25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: PADDINGTON 2

 

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Madeleine Harris (The White Queen)
Hugh Grant (About A Boy)
Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Ben Miller (Johnny English)
Jessica Hynes (Burke and Hare)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Eileen Atkins (Wild Target)
Richard Ayoade (The Watch)

Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, having settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, has become popular in his community, offering people emotional support in various ways. To purchase a unique pop-up book of London in Samuel Gruber’s antique shop for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington performs several odd jobs and saves his wages, but the book is stolen. Paddington gives chase, but the culprit escapes, and Paddington is framed and arrested. Although Mr Gruber and the Browns do not believe that Paddington stole the book, with no evidence that the thief existed, Paddington is wrongfully convicted and jailed. The thief soon returns home, and is revealed to be Phoenix Buchanan, an egotistical actor who lives opposite the Browns.Paddington 2 (2017)Whilst in prison, Paddington befriends many of the inmates, including the short-tempered chef Nuckles, who hires Paddington, impressed by his marmalade sandwich recipe. The Browns work to clear Paddington’s name, putting up sketches of the thief. Buchanan begins using the pop-up book to locate a series of clues within London’s famous landmarks, which he believes will unveil the location of a secret treasure. During their efforts to prove Paddington’s innocence, the Browns encounter a fortune teller who informs them that the stolen book leads to the hidden fortune of the original author.Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin in Paddington 2 (2017)With Paddington inside, the prison is a much livelier place, but Paddington struggles to remain positive when the Browns are unable to prove his innocence. Becoming convinced that Buchanan is the culprit, the Browns look for the stolen book inside his house. They find a secret attic where Buchanan’s various costumes are stashed, as well as the book itself. Before they can act further, Buchanan returns home and suspects something is wrong. Meanwhile, the Browns have missed a prison visit with Paddington, causing Paddington to believe that the Browns have forgotten all about him.Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington soon takes part in a prison break alongside several other inmates, including Nuckles, who promises to aid in proving his innocence but promptly abandons the idea in order to leave the country as a free man, inviting Paddington to come with him. Paddington refuses and, whilst roaming the streets and avoiding the police, uses a public telephone to contact the Browns, who assert that Buchanan is the real culprit. To catch him, they arrange to meet at Paddington Station, where a train carrying the supposed location of the hidden fortune is due to leave shortly.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington reaches the station and makes it onto the train just as it leaves – the Browns begin their pursuit in another steam train at the opposite platform. When caught up, Henry Brown and Mrs. Bird board the other train and confront Buchanan, who overwhelms them and makes good his initial escape. Paddington is left stranded in the train’s rear carriage which Buchanan severs the coupling for, leaving it to crash into a nearby river. Mary Brown tries to rescue Paddington but struggles to open the locked carriage; she is soon assisted by Nuckles and the other inmates, who have a change of heart and decide to help Paddington as promised. Eventually, Henry knocks out Buchanan just as he tries to access the so called treasure, and he is promptly taken into custody.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Paddington, now declared innocent, becomes very ill after the events, slipping into a short three day coma yet recovering well once waking up on Aunt Lucy’s birthday. With the book taken in as evidence by the police, Paddington is left disappointed that he was unable to get Lucy a present as promised, though soon discovers the Browns, with the help of various other people in the neighborhood, made sure Lucy could come to London and see it for herself. When answering the door to her, Paddington rushes up and hugs her, wishing her a happy birthday. Meanwhile, Buchanan is sentenced to ten years in prison. Six months later, he is shown to be putting his history as a performer to further use, hosting shows for the inmates and providing entertainment throughout the building.Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2 (2017)Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see 100 minutes 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 one of the best British films in recent years.

REVIEW: JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN

Starring

Rowan Atkinson (Rat Race)
Olga Kurylenko (Vampire Academy)
Ben Miller (Paddington 2)
Adam James (Last Chance Harvey)
Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction)
Jake Lacy (Rampage)
Vicki Pepperdine (Eaten by Lions)
Pippa Bennett-Warner _Patient Zero)
Miranda Hennessy (Give Out Girls)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Pauline McLynn (Trollied)
Matthew Beard (Kiss Me First)
Edward Fox (Lassie)

Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)MI7 is being targeted by a massive cyber attack from an unknown entity, exposing the identities of all its current field agents. As a result, MI7 is forced to reinstate older inactive agents in order to track down the culprits behind the attack. Among the reinstated agents is Johnny English, who officially works as a geography teacher while secretly training his young students in espionage. After accidentally incapacitating the other agents, English insists on being given the services of his old sidekick, Bough, who is still a clerk in MI7.Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)English and Bough travel to the south of France to begin their investigation, where the cyber attack roughly originated from. They locate a yacht named Dot Calm in a marina nearby and try to board it during the night. There, they are caught by an on board operative Ophelia, but manage to escape their cell, find an array of servers and leave the yacht. The next day, they decide to stalk Ophelia. When they eventually spot her leaving the yacht, they follow her car on the serpentine roads of South France, until they run out of fuel. Ophelia, well aware of their pursuit, comes back and she and English agree to a meeting. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is considering a meeting with a Silicon Valley billionaire, Jason Volta, to form an agreement.Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)While English is meeting with Ophelia at a bar, Bough discovers evidence that suggests she could be a spy. English, now infatuated with Ophelia, however refuses to consider Bough’s premise. Ophelia is shown to be in fact a Russian spy and receiving orders from her superiors to eliminate English. Fortunately, she fails to execute English, who manages to evade her attempts after accidentally consuming a pill that causes him to become hyperactive. Meanwhile, after further series of cyber attacks, the Prime Minister and Volta solidify an agreement to be revealed during the G12 meeting. In preparation for the infiltration, English is tasked to complete a virtual reality simulation in which he explores the billionaire’s mansion. However, he fails to unlock the pad to keep himself in the room and unknowingly harms the civilians around the town in the process.Rowan Atkinson and Ben Miller in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)After infiltrating the real mansion and recording evidence about Volta’s plan with a phone, English is captured, but manages to escape and hijacks a driving school car. He fends off a chase by Volta to arrive safely back at MI7. However, he accidentally takes the wrong phone while exiting the car and fails to convince Pegasus and the Prime Minister about Volta’s schemes. The Prime Minister has had enough of English’s antics. She fires him and decides to proceed with the G12 meeting in Scotland. Bough convinces English to continue and stop Volta without MI7 support. They enlist the assistance of Bough’s wife, Lydia, the captain of a Navy submarine and arrive at the meeting location.Rowan Atkinson and Olga Kurylenko in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)Up in the castle’s tower, Volta reveals to Ophelia that he has known her true identity as a spy since the very beginning,which is why he has sabotaged her attempts to kill him by immunizing himself to the poison she has attempted to use on him and rigging her handgun so that she can no longer fire it. Fortunately, English climbs up the tower using an exosuit and manages to intervene before Volta is able to kill Ophelia, but is ejected out due to a strap caught on a window and thus fails to capture Volta as Ophelia escapes. Volta now joins the Prime Minister and the other G12 nations’ leaders for the meeting. English tries to stop Volta unsuccessfully once again. Volta then reveals his true plan of extorting the G12 nations’ leaders for control over their countries’ data. English decides to call Pegasus for help, but forgets about a warning given by Lydia about using a phone near the submarine. His call inadvertently causes the submarine to launch a ballistic missile that homes in on English’s beacon left on the Dot Calm, destroying the yacht as a result. English – who is wearing a creaky suit of knight’s armour, Bough and Ophelia chase Volta, as he heads toward his chopper to escape. After Volta mocks English for not being able to catch him, English throws a tablet at Volta’s head, knocking him out and smashes Volta’s phone to stop the whole scheme. The Prime Minister praises English for his bravery, and he returns to school, where he finds his students greeting him back as a hero. The film ends as we see the headmaster about to eat an explosive Jelly Baby, much to English’s horror.Rowan Atkinson and Ben Miller in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)Take it for what it is. It’s not meant to be a complexed and compellingly written story, it’s meant to entertain and make people laugh and it did that every single minute. This movie does not disappoint at all, ignore any bad reviews and go and watch it. See for yourself how fantastic Rowan Atkinson is.

REVIEW: JOHNNY ENGLISH

CAST

Rowan Atkinsion (Mr. Bean)
John Malkovich (Red)
Natalie Imbruglia (Underdogs)
Ben Miller (The Prince and Me)
Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility)
Kevin McNally (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Oliver Ford Davies (Christopher Robin)
Tim Pigott-Smith (Victoia & Abdul)

