Disney Live Adaptation Reviews – Maleficent & Cinderella

Maleficent Poster

Credited to sorkino3.net

I recently caught the latest Disney live adaptation films that were released in the years 2014 and 2015. I caught them almost back-to-back with Cinderella first followed by Maleficent (on TV!) but for the purpose of following a chronological order, we will start out by reviewing Maleficent first.

As everyone is well aware, either Disney is running out of ideas for new films or is just plain lazy, they’ve come out with a good business plan; churn out remakes of live-action movies of previously blockbuster making animated movies of the past.

Which is why, you now have the adaptation of Maleficent in 2014, followed by Cinderella in 2015. There was also the star-studded musical Into the Woods, but it doesn’t qualify as it was never a Disney animated movie first. This, on top of the news of the recently announced Emma Watson led Beauty and the Beast and Tim-Burton directed live action Dumbo. So while we already have many other studio-produced live action updated Snow Whites, Disney has to go through their extensive animated filmography for ideas. Now, the latest news is that we’re getting a Mulan live-action remake too. God forbid that one day we’ll be getting Toy Story, the live action versions. Perhaps fifty years from now, someone will see it fit that we’ll get a live-action Frozen too.

Maleficent Review:

Anyhow, let us go to one of the earliest modern live adaptation remakes that Disney made in the 2014-2015 period, which is Maleficent starring Angeline Jolie as the titular character. Angelina has explained that the character of Maleficent had always interested her more than the lead character of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora as a child. In some ways, she’s right. Looking back, Aurora spent most of the movie sleeping (to be fair, she was under a curse) and at the end (spoiler alert!) ends up marrying Prince Phillip when he breaks her curse by kissing her with true love’s kiss after she’s only met him for a day. Alright, she was betrothed to him as a baby. Still, once again, she only knew him for a day.

Anyway, Maleficent opens with a young child Maleficent (Isabelle Molloy) befriending a young peasant, the future King Stefan (Aurora’s dad, played by Michael Higgins), falling in love with him and then later getting betrayed by him. He cuts off her magical wings, leaving her without the ability to fly. She later has a raven, Diaval (Sam Riley) in human form who acts as her eyes with wings. Maleficent (Angeline Jolie) who loved Stefan (Sharlto Copley), saw him marrying another and having a child with her. Wanting revenge, she shows up uninvited to Aurora’s christening and curses the child to yup, get pricked by a needle of a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and fall into an eternal sleep. This is when King Stefan begs for mercy, even kneeling, pleading for his daughter’s life, and she relents by softening the curse wherein she will only awaken by true love’s kiss. This after Aurora has been blessed with gifts by her three god-pixies Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville). The scene has been painstakingly created in real-life form from the original animated movie. Also, if you’re super hawk-eyed, keep a lookout for Angelina’s real-life children Zahara and Knox making cameos in the scene. But wait, how did peasant Stefan become King you say as a grown-up? Well, watch the movie (or read some spoilers, maybe even skip this review) and you’ll know.

Maleficent Christening Tumblr

Credited to 38.media.tumblr.com

King Stefan, now panicked and concerned over his daughter’s safety, orders all spinning wheels in the kingdom to be burnt. He also ensures that Aurora is raised by the three pixies (who are extremely unqualified BTW).

This is where the movie takes an extreme shift from what we know from the original movie. Instead of Maleficent (who immediately finds the hideout of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and her three pixie guardians in mere minutes. See how incompetent they are again?) plotting the next step in killing Aurora, as the girl grows up; she becomes fond of Aurora having seen the pixies that are raising her screwing at their job. Aurora, mistakenly thinking that Maleficent is her fairy godmother, is drawn to her. It is also here that Aurora meets with Prince Phillip (Brenton Thwaites) and the two are as chummy as any love struck teenagers are.

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Credited to apnatimepass.com

Maleficent, ultimately consumed with regret, decides to reverse her curse, but it is easy said than done. So she tries to prevent it by asking Aurora to move in with her on the eve of her 16th birthday. Aurora agrees but just as she gets home, she overhears the truth regarding her royal lineage and ultimately flees to the castle.

Aurora’s biological father, King Stefan reunites with her and immediately has her locked up to protect her from the curse. Alas, the curse cannot be prevented and Aurora still ends up pricking her finger and falling into a deep sleep to be awakened by true love’s kiss. Maleficent rushes to the castle with Diaval and kidnaps Prince Phillip to break the curse even though King Stefan has traps lain out for her capture.

