REVIEW: “PADDINGTON 2” (2018) Warner Bros.

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Growing up, we didn’t have the adorable Paddington Bear as he was mostly a British ‘bear’. It was only later that I was made aware of his wonderful adventures. So I was hugely surprised at just how good the first film was and was tentatively cautious when this sequel was green-lighted that perhaps it might cheapen Michael Bond’s beloved family friendly creation.

However, fear not, for this sequel is absolutely terrific on all levels. Firstly it is as funny and witty and as brilliantly animated as the first film. The excellent cast from the first film is also enhanced by a superb turn from Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan. Grant, who hasn’t been as good as he is here in a long time, is even nominated for a BAFTA for his role here as the villian, and rightfully so I say. In fact it is quite clear to the viewer that Grant is thoroughly enjoying himself by playing against type and sending himself up as a faded egotistical actor and total cad who sets Paddington up to be the fall guy (or should that be Bear? 🙂 ) for a dastardly deed. There is a touch of the pantomime villain to his performance, but it works splendidly and it fits his character perfectly.

All the wit and heart of the first film is still evident here and in some ways, built upon. Brendan Gleeson is superb as the ‘nasty’ Knuckles, an old lag and prison cook who loses his angry nature when he succumbs to Paddington’s charms and talents in the kitchen who warms up to Paddington quickly..maybe too quickly. The whole film shows and plays scenes as a child might imagine things to be – for example how the prison works and especially the lovely idea that the warden reads the inmates a bedtime story to help them all get to sleep. There are also loads of great jokes too, some pitched at younger children and some deliberately aimed at the more adult viewer. I took a 4 1/2 yr old and she definitely laughed at different parts than the adults at the screening did and there was a good 10-15 lag time where I was glad they had so nicely given us an adorable Paddington Bear backpack with our own Paddington Beach & storytime book as she started to look through that. It is a bit lengthy of a film for children at 1 hour 45min run time.

All in all this is a worthy sequel and a great memorial to Paddingtons creator, Michael Bond, who sadly passed while this sequel was still being filmed. It is full of laughs, thrills, action sequences, great characters, some wonderful animation and you would have to have a hard heart indeed to not burst into a smile at the end. Also, don’t leave the film before the credits start to roll and you will surely miss Hugh Grant gloriously send himself up with a musical song and dance act as the end credits roll.

Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see film of family friendly fun that isn’t either sickly sweet or too dark for youngsters and still thoroughly watchable to adults too. Great fun and a worthy sequel to the first Paddington.

Grade: B
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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, January 10, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
PADDINGTON 2 IS NOW PLAYING IN THEATRES WORLDWIDE

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REVIEW: “IN THE HEART OF THE SEA” (2015) Warner Bros.

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“In the Heart of the Sea” is an Action/Adventure/Biopic based on the real disaster that inspired Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’. The film follows the voyage of the ‘Essex’, a whaling ship that was bought down in 1820 by a Sperm Whale in the South Pacific, and is a true tale of adventure, drama, and survival.

Obviously the main reason to go and see this movie was to see this massive whale go toe to toe with the ‘Essex’ and its crew although actual confrontations with the whale in this film were few and far between, but when they happen, do they make an impact. This whale is inexplicably huge, and yes, he was grand as the story tells. in the heart 2It truly was such a spectacle seeing this huge beautiful whale on screen. The way they emphasize his size through setting him side by side with the boats gives his presence much more weight. Confrontations with the whale were intense and pretty good edge-of-seat stuff. Yes it’s CGI effects, but the whale was done beautifully and it’s incredibly detailed, making this whale look quite realistic and believable.
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The film’s biggest problem was the pacing. Throughout the film there are quite a few uninteresting moments that fail to hold your interest. There are some especially slow moments at the beginning where they are introducing some of the main characters to us including our lead, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) & his wife Peggy Chase (Charlotte Riley). As the introductions continue, we meet Mrs. Nickerson (Michelle Fairley) wife to Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), who will be the one recounting the events of the film to Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) as he lived through and endured them as his younger self played very well by Tom Holland. Scenes like this are nothing new and have been done in countless films before this, but here they are a big part of the actual story of the film.
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Acting wise, the film was pretty good. I had heard some possible Oscar buzz about Hemsworth as he was the obvious standout, and he was able to show off a different side of his acting talents here, but still even with his dramatic transformation, it isn’t going to garner any type of Best Actor nom. The supporting cast was mostly pretty strong, Benjamin Walker as George Pollard and Cillian Murphy as Matthew Joy really stand out, again with Tom Holland as the Younger Thomas Nickerson. The crew of the Essex made up of Henry Coffin (Frank Dillane), Caleb Chappel (Paul Anderson), Benjamin Lawrence (Joseph Mawle), William Bond (Gary Beadle), Ramsdell (Sam Keeley) to name a few, were all good strong performances.
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Ron Howard does a pretty good job directing the film and most of the time he nails the tone of the film. The dramatic action scenes were filmed and directed in a very frantic and chaotic manner that upped the stakes during those intense moments. Especially in the latter portions of the film he does represent the sad tones and emotion pretty well and handles some very confronting scenes in a way that isn’t too disturbing but also isn’t sugar-coated.

The latter half of the film, although not free of some slower moments, does pick up significantly from the first half when it introduces some survival elements. As the film doesn’t end on a high note as it could have been a short and sweet ending but it is dragged out a little longer but with that, it makes a strong point.

