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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
2005 | Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi
Visuals, Acting, Deep Roy (0 more)
Missing some sentimental value (I prefer the original) (0 more)
C is for Candy
Contains spoilers, click to show
And yes, I certainly mean eye candy. Johnny Depp is gorgeous despite the makeup artists’ attempts to make him seem pale and awkward. My brain isn’t working properly due to lack of sleep so I’ll just go ahead and warn you that this is more a regurgitation than a review. Read at your own risk, because I even give the entire ending of the movie away…

This is the story of Charlie Bucket, an impoverished but genuinely good-natured child. His dream is one of millions: to win a Golden Ticket, and tour Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in the hopes of obtaining an even bigger prize. If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or have read the book. I profess my ignorance, for I haven’t read the book Roald Dahl wrote, and therefore have no idea which movie version adheres more strictly to the original text.

Let’s move on by more closely examining Burton’s version. Despite some of the world’s most recalcitrant children winning the four other tickets, Charlie lucks out and becomes the recipient of the last Golden Ticket. This brings great joy to his family and even makes the bed-ridden Grandpa Joe ambulatory again. I love Charlie’s family, especially because his Dad works in a toothpaste factory but everyone in the family has nasty teeth.

The glorious day of the tour arrives and each child shows up with a parental or grandparental guardian. They are introduced first to Willy Wonka by means of a puppet show, which ends in a glorious and unintentional fire. With the smoldering puppets dying disturbingly in the background, Wonka appears with cue cards, giving the impression that the man has no idea how to socially interact. The group then enters the factory.

The first child to be eliminated from the contest is Augustus Gloop. The group has been given free reign of a room made entirely of candy. Augustus cannot resist the lake of chocolate, and he falls in. He is sucked up a tube that leads to the fudge room. Then the Oompa Loompas appear and perform a song engineered for this particular predictable tragedy.

The Oompa Loompas in Burton’s version are short, and they do not have orange hair, but they all have the same face and body. Deep Roy, the actor portraying the Oompa Loompas, deserved an Oscar for effort in my book, for the special features indicate how very involved he was with this production. The songs sung by the Oompa Loompas varied significantly from those in the older version. In fact, I enjoyed how each song of admonishment involved a specific genre of music.

Next Violet Beauregard, the competitive one, is turned into a blueberry by chewing gum. And then we have the case of the sad and supremely spoiled Veruca Salt, who ends up getting thrown down a garbage chute by some very judgmental and highly trained squirrels. After each young lady has been expelled from the contest, the Oompa Loompas say adieu with a musical number.

Throughout the film, Wonka has flashbacks about his father. It seems the elder Wonka was a dentist, and he forbade the young Willy to eat candy. Several scenes show Willy Wonka defying the will of his father, which ultimately led Willy to be a world-renowned chocolatier. Though it was nice to have this subplot as an explanation for some of Wonka’s erratic behavior, I found that I like Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Willy Wonka better. He was whimsical and strange, but the film and the actor seemed to offer no explanation as to how he got that way.

Mike Teavee, a young boy with the attention span of a gnat on amphetamines, is the last of the factory’s victims. He decides to teleport himself into a television screen, which I’m sure seemed like a good idea at the time. Teavee is shown in peril as an Oompa Loompa flips the channels. Now incredibly small, Wonka decides that the best remedy for Mike is the taffy pulling machine.

Charlie is the only child left, and Wonka ushers Charlie and Grandpa Joe into the glass elevator. According to the button, they are going up and out. Indeed, they do, eventually stopping when they crash through the roof of the Bucket house. The grand prize is revealed: Willy Wonka is giving Charlie the factory. This becomes impossible when Wonka forces Charlie to choose between factory and family. Eventually, Wonka reconciles his Daddy issues and allows Charlie’s family to stay at the factory.

The visual effects in this film were amazing. As mentioned previously, Deep Roy was incredible as the face of the many Oompa Loompas. I thought the child actors in this film were also impressive in how they perfectly captured their respective vices. Overall, this was a good film. And yet I still miss moments from the older film, especially the poem with “the grisly reaper mowing.” Call me sentimental…
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
2005 | Comedy, Sci-Fi
Making films from books has always been a tricky proposition. For every film adaptation that hits it big such as Jaws, Lord of the Rings and The Silence of the Lambs, there are several that fail to work or are downright disasters such as The Bonfire of the Vanities.