This is where I won’t spoil the movie for you and insist that you watch it yourself because it will lead to the ending. All I can say is, the character of Maleficent redeems herself at the end. As for my viewpoint of the movie, while this was Disney’s first modern live-action adaptation in 2014, I actually think that this movie really shouldn’t have been made. Yes, the character of Maleficent is an interesting character and Angelina Jolie did do justice to her role if only the character had been properly fleshed out. This should have been done with proper writing to the story. While the first half of the movie was good, the second half had the story losing direction. Yes, the movie humanises Maleficent by giving her the ability to love Aurora instead of going all out hating the King and his family as in the original animated version. Granted, the cinematography is exquisite. Alas, good cinematography does not what a good movie makes. The costumes and make-up are fantastic too. Unfortunately, it too does not help with the movie when the story is weak.

The second half was when all hell broke loose and everything was thrown all together. We had the battle with the dragon (an ode to the original?), battle with the King, a highly unnecessary and ineffective Prince Phillip, a hapless Aurora, and why were the pixies not fairies as in the original animated version? They even had different names compared to the animated version. If almost all characters in the animated version retained their names in their real-life incarnations, why couldn’t they do it with the pixies/fairies? What is wrong with the classic Flora, Fauna, & Merryweather names? Are the names offensive? They were super charming in the animated version. Granted, it’s perfectly okay to change certain plotlines to suit the needs of today’s extremely discerning audience, had Maleficent only been done correctly. Having a creative license means updating the story to be adaptable to a modern audience. Maybe, instead of focusing on turning Maleficent “good”, they should just have her made her stick completely as a villain. I believe that the movie would have been an incredible live-action adaptation had there been better writing and all-round better plot cohesion. Perhaps had they focused the movie on Aurora and called it a live-action Sleeping Beauty, it would have made a difference. I give Maleficent half points for a decent effort.

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Credited to pinterest.com

Meanwhile, there are rumblings of a Maleficent sequel. Oh no, I hope the second time will be done correctly, or how about Disney just scrap the idea entirely?

 

 

Cinderella Review:

Cinderella 2015 Poster

Credited to comingsoon.net

As this is a continuing double movie review, I will firstly state that Cinderella is a much better live-action adaptation and an example of how to get a live-action adaptation movie done right. Cinderella, the leading-titled character, is played by Lily James, best known for starring in Downton Abbey and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The story starts with the origin of a girl named Ella, who is born to a happily married couple who, as a child lives on an estate in a mansion, complete with servants. Her father (Ben Chaplin) works as a merchant and is always working far. Her mother (Haley Atwell) teaches her the value of loving animals and about being kind to others. This is the perfect setting of a family who live happily together and adore each other very much.

Alas, we all know that this happiness won’t last because if it did, there would be no story and would centre on a regular family who live together happily. That would be pretty dull to viewers but would be perfectly acceptable to me.

Anyway, to really follow the (original Disney) fairy tale, Cinderella’s mother has got to go. So Cinderella’s mother gets sick and dies. For a while, her father is fine raising her, though he does still keep working out of state a lot (someone’s got to pay the bills). One day, he announces to his daughter Ella that he has decided to remarry a newly widowed woman called Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) who has her own set of daughters who will be Ella’s new stepsisters. Ella of course is totally fine with that as she is completely kind to all, remember?

So the marriage proceeds. Having moved in the house, Ella’s new mother proceeds to “brighten” up the house by always holding social gatherings, of the poker type. Ella is just forced to watch while her father continues working outside. Ella would rather spend time with her animal friends. Her father, before embarking on another working trip, asks Ella and her stepsisters what to get for them when he comes home. Her new stepsisters immediately ask for materialistic things while Ella asks for a simple branch that brushes against his shoulder on the way to his destination. How very humble of her.

Credited to bp.blogspot.com

Cinderella (2015) Movie StillsWith her new husband away, Lady Tremaine has Ella switch her bedroom to the attic, to give way to her new stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera). The stepsisters aren’t necessarily evil; they are just rather rotten spoilt. One day, Ella receives news that her father has unfortunately passed away while on his journey. This puts the family in a conundrum as her father was the sole main breadwinner of the family. Lady Tremaine, realising the family’s (or hers?) reversed fortunes immediately see it fit to trim the household budget. She has the servants dismissed and of course replaces them with Ella. Hence, Cinderella is born, christened by her stepsisters after they see her face covered with cinders when she wakes up. Ella discovers the folly of Lady Tremaine’s ways, with her being banned to eat with them. Upset, Ella takes a ride on her horse into the woods.

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Credited to loveitsomuch.com

In the woods, she crosses paths with a hunting party. She meets one of the hunters, a handsome stranger who introduces himself as Kit (Richard Madden), an apprentice at the palace. Unknown to Ella, Kit is really the kingdom’s Crown Prince who’s father the King is dying. Kit is immediately taken with Ella after she chastises him for hunting the stag and her different outlook on life. She, to him, is just a breath of fresh air and possibly unlike any woman he’s ever met before. He does not get to learn her name as their meeting is brief before both head their separate ways.

cinderellabehindthescenes3Credited to comingsoon.net

Upon his return to the palace, Kit learns that his father the King is planning to organise a ball and invite all the eligible princesses as potential brides. Kit, who cannot forget the mysterious girl in the woods, persuades his father to invite all the eligible maidens in the kingdom as well in an effort to attract Ella. So the pronouncement is made and soon the entire kingdom knows about the ball.

