REVIEW: KHUMBA: A ZEBRA’S TALE

Starring

Jake T. Austin (Justice League vs Teen Titans)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Catherine Tate (Starter for 10)
Liam Neeson (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Loretta Devine (Night School)
Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer)
Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls)
Charlie Adler (G.I. Joe: The Movie)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Jeff Bennett (Planes)
Roger L. Jackson (Scream)
Alexander Polinsky (Lost In Oz)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)

 

Khumba (2013)In South Africa within the Great Karoo, a half-striped zebra named Khumba (Jake T. Austin) is born into an insular isolated herd of all-striped zebras where his mother is Lungisa (Anika Noni Rose) and his father is Seko (Laurence Fishburne). Rumors that the strange foal is cursed spread and before long he is blamed for the drought that sets into the Great Karoo. As he matures, Khumba is picked on and remains ostracized by most of the herd with the exception of Tombi (AnnaSophia Robb), a young female zebra friend close in age – whom Khumba has a crush on – and uncomfortable in the herd due to her tomboyish manners.Khumba (2013)When a mystical African mantis (Adrian Rhodes) appears to Khumba, he draws a map to what could be interpreted as either water or stripes between it. Khumba jeopardizes the herd and gets into trouble when he attempts to admit several gemsbok (Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Anele Matoti) into the watering-hole enclosure when their wise elderly healer (Sindiwe Magona) needs water. He also nearly admits the ferocious half-blind African leopard Phango (Liam Neeson) who warns Mkhulu (Ben Vereen) that he and his zebra herd can’t stay in their enclosure forever. Seko berates and scolds Khumba for putting the herd at risk and for the next week, he’ll drink half of his rations. Lungisa tells the story of how a white horse got its stripes by swimming in a magic river and other horses wanted to have stripes like him, making the zebra we know today. Shortly after, Lungisa succumbs to her disease and dies. Then, Khumba leaves the confines of his home knowing that he cannot survive in the herd where it is viewed as only “half-a-zebra” even to his father.Khumba (2013)Khumba ventures beyond the fence and encounters an opportunistic African wild dog named Skalk (Steve Buscemi) who nearly leads the unsuspecting zebra to his doom when Skalk’s pack try to eat him. He is saved by a maternal wildebeest named Mama V (Loretta Devine) and a flamboyant British ostrich named Bradley (Richard E. Grant). Mama V is a self-confessed free spirit who does not want to be the average stay-at-home mom, like other wildebeest. She mothers Bradley who possesses a histrionic diva-esque attitude. The duo join Khumba on his quest in the hope that their own search for a safe waterhole is over.  On their journey, Khumba aids a migrating herd of springbok in opening a hole in a great fence to continue journeying forward. Curiously, the springbok are all so similar that they cannot even differentiate among one another.Khumba (2013)Khumba thinks his journey is over when he wanders into a new age, bohemian community living safely within the confines of Ying’s National Park. There he meets a colorful group of individuals like a family of meerkats, a pangolin, some bushbucks, a bat-eared fox, and an Australian endangered riverine rabbit (Jeff Bennett) who has survived extinction by mastering a myriad of skills ranging from impersonations to beat-boxing. After narrowly escaping capture by an opportunistic group of park rangers who tranquilizes Bradley and traps Khumba in a cage, he wanders to a nearby mountain to speak to the mighty Black Eagle under the advice of the riverine rabbit. Khumba