In the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Douglas Adams first book in his classic series has finally arrived on the big screen after many delays getting started and a successful version on PBS.

The film stars Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, a simple, easy going fellow whose entire goal in life is to stop the demolition of his beloved home from those who want to put a new highway in its current location.

As Arthur attempts to block the demolition, his good friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), arrives and stalls the demolition with free beer for the work crew. Thinking he has been saved, Arthur is puzzled when Ford takes him to a local pub and buys rounds for the entire pub, saying the world is ending in a few minutes.

Ford in reality is an alien visiting the Earth and learns that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a new galactic expressway. Before he knows what has happened, Arthur is whisked away seconds before the destruction of the Earth by Ford as they end up on a ship of the demolition fleet.

After a series of bizarre events and a narrow escape, Ford and Arthur end up on a passing ship that has been stolen by galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who just happens to be the lady of Arthur’s dreams and who is also unaware that the Earth has been destroyed in the short amount of time since she left Earth to explore with Zaphod.

As if this was not enough, the ship also has a depressed android named Marvin (Warwick Davis and voiced by Allan Rickman).

It is at this point that the film goes horribly wrong as the amusing and interesting setup quickly goes nowhere. While the crew is sent on a series of quests, each becomes less interesting than the one before it, and the very bland production values of the film are exposed. The sets are very basic and look as if they were borrowed from many of the budget driven British Sci-Fi that frequents PBS. Somehow the idea of an alien room being nothing but a rusty wall and a slapped up sign just does not cut it for me. At times I thought I was watching a home video production done by fans or another late night B movie rather than a major studio summer release.

As bad as the sets were what is even more amazing was the at times laughable attempts at visual effects where it was obvious that the actors were standing in front of screens as the matting lines were visible.

I tried to put a lot of this off to the idea that the film was trying to be quirky in keeping with the book, but quirky is not an excuse for underwhelming effects, basic sets, and lousy costuming and make up effects as I half expected to see zippers on the costumes of many aliens that looked like they were cobbled from parts at a hardware store.

So now that I have covered my issues with the look of the film, let’s look at the story itself. In a word: boring. I could not believe how dull and lazy the film became, and how the staff seemed to be going through the motions. The cast has zero chemistry and Rockwell is so frantic that his character is annoying to watch. After five minutes of his rock star in the spotlight style shtick, I wanted to strangle the character or at least get him on some serious medication.

Director Garth Jennings also has many scenes that simply go nowhere or drag on only to cut at odd times resulting in a complete and utter lack of pacing.

I am a big fan of the book series and I had very high hopes for this film. Sadly the disaster that resulted may very well have Douglas Adams spinning in his grave as his classic work was destroyed. I have to wonder how much of his original draft for the script that was used as the basis for the film survived.

While extreme die hard fans may enjoy the film, even they are likely to be disappointed and I can only hope that if they try to make the next book in the series, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, they do a much better job then this effort, as this is one awful film adaptation.
After Earth (2013)
After Earth (2013)
2013 | Action, Sci-Fi
5.1 (12 Ratings)
Movie Rating
M Night Shyamalan is a director of two-halves. On one hand we have the man who gave us the amazing blockbusters Signs, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, which were met with commercial and critical success; and on the other hand we have the man who tortured the cinema-going public with abominations like The Lady in the Water, The Village and perhaps one of the worst films of all time, The Happening.

However, despite his recent offerings, the studios are allowing him to have another go, teaming up with Will Smith and his son Jaden in the sci-fi thriller After Earth. But can it mark a return to form for the struggling director?

After Earth begins with Jaden Smith getting the audience up to speed with exactly what has happened before the film began. The human race has had to leave the planet to ensure the continuation of our species after purging all the resources Earth had to offer.

Their new home, Nova Prime is a hostile environment, not unlike Mars in appearance with its rugged, red rocks and sweeping planes of space sand. After years of peace, an alien race intends to conquer their new home and enslave mankind with their secret weapons, the Ursas. These predatory beasts are technically blind, but sense fear and because of their grotesque appearance, it is easy to see why they can kill so quickly. The only way to survive an Ursa attack is to ‘ghost’, to not secrete the fear they need to ‘see’ you.