While out in town on errands, Ella chances upon the proclamation of the ball and conveys the message to her “family”. Lady Tremaine immediately has new dresses made for herself and her daughters, ignoring Ella’s request for a dress as a way to cut costs. She orders Ella to return to town again and have the orders made. Lady Tremaine sees the opportunity for her daughters to woo the prince as a way to escape their current dire financial state. Undeterred, Ella fashions a new dress out of her mother’s old dress.

When the day of the ball arrives, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drisella are all ready to go when in bounces Ella with her new dress. The sisters taunt Ella on her apparently old-fashioned dress before, just like the Disney animated version, they tear up all of Ella’s hard work , leaving Ella’s dress in tatters before the three of them leave for the ball. Ella is in tears and rushes off crying to the backyard.

An old woman near the backyard asks the teary Ella for a drink of water. Ella obliges before, the reveal that the old woman is actually her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter). Naturally, Ella is pretty pleased before good old Fairy Godmother, as the tale goes makes carriages, horses, and footmen out of animals and a pumpkin. Unfortunately, there is no bibbidi bobbidi boo song here. Saving the best for last, the Fairy Godmother gifts Ella an extremely gorgeous ball gown that is just, if not more beautiful than the one in the animated movie version. The Fairy Godmother does warn Ella however, that the spell only lasts till midnight and that she must get home by the time the clock strikes midnight. To this, Ella promptly agrees to do so.

At the palace, Kit is introduced to many eligible ladies but still holds out hope for the girl in the woods to come. The scene at the place where everyone is at the ball is exquisite. The costumes are breathtakingly beautiful and the set is just magnificent. Ella’s sisters try to have their time with the prince but fail. Then Ella arrives, fashionably late. She is a sight for sore eyes indeed. Kit immediately escorts her for a dance before they retreat to the “private” area in the garden where they talk it out to get to know one another a little better. However, it does not last long as Ella has to leave by midnight leaving Kit completely bewildered. He and his guards then set out on a furious chase trying to catch Ella but Ella luckily manages to escape before of course, accidentally leaving her glass slipper behind.
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Credited to halloeweenideasforwomen.com                Credited to zannaland.com

Thus, the wild goose chase to find the owner of the shoe. It is decreed that every maiden in the kingdom try on the glass slipper for size. The Prince, now King after his father’s death, does not participate in this exercise, instead having his trusted henchmen do the job for him, complete with guards. It is kind of stupendous to believe that every maiden must try on the slipper. Wouldn’t it be easier had the Prince just describe his beloved mystery Ella for them? Again, it is all following the animated Disney version and the original tale by Charles Perrault.

Every maiden gets to try on the slipper without much success, even when it obviously cannot fit them. This is until they get to Ella’s house. Here is where I will leave you to ponder the conclusion until you find out by watching the movie in its entirety. I will say however that the King is revealed to be in the maiden-shoe search party.

Cinderella is a Disney live adaptation movie that works right when you focus on the original material while updating it so as not to make it too “wooden” like the original animated movie. Live-action Cinderella is just as sweet as her animated counterpart, but a little bit too passive. It would have been better had they made her a little bit feisty. Kit or the Prince’s character is more fleshed out here and details a great story of how he fell in love with Ella, unlike the animated version where he’s pretty one-dimensional and somehow we all believe that he gets Cinderella to fall in love with him and marry him. Just what did he do to her at the ball actually (Animated version)? Well, perhaps that’s why it was originally a Disney animated movie.

 

 

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Dracula Untold Bites: A Review

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Credited to pantip.com

Dracula, arguably the world’s most famous vampire created by Bram Stoker, gets yet another big screen incarnation, having seen countless adaptations over the years in both movie and television form. But wait, we’re told, this one’s different because, well, because it’s Dracula UNTOLD, thank you very much.

So what is the deal with this latest Dracula incarnation? Just what is this untold part exactly that we just have to know about Count Dracula? In a nutshell, this movie is, as being touted about by Universal, the cast, and press is that it is a prequel, the story of how Count Dracula became the Count Dracula that we all know and love. If you’re going by the book by Stoker, the Count there is a really old vampire fellow but in this movie, he’s the extremely hot and buff Luke Evans. Fair enough. After all, it’s a Hollywood flick, who really wants to see an old guy be an action hero anyway. (I would pay to see that though, even if the stunts were performed by a younger stuntman, and this totally excludes The Expendables gang or any Liam Neeson Taken movies BTW). I would like to a see a sole older man kind of character be the hero and save the world for once, but that is irrelevant for now, instead let’s just focus on Hollywood’s obsession with youth.