encounters a group of fanatical rock hyraxes who worship the Black Eagle and stymie his advance. From the albino Black Eagle (Roger L. Jackson), he learns the way to the watering hole and that it lies in Phango’s cave. The Black Eagle also reveals the origins of Phango. Born half-blind and rejected by his family as a cub, Phango is obsessed with being whole and murdered his whole family. Unbeknownst to Khumba, Phango is trailing him because of an ancient myth that says consuming the half-striped zebra will make Phango the most powerful hunter that ever lived.Khumba (2013)As Khumba journeys onwards, Seko becomes withdrawn and is remorseful that he has let his herd down. He would have never been so hard on Khumba if it never happened. With Tombi’s help, he realizes that if he does not lead his herd in search of another waterhole, they will all die and sets out to follow the trail of Phango. He is prompted by evidence that Khumba may be alive. Tensions between Khumba, Mama V, and Bradley escalate as they move on. While slaking their thirst at a well on a farm, they are driven away by Nora (Catherine Tate), a loony, solitary Merino sheep, and Khumba reveals that the watering-hole is in Phango’s cave. It was revealed that Nora talked about Phango and Khumba reveals that the waterhole is at his cave. The trio has an argument and a fall-out and Khumba continues on alone. Lost and delirious in a saltpan, Khumba is rescued by the same gemsbok healer that he tried to help and wanders the remaining distance to the mountain, and Phango’s lair. Meanwhile, Phango intercepts Mama V and Bradley and discovers that Khumba is fortuitously heading straight to him and returns to his cave. During this time, it was revealed that Mama V lost her child to Phango. Concerned for Khumba’s safety, Mama V and Bradley decide to intercede and warn him. Meanwhile, determined to find the waterhole and get his stripes, Khumba ventures into the leopard’s lair.Khumba (2013)At the same time, Seko and the zebras journey to Phango’s lair where they are joined by the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, the rock-rabbits, Skalk (who left his pack due to “creative differences”), and Nora (who was let out of the farm by Skalk). While Khumba wanders the depths of the dark cave, his herd arrives at the base of the mountain, along with many of the other animals he has encountered along his journey. Within the cave, Khumba finds the watering hole and upon reflection of his mother’s words and all of the interactions he has had, he realizes that diversity is essential for survival and that would can be one’s difference can, in fact, be one’s strength. As Phango closes in, he ends up chasing after Khumba. Khumba races to escape the leopard’s clutches as the cave starts to collapse. Part of the cliff gives way which forms a water hole outside Phango’s cave. The assembled animals watch the fight between Khumba and Phango, which results in both of them falling due to the collapsing cave. During the battle, Khumba was fatally scarred but Phango falls off the cliff where he is killed by two large rocks falling on him, while Khumba falls into the water and his body washes up on the shores.Khumba (2013)As it starts to rain, everyone begins to mourn Khumba until he suddenly awakens from his apparent death. As Khumba gets up, Tombi notices the scratch marks that Phango left on Khumba’s right side during the fight. With Phango dead and the zebra herd now having a new home, Khumba celebrates with his herd, Mama V, Bradley, Skalk, Nora, the gemsbok herd, the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, and the rock-rabbits as they engage in different activities around the waterfall.Khumba (2013)Your kids will enjoy it. And if you appreciate animation, you’ll enjoy a fresh approach to a familiar type of animated features.

REVIEW: STARTER FOR 10

Starring

James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Rebecca Hall (THe Awakening)
Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter)
James Corden (One Chance)
Simon Woods (Pride & Prejudice)
Catherine Tate (Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods)
Elaine Tan (Apartment 406)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Mark Gatiss (Sherlock)

James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Elaine Tan in Starter for 10 (2006)In 1985, Brian Jackson is a first-year university student and information sponge. Since his working-class childhood in Southend-on-Sea, Brian has loved the TV quiz show University Challenge, whose famous catchphrase—”Your starter for 10″—gives the film its title. Soon after arriving at Bristol University, Brian attends a party where he meets the left-wing politically conscious Rebecca, with whom he seems to have an instant connection. Brian attempts to join their University Challenge team but narrowly fails to secure a spot when he helps another potential candidate, Alice, cheat on the qualifying test. Brian falls for the glamorous Alice and tries to date her, despite her multiple signals that she only sees him as a platonic friend.James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elaine Tan, and Alice Eve in Starter for 10 (2006)As the term starts, Brian is invited to join the University Challenge team after one of the other members falls ill. The captain of the team, Patrick Watts, is a stuck-up post-grad who has managed to remain team captain despite never having achieved success on University Challenge. Brian immediately impresses the rest of the team with his wealth of trivia knowledge and uses his time with the team to get closer to Alice, eventually getting invited to her house for the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, Brian embarrasses himself in front of her family by getting stoned while trying to impress Alice. He returns to Bristol to spend the rest of the vacation and meets Rebecca again. They once more hit it off, but as they are hooking up, he inadvertently calls her “Alice”, offending her and ruining the moment. Following his romantic failures, he talks with Spencer, his friend from Southend, who tells him that he is in legal trouble on account of his criminal activities. Brian invites him to a party before he has to face the judge.Mark Gatiss, James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elaine Tan, and Alice Eve in Starter for 10 (2006)During the party, Patrick insults Spencer’s upbringing and belittles him in front of the rest of the partygoers. In retaliation, Spencer hits Patrick in the face and disrupts the event. In the aftermath, Brian shares a drink with Rebecca and tries to apologise for his behaviour. However, Rebecca still feels that Brian is in love with Alice and encourages him to follow his heart and tell her how he feels. He takes her advice and arrives at Alice’s flat to declare his love, but discovers Spencer already there. Excited by his violent behaviour at the party, she had invited him back to her place. Brian feels betrayed by both Alice and Spencer, especially since he had told his friend how he had felt about her. Brian falls into a depression and struggles with not only concentrating during University Challenge practices, but also with his studies, threatening his university place. Patrick becomes increasingly frustrated with Brian, and just as they arrive for their University Challenge match, berates him for his lack of focus. Brian headbutts Patrick in response, but only ends up knocking himself unconscious.He is revived backstage by Rebecca who has come to watch the show and gives him encouragement before he is escorted to the set. However, as he is being brought back to his team, Brian is briefly left with an open envelope containing the quiz questions. He reads one of the cards before putting it back in the envelope, and, inspired by the relative ease of the question, rejoins his team. The match starts off poorly, with nerves clearly getting to Patrick as he fails to answer several questions and puts the team in a hole. Brian slowly but surely digs them out of it, getting into his swing as he answers question after question. As the match is heating up and Brian’s team has the momentum, Brian inadvertently gives the answer to the card that he had previously seen even before quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne has even begun to read the question (he has merely introduced it as “an astronomy question”). Realising that Brian has seen the cards, Gascoigne suspends the match and Brian’s team is disqualified.Brian returns home and falls back into another depression, sleeping all day and ignoring incoming calls. His mother tries to get him out of the house, but the only person who is finally able to reach him is Spencer. He tells Brian that Gascoigne had gone easy on him, and that he is sorry for his behaviour and proud of Brian for chasing his dreams at University. Inspired by his friend, Brian returns to his studies and meets with his tutor, promising him that he is back for good. He then stands Alice up to visit Rebecca at a demonstration against nuclear weapons. He asks her if she could ever forgive him for all the mistakes he has made, and if they can start again. She replies that he already knows the answer, and they kiss as the film ends.

starter-for-ten-lead

Overall, impressive for its evocation of a lost age – before brands and spending took over the world – and it is guaranteed to make you grin – especially if you were there – and to sing – along. The theme of University Challenge alone will reduce a whole generation to wobbly nostalgic has beens. Excellent stuff, and one to be simply enjoyed.

REVIEW: ASTERIX: THE MANSION OF OF THE GODS

Starring

Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Greg Davies (Cuckoo)
Matt Berry (Christopher Robin)
Catherine Tate (Gulliver’s Travels)
Harry Enfield (Harry & Paul)
Dick and Dom (Horrid Henry: The Movie)
Jim Broadbent (Paddington)
Richard Ian Cox (RV)
Donny Lucas (Hardwired)
Michael Adamthwaite (Horns)
Elizabeth Bower (Creeped Out)
Saffron Henderson (Friday The 13th – Part VIII)
Scott McNeil (Scooby-Doo 2)

Astérix: Le domaine des dieux (2014)Asterix and the gang ventures into 3D animated waters for the first time, and I must say it was quite delightful to watch them breathe alive on the big screen. All those big shiny noses and their clumsy acts look just brilliant in CGI.Astérix: Le domaine des dieux (2014)Asterix: Mansion of the Gods wouldn’t disappoint you. It is funny, featuring slapstick comedy, more of a situational provocation brought to you by the Roman invasion and the debatable empty heads of the Gauls. The plot is well written and is taken from the comic The Mansion of the Gods. The relentless Caesar walks in again with a master plan to ingest the Gaulish by building Mansion of the Gods, a new territory near their village for the Romans to populate. The story saunters around to and fro as both parties keep fighting with each other for the land.Astérix: Le domaine des dieux (2014)A majority of the scenes in the beginning have been stretched, and sometimes the movie topples into the non-funny zone. But still the low comedy manages to beam up the down. Every character in the movie is a hoot. Caesar brings in the grim but the people who surround him wouldn’t make him look deadly. Someone or something would do something stupid every now and then and you would end up in fits of laughter.Astérix: Le domaine des dieux (2014)The fun doesn’t stop at any point. A lot of fish slaps, cloud brawls, boar hunting and fake-fighting drive in the hilarious nail. Although you feel the ending dies out pretty quickly, you still get a brilliant feast to devour, as you laugh your way out of the theatre with a contended look.Astérix: Le domaine des dieux (2014)A really entertaining flick. Kids are going to love it. It would be a great way to tell them the legacy of Asterix if they haven’t come across the comic hero hitherto.

