*NEW* BEAUTY AND THE BEAST REVIEW *NEW*

And the remakes keep on coming . . .

BUT if they can keep up this standard then be my guest (I couldn’t resist).

An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince (Dan Stevens) and a young woman (Emma Watson) who fall in love.

After complaining for the last five years about reboots and remakes, I was livid that even Disney were revisiting their backlog. I mean is that hard to find original stories? If you are going to remake movies, can you at least tackle the bad ones? Leave the classics alone!

However, I was pleasantly surprised with Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Cinderella. The less we say about the Alice in Wonderland movies, the better. While The Jungle Book fell short of the classic by a country mile.

So my feelings about watching the new Beauty and the Beast were mixed, to say the least. Especially when I discovered that there was an extra 45 minutes on the running length to the 1991 animated hit!

BUT after all my griping, I finally gave it a go and you know what? It wasn’t too bad at all.

The opening surprised me from the get go. Expanding on the origin story of the curse. The overture fell a little flat but the lavish set designs, costumes and Tobias A. Schliessler’s beautiful cinematography took my attention away from that bum note.

The Belle sequence was literally a shot for shot live action re-enactment. Emma Watson was the physical embodiment of Belle. Her singing wasn’t the strongest but a lovely voice all the same.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad were fantastic. Evans played Gaston with aplomb. He was Gaston, nailing the shallow womanizer perfectly.

Who better than Olaf from Frozen to take on Gaston’s long suffering, and incredibly flamboyant, partner in crime LeFou. Gad was equally as entertaining. Prancing and pouting about the place.

The controversy about the gay subtext was misplaced. If there was one, I didn’t notice and it didn’t ruin the story in any capacity.

Belle was always a strong feminist character that wanted more from the world and her role. Her confrontation with a villager over teaching a young girl to read was a little heavy handed.

I was disappointed with Kevin Kline’s performance as Maurice. He was far too deadpan for the role. Belle’s father was always the quirky crackpot.

A shame considering you had the best man for the job. I mean, he was in A Fish Called Wanda?! He didn’t even have Rex Everhart’s delivery. Too stern and frail.

The pace kept things moving along and the film was easy-going and highly watchable.

From the trailers and teasers, I thought the effects on the Beast looked dreadful BUT once Belle entered that haunting Gothic castle, I was impressed.

The special effects and CGI were brilliant. The Beast actually looked quite good. Stevens did well and I could understand his gravelly voice. Not quite Lance Henriksen’s gravitas BUT he still delivered a sterling performance.

I think what helped (and had to) was that the pair had great chemistry. The extra running time fleshed out the pair’s blossoming romance and made it a little more believable that this stubborn and unloving beast would take some time to get over his hurt ego and learn to love again.

The supporting cast had tough acts to follow BUT what a cast?!

Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen played Lumiere and Cogsworth perfectly. They were a great duo and kept things entertaining.

Even if I couldn’t help but laugh at McGregor’s ‘Allo Allo accent. The Moulin Rouge maestro excelled with his rendition of Be Our Guest.

Stanley Tucci was wasted in his small role as Maestro Cadenza. While Emma Thompson was so-so for me as Mrs. Potts.

Her mockney accent grated against me in parts. She was always going to have a tough act following in Angela Lansbury’s footsteps. BUT as soon as Beauty and the Beast came on, and Belle strolled down those labyrinthine stairs for that infamous dance, it still worked a treat and Thompson excelled.

Composer Alan Menken thankfully kept the original soundtrack and added new entries.  The only problem was that they weren’t really that memorable. Days in the Sun wasn’t a bad song BUT the others have . . . already slipped my mind.

The story was still the same BUT the extra fleshing out wasn’t a bad approach. Especially when they played on the magic of the Rose and the flashback to Belle’s childhood. It was different. Just a shame that it led to the same old result BUT why stray away from a winning formula?

Thankfully, there was enough heart, charm and cheese to make this an entertaining affair that complimented the original Disney classic and just about stood on its own two feet.

3/5

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*NEW* PIXELS MOVIE REVIEW *NEW*

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Pick another movie.

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

Has Adam Sandler given up? Has he finally succumbed to mediocrity and dire disasters? A lot of you will probably say, “Hasn’t he already?”

For those who do follow my reviews, I’ve declared my guilty fandom for Sandler movies numerous times. BUT even this feeble effort tested my patience. I can’t tell whether this was intentionally supposed to be this bad or just sloppy?

The opening really didn’t get things going with an 80s flashback to the World Video Game Championship with our young protagonist Brenner (Sandler) discovering his passion for arcade games and battling it out with his rival Eddie (Peter Dinklage).

It was cliched and unfunny. NOT even the cameo from Dan Ackroyd brought anything to the mix. I did get nostalgic when all the old game titles flashed across the screen; Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede. I think the only saving grace through this elongated sequence was Andrew Bambridge’s impression of Dinklage. It was spot on. It was easy to look the part but to sound like him and nail his expressions was something else.

And not before long, we’re back in the present. And it doesn’t get any better as we are force fed a ridiculously vomit-inducing love subplot between Sandler’s repair man and Michelle Monaghan’s military Violet. The pair may have had good chemistry BUT the terrible lines and schmaltzy scenes soon put out that fire.

Conveniently, or thanks to lazy script writing, Sandler’s best friend (Kevin James) is the President of the United States. This could have been ripe for gags galore. We know James can be funny. BUT flailing around, busting out stupid dance moves and shouting all the time doesn’t work. Come on. We had two Paul Blarts for that. Which were an improvement from this mess.