For many years now, we’ve been told that Dracula has been inspired by the real life historical figure, Vlad the Impaler. Or as some quarters know him, Vlad III. This piece of information is something that everyone has been fed with consistently, a sort of general trivia if you may. However, recent reports suggest that perhaps Bram Stoker was not exactly inspired by Mr Vlad’s tale, just his family title apparently, Dracula. We now delve into the “Dracula Untold” review.

The movie establishes that Dracula was Vlad Tepes immediately. From his name to title, fancy castle, everything. Young Vlad Tepes was conscripted as a child soldier for the Turks upon the demand by the Sultan that one thousand boys must be given to him in exchange for Vlad’s dad to keep on being king of his kingdom and Vlad’s dad agrees. So young Vlad grows up with the Turks, becoming a killing, fighting machine, and slaughtering villages just, as the narration states, so that other villages can live, impaling them, thus the Vlad the Impaler title.

In exchange for his services, Vlad (Luke Evans) is allowed to be king of his country and the whole practice of giving a thousand boys for war purposes is abolished, at least for ten years. Vlad now has a happy family with a beautiful wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and cute son Ingeras (Art Parkinson). But alas, one day, the Turks make an about-turn and send a delegation on the pretext of collecting their usual tithes from Vlad’s country; they want to resume their thousand boys practice again, which includes Vlad’s son.

              Credited to http://f.ptcdn.info

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Naturally, Vlad is aghast. After all, its been ten years, and now the Turks are resuming that archaic practice again? Vlad is torn into repeating his father’s practice in exchange for his country’s safety. His wife Mirena begs Vlad to appeal to his childhood BFF, Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) of the Turks to spare them of this abhorrent practice, especially for their son’s sake. So off Vlad goes; unfortunately no, the Sultan won’t budge and Vlad has no choice but to agree to spare his country from the Turks’ wrath because he has no army of his own.

While handing over his son to the Turks, Vlad makes an about turn and resorts to the only way he can to save his country. To the legendary vampire monster that resides in the mountains, the Master Vampire (Charles Dance). The Master, possibly the best character in this movie, gives Vlad a choice; drink his blood and turn into a vampire complete with vampire powers and all, but he must refrain from drinking blood for three days before he can revert to human form. Easy said than done. I’m sure we all know what becomes of Dracula in the end anyway; so this movie is to see how Vlad manages to struggle to control his new lust for blood while leading his people at war.

                                                                                                                        Credited to terrorama.net

Dracula-Untold Master Vampire

In scenes reminiscent of when superheroes first gain their powers, Vlad discovers his newly acquired vampire abilities and uses it to good effect in the first battle against the Turks. The CGI work in these scenes are amazing and are not really gory as one would expect from a movie titled “Dracula Untold” as one would expect. (No wonder, due to its PG-13 rating). Instead, the battle scenes are exciting,      fast-paced, and make for great viewing on the big screen. Spoiler here: This scene is where Vlad squares off against a thousand men and beats them all. Watch it if you can; it’s amazing.

Of course; Vlad’s trusted advisers are puzzled as to how their king managed to beat a thousand men and come out relatively unscathed. Vlad successfully manages to conceal his powers and blood lust other than to his wife Mirena. Though Sarah Gadon does her job well as Vlad’s wife and Ingeras’s mother, her role is reduced to a merely ineffective female figure. However, she does serve as an important catalyst for Vlad in this movie so look out for that. As for the depiction of the Turks; while I understand that this is Hollywood and you do not rely on Hollywood for accurate depictions of minorities or rather historical facts that involve minorities, etc, the Turks here were reduced to a mere caricature of themselves. I am not saying that Hollywood gets it wrong all the time, obviously there are plenty of great biopics and other depictions have been fine but typically this is what Hollywood is known for. Hollywood gives a little leeway to history. This movie itself is embroiled in a controversy purportedly for its anti-Islamic depictions but, as mentioned previously, it’s a Hollywood movie so watch it with an open mind. Do that and you’ll get a truly entertaining flick that does its job of entertaining you during its an hour and a half run. I for one was thoroughly entertained watching this flick (being a vampire buff does not count) in enhancing my enjoyment of this film.

For historical facts in a quickie, the real Vlad the Impaler had a penchant for killing and impaling his victims. He was later defeated by the Turks, who were assisted by Vlad’s very own brother Radu. To know more and decide on whether he was a villain or hero, do look out for the information yourself by doing a little research. Back to the movie then…

The cast give good performances especially Charles Dance, even in his brief turn here as the Master Vampire. Of course lead actor Luke Evans is charismatic as the humanized Dracula who is trying to protect his country and family. However, the supporting characters don’t really stand out and are rather forgettable. Even the villain Sultan Mehmed is rather one-dimensional. Sarah Gadon’s Mirena is bland but she does her best with the limited material she is given. Credit should be given to the cast for making do with whatever they were thrown at and making the best out of it.

