenagers, one with a “spectrum” disorder, another dealing with their sexuality and another with a sick parent.

For established fans of the series, the carefully plotted introductions of each teenager may drag, but I appreciated how their trust issues and self-imposed isolation made it difficult for them to quickly achieve the required togetherness necessary to become a team of Power Rangers.

The fact that they trained, fought and had their own individual problems to overcome before they could become a united fighting team made their eventual transformation feel more “earned” than if it had occurred within a shorter time frame.

Other supernatural hero films often lavish huge chunks of screen time on drawn-out action sequences where entire cities get obliterated in mind-numbing CGI effects extravaganzas, and

I find those types of films to be boring and non-engaging.

The battle sequences in Power Rangers still occur, but because they don’t happen until the last section of the film they seem more effective.

There is one rather large plot loop-hole involving the Power Rangers and their evil opponent Rita Repulsa (played with relish by The Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks in a gorgeously over-the-top green and gold costume), which would have ended the battle very quickly and with far less destruction, but aside from this, the story line and character arcs were all well written and believable within this specific world.

The fact that there was no swearing was a big plus in this age of profanities, which makes this a great family-friendly film, which won’t disappoint anyone seeking an entertaining and well-made diversion. (The version of the song “Stand by me” used during one scene made me want to dash out and buy the soundtrack.)