Rowan Atkinson and Natalie Imbruglia in Johnny English (2003)Johnny English is a kind hearted but inept “MI7” agent with dreams of being their most trusted employee. After Agent One dies in a submarine accident unknowingly caused by English, the remaining agents are assassinated via a bombing at Agent One’s funeral, leaving English as the lone surviving agent capable of finishing the mission Agent One left when he died. English is assigned to follow a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, which are on display at the Tower of London.At the display, English is head of security, and meets the mysterious Lorna Campbell. The power is cut, and the jewels are stolen. During the chaos, English accidentally knocks out the deputy head of security and pretends to fight an assailant out of sight. He later makes up a false description of the assailant to MI7 head Pegasus. English and his assistant Angus Bough find the jewels were removed via a hole dug beneath their display case. The two follow a tunnel, confronting the two thieves Dieter Klein and Klaus Vendetta. The two escape in a hearse, with English trying to pursue them, but he mistakes another hearse for the escaped vehicle, gatecrashing a funeral until Bough comes to his aid by pretending English is an escaped mental patient.English connects the thieves to Pascal Sauvage, a French prison entrepreneur who helped restore the Crown Jewels. Pegasus finds the claims of his involvement absurd and warns English not to involve Sauvage. In the car park, English and Bough are attacked by Vendetta, but are unharmed. English again encounters Lorna in a sushi restaurant as he recognized her motorcycle. During their meeting English is suspicious of her since he has seen her at two of their crime scenes and her records cannot be found on any government computer. English and Bough decide to break into Sauvage’s headquarters via parachutes, but English lands on a visually identical tower, which turns out to be the City Hospital, by mistake.Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English (2003)Going to the correct building, the two learn Sauvage, who is a descendant of Charles Edward Stuart, plans on making himself king, using an impostor to impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lorna arrives, revealed to be an Interpol agent tracking Sauvage. With evidence of Sauvage’s involvement, English crashes a reception hosted by Sauvage but he is suspended from work by Pegasus for his actions. With English knowing their plans, Sauvage scraps the fake Archbishop and instead sends his minions to force Queen Elizabeth II to abdicate by threatening her corgis, causing the entire line of succession to be swept clean for Sauvage to become king. Lorna, now in charge of the assignment by Pegasus, visits the depressed English and convinces him to travel with her to Sauvage’s French château to investigate.Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English (2003)Eavesdropping on Sauvage’s meeting with renowned criminals, English and Lorna learn Sauvage plans to turn the United Kingdom into the world’s biggest prison when he becomes king. English and Lorna are exposed when the former accidentally activates a microphone, and they are taken prisoners. English tries to steal the DVD of Sauvage’s plan, but accidentally drops it onto a tray of identical discs and takes the wrong one without looking. Bough rescues the two and they race to stop Sauvage’s coronation.Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English (2003)English crashes the coronation and discovers the Archbishop is the genuine article. Undeterred, English orders Bough to play the DVD, only to find it is camera footage of himself dancing in his bathroom in his underclothes to “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA, Sauvage having bugged English’s flat beforehand. English sneaks away but swings in on a wire to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Sauvage. Sauvage angrily shoots at English with a pistol, causing him to drop the crown. Moments before Sauvage is crowned king, English drops from the wire after being shot, lands on the throne, and is crowned instead. Because of the crowning laws, English is now technically the King of England. In his singular act as king, English has Sauvage arrested and restores the Queen to the throne, simply requesting a knighthood as a reward.Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, and Ben Miller in Johnny English (2003)In the final scene, English and Lorna drive to southern France for a romantic holiday, only for English to accidentally launch Lorna out of the car by pressing the ejection seat button. Lorna lands in a hotel swimming pool, where Bough happens to be vacationing as well as a man identical to the assailant that English described to Pegasus earlier in the film.Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, and Natalie Imbruglia in Johnny English (2003)Johnny English is no where near as bad as what I expected. While it’s not the greatest nor the most intelligent film of recent times, it’s one that’s entertaining none the less. If your looking for something to sit down and watch, a film that will make you laugh without demanding much use of your Brain, then Johnny English is an ideal choice.

 

REVIEW: THE PRINCE AND ME

CAST

Julia Stiles (Jason Bourne)
Luke Mably (Kingdom)
Ben MIller (Johnny English)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
James Fox (The Servant)
Alberta Watson (La Femme Nikita)
Zachary Knighton (Flashforward)
Eliza Bennett (The Conners)
Devin Ratray (The Tick)

Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles) is a pre-medical student at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Across the Atlantic, Denmark’s Crown Prince Edvard (Luke Mably), prefers to live the life of a playboy by drag racing with friends, and when with his family, often ignores or marginalizes his royal responsibilities.While watching international television, Edvard sees a commercial called College Girls Gone Wild, featuring drunken co-eds flashing their breasts set in Wisconsin. After meeting with his parents, King Haraald (James Fox), and Queen Rosalind (Miranda Richardson), Edvard announces his intentions to attend college in America—specifically, Wisconsin. His parents are curious about this, and Edvard insists he wants no help from them. The Queen then dispatches Edvard’s assistant, Søren (Ben Miller), to chaperone the trip to America.When Edvard arrives at the university, he orders Søren keep his identity a secret, and to call him “Eddie.” Later at a bar Eddie sees Paige, where he flirts with her. Eddie then asks Paige to take off her shirt, like the girls in the College Girls Gone Wild advertisement did. Paige angrily drenches Eddie with the drink hose, and bouncers escort Eddie (and Søren, who came to his rescue) from the bar. To Paige’s annoyance, she and Eddie are also assigned as lab partners for an organic chemistry class. Since the class is important for Paige’s medical school ambitions, she warns Eddie to not get in her way, and reprimands him after he sleeps through one of their lab experiments. After running out of money, Eddie gets a job in the deli section of the bar. Paige reluctantly helps him during his first day, and the two start to mend fences. Although she does well in science, Paige struggles in an English literature class. Eddie uses his earlier classical education to help Paige gain a better understanding of Shakespeare, and Paige shows Edvard common household chores like laundry. Believing Eddie to be away from his family and unfamiliar with American holidays, she invites him to her parent’s dairy farm for Thanksgiving. Paige’s father explains how he struggles to keep the small farm afloat, and Eddie uses his drag racing skills to fine-tune a riding mower for a race, to which he wins. However, when a rival racer proves a sore loser and punches Eddie, Paige treats the wound, then the two kiss.Back at school, Eddie and Paige sneak off to the library stacks to pursue a romantic encounter of unspecified nature. While there, members of the Danish tabloid press ambush the stunned couple. Once away from the mayhem, Paige learns of his real identity. Feeling betrayed and accusing him of lying, she leaves. At the end of the day, Eddie is notified by his mother that his father is very ill, prompting him to return. While Paige faces a panel of professors questioning her about Shakespeare and love, she realizes that she loves Edvard and runs to find him, only to discover that he has already left for Denmark. She goes after him, and upon arriving in Copenhagen her trip is delayed, as a parade honoring the royal family is blocking traffic. Paige is recognized by the crowd, and Edvard finds her and takes her to the castle on horseback.The queen objects to Edvard’s choice to marry Paige, but the king tells him that if he loves Paige, he should marry her. Edvard proposes and Paige accepts. Paige struggles with conforming to the lifestyle of royalty, however, the queen warms to her. Then, she takes Paige to a little room with jewelry to get ready for the coronation ball, which follows King Haraald’s abdication. During the coronation ball, Edvard and Paige share their first dance and then sneak off together. After being left alone, Paige remembers her dream for Doctors Without Borders. When Edvard returns, she tells him that she does not want to sacrifice her dreams, and that she cannot be queen. She then returns to Wisconsin and graduates from college, where she has been accepted to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

King Edvard arrives after the graduation, where he expresses that he wants to marry her and he is willing to wait until she completes medical school and achieves her dreams. She confesses that Denmark may not be ready for a queen like her, but he says that he is, leading them to kiss passionately.It’s an easy watch after a long hard week, you do not have to think much and it has a feel good feeling at the end of it.

REVIEW: BIRTHDAY GIRL

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Stoker)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Vincent Cassel (Black Swan)
Mathieu Kassovitz (War & Peace)
Ben Miller (Johnny English)

John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin), a lonely St Albans bank clerk, orders a mail-order bride Nadia (Nicole Kidman) from Russia on the Internet. John is uncomfortable and shy, but Nadia is sexually bold. Though Nadia cannot speak English and John cannot speak Russian, they soon bond. Later on, a man she introduces as her cousin Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his friend Alexei (Vincent Cassel) turn up to celebrate her birthday. Alexei soon shows that he has a temper. After a violent altercation, Alexei holds Nadia hostage and demands a ransom from John. John has grown to care for Nadia and is forced to steal from the bank where he has worked for ten years. After the ransom is paid, he realises that he has been the victim of an elaborate con. Nadia, Yuri, and Alexei are criminals, and Alexei is actually Nadia’s boyfriend.

John learns that the trio have carried out the same scam on men from Switzerland and Germany, among others. They take him prisoner, strip him down to his underpants, and tie him to a toilet in a motel. He eventually manages to free himself and quickly learns that Nadia has been left behind after Alexei discovered she was pregnant. John gets dressed and subsequently gets into a scrap with Nadia, who later reveals that she can indeed speak English and that her name is not Nadia.

John takes Nadia to turn her into the police – hoping to clear his name as a wanted bank robber. Ultimately, however, he sympathises with her and decides against it. He leaves her at the airport, where she is kidnapped by Alexei – who now wants Nadia to have the baby. John rescues her, tying Alexei to a chair. They make common cause against the two Russian men. Nadia informs John that her real name is Sophia. John, disguised as Alexei, leaves for Russia with Sophia.

The movie is grungy, dark and feels independent – it’s hard to imagine Hollywood royalty Nicole Kidman signing onto it, but she is really the reason this film remains interesting and engaging. Without her, I don’t think I would have bothered to sit through all of it.