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Credited to in-this-life-and-the-next.tumblr.com

This movie, though exciting and quite a good movie actually, suffers from a déjà vu syndrome, especially if you’ve been exposed to all the numerous vampire and supernatural television series on television and other vampire movies. It’ll all look rather familiar as it has been done before and you can’t really try to present something new and fresh in vampire movies when it involves blood and biting into victims. Dracula Untold is obviously a historical and literary fusion genre movie unless you want to believe that Vlad III really did obtain his lust for blood by making a deal with a Master Vampire and therefore later acts like a superhero, this is where we are told the Dracula Untold part comes in.

While the ending of the movie was satisfactory, I’m sure most would have heard that Universal are planning on making a ‘Monster Universe’ franchise ala Marvel and DC with its Superheroes stable. They will be releasing upcoming movies of their iconic monsters such as Frankenstein and the reboot of The Mummy movie. You could definitely tell the reshoot of the ending which sets itself up for a sequel and potential Monster universe franchise movies start-up. Frankly, I thought the obvious original ending was fine without the addition of the unnecessary re-shot ending. This movie may not satisfy Dracula purists but at the end of the day, I would recommend it just for its high entertainment value.

The Lego Movie: Building Blocks to Movie Success

the-lego-movie-logoCredited to collider.com

 

Lego, those toy building blocks that almost every child has heard of and played with. Legos have become synonymous with childhood toys. That’s not to say that adults haven’t actually retained their love for Legos that there are now occupations for Lego builders or die-hard Lego connoisseurs who collect Legos and develop Lego models as a hobby.
This brings us to the gist of the Lego movie. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone thought of an actual Lego movie before? Other than video games based on certain models of Lego that were actually based on existing movie franchises, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, or the Lord of the Rings? I know that there are many other Lego-based on movie games and such movies but let’s just take those three as prime examples. What I mean is a true standalone Lego movie until of course, this movie arrived.
Hearing the name, The Lego Movie, the title is just so…generic. But then again so is Disney & Pixars’s Toy Story and we all know how great those movies are. Then again, there are also plenty of other generic-sounding movies, but we lap them up, whether good or bad. But rethinking it, The Lego Movie is also a great title because it does its job in telling us, that hey, this movie is about Legos and it’s a damn movie. And besides, the prospect of a Lego movie is just so cool that if anyone asked if I were willing to be a part of a Lego movie, I would’ve done it for free.
The Lego movie starts with Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) trying to protect the Kragle, a super weapon with powers to decide the fate of the Lego Universe from President Business (Will Ferrell). We then move forward to eight and a half years later where we meet a normal Lego figurine guy named Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt). Now, we know the Lego world encompasses many different worlds and many more Lego sets. It’s amazing that somehow, this movie manages to incorporate almost all the occupants of the Lego universe and still make it work. Back to Emmet, this Lego dude is just so ordinary. He is as ordinary as you can get, pretty much how ordinary all of us would think that life is. That is, work, eat, watch television, and sleep. Every single day of his life. He is, by definition, your average; regular guy. There is absolutely nothing special about Emmet. He, together with the rest of his city, are pretty much living such ordinary lives that they do everything their leader President Business tells them to do. From watching the same television programme, having the same hobbies, and liking the same song (“Everything is Awesome” is super catchy and all, but it’s EVERYONE’S favourite song). Imagine having to share that honour?

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Credited to laughspin.com

One day, Emmet spots an intruder at his workplace just as he’s about to head home. This leads him to stumble upon the secret of the Lego universe that can bring about change, The Piece of Resistance. However, before he can even touch it, he is caught by Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) but is rescued by the intruder. This said intruder, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) believes that regular Emmet is actually The Special, the one who is the key to a revolution in the Lego Universe. So she takes him to the head of her team, Vitruvius where Emmet is made to understand the roles of “Master Builder”. It turns out that President Business has hatched a plan to, other than already controlling the citizens of Emmet’s city, now wants to freeze the entire Lego universe using the Kragle. The Kragle is actually a tube of super glue, that, when applied to Lego figurines, renders them stuck permanently.

