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LATE REVIEW: Cinderella

Howdy ladies and gents time for a review I’ve been meaning to get done for almost two weeks! I am of course talking about Cinderella. Now I’ve been intrigued about this film since Kenneth Branagh was attached as director, and since I saw the trailers my curiosity grew and grew. I wasn’t sure if this film would be for me, but after I heard the positive reviews, I knew that this film had to be seen. So I avoided reading many reviews and only got around to seeing the film today. So was it good or not? Well read on and find out.

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The story goes like this:

“A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella’s life. Ella comes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes and a little help from her fairy godmother of course”

I thought the story was very well done. While I wasn’t sure if I would like this film, I knew if anyone would make this film interesting it would be Kenneth Branagh, I liked his work on Thor and while Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was less than stellar, Branagh brings the right sense of wonder, magic and humour to this film and I noticed some similarities to Thor when it came to the focus on characters and themes of family and succeeding in the face of adversity. There is also a lot of heart to be found in this film, there are some fairly unsettling and tragic moments in this film, they are short, but they are apparent and in addition to that there’s moments of joy and  awe, and they are handled well. Another thing that stood out was how the director and writers handled death, it is a key element of the story and it is done with such care and attention and isn’t overplayed, it leaves an impact and that’s what mattered. What the film does the best is that it tells the same story you’ve known since childhood, and it hits all the key notes, however, it is changed just enough to be different. There are new elements added to Cinderella, the prince and the step mother’s backstories and more information the world these characters inhabit. These changes are subtle, but rather than taking away from the film, it builds upon the narrative and adds layers. And unlike Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent that really missed the mark and tried to hard to reinvent what was the norm, Cinderella embraces its origins but changes things up in smart and interesting ways.

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As for the cast, they were really good. Firstly Lily James as Ella/Cinderella was brilliant. This version of the character isn’t helpless and boring, there are layers to her. From a young age she is taught to be kind and have courage, and you can see that in her throughout the film, Ella is incredibly kind, strong-willed and has a great level of endurance to deal with all of the loss and suffering in her life. You can relate to her and want her to succeed because she is such a positive beacon of light in the darkness around her, and James plays the character really well. Richard Madden as Prince “Kit” Charming was also very good, this character could have easily been as bland as the orignal, but he was fleshed out a lot more with more insight into his life and having a greater focus on his attraction to Ella because of their first encounter. Madden brings a lot of charm, wit and weight to the character and together with James, the two of them have great chemistry and their scenes are some of the most beautiful moments in the entire film. Cate Blanchett was fine as Lady Tremaine, this character had a bit more layers, she wasn’t mean for the sake of it, she had a reason for it. Tremaine was incredibly bitter, mean and unfair and Blanchett did really well with the role, at times she was bit over-the-top, but you could tell she was having fun with the role.

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Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother was good too, this character was playful, eccentric, but also logical to. This is standard Carter fare, she’s played quirky characters like this before, but luckily this was one of the better performances where she was genuinely fun and humourous. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger as Drisella and Anastasia were suitably funny and had good scenes together. Nonso Anozie was really enjoyable as Captain, as Kit’s right hand man her provides moments of humour and advice for Kit. Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke was cool, I wasn’t sure what to expect but his character was a little different and devious and Skarsgård was good in the role. Derek Jacobi as The King was quite nice too and had some good scenes with his son. Hayley Atwell as Cinderella’s Mother was delightful, she was kind, bright and incredibly positive, while Ben Chaplin as Cinderella’s Father was very good, he was light-hearted and lovely man.

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When it comes to the presentation it is excellent. Visually the film is beautiful, there is a great sense of awe and wonder created through the wonderful art direction, vivid colour palette and use of CGI for the magic-based sequences. The visual effects were great, so crisp and full of detail and the cinematography was really good especially in the ballroom dance and the escape from the ball sequences. I also have to add that the ballroom dance was beautiful, from the beginning til the end, it was gorgeous, the dance was wonderfully choreographed and had a whimsical charm to it. This film also feels huge in scale thanks to the scenes in the forest, sweeping landscapes, and scenes inside and out of the prince’s castle. I also really liked the costumes, not only for Cinderella’s main dress which was very pretty and detailed, but also for everyone else as it felt like a live action version of the animated version. Oh and the music from Patrick Doyle, SO good! I loved Doyle’s previous collaboration with Branagh on Thor, and here he brings an even higher level of intensity. This film score hits with impact in the action sequences and is so touching in dramatic moments with Ella alone or with her parents or when Ella and Kit were together.

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In conclusion Cinderella was a lot better than I expected and I ended up really enjoying it. This film tells the same classic and conventional story, but makes a few subtle and necessary changes for the story to feel fresh, modern and fun. The cast is wonderful, the presentation is great and everything comes together in a satisfying way. As a man at the age of 25, I take pride in saying go out and see this film, it may be aimed at children but l liked it a lot. Things are looking up for Disney’s future live action adaptations.