Jaden Smith plays Kitai, a young cadet who is on a training regime to become a ranger like his father Cypher (Will Smith). It’s fair to say they have a fraught relationship which is in part to Cypher being away for long periods of time defending Nova Prime, and partly because of the death of his daughter at the hands of an Ursa; something which Kitai blames himself for.

In an attempt to bond the pair together, their mother Faia, played briefly by Sophie Okonedo, convinces Cypher to take Kitai on his last voyage before retirement. On their journey their ship is severely damaged by an asteroid field and subsequently crashes on an inhospitable planet; no prizes for guessing where.

After discovering that his father has two badly broken legs, Kitai realises, with a little help from his dad, that he must travel 100km through Earth’s once pleasant land to retrieve an emergency signalling beacon – otherwise, they will die.

What ensues is a formulaic father, son bonding story mixed in with some mildly entertaining action pieces which try and get the heart racing. The problem with the film as a whole is that we, as the audience, never really sense any danger. Despite Kitai being attacked by a troop of baboons, poisoned by a leech and almost eviscerated by a group of big cats, we never think anything too awful is going to happen, simply because the film would be pointless if the duo weren’t rescued in the end.

Side-lining one of Hollywood’s most loved actors with two broken legs was a brave move by Shyamalan and it is done with a small degree of success. Smith senior suffers as a result of being bed-ridden for the duration and doesn’t perform as well as some of his other recent roles; I am Legend and I, Robot being prime examples. This isn’t to say that he isn’t engaging, as he always is, but it falls well short of his best characterisations.

The major fault with After Earth is in its leading man. Jaden Smith is a good actor, but he is not good enough to carry an entire film for over 90 minutes, we see him shout, pout and look into the camera longingly, but there is little else here and that’s a shame. He lacks the charisma and the charm that has made his father such a joy to watch over the years.

Special effects are a mixed bag, in some sequences, like the sweeping shots of Nova Prime and the cities which are dotted across its landscape, the effect is very good and the 4k resolution that Shyamalan has filmed in makes everything look crisp and sharp. However, the CGI animals, especially the big cats and the Ursa alien look a little like something pre-2000 and are disappointing.

Overall, After Earth is not as bad as the reviews and its dire box-office performance would suggest, and comparing it to Battlefield Earth is downright ridiculous. It is by no means a masterpiece, but as a slice of cheesy, sentimental popcorn entertainment it succeeds and does so well. Will Smith and his son Jaden are good, but not outstanding and the special effects look rushed – but this is offset by a wonderful soundtrack and a surprisingly deep and meaningful story. It may not be the career revival that Shyamalan was hoping for, but if this is the last film he directs he can at least be content. Set your expectations low and you’ll come out pleasantly surprised.
The Tingler (1959)
The Tingler (1959)
1959 | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
7.5 (2 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Vincent Price (1 more)
William Castle
When You Scream
The Tingler- is a excellent movie and if you havent watched it than go watch it.

The plot: Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) has made a surprising discovery -- the spine-chilling sensation that people get when scared is due to a parasite that he dubs the "tingler." Chapin concludes that in extreme circumstances, prolonged fear can cause the creature to damage a person's spine and even cause death if the victim can't scream, a theory that Oliver Higgins (Philip Coolidge) uses to deadly effect on his wife (Judith Evelyn). Soon the tingler that killed the woman is on the loose.

Castle used gimmicks to sell the film. The Tingler remains most well known for a gimmick called "Percepto!", a vibrating device in some theater chairs which activated with the onscreen action.

In a similar manner as Universal's Frankenstein (1931), Castle opened the film with an on-screen warning to the audience:

"I am William Castle, the director of the motion picture you are about to see. I feel obligated to warn you that some of the sensations—some of the physical reactions which the actors on the screen will feel—will also be experienced, for the first time in motion picture history, by certain members of this audience. I say 'certain members' because some people are more sensitive to these mysterious electronic impulses than others. These unfortunate, sensitive people will at times feel a strange, tingling sensation; other people will feel it less strongly. But don't be alarmed—you can protect yourself. At any time you are conscious of a tingling sensation, you may obtain immediate relief by screaming. Don't be embarrassed about opening your mouth and letting rip with all you've got, because the person in the seat right next to you will probably be screaming too. And remember—a scream at the right time may save your life."

