REVIEW: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Marc Wootton (Nativity)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Eva Longoria (Over Her Dead Body)
Ramona Marquez (Outnumbered)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Jane Horrocks (Little Voice)
Sanjeev Bhaskar (Notting Hill)
Iain McKee (The Parole Officer)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Dominic West (The Affair)

On Christmas Eve, hundreds of Christmas elves helm the command centre of Santa Claus’ mile-wide, ultra-high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. The current Santa (Malcolm) and the Christmas elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by thousands more elves, under the command of Malcolm’s militaristic eldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter at mission control underneath the North Pole. Meanwhile, his younger son – the clumsy, fearful yet enthusiastic Arthur – devotedly answers the letters to Santa. During one of the delivery operations in Germany a child wakes up and almost sees Malcolm; in the tense escape operation, a Christmas elf aboard the S-1 inadvertently leans on a button, causing a present to fall from the supply line and go unnoticed.Having completed his 70th mission, Malcolm is portrayed as far past his prime and whose role in field operations now is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, he is held in high esteem, and delivers a congratulatory speech to the enraptured elves. Malcolm announces he looks forward to his 71st, much to the frustration of heir-apparent Steve, who had prepared to succeed his father as Santa at the conclusion of this mission. During their family Christmas dinner, Arthur’s suggestion for the family to play a board game degenerates into a tense quarrel between Malcolm and Steve, while Malcolm’s father and predecessor Grandsanta, bored by retirement, resentfully criticises their over-modernization. After Grandsanta knocks the board off the table, Steve’s PDA (a high tech device named a ‘HOHO’) flashes and he leaves the table in a hurry. Later, their father shares with his wife Margaret his grave doubts about his self-identity should he retire.Arthur follows Steve, and the two learn that a Christmas elf named Bryony found the missed present – a wrapped bicycle for a little girl in England called Gwen, to whose letter Arthur had personally responded. Arthur alerts his father, who is at a loss as to how to handle the situation; Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error whose correction can wait a few days, citing this year’s Christmas as the most successful in history. Grandsanta on the other hand, on learning of the dire situation, proposes delivering the gift using Eve, his old wooden sleigh, and the great-great-grandchildren of the original eight reindeer, forcefully whisking away a reluctant Arthur and a stowaway Bryony. In the process the three get lost in three different continents, lose several of their reindeer, and land in danger several times, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident. Through all this, Arthur eventually learns, to his compounding disappointment, that Grandsanta’s true motive is to fulfill his ego, Steve refuses to help them out of petty resentment and possibility of his brother being made hero overshadowing his work, and that his own father has gone to bed, apparently content even though a present was not delivered.Finally, stranded in Cuba after losing the sleigh and the remaining reindeer, Arthur renews his sense of purpose: that it all comes down to having presents delivered, regardless of how it is done and who did it. With Grandsanta’s and Bryony’s help, he manages to recover the sleigh. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumours of the neglected delivery and the Clauses’ unthinkable indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Malcolm, Margaret, and Steve take the high-tech sleigh-craft to deliver a superior present… albeit to the wrong child.Arthur and his party manage to reach England, but lose the remaining reindeer; furthermore a US Predator drone scrambled by Chief De Silva of UNFITA intercepts and opens fire on the sleigh believing them to be aliens. Grandsanta sacrifices the sleigh, while Arthur and Bryony to parachute to the ground. Ultimately with Margaret and Bryony’s help, all the male Clauses arrive at Gwen’s house before she awakens, only to have all but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that only Arthur truly cares about the girl’s feelings, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Malcolm gives Arthur the honour and Steve, recognizing his own shortcomings, forfeits his supposed birthright and acknowledges his brother’s worthiness to take up the mantle. In a fitting conclusion, Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before he vanishes up into the S-1.With the crisis resolved, Malcolm goes into a happy retirement with Margaret; he also becomes Grandsanta’s much-desired new companion and plays Arthur’s board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as the Chief Operating Officer of the North Pole, while Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Packing, Pacific Division. In a nod to traditionalism once neglected, the high-tech S-1 is re-christened EVIE in honour of Grandsanta’s old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer – led by the original eight, all of whom managed to return home safely via innate navigational abilities. Finally, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise in the proper spirit as the new Santa.Everything you would wish from a Chistmassy film. Strong story and lovely ideas about Father Christmas and the challenge of delivering a present to every child. A great family movie.

 

 

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REVIEW: PADDINGTON

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Matt Lucas (Alice In Wonderland)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)