Rating: 8/10

So have you seen Cinderella and if so what do you make of it? How do you think it compares not only the 1950’s version, but the other live-action Disney films? Please be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya in the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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My Big Les Misérables Review!

Okay so now we have Les Misérables, a musical. Now I’m gonna level with you guys, I’m not really into musicals. Besides animated Disney films from the late 90s onwards and the 1997 live-action version of Cinderella I don’t really care for them as a genre of film. So when I saw the trailer for this film I was like “Damn, I dunno if I could handle all that singing yo.” But for the sake of Hugh Jackman and all the good reviews I heard about it, I decided to give Les Misérables a chance. So was it good film that hit all the right notes or was it out of pitch? Read on and find out my opinion.

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So the story of Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who becomes mayor of a town in France. Soon exposed, Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of the dying Fantine, but as a fugitive must also avoid being captured again by police inspector Javert. While the film is mainly Jaen Valjean’s story, you also have Javert, Fantine, Cosette and Marius too, and I found it interesting to see how all of these individual stories converge and intersect with each other. Of the stories in the film I really liked Jean Valjean and Fantine because they were the most dramatic and interesting for me, though if I had to mention one other it’d be Javert. I also really liked the themes of love, grief, redemption and getting second chances.

As for the characters of Les Misérables they’re all pretty good. So let’s start with Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, he was awesome. I knew Jackman was gonna be great in this role but he really did do great as this man on a road of redemption and change after 19 years of imprisonment. His life is a constant battle with his years in prison, then going on the run from the law and then having to take care of Cosette too, he’s got a lot on his plate and you can appreciate how he tries to turn his life around. I loved Valjean’s story, I found it to be the most engaging and interesting of all of the characters in the film. I also find it incredible to see the visual transformation that Valjean goes through over the course of the film, with all three stages of his life looking very distinctive and believable.

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Russell Crowe stars as Javert was actually really awesome, though probably not for all the right reasons. Javert is this police inspector who’s proper got it out Valjean and wants to put him back in, Javert is very determined and I’ll give him that but he is a bit of prick though. Crowe plays the role well but when it comes to his singing, damn, let’s just say when compared to everyone else he doesn’t hold up so well. But some of the scenes he’s in just become funny and I found myself enjoying Crowe’s performance a lot just for the fact that it made me laugh (I know that’s bad, but hey that’s life lol).

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Anne Hathaway was a really big surprise as Fantine. To be honest I’ve never really been keen on Hathaway as an actress until Chris Nolan showed me she can be awesome in The Dark Knight Rises and this is probably the best performance of her career yo. Fantine is a struggling factory worker and mother of an illegitimate child, Cosette, who is then kept by the Thénardiers. I never knew her story was going to be so integral to some of the other characters in this film, Fantine’s story is just tragic, painful and sad and Hathaway handles the role very well and her singing skills were impressive which surprised me greatly.

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Amanda Seyfried as Cosette was nice. Seyfried had a nice singing voice and her character was interesting as she grew up hidden away from the world because of Valjean constantly having to be on the move to elude the authorities. Cosette was the only character who was innocent and free of all the drama going on around her besides of course when she gets the hots for Marius. But to be honest I wasn’t really keen on Cosette once her character started to develop feelings for Marius, I felt it really was just out of the blue and when those guys were lovey-dovey I couldn’t care for it. Now I’m not against love stories, I love them when they’re believable and done right, but this one seemed to materialize out of a glance and a stare. Oh and I also wanted to give a shout out to Isabelle Allen who plays the young Cosette, she was very good and for some reason I preferred this version of the character to the older one.

Eddie Redmayne was very good as Marius Pontmercy. I was watching him closely because he was one of the first actors in running for the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy and luckily in this film he was pretty good. He also has a good singing voice which I didn’t expect to be so deep too. I thought Marius had an interesting story as revolutionary, but his love story with Cosette just takes I didn’t really care for. I feel after that point his character became unfocused, I mean I can understand he has an infatuation with Cosette, but how can be so blind to Éponine’s feelings and not pay attention to his revolutionary buddies when they need him the most. I just didn’t like that about his character.

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One of the best performances came from Samantha Barks as Éponine. For her film debut I thought she was lovely, Éponine story starts out alright as the Thénardiers’ destitute daughter, but eventually when she grows up many things change and her story becomes so sad, dramatic and you can really relate to her character. It is some truly heart-breaking stuff and I thought Barks’ performance was grand.

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As for Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers who are these swindling innkeepers I didn’t like them very much. They were just annoying and by their final appearance the film I just wanted them to disappear. I expecting a lot better from these two especially Helena Bonham Carter who is one of my favourite actresses, in this film both Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen just act like clownish, cartoon-like characters who have some partially funny scenes but are ultimately forgettable when compared to the rest of the cast.