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Credited to http://24.media.tumblr.com

A “Master Builder” is basically a Lego figure (which all the characters are) that can well; build Lego structures without any instructions unlike Emmet and his cohorts who have been brainwashed into relying on instructions for everything in life. President Business discovers that The Special has been found and sends his henchmen to capture him. Thus, Emmet and company attempt to escape and alas, much to Vitruvius and Wyldstyle’s dismay, Emmet displays absolutely no special “Master Builder” skills. They manage to escape after being rescued by Batman (Will Arnett), Wyldstyle’s boyfriend. The company soon head off to Cloud Cuckoo Land, Middle Zealand where other “Master Builders” have gathered. These Master Builders range from many recognisable and iconic figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Superman, Gandalf, and Wonder Woman, among many others. There, Emmet is told the story of how various attempts have been made to retrieve the Kragle, to no avail and how President Business has cracked down on this movement by imprisoning many “Master Builders”. Emmet then, while giving a speech, explains that there is absolutely nothing remotely special that he can do but promises to help. This infuriates several segments of the “Master Builders” who were expecting a miraculous solution but before they can react, President Business has already invaded the place and have the “Master Builders” arrested.

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Credited to http://czasdzieci.pl

Our heroes manage to escape. They hatch a plan to break into President Business’s headquarters and take hold of the Kragle as well as rescue all the “Master Builders” to foil President Business’s plans. How they manage to sneak into headquarters, tune in and see. Once in headquarters, they manage to execute the plan but Emmet and Wyldstyle still gets caught by President Business. This is when the movie moves to a live-action part. It is at this point that I found the movie slightly bewildering. Like, why is there a live-action part of the movie and why is Will Ferrell in it? Granted, Will Ferrell does voice President Business but what in the world…? I found this part incredibly jarring and disjointing to the movie. However, there is a reason why the live action part is included and to understand, you’ll just need to watch the movie. It all ties brilliantly in the end and when we eventually return to the Lego universe and we’ll get to see whether Emmet and company prevail. The ending works well because the movie is targeted mainly towards children but adults will enjoy it just as much. Overall, a great beginning for the Lego movie franchise to start on.
In other good news is; it has been announced that there will indeed be a sequel. So for those who enjoy watching talking Lego figures and the Lego world (should be everybody), do keep a lookout for its sequel coming soon in 2017.

 

Disney’s Frozen: Warms Hearts

Frozen TitleCredited to http://24.media.tumblr.com

Disney, the mega-juggernaut entertainment company has unleashed their latest animated movie, Frozen. This is their 53rd animated feature stretching back from the very first Disney animated movie release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves way back in 1937. An impressive feat considering the 67 year age gap, with 53 animated films not counting all the Disney cartoons made prior or after the release of Snow White.

As an avid Disney fan and growing up on a staple of Disney animated movies (as most kids are), I, an adult woman in her 20s was as very eager and anticipating this new Disney release as much as had I still been a child. You gotta admit, Disney’s got some magic hold on us that even in adulthood; we still yearn for some good Disney movies. For most girls, that means Disney Princess movies. Having been impressed with the recent animated Disney movies that were produced such as The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Brave (not so much) so two out of three isn’t bad, and comparable to classic Disney animated movies such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin among many others. I had heard great early reviews about Frozen coupled with the buzz surrounding the excitement of having TWO Disney Princesses in one movie. Sweet.

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Credited to http://www.cartoonbrew.com

Frozen introduces us to the tale of Anna (Kristen Bell) and her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), two princesses who live specifically in a kingdom called Arendelle. Early on in their life, the two Princesses are cared for by their parents and as adults Elsa is crowned queen. Elsa, as a child possesses magical powers to control the frozen elements around her and while playing with her sister Anna, accidentally injures her. Thus, leading to damage control by her worried parents involving some form of Disney magic and a breakdown in the relationship between the two sisters. Go see the movie to see what I mean. In the midst of the girls growing up, we are treated to some traditional Disney musical performances. Surprise everyone, Kristen Bell has a fantastic singing voice which doesn’t come as a surprise when you realise she was discovered on Broadway before embarking on a screen acting career. These musical numbers, “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” and “For the First Time in Forever”, while good don’t seem to match the oomph exhibited  by previous Disney numbers such as say, “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast or “Colours of the Wind” from Pocahontas. Of course Idina Menzel is excellent in her singing considering her Broadway pedigree as is most of the supporting voice talent cast actually who are all Broadway vets.

A few years later, upon Elsa’s ascension to the throne, several misunderstandings lead Elsa to revealing her true abilities to the people of her kingdom. This of course shocks the kingdom who just can’t believe that their newly crowned queen is literally, an Ice Queen. Elsa flees into the mountains with her ice powers, away from the glare of her subjects, sister and repercussions. Of course, she gets to perform a rocking ballad while building her new ice castle, arguably the best song of the film, “Let It Go”. Meanwhile, Anna, who just as the entire kingdom is shell-shocked that big sis has icy powers, starts to piece together her childhood memories. Still equally protective and as any sister, concerned and worried about the whereabouts and state of her sister, decides to go out into the cold and bring her sister back. She does this while still dressed in the ball gown donned for her sister’s coronation. Atta girl. It should be noted that on Coronation Day, Anna has met Prince Hans from the Southern Isles and in the span of a day upon knowing him, agrees to his proposal of marriage. Therefore, she leaves her kingdom in the care of her fiancé while she looks for her sister.