William Castle was famous for his movie gimmicks, and The Tingler featured one of his best: "Percepto!". Previously, he had offered a $1,000 life insurance policy against "Death by Fright" for Macabre (1958) and sent a skeleton flying above the audiences' heads in the auditorium in House on Haunted Hill (1959).

"Percepto!" was a gimmick where Castle attached electrical "buzzers" to the underside of some seats in theaters where The Tingler was screened. The buzzers were small surplus airplane wing deicing motors left from World War II. The cost of this equipment added $250,000 to the film's budget. It was used predominantly in larger theaters.

During the climax of the film, The Tingler was unleashed in the movie theater, while the audience watched Tol'able David (1921), in which a young woman escapes the unwanted advances of her boyfriend and is targeted. In the real-life theater, a woman screamed and then pretended to faint; she was then taken away in a stretcher, all part of the show arranged by Castle. From the screen, the voice of Price mentioned the fainted lady and asked the rest of the audience to remain seated. The film-within-a-film resumed and was interrupted again. The projected film appeared to break as the silhouette of the tingler moved across the projection beam. The image of the film went dark, all lights in the auditorium (except fire exit signs) went off, and Price's voice warned the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The tingler is loose in this theater!" This cued the theater projectionist to activate the Percepto! buzzers, giving some audience members an unexpected jolt, followed by a highly visible physical reaction. The voices of scared patrons were heard from the screen, replaced by the voice of Price, who explained that the tingler was paralyzed and the danger was over. At this point, the film resumed its normal format, which was used for its epilogue

An alternate warning was recorded for drive-in theaters; this warning advised the audience the tingler was loose in the drive-in. Castle's voice was substituted for Price's in this version.

Castle's autobiography, Step Right Up!: I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America, erroneously stated that "Percepto!" delivered electric shocks to the theater seats.

To enhance the climax even more, Castle hired fake "screamers and fainters" planted in the audience There were fake nurses stationed in the foyer and an ambulance outside of the theater. The "fainters" would be carried out on a gurney and whisked away in the ambulance, to return for the next showing.

Although The Tingler was filmed in black-and-white, a short color sequence was spliced into the film. It showed a sink (in black-and-white) with bright-red "blood" flowing from the taps and a black-and-white Evelyn watching a bloody red hand rising from a bathtub, likewise filled with the bright red "blood". Castle used color film for the effect. The scene was accomplished by painting the set white, black and gray and applying gray makeup to the actress to simulate monochrome.

Excellent Film.
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell | 2009 | Children
8.1 (29 Ratings)
Book Rating
Forgive me Readers, for I have sinned; I am ashamed to admit it but Neil Gaiman only hit my radar a matter of months ago. There you go, I’ve said it; until a few months ago I was a Neil Gaiman virgin and none the wiser. I’m writing this whilst hanging my head in shame – no mean feat I can tell you, but I did promise to ‘bare all’ in this blog.

I first came across his name after reading my favourite novel of 2013 so far, The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern – which, I’ll be honest, is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. Simon Toyne’s Sanctus comes a close second for the pure enjoyment/escapism factor but The Night Circus absolutely knocked me sidewise; it is a truly magical read. I have intentionally NOT reviewed it because I don’t think I could ever do it justice. Take my advice and just read it. Preferably now. You won’t regret it. See how beautiful it is?

The Night Circus

Anyway, once I’d closed the book and picked myself up off the floor I started following Erin on twitter and she recommended Gaiman’s latest book – The Ocean at the End of the Lane, long before it was released on the 18th June. I am so in awe of her and her novel that frankly, I think I’d read anything she recommends. I immediately added it to my wish list but despite being an avid reader I rarely pre-order or buy a book when it first comes out. I don’t like hardbacks for starters; I much prefer the look and feel of a well-thumbed paperback. (Question – do you ever pre-order books and if so, which ones have you pre-ordered most recently? Leave me a comment).

Recently I headed along to Erin’s blog and came across this quotation: ‘I would not be the writer I am today without Neil Gaiman. I’m not sure I would even be a writer at all without him’. Well, that was it. I had to read a Neil Gaiman and I had to read it NOW. I decided to begin my Gaiman journey with The Graveyard Book.

From the moment I started reading it I started hearing Neil Gaiman mentioned all over the place. Isn’t that always the way?