In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, British geographer Montgomery Clyde happens upon a previously unknown species of bear. He is about to shoot it to take back a specimen to England when another bear playfully takes his gun away. He learns that this family of bears is intelligent and can learn English, and that they have a deep appetite for marmalade. He names them Lucy and Pastuzo. As he departs, he throws his hat to Pastuzo and tells the bears that they are always welcome should they wish to go to London.Several years later, the two bears are living in harmony with their nephew when an earthquake strikes their home, forcing them to seek shelter underground. Distracted and upset at the loss of his home, Pastuzo is unable to reach the shelter in time. He is presumed dead, with his hat being found the next day by his nephew. Aunt Lucy encourages her nephew to go and find solace in London, and stows him away on a cargo ship, after which she says she will move into the Home for Retired Bears.The young bear reaches London, but fails to find a home. He is taken in briefly by the Brown family. Mary Brown, the mother and a story illustrator, names him Paddington, after the station where they found him. Henry Brown, the father and a devoted risk analyst, who doesn’t believe a word of why he’s here, is adamant that Paddington stay only one night while they find a place for him to live permanently. Paddington causes a series of accidents across the house, further isolating himself from the Browns.Paddington thinks he can find a home with the explorer who found his aunt and uncle, but does not know his name. Mrs. Brown takes Paddington to Mr. Gruber, an antique shop owner who discovers that the hat bears the stamp of the Geographers Guild, but the Guild says that it never sent a member to explore darkest Peru. With the help of Mr. Brown, who refuses to let the family help him, Paddington infiltrates the Geographers Guild archives and discovers an expedition to Peru was undertaken by Montgomery Clyde. He uses the city’s phone books to track the addresses of all the “M Clyde”s in London.Meanwhile, the sadistic museum taxidermist Director Millicent Clyde, later revealed to be the explorer’s daughter, captures, kills, and stuffs exotic animals to house in the Natural History Museum. When she becomes aware of Paddington, she immediately sets out to hunt him down. The Brown family departs for the day, leaving Paddington home alone. Scheming with the Browns’ nosy neighbor Mr. Curry who is in love with her, Millicent sneaks in and attempts to capture Paddington; he manages to defend himself, but inadvertently starts a fire in the kitchen in the process. Disbelieving Paddington’s statement of Millicent’s capture attempt, the Browns, mainly Henry, state that he must move into a new home as soon as possible.Feeling unwanted at the Browns, Paddington leaves and attempts to track down Montgomery Clyde himself. He finally locates the house, only to learn that Clyde passed away years ago, and that Millicent resents her father for losing his job and membership with the museum; out of a change of heart, he refused to bring a valuable Peruvian bear specimen home, even though it would have made his family wealthy. Millicent is determined to succeed where her father failed and capture a Peruvian bear so she can become rich and famous herself. She tranquilizes Paddington and prepares to stuff him, but when Mr. Curry discovers her true intentions, he informs the Brown family and they rush to save Paddington. They rescue him, and Paddington subdues Millicent by throwing at her a marmalade sandwich his uncle left in his hat for emergencies, which attracts a huge flock of pigeons, distracting her, as family relative and housekeeper Mrs. Bird opens a roof hatch and inadvertently pushes her off the roof, trapping her on a flagpole.In the aftermath, the Browns adopt Paddington into their family and Millicent is sentenced to community service at the petting zoo her father opened after he lost his job. Paddington writes to Aunt Lucy saying he is happy and has finally found a home.Paddington is truly hilarious and heart-warming with a story that is so rich and compelling. And I would recommend Paddington to anyone.

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy

REVIEW: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

CAST

Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron man)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin)
Simon Callow (Amadeus)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
Colin Firth (Love Actually)
Mark Williams (Harry Potter)
Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)

In 1593 London, William Shakespeare is a sometime player in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and poor playwright for Philip Henslowe, owner of The Rose Theatre. Shakespeare is working on a new comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Suffering from writer’s block, he has barely begun the play, but starts auditioning players. Viola de Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, who has seen Shakespeare’s plays at court, disguises herself as “Thomas Kent” to audition, then runs away. Shakespeare pursues Kent to Viola’s house and leaves a note with the nurse, asking Thomas Kent to begin rehearsals at the Rose. He sneaks into the house with the minstrels playing that night at the ball, where her parents are arranging her betrothal to Lord Wessex, an impoverished aristocrat. While dancing with Viola, Shakespeare is struck speechless, and after being forcibly ejected by Wessex, uses Thomas Kent as a go-between to woo her. Wessex also asks Will’s name, to which he replies that he is Christopher Marlowe.When he discovers her true identity, they begin a secret affair. Inspired by her, Shakespeare writes quickly, with help from his friend and rival playwright Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, completely transforming the play into what will become Romeo and Juliet. Then, Viola is summoned to court to receive approval for her proposed marriage to Lord Wessex. Shakespeare accompanies her, disguised as her female cousin. There, he persuades Wessex to wager £50 that a play can capture the true nature of love, the exact amount Shakespeare requires to buy a share in the Chamberlain’s Men. Queen Elizabeth I declares that she will judge the matter when the occasion arises.

When Richard Burbage, owner of the Curtain, finds out that Shakespeare has cheated him out of both money and the play, he goes to the Rose Theatre with his Curtain Theatre Company and starts a brawl. The Rose Theatre company drives Burbage and his company out and then celebrate at the local pub.

Viola is appalled when she learns Shakespeare is married, albeit separated from his wife, and she realises she cannot escape her duty to marry Wessex. Will discovers that Marlowe is dead, and thinks he is to blame. Lord Wessex suspects an affair between Shakespeare and his bride-to-be. Because Wessex thinks that Will is Kit Marlowe, he approves of Kit’s death, and tells Viola the news. It is later learned that Marlowe had been killed in an accident. Viola finds out that Will is still alive, and declares her love for him.

When Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, is informed there is a woman player at The Rose, he closes the theatre for breaking the ban on women. Viola’s identity is exposed, leaving them without a stage or lead actor, until Richard Burbage offers them his theatre. Shakespeare takes the role of Romeo, with a boy actor as Juliet. Following her wedding, Viola learns that the play will be performed that day, and runs away to the Curtain. Planning to watch with the crowd, Viola overhears that the boy playing Juliet cannot perform, and offers to replace him. While she plays Juliet to Shakespeare’s Romeo, the audience is enthralled, despite the tragