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
@pegsatthemovies

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

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REVIEW: “THE SHAPE OF WATER” (2017) Fox Searchlight ~ Q & A: Guillermo del Toro & Cast

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“THE SHAPE OF WATER” is truly the definition of ‘fish out of water’ unique love story. I mean if someone told me I would get emotional at a film where a mute woman falls in love with a fish-man, I probably would have laughed in their faces. As it was, I did.

This film has absolutely so much going for it – it’s beautifully filmed, with a magnificent score and a stunning performance from Sally Hawkins. It allows the audience to discover this intimate and fascinating world of “broken” people searching for a moment of meaning. Add in a smidgen of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with a touch of ‘E.T.’, and you have a concept that captivates you from the start with it’s emotional investment into all the characters. And boy what characters they are. Assembling a first-rate cast, every single actor sparkles as it shows that every character has been developed with great care. From the mute-but-hearing Eliza (Sally Hawkins), who works as a cleaner at a secret government facility, where she becomes drawn to the new specimen: a mysterious marine fish-like man creature (Doug Jones).

While Eliza begins to fall in love with the amphibian creature, the facility head Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), steps up to stop it all as his only desire is to take the creature apart for experimental advantage against the Russians. Eliza’s bond with the creature soon begins to affect those around her including her neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins), and work colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Not only are they the only two who decipher what Eliza ‘speaks’, but are enlisted to help her save her ‘Amphibian Man’. Add to the mix spy/scientist Robert Hoffsteder (Michael Stuhbarg), whom believes so much more can be learned with the creature alive, and you’ve got yourself one of the most imaginative stories that exudes humanity and strength, suspense and love, all put together to provide a great balance and one of the best original stories I’ve seen.

Beautiful from start to finish, like some sort of fantasy, romantic, heartbreaking, emotional lovestory all wrapped up in one, and while not without a few little flaws here and there, “The Shape of Water” was completely beautiful to me. And while other studios are recycling stories or offering up sequels, Fox Searchlight has stepped it up at the end of 2017 here to put out two of the best and most original films I’ve seen in some time. I not only applaud them for this, but hope this trend continues.

Grade: A
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Film Independent
‘SHAPE OF WATER’ IS NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE – WORLDWIDE RELEASE TO BEGIN IN JAN/FEB 2018


POST Q & A WITH: Moderator/Curator: Elvis Micthcell; Dir/Prod: Guillermo del Toro; Actors: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg; Producer: J. Miles Dale & Composer: Alexandre Desplat

First and foremost – Your Q & A is sometimes highly dependent on your moderator and of all the Q & A’s I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, he is by far one of the best moderators and truly nice guys out there. His knowledge and deep appreciation for film is felt, along with a great sense of humour. That being said, del Toro is also one of the most amusing, fun guys for anyone to have a chat with. His ease of making jokes, and he makes many, makes it even more fun to be able to get a chance to listen to him, speak and ask fun questions.

Del Toro said that he had the idea for the film and went to a party which he was invited to by none other than Alejandro Iñárritu where he had said to come over and get drunk..about 20 shots later and they all agreed ‘make the movie!’. Then Hawkins launched into how they came about to doing this project together. Upon meeting Hawkins at a Golden Globes party, Del Toro told her: “I’m writing a movie for you where you fall in love with a fishman.” Hawkins replied: “Great!” And with Doug Jones & Richard Jenkins – he pitched it to them while at a sushi dinner!!!
Jenkins laughed that he got his role—of Hawkins’ character Elisa’s lonely, verbose neighbor Giles—when “Ian McKellan called in sick.” For the role of marine scientist/Soviet double-agent Hoffstetler, Stuhlbarg lamented that the script called for him to deliver his character’s most significant scene sans pants.

If the sets looked familiar to any of you – they might, as a lot of them were used from del Toro’s TV show “The Strand” which made it so much easier to keep the budget on a tight leash. When noted
“When I walked on the set I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. It was like a painting,” said Jenkins, saying of Del Toro: “This guys speaks in film language.”

The film’s production is even more impressive given its relatively paltry—for an effects-heavy fantasy film—$19.5 million final budget. “We were counting the number of lobsters that we could have on-screen,” said Del Toro. He also teased producer Dale over the removal of one elaborate (and expensive) sequence set at a bus stop. But the filmmakers’ fastidious paid off. Remarkably, the production came in $100,000 under budget.

REVIEW OF ~ GO GO GODZILLA.. YYEEAAHH,, GODZILLA GODZILLA ~ aka “GODZILLA THE MOVIE”

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Those are the opening lines to the song ‘GODZILLA’ by Blue Oyster Cult from way back..but for some reason, those lyrics kept repeating in my head before & during the movie.. Maybe because it’s so campy funny, or that all Godzilla movies are just that..campy fun. I mean who hasn’t at one point in time or another in their lives like on a rainy Saturday afternoon home, watched a campy, mostly Asian genre-based Godzilla movie as literally one of the best parts was re-enacting the bad English dubbing of them!!  Therein might lie the problem of this movie as I think they just take it a bit to seriously.  I mean they almost could have named it ‘Godzilla Saves the World.’  Mind you it’s not a bad movie..not in the slightest..in actuality it’s entertaining enough and basically that is truly all I ask for in a movie ~ getting my bang for my buck so to speak.  

Bryan Cranston is believable and good enough as “Joe Brody” and ‘blink and you miss her’ Juliette Binoche as his wife “Sandra Brody” is what brings round why the plot of this story is even happening. Aaron Taylor-Johnson as “Ford Brody” son of Joe & Sandra is a welcome relative newcomer for me though I can see he’s been in quite a few things, mostly in the U.K. again, new to me, I liked him in this. Also, his wife, “Elle Brody” played by Elizabeth Olsen makes for another welcome new face and decent enough performances though all were pretty one-dimensional.  But let’s be real, no awards are going to be given in a Gozilla movie!! So simplicity is really best.  Ken Watanabe as “Dr. Ishiro Serizawa” is well..yeah..the scientist that has that perpetual “DOOM” look on his face and Sally Hawkins as “Vivenne Graham” to be honest I’m not really sure why she was in the movie as she didn’t speak for what the 1st hour. plus as Dr. Serizawa’s assistant and with a constant strained face look also, well let’s just say it was a bad choice of roles for an actress who was just up for a deservedly Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for last years brilliant turn in Blue Jasmine. So a completely wasted performance for me. 

As for the creatures in the movie, I didn’t like the new ones, the MUTO’s as they call them. They reminded me of big fly/spider creatures and I’m never endeared to those kind of monsters. Godzilla however, was a wonderful creative in all his true Godzilla glory and while I didn’t think the fight scenes between the 2 monsters were anything special nor did they seem to show as much as say they did in the old school movies, it got the point across that yes, Godzilla was going to save us from the MUTO’s and is portrayed as the ‘good guy’ in this movie and have a ‘connection’ with the some of the people..*sigh*  Maybe that’s what didn’t roll right with me as isn’t Godzilla supposed to be our sworn enemy as basically all monsters are?  

Lastly, they really tried to bring in the human element story here of the Brody family..While I get you need a backstory, it’s a Monster movie for goodness sakes.. Leave it at that. 

Grade: C-