Frozen GIFCredited to bp.blogspot.com

On her journey to finding her sister, girl obviously needs some help in the search-and-rescue department. While all for girl power, imagine searching for your loved ones in cold and frozen temperatures with absolutely no clue as to how exactly where or when to get there? While exchanging her ballroom kit for more appropriate safety gear at a lodge, Anna stumbles into mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven. Realising that he’s a seasoned mountaineer, she hires him as a guide to help her in the search for her sister. Reluctant at first (it is night time and the man’s got to sleep) he finally agrees after Anna tempts him with some big, fat money and the promise of a brand new sleigh.

FROZENCredited to http://collider.com

Now, as in any good Disney movie, you have to have some form of a Disney sidekick. Watching Anna, Kristoff, and Sven go off to search for Elsa is all intriguing, and VERY SERIOUS. There has to be some funny moments thrown in and this is the part where Olaf comes in. Olaf (Josh Gad) is a snowman somehow accidentally created by Elsa while on the run. Olaf is a remnant from both Elsa and Anna’s childhood as he was the snowman that they used to make as children. Olaf is the classic epitome of a Disney sidekick joining the likes of previous Disney sidekicks such as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, and Iago from Aladdin among many others. I cite classic Disney sidekicks as they’re more memorable unlike recent modern Disney flicks where I just can’t recall any. He’s there to be the comic relief in the movie otherwise the movie would be extremely drag-gy and very serious in tone. Josh Gad is extremely entertaining voicing Olaf making his character extremely likeable as well as appealing, especially to children. It is a Disney flick after all.

92956-disney-frozen-gif-XbMCCredited to pandawhale.com

The best part about this new Disney offering is that there are no clear-cut villains. Well, maybe there is but, no spoilers, he is quite a predictable baddie if you really watch the movie and is less of a threat than the traditional Disney villain. Basically, the villains that have to be battled are the challengers faced by the two Princess Sisters themselves in order for them to rediscover their sisterly love.

The two lead actresses, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel do a fantastic job voicing their characters as are the supporting cast in the form of Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad. The songs, though not as memorable as past Disney songs, are good especially the aforementioned standout, “Let It Go”. Overall, Frozen is a perfect addition to the Disney stables, a very modern Disney animated flick that will be enjoyed through the ages.

AnnaOlaf gif

Credited to imgur.com

My Man of Steel Review

Though it was released back in June,I finally got around to finishing my review of Man of Steel,what with it already on its way to DVD and grossing USD$600 million in box office receipts,still better late than never.

Without further ado,here is my Man of Steel review.

                                                                                                                Credited to fanpop.com

After countless incarnations of the red caped superhero, we yet again have another Superman flick merely seven years after the last one was released. Superman Returns (2006) anyone? While that flick wasn’t necessarily bad, I must confess I watched it in theaters when it was released, lured to it by the image of an attractive Brandon Routh on said movie poster. Then again, Superman spawning a child and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane is just a wee bit frightening to comprehend.

I wouldn’t go on a limb and call myself a die-hard Superman fan. Sure, I’ve watched several adaptations of the guy whether it was a movie or TV series. No, I have never read a single Superman comic book. As a child of the 90s, born in the late 80s, I’ve never watched the previous George Reeves incarnation. Surprisingly, I don’t recall watching the late, great Christopher Reeve’s portrayal either, maybe an occasional glance. Of course I am highly familiar with the 90s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV series and later Smallville that ran for ten seasons.Just call me a regular Superman fan.

The truth is; even if you aren’t a Superman fan, you’d be most familiar with him. Superman is a pop culture icon, managing to embed himself into our psyche ever since he burst out in the 1930s. He’s just a figure of cultural relevancy, managing to integrate himself into anything and everything by constantly reinventing himself according to the times. That could also be due to the many forms of Superman, through the multiple actors portraying him and the medium he’s been presented to us. There’s also the well documented Superman curse and it’s easy to see why he’s everybody’s favorite superhero. He was the first and will forever hold a dear place in our hearts.

Anyhow, back to the Man of Steel. When I first heard that Brit actor Henry Cavill had been cast as said Man of Steel himself, I was a little doubtful. The only thing I remembered Henry Cavill in was Showtimes’ The Tudors. That guy who played the friend to Jonathan Rhys Myer’s King Henry VIII. A few still images from the movie showing Henry as Superman didn’t help.People complained that Superman looked angry and menacing. And gasp, Superman arrested. Well geez people, maybe it was the camera angle, the set-up, gosh, just watch the movie!