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In the end, this is an action/adventure that has its intense, dramatic moments, but is not without some slower moments that if excluded could have kept the film to a shorter run time and maybe would have made it more impactful. If you are fascinated of the story of Moby-Dick as I was as a child, then you will definitely get more enjoyment out of the film.

Grade: C
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Review Screening: Monday, December 7, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 11, 2015

REVIEW: “THE DANISH GIRL” (2015) POST Q & A W/DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER

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“The Danish Girl” is not just a altogether different love story, but it’s inspiration comes from the lives of artists Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Einar/Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate what can only be called a groundbreaking journey, even in this day & age, with Lili becoming a transgender pioneer.
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While the film is slow-moving, I honestly found it quite touching, beautiful and sweet. It is delicate in the way it treats difficult subjects as sexuality and the discovery of one’s identity in what is surely an even more hostile period than we live in now. The fact that it is a true story makes it a bit more involving.

I don’t think the film is perfect – but the acting, cinematography, the screenplay are done well. The middle part – where all the characters try to find a way out of the problem and when for the first time they seem to be facing a fracture between them is it’s most moving.
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Obviously, no one knows how well Lili Elbe passed for a woman, but no one, and I mean absolutely no one, would mistake Redmayne’s Lili for anything else especially at first where he is mostly an awkward, clumsy male in a bad wig. However, I was impressed with Redmayne’s portrayal of the transition and transcendence and being that he is of small stature he did well here. I must say, while I don’t think this will win Eddie another Oscar, it is deserving of a nomination for me as I watched, I am impressed lately by Redmayne’s choices of roles. Truly wonderful & different for the most part.
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There were a few heart-tugging emotional scenes in the movie where I was quite struck by Vikander’s acting, being full of some raw emotion.
The rest of the cast, in particular one of my favourite actors of the past few years, Matthias Schoenaerts as Einar’s childhood friend Hans Axgil. He is a breath of fresh air in almost everything he touches for me. Amber Heard as the wild & fun, Ulla and Ben Whishaw as Henrik, add to the mystery and complicated nature of Lili’s existence.

Through a beautifully tangled love story this film opens the eyes and hearts of the audience to the harsh reality a trans-person is born into. A world that clearly is of misunderstanding, ignorance and flat out discrimination.
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As you know, many will be angered about the context of the film because they think by spewing hatred for the person portrayed in the film will make them not exist. Those same people are usually fans of Donald Trump. Enough said.

Grade: C

Screening: Thursday, November 19, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Deadline Awardsline screenings.
Playing nationwide as of Friday, November 27, 2015

POST Q & A WITH DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER/SCREENWRITER LUCINDA COXON/PRODUCER ANNE HARRISON:
Alicia Vikander was also supposed to be part of the post Q & A, but we were told to blame Matt Damon 😀 as she was held over on shooting that day of the new Bourne film. Attached is the link to the video of this wonderful post-discussion.
http://deadline.com/2015/11/danish-girl-movie-transgender-response-tom-hooper-video-1201636101/

REVIEW: “SPECTRE” (2015) MGM

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As anyone who knows me will agree that I am a massive James Bond fan..the kind that believes Bond can do no wrong, so imagine my surprise at finding myself at times here, rather bored. With a fantastic opening sequence filmed a-la Birdman style of one long shot, proved to be the most exciting highlight of the film. And it was all over in 4 minutes.
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Being SPECTRE is the 24th James Bond movie and one of the biggest, most anticipated movies of the year, I was sadly disappointed in my man James this time round.

Daniel Craig is still Agent 007 and Christoph Waltz is our main villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The films usual recurring characters are all present and accounted for: Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as the ever faithful Moneypenny, while Léa Seydoux is Madeleine Swann the beautiful and dare we say it, age appropriate Monica Bellucci as Lucia are the Bond girls or better yet, ladies, this time.
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While M battles political forces to keep the 00 agent program alive, Bond infiltrates a secret meeting where he begins to slowly peel back the layers to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Directed once again by Sam Mendes, SPECTRE falls a bit short for me from his previous fantastic endeavour the wonderful ‘Skyfall’. The film being long in the tooth with it’s storyline that at times is hard to follow and lacks the ebb & flow of a great Bond film. The Bond villains are for me, always the best because you need a villain that you love to hate and films like this ride or die on their villains. Proving my standing motto of “You’re only as good as your villain” to be true, Waltz here falls short and whether it’s the script or his performance, you feel no ooommmpha from him at all. He doesn’t make you care either way for him in the slightest. Dave Bautista as a non-speaking Hinx doesn’t add any mileage to the villain aspect either.

Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures Entertainment announce the 24th James Bond adventure

Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures Entertainment announce the 24th James Bond adventure ” SPECTRE. “


The cars though are magnificent as always. Aston Martin’s new coupe was created exclusively for Spectre and was unveiled in December 2014 at the official press launch of the film. Director Sam Mendes introduced the car as “the first cast member” with only ten of them being manufactured and eight of those ten being used for Spectre filming, along with two show cars.
Same with the gadgets.. though noticeably not as many as previous films we do see this fun exchange ~
Q: “And 007, one last thing for you.”
Q gives the watch to Bond.
Bond: “Does it do anything?”
Q: “It tells time.”

Sadly, Spectre is not my favorite Bond movie of recent times. It’s good although it’s truly not top-flight 007. While not terrible, it won’t add or subtract any points or do any serious damage to the franchise.

All in all..while I didn’t hate it, the film just proved to be too long, with a bit of a flimsy story line.

Grade: C+
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