The blurb says:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard being raised and educated by ghosts.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

When we first meet Bod at the start of the book, unbeknown to him his whole family have just been murdered in their beds. I was hooked from the incredibly lyrical first line: ‘There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife’. It reminded me vividly of the wonderfully creepy children’s story Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg: ‘On a dark dark hill, there was a dark dark town. In the dark dark town there was a dark dark street’.

The child escapes the house by chance and wanders into the local graveyard where the ghosts of the motherly Mrs Owens and her husband ‘foster’ him and name him ‘Bod’. The neither wholly alive nor wholly dead Silas is appointed his guardian and brings supplies and food from ‘outside’, and the story tracks his life in the graveyard until his teenage years, when he at last comes to confront the murderer of his family.

Over 306 pages and 8 chapters, Gaiman’s plotting and characterisation are faultless and the story flew by. The novel has been described as a supernatural take on Rudyard Kiping’s coming-of-age tale, The Jungle Book (Wordsworth Children’s Classics). The comparison is certainly credible. The cast of characters are so carefully drawn that despite nearly all of them being dead, they are somehow very much brought to life. Most memorable for me are the dead fuss-pot Mr Pennyworth, The Lady on the Grey, a human girl called Scarlett, a temperamental witch called Eliza and Miss Lupescu who resembles a supernatural strict school Ma’am (with a soft middle). My overall favourite has to be Silas though, who I became very attached to. Despite being gruff, cold and distant a lot of the time, he displays great love and affection for Bod and comes to treat him as a son.

The story isn’t all warm and fuzzy though. Far from it! After all, it is set in a graveyard and is certainly suitably creepy in places. There is one area of the Graveyard called The Barrow where the scary Sleer are lurking, at one point Bod enters the truly terrifying realm of Ghulheim and at another he watches a Danse Macabre. Underlying the supernatural elements, there is also the sense of a very real threat running throughout the story.

I absolutely loved all its twists and turns and darkness, and the illustrations in my copy by Chris Riddell just perfectly complement the creepiness. If you love Fairy Tales (who doesn’t love Fairy Tales?) or haven’t read one for years, give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
Monster High (Monster High, #1)
7.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
I am twenty years old and I loved this book more than I think an intelligent college student should. There were just way to many things that kept me from not turning the pages and walking away. In fact, I have only one negative thing to say about this book.

This is a book meant strictly for pleasure reading for fantasy and novels alike. While it kept true to the high school novel feel, it also had enough fantasy to make it that much more interesting than just high school girls worrying about losing their boy toys. It was similar to any other young adult novel I have read except for the one factor making it completely different: it revolves around the descendents of monsters. If it wasn’t for that, I probably would have hated this book. I have always loved everything to do with fantast monsters and creatures. The fact that Mattel created a doll series about it was cute, but the book made it enjoyable for an audience older than seven years of age.

 Quite honestly, I am tired of all the criticism of this book. It is meant to be a light-hearted, moral teaching novel meant for young adults, therefore, it is meant to relatable by teens. All the slang that the students use is how the real world is, people. I am sorry if you don’t understand their lingo, but it’s how kids are, especially high schoolers. They invent words that they think are cool and some tend to catch on. Melody’s family is from Beverly Hills. Why wouldn’t they have designer clothes? Frankie was born 15 days ago. What else would she wear but what magazines and the media tell her to, which just happens to be designer clothing. As for the celebrity names dropped, this is not in the leagues of Lewis or Tolkien. Few people will read this in 50 years when the current generation doesn’t know who Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber is. This was meant for the generation here and now.

This is not a deep novel people. There is no great mission by amazing warriors meant to save the world. The romance is just that: cute teen romance. No sex and no deep involved feeling that are too complicated. If this novel was not grown up for you, then you probably shouldn’t be picking up books from the young adult section. Try some Lukyanenko novels and then talk to me. Thanks.

Moving on. The books two main female characters are Melody and Frankie Stein. The description is a bit misleading, however. Frankie and Melody actually don’t even really talk to each until the end. Before tragedy strikes, bringing them together, the two are lost in their own little worlds, hardly even concerned with each other. Both girls are focused on making it a new community and high school, while dealing with major crushes and vicious students. Each makes their own friends. One’s are psychotic back-stabbers that need to have cell phone service banned and barred. The other’s are true and stand behind her even if they don’t agree with her.
The characters were adorable, crazy, funny, and had so much…well character. It was easy to tell one from another and I absolutely loved reading about them interacting with each other. Most of the novel had me either laughing, or setting the book aside until I could get over my empathetic embarrassment. I found myself sympathizing with all the characters’ points of view even though none of them know the whole picture like the reader does. Not to mention, sharing Frankie’s frustration. I was with her 100% even though I kept telling myself her parents’ way was the safest. How could you not feel frustrated when everyone was telling her to have pride in what she was and the forcing who to hide what she was? Hypocritical much? I thought so.