 

 

REVIEW: GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (2010)

 

CAST

Jack Black (King Kong)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Amanda Peet Identity Thief)
Billy Connolly (The Hobbit)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
T.J. Miller (She’s Out of My League)
James Corden (Into The Woods)
Catherine Tate (Doctor Who)
Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Deeply depressed at his dead-end job in the mail room of a New York City newspaper, Lemuel Gulliver decides to talk to journalist Darcy Silverman. He convinces her he could write a report about his (false) extensive world “travels” saying his dream is to become a writer. After suffering writer’s block and thinking that Darcy will not want to hang out with a “guy from the mailroom”, he plagiarises a report from other publications on the internet. The next day, Darcy, impressed by his writing, presents Gulliver with a new task – to travel to the Bermuda Triangle and write an article about the legends of ships mysteriously disappearing there.
Upon arrival in Bermuda, Gulliver rents a boat and travels into the triangle. After falling asleep at the helm of his ship, he’s caught in a freak storm and the boat is overwhelmed by a waterspout. He washes up unconscious on the shore of Lilliput, where he is immediately confirmed as a “beast” by the town’s tiny people. He is captured and imprisoned in a cave, citizens claiming him to be dangerous because of his huge size. Here, he meets another prisoner named Horatio who was jailed by General Edward because he loves Princess Mary of Lilliput, whereas Edward also wants her. After the island across from Lilliput, Blefuscu, infiltrates commandos to kidnap Princess Mary, Gulliver manages to break free of the plough-machine he is forced to work and then rescues the princess from being kidnapped. Gulliver also saves her father, King Theodore from a fire by urinating on it.
Gulliver is declared a hero by Lilliput’s citizens and makes up a deal of lies saying he is the President of Manhattan, says Yoda is his Vice-President and a living legend in his homeland. Edward, however, becomes enraged due to the luxurious accommodations that have been built for him, and even being presented as an honorary general of the Lilliputian Army complete with uniform. When the townspeople find Gulliver’s boat and his things, Gulliver gets angry voicemails from Darcy, saying she has to take his place and travel to Bermuda now, and also found out about his plagiarism and now hates him. The next day, chaos ensues as the Blefuscian Navy lay siege on the city when Edward shuts down its defense system as an act of revenge for Gulliver’s treatment. Gulliver defeats the armada, invulnerable to the cannonballs being fired at him (although he receives numerous welts on his stomach). Embarrassed once more, and with Mary no longer wanting to do anything with him, Edward defects to the Blefuscians and brings with him blueprints of a robot coming from Gulliver’s Guitar Hero III game manual. The Blefuscians secretly build the robot based on Gulliver’s Guitar Hero III game manual, with Edward as the pilot.
The Blefuscians invade Liliput and the robot-wielding Edward makes Gulliver admit to the people that he is “just the guy from the mail-room” and nothing more. Edward banishes Gulliver on the shores of “the island where we dare not go” (Brobdingnag). There, he is snatched up by a “little” girl, (Glumdalclitch) who towers over Gulliver. She captures him easily by trapping him inside a glass cup. When Gulliver wakes up, he finds himself dressed up in a pink dress and is played with by the “little” girl, which ends with him being tucked in bed. Horatio, who has gone to find Gulliver after being spurned by Mary, reveals to Gulliver that Darcy has been imprisoned by the Blefuscians when she is lost in the Bermuda Triangle in the same manner as Gulliver. Gulliver narrowly escapes with him, using a parachute that he took from a dead U.S. Air Force pilot sitting in the dollhouse.
Once again accepting a duel from Edward, this time not only for Lilliput’s freedom but for its fate as well – as Edward threatens to destroy it should Gulliver fail – Gulliver ultimately defeats him with the assistance of Horatio, who disables the machine’s electrocuting weapon. Horatio is hailed a hero and gets King Theodore’s permission to court the princess. Edward, reaching the point of insanity, threatens to kill the princess, but the princess, finally having enough of Edward, beats the traitor up in frustration. Gulliver then helps to make peace between the rival island-nations by reciting Edwin Starr’s “War” and he, along with Darcy, return to New York on their repaired boat. The film ends with Gulliver, now a travel writer, taking Darcy to lunch while holding hands, after returning from another travel assignment.
The story is basically the same as the classic book but a modern day Gulliver, otherwise the same, it’s still a fun film for a rainy day.