The movie starts with its setting on Krypton, which as everybody knows is Superman’s birth place. Here, we can see the decaying state of Krypton and an introduction to three main characters namely Jor-El, his wife Lara Lor-Van, and General Zod. Oh yes, there was Faora too so that makes it four but only three main players. Oh, and a bunch of council members but never mind them, they’re kinda irrelevant. Anyhow, when I first saw Russell Crowe playing Jor-El, I was kinda surprised. I had no idea he was even in the movie, to me his casting was kinda low key. I even expected Crowe to just make a random cameo in the movie as Superman’s dad and then adios Jor-El when Krypton goes boom, as we all know it would. But it was heartbreaking to see him die in the movie, I expected Lara to die after, but you’ll just have to see the movie to see how her fate turns out. General Zod and company get banished into outer space and little Kal-El is of course shipped off to Earth.

We are then shown the grown Kal-El, or Clark Kent as he is known in the form of the extremely buff and built Henry Cavill. But this isn’t the same bespectacled Clark Kent that we’re used to in previous incarnations of Superman working at the Daily Planet but a hard-hitting, rough and rugged odd job laborer Clark Kent. Like seriously, in the twenty minutes that we’re introduced to Kent, he’s taught a lesson to a harassing bar bully and rescuing men on a burning oil rig shirtless.Director Zack Snyder manages to exploit Cavill’s looks very early on in the movie.This version of Superman is a little different than previous Supermans in the fact that Clark Kent doesn’t yet understand the limits of his powers until later. There are no scenes of Martha and Jonathan Kent joyously finding their new child from the ship and the child Clark Kent lifting cars to retrieve his ball. Because those scenes are scenes that we are used too and there is a need to upgrade this new reboot of Superman. Instead, what we get are flashbacks of Clark’s childhood which help us understand his journey to becoming who he is and the man he has become. I was wary of the casting of Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Like, ain’t Martha Kent a grandma and not a MILF? While not the best performance from Lane, we’ve seen her better; she did a solid job in her limited role. It turns out that Lane was aware of her limited screen time but accepted the role as her character was a crucial support to the film. Kudos however goes to Kevin Costner in his brief turn as Jonathan Kent, he made an impact in his role as Clark’s Earth dad who raises his son to conceal his powers until the world is truly ready to accept a man with super powers like him.

                                                                         

                                                                                                         Credited to nokia.com

Henry Cavill plays his role well as the brooding Kal-El/Clark Kent, a man who doesn’t understand why he is so different than others and is forced to control and hide his feelings from the world. There is no one to empathize with Clark’s condition though his Earth parents do try. Credit goes to Michael Shannon who plays the villainous General Zod avenging on his incarceration by the rulers of Krypton and a desire to seek out Kal-El and restore Krypton to its former glory. The cast members who truly stole the show were Michael Shannon as General Zod, Russell Crowe as the resurrected as a download Jor-El, and as previously mentioned Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. Ah, but what about Amy Adams as Lois Lane? I was also wary of the casting of Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Let’s face it, Amy Adams as Lois Lane is just a little far-fetched. She is also a well-known REDHEAD. As everyone knows,Amy Adams is a damn good actress and of course aces her role. But isn’t Lois Lane an eternal brunette? Before you start protesting with your pitchforks, this is of course a reboot. Director Zack Snyder explained that as Lois Lane is a very busy reporter, she just has no time to think about something as trivial as her hair color. Adams’ version of Lois Lane is modern, independent, feisty, precisely the portrayal of a modern-day journalist is. It is a refreshing take on Lois Lane. Unfortunately, there is a downside. For all the tales of the ultimate love story epitomized by Lois Lane and Clark Kent, Cavill and Adams absolutely lack chemistry. It’s hard to believe that these two are going to form one of the best love partnerships of all time, the love story here just seems a bit rushed. However, understandably this film does serve as an origins story to Superman barring any future sequels. The focus in this film is not the love story which we get in a hint of something, watch the film.

                                                                    

                                                                                                  Credited to filmonic.com

A complaint about this film is the over-excessive use of CGI effects which are incredible in the battle scenes between Superman and General Zod, but just leave the story-telling part of the movie incredibly lacking. Yeah, we get it Snyder, you just love blowing up buildings and the world ala Transformers but still? A movie’s got to have a story and this is where Man of Steel falters. Not to say that the movie wasn’t great, it wasn’t, it was a good superhero flick. It however could’ve been a lot better if the filmmakers had given a lot of thought to the storytelling aspect and character development instead of caring about how much destruction they were able to inflict on the world. Hopefully, these areas would be addressed in the announced sequel with Snyder and writer David S. Goyer already on board.

All in all, a good Superman reboot film and a great introduction to the Superman franchise for this generation.