Now to the only negative thing I have to say about this book: I wanted to continuously shut Melody down. I found it down right annoying that she thought she knew how Jackson (Dr. Jekyll’s grandson) and Frankie (Frankenstein’s granddaughter) felt about being outcasts just because she had a nose she considered ugly. Are you kidding me? Really? I thought this was a poor attempt by Harrison to give Melody and Frankie some common ground. Being made fun of because of your nose is nowhere near the devastation of being hunted down because your grandfather was a chemical addict or a stitched together living doll. Oh, I am sure that it was tragic enough for Melody, but how dare she say she understood what it was like. Melody was never in mortal danger for her difference, so please, honey, get off your self-righteous horse.

The main reason I loved this book so much was because it was so distracting. It was such a light and fluffy book about the “simplicity” that is high school life. It was refreshing from all these novels nowadays where the protagonist is the only person capable of saving the world, their loved, blah blah blah, while the protagonist is some immensely powerful being. Note to writers: that scenario is getting old real quick.
V for Vendetta (2005)
V for Vendetta (2005)
2005 | Action, Thriller
On a dark and silent night, a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman), treads carefully through the streets of London unaware of the direction her life is about to take. As an attractive young lady, sneaking out of her home after curfew is filled with peril, especially when she is confronted by a gang of local thugs who happen to work for the government. Despite her protests, the men set up Evey only to be confronted by a masked figure.

The masked figure quickly dispatches the assailants and offers to escort Evey to safety. Despite being scared, Evey does accompany the figure to a rooftop where she is treated to a spectacular explosion set to music.

Thus begins V for Vendetta a film that mixes “The Phantom of the Opera” “Beauty and the Beast” and ?” to create a gothic love story and biting social commentary about the dangers of governmental control and censorship in a society gone awry.

In London of the near future, it is learned that a series of terrorist attacks have left thousands dead which resulted in stricter governmental controls and intrusions into privacy and lifestyles. Those who did not conform nor meet expectations often vanished never to be heard from again. Such was the case of Evey’s parents who decided to protest governmental policies and soon found themselves beaten and whisked away in the night.

Behind all of the oppression is a man named Adam Sutler (John Hurt), a monomaniacal leader who rules with an iron fist and an extreme agenda that he has manipulated to make himself and unopposed ruler of the nation.

While most of the population lives in fear of Sutler and his men, there is one who does not, a mysterious masked figure named V (Hugo Weaving), who dons a Guy Fawkes mask in tribute to the man who centuries ago attempted to destroy Parliament. When V is able to temporarily gain control of the television network for the government, he is able to broadcast his message to the people that the time has come to take back their lives and society and stop living in fear. Towards this end, V pledges to the masses that he will destroy Parliament in 1 year and that the people should gather to watch the destruction unfold.

This bold proclamation causes Sutler to stop at nothing to capture V and he tasks his Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea), to locate V. Since Evey worked at the television station and was observed helping V on a security monitor, Finch decides to locate Evey and force her to reveal the locale of the mysterious vigilante.

This task proves difficult as V has taken Evey into his protection and forces her to live in his luxurious yet secluded home in order to avoid the police forces.

It is during this time that Evey learns that V is a study in contrast. On one hand he is a very sophisticated person with a taste for the arts, culture, and a desire to see people free to live their lives as they desire.

During this time V also kills top members of the political party and with the discovery of each new victim, he becomes an even bigger target of a very irate Sutler.

All of which culminates in a race against the clock for V to complete his plan and exact his revenge for past wrongdoings done to him which propels the film to its climatic finale.

While the film is an interesting and at times enjoyable film it is hampered in some ways by a marketing program where early trailers showed the film to be an action filled romp. The truth is there is about 15-20 minutes of action in the films nearly 2hr and 10 minute run time which allows the majority of the film to be spent on the interaction between V and Evey.