I was praying for the aliens to attack and when they did, it was brilliant. The only redeeming feature. Although 3D was definitely a waste of time. The sequences and effects were fantastic. The Pac Man Mini Cooper street race subdued my griping for a good ten minutes.

The Centipede laser gun shootout was also pretty decent. It was just a shame that a cringe-inducing cameo from Sean Bean took my attention away from it. Now the chap has done some bad movies in his day BUT even this one took the biscuit. Glad he was up for a laugh. BUT I was laughing for all the wrong reasons.

The little animated Cubert was certainly entertaining for the little ‘uns but its whiny Chipmunk voice did my nut in. The Tetris game attack was a particular highlight for me. Each line detonating a floor of a skyscraper. Fantastic.

Every time the aliens attacked, I was hooked. When they didn’t, it was tedious and dull. Every time the characters stopped to talk, the film was hampered down massively. It didn’t help that a lot of the Happy Madison regulars were missing. All those little in-jokes would have done this film a world of good.

Peter Dinklage. Ol’ Tyrion Lannister himself. He really gave it a go BUT he just annoyed the hell out of me. He had a couple of one liners here and there BUT I desperately wanted him to shut up. Pardon the expression but this was a massive step down from the Game of Thrones actor.

The cameos were wasted. I couldn’t believe Serena Williams and Brian Cox (Not the star man, the actual star) were in this. Williams didn’t have a bad stint as Eddie’s unimpressed love interest. While Cox was very dull as a bland general. Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) may have looked stunning as Lady Lisa BUT she really was as one dimensional as her counterpart. And Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) might as well as have not been in it.

Josh Gad saved the day again as the unhinged conspiracy nut. He brought the schtick that saved the Wedding Ringer and did everything to make this lead balloon fly. There were a number of lines that got a chuckle out of me, “You’re the first person to come over . . . Voluntarily”. His reunion with Sandler and a bottle of chloroform was hilarious.

BUT alas it wasn’t enough. The gags were sparse. They even resorted to my pet hate of naff stereotyping with Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter playing the Prime Minister and talking utter jibberish. Well, the Queen’s English. Apparently. Sloppy.

Josh Gad, a silly nostalgic premise and some cracking effects may have made parts watchable BUT it just wasn’t enough. A wasted opportunity. Maybe more money should have spent on the script or the gags at least.

2(Just)/5

FROZEN REVIEW

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Br-br-br-brilliant. A hugely entertaining, easygoing and fun family romp. Disney have done it yet again.

Before the feature even began, we were awarded with a John Lasseter produced Mickey Mouse short, “Get A Horse”. An elongated if beautifully animated short mixing classic animation with the new, showing how far Disney have progressed without discrediting their origins.

Enjoyable, but I ironically said,  “Bit old for cartoons”. While waiting for a Disney film to start. They went old school. It made a change after seeing Disney break away from that mould for so long. Their latest efforts up to Frozen were pretty hit and miss. The animation was incredible and stunning to watch. Unfortunately, I watched this in 2D but you could see where the 3D would have stood out. It definitely would have been worth the investment.

So quickly, what’s it about, GO! Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) can create snow, and as a child she accidentally injures her sister Anna (Kristen Bell). She tries to control her gift BUT when Elsa’s power is revealed at her coronation; she flees in panic, plunging the kingdom into eternal winter. Anna must go after her and find a way to undo the spell with a little help from her crazy friends.

Now, I’ll get the nasty nit picking out of the way. Firstly, the plot had more holes in it than a sponge. The most interesting question being; how did Elsa got her powers when everyone else didn’t? But then again, people could pull the Hermione card on me. BUT even she couldn’t shoot ice out of her hands. But never mind, that’s being picky.

I had to question the whirlwind romance of Anna and Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) after a few minutes of meeting. BUT there was a point to that. Did I detect a little dig from Disney themselves? Poking fun at all the fairy tales.

The only problem with doing these movies is that there is only so much you can do with the princess in danger story line. There is always that high level of predictability. BUT as long as the journey is engaging and entertaining enough then who cares?

Congratulations Frozen. The songs were catchy and sung very well. ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ was stuck in my head. That didn’t help me in a shop selling car parts but I digress. And ‘In Summer’ sung by the scene stealing talking snowman Olaf (voiced brilliantly by Josh Gad) was hilarious. A naive snowman who can’t wait to get his tan on.

The supporting cast was fantastic. It helped that they had a great bunch of characters to work with. Some did get lost in the mix which was a shame. Alan Tudyk’s Duke of Weaseltown (WESSELTON!) delivered with aplomb from his flapping hair piece to his crazy dancing. However, he soon became a pretty passive and naff baddie.

Olaf and Sven the reindeer were the standout characters. Their bickering and unique friendship kept the tone nice and light. It was great to see Josh Gad get a bigger platform to show off his comedy shtick after promising performances in The Internship and Thanks for Sharing. His comic delivery was fantastic.

The wonderful Kristen Bell provided her nerdy spiel, bringing a fully rounded character to Anna, that was just too crazy to hate. Yoo hoo! Oh how could I forget Oaken’s (Chris Williams) Swedish Trading Post with his Big Summer Blowout. That skit had me in stitches.

It may have its flaws and we may have seen it all before but Disney have still got it and know to entertain. Another mystical family movie of a musical to add to the ranks.

Stay frosty, Disney!

3.5/5