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The presentation of the film is very powerful both musically and visually. The visuals are pretty damn impressive with the amazing locations and sets and the use of special effects too. Musically the soundtrack is really good with a great presence from start to finish; some of these songs are big, loud productions that really amplify the atmosphere and the scenes they’re used in. Those are normally the massive group songs that are song by many people and it is those ones in particular that I enjoyed the most. While the softer more delicate songs lend themselves well to scenes involving single characters or couples. Even though I’ve never really watched the play of this film, I did recognize some of the songs and at certain points in the film I even found myself enjoying the music quite a lot.

In conclusion was pretty good film and wasn’t nearly as unbearable as I thought it would be. There is some great performance to be found from the cast, the visual flair of the film is definitely elaborate and grand, and the music is very enjoyable too. As a person who usually isn’t into musicals I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit surprisingly. While the film is a little on the long side I’d still recommend it! 🙂

Rating: 8/10

Well there’s my review people, damn that’s the longest one for a while now haha. So what did you think Les Misérables? Whatever your thoughts drop them below in the comments section and I’ll see ya on the next review! 😀

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Great Expectations Review

Howdy people and welcome to another review, today’s film was one I heard a fair deal about online but wasn’t really interested in until I found myself at the cinema needing something to watch in my spare time. So I went into Great Expectations with no expectations and no knowledge of what I was in for and in the end the film ended up being very nice, but not mind-blowing.

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The premise for the film involves a humble orphan named Pip who suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. The film has a very interesting story to tell, not only with its central story about Pip, but also the people around him. The people he meets along his journey from childhood all have interlocking storylines and it’s surprising to see the way in which they come together and cross over. Most of the characters have relevance to the plot and it was nice to watch. I thought that film’s themes of love, betrayal, happiness and despair was displayed very well and I also loved the dialogue, it was well-written and made for some great monologues. There were moments where the film did slow down and its focus on certain areas of Pip’s gentlemen lifestyle was a little boring to watch, I was only mainly interested in the story surrounding Pip and Estella, and thankfully that key element works well.

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Now let’s talk about the characters of the film starting with Jeremy Irvine as Pip. I thought he was pretty good; I liked how he portrayed the change in his personality from being a poor man to being a gentlemen. He handled the role well, though there were moments where I found his character really annoying and whiny because of his actions after becoming gentlemen. Holliday Grainger as Estella was great and I love how she came across as this beautiful woman who devoid any emotion because of the way in which she was brought up. There was a lot of mystery behind her character and it was interesting to see her want to return Pip’s feelings of love, but couldn’t. I have to say that I really liked Pip and Estella more as kids than their adult years if only because of their budding relationship and lack of complexity when compared to their adult counterparts, thankfully Toby Irvine and Helena Barlow do well as the young version of Pip and Estella.

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And there’s Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, I thought she was lovely as this strange, older woman left in seclusion who interacts with Pip and Estella. I thought Bonham Carter’s performance was intriguing, engaging and at times quite humorous too. It was interesting to learn of her back story and how it made her who she is and how that in turn effected how she brought up Estella. Ralph Fiennes as usual turns a great performance as Magwitch. His character had one of the best introductions to a film I’ve seen for a while and I liked how his character linked into the plot and how he was connected to Pip. Fiennes accent in this film was probably one of the most interesting ones I’ve heard him use, and while this wasn’t my favourite film I’ve seen him in I still enjoyed his performance. Also Robbie Coltrane was pretty good as Mr. Jaggers, I found him to be mysterious and partially untrustworthy even when he was helping Pip with his gentlemen lifestyle, Coltrane played the role well and I liked his role in the film.

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The presentation of Great Expectations was pretty nice, I liked the camera shots used and the use of colour looked washed out, mundane and dark look to it which made the film feel eerie and mysterious. Also the soundtrack was decent too, nothing too memorable but worked in key scenes between the main characters. Now in the reviews that I read there’s been a number of comparisons between this film and the BBC TV serial that came out last year. Most critics say that the TV version is superior to this film; even my sister said that she’d seen the TV version and loved it. Since coming to uni I don’t really watch TV because I don’t have one, so I can’t compare the two versions of Great Expectations, however I can see that this film is missing that special dramatic element that would have elevated it to a magical level.

In conclusion Great Expectations was a great film with solid performances, a strong story and wonderfully powerful themes throughout. The film really shows how powerful love is, how it corrupts people and how far some will go for the people they care for. Unfortunately it didn’t reach that heartfelt level I had hoped it would, Silver Linings Playbook touched my heart and I had hoped that this film would do the same, but it was held back by a slow story, a little bit of annoying moments and missing that “special” element. Though I still think this is worth a watch.

Rating: 7.5/10

That’s another review sorted, leave me some comments about the film in the box below and I’ll see ya on the next review. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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