While this is interesting and does bring in elements of “Phantom” and “Beauty” as I mentioned earlier, it is at the sacrifice of what I think are important factors. For example we learn a bit about why V is on his vendetta but serious questions from that are not answered. We do not learn the full what, where and why, on his situation. I am trying hard to avoid spoilers here so suffice it to say there are some very important questions about what was done to him, how he survived and so on that need to be answered but are not.

The action sequences though few and far between are well staged and Weaving and Portman have a great chemistry with one another and do make interesting and compelling characters.

The main strength of the film is the message that people need to be aware of what is going on around them and not be so willing to accept everything they are told at face value. There is a real sense of counter-culture with the film as the prevalent theme of question and if needed defy authority permeates the film.

The script written by the Wachowski brothers of The Matrix trilogy fame has chosen to tone down the gimmicky of bullet time effects and instead focus on a character driven drama with a message and it is one that resounds loudly and clearly.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
1940 | Classics, Comedy, Romance
10.0 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
It's as good (maybe better) than you've heard
We all know of movies that you hear are considered a "classic", but you've never seen, and the few clips of the film you've seen does not, exactly, motivate you to check out the entire film. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY was one such film for me. This 1940 George Cukor production is lauded for it's dialogue, direction and the stellar performances of the cast - particularly the 3 leads, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.

Recently, I attended our monthly "Secret Movie Night" where we pack the Willow Creek Movie Theater on the 2nd Thursday of every month and get treated to a "Classic" Film (made before 1970) or a "New Classic" (made after 1970), but we don't know what the film is until it starts playing on the screen.

So...imagine how much my eyes rolled back into my head when I saw that this month's film was the aforementioned THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. I sighed to myself and said "all right, time to endure this one all the way through."

And...I couldn't have been more wrong. Almost from the start the script, pacing and witty dialogue of this Broadway-Play-Turned-Movie swept me away. Most certainly aided by the fact that 3 of the best movie stars of all time - at the peak of their abilities - were letting this wonderful dialogue roll off their tongues. This film is a "classic" in every sense of the word.

The plot is...inconsequential. Basically...Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn) is getting remarried. Her ex-husband (Cary Grant) enlists the aid of a Journalist (Jimmy Stewart) to create havoc at the wedding.

But...this is a film where the journey, not the destination, is the fun of the flick. The 3 leads banter back and forth with each other, arming and disarming (and charming) one another with their quick wit and biting criticism. The Broadway Stage play was written, specifically, for Hepburn and she exceeds in this role. Here is a newsflash - KATHERINE HEPBURN IS A VERY GOOD ACTRESS - and I think this is the very best performance of the very best actress of all time (with apologies to Meryl Streep). She was nominated (but did not win) the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance (losing to a very deserving Ginger Rogers in KITTY FOYLE, I would have voted for Hepburn, but gotta give Rogers her due, she is very good as the titular KITTY FOYLE).

Stepping up to the plate - and matching Hepburn blow for blow - is, surprisingly, Stewart. I didn't really know the story of this film, so I was surprised where Stewart's character-arc went, especially in relation to his relationship with Hepburn. Stewart lost the Oscar in 1939 for his bravura performance in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (inexplicably losing to Robert Donat in GOODBYE MR. CHIPS), so the Academy made up for it's mistake by awarding Stewart the Oscar for Best Actor of 1940. This most certainly was a worthy Oscar-winning performance, but (if I"m going to be honest), pales in comparison to his work in MR. SMITH...

Looming over these two (and Tracy's impeding marriage to another person) is Cary Grant as Tracy's ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven. While Grant's role is the least showy of the 3, he commands the screen just with his presence whenever he shows up and strengthens this triangle with his strength of character.

The supporting cast is just as strong - Ruth Hussy (Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress) as a photographer, Roland Young (as the lecherous Uncle Willy) and, especially, 13 year old Virginia Weidler who is spunky, fun and smart as Tracy's kid sister. The only performer relegated to the back of the scenery is the bland John Howard as George Kittredge (the man Tracy is slated to marry). With Grant and Stewart on the scene, you know that Kittredge has no shot at getting Tracy Lord to the altar (or does he?).

All of these fine actors and the wonderful dialogue were put into the hands of the great Director George Cukor - who had 1 of his 5 Best Director Oscar Nominations for this film (he will win for MY FAIR LADY in 1964). He handles this film with skilled hands letting the actors (and the dialogue) "do their thing" without letting any of them overstay their welcome. It is a masterful job of directing and with strong actors (and off-screen personalities) like Hepburn, Grant and Stewart, he had his hands full.'s a 1940's movie, so some of the "social situations" (mostly male/female dynamics) do not age particularly well, but Hepburn was a strong personality - certainly well ahead of the game in terms of equality of strength of the sexes, so these dynamics do not jump at us as strongly as it might have been in a lesser actress's hands.

If you haven't seen this film in sometime (or if you haven't seen it at all) - check out THE PHILADELPHIA STORY - you'll be glad you did.

Letter Grade: A+

10 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
The King (2019)
The King (2019)
2019 | Biography, Drama, History
The visuals and audio are amazing. (0 more)
There has been a lot of talk about The King, it's not one that I would necessarily have picked but I do enjoy historical films and who doesn't like a good battle scene? With Timothée Chalamet in the lead and Robert Pattinson in a supporting role I had my doubts, I'm not a fan of either one particularly but in the end it changed my opinion... partly. What surprised me was that this was a Netflix film, from all the hype I had been expecting a general release and I think it would have done incredibly well at the cinema, but we shall see how it fairs online.

My historical knowledge is terrible, luckily the evening I saw this I was meeting a friend for dinner who would be my phone a friend for all things historical so I picked his brain. We compared notes and it seems like they haven't messed with the actual history of it too much, though he did admit to not being an expert on this period. Do let me know in the comments how it stands up against documented history if you're up to speed on the topic.

The film does a good job of keeping the timeline clear, it doesn't jump around unnecessarily and despite the obvious long time frame of real life the scenes capture and condense everything quite nicely.

I'm going to start covering the acting by talking about Robert Pattinson. I have never heard such a unanimous reaction to a performance in my life. From the sheer volume in the Odean Luxe I believe that as soon as he spoke everyone broke out laughing. It wasn't just the one time either, it was every time. I don't know anything about The Dauphin of France but perhaps he did have the stereotypical accent... I don't know if I want to give RPat the benefit of the doubt. Almost every scene he was in had a rather tragic comedy element, mostly that was the accent but later there's a scene that would have sat well in a silent black and white comedy skit, I did laugh, but it really didn't fit the tone of any part of the film that he wasn't in.

Timothée Chalamet hasn't made much of an impression on me so far in his acting career. Beautiful Boy wasn't my cup of tea and his parts in Lady Bird and Hostiles clearly didn't either as I only remembered them when skimming IMDb. In The King though I found him to be excellent, I didn't make a single negative note about his performance. Every scene, every emotion, every moment in battle landed perfectly. This really did turn my opinion of him around and I'll be looking forward to his next role a lot more.

Joel Edgerton as Sir John Falstaff is the comic relief this film needed, his moments were light and broke the tension in the perfect way. He's a very consistent actor whose a pleasure to watch on screen and he's a multi-talented fella to boot... writer, producer and actor in this, well played sir, well played.

Sean Harris will also be a familiar face to most of us, and I suspect the main go to for people would be the MI franchise though he's got over 50 acting credits including the UK actors' traditional stint on The Bill. Yet another great actor in the mix and he managed to bring the characteristics of William out with great effect in his performance.

Overall the cast was excellent, though a couple of performances may have been a little on the irritating side for me, that did feel more intentional than anything else when you took the scenes into consideration.

It's difficult to know whether I'm spoiling something or not, but this is based on historical fact so I'm going to say not... The build up to the battle seemed fitting and yet somehow understated for what was to follow. The sound and the visuals are stunning, I'm getting goosebumps just remembering it. The rumble of the horses, the arrows... the sound in the cinema was so powerful and it makes me a little sad that this is going straight to Netflix where that part won't meet its full potential for most of its streams.

The other worry is that the battle won't get the same impact on a smaller screen. The camera work in The King is amazing, you got the sense of claustrophobia and the crush of the fight as we were brought into the mob of actors. I was in awe watching it. I genuinely don't know how they successfully managed to film that whole sequence in what was essentially a pool of mud. It makes my mind boggle.

While I can't really get on board with Robert Pattinson in this film everyone else was a joy to watch. It's a shame it's a Netflix film, I commend them for making something this impressive but it really deserves a cinema experience, I'm thankful to LFF for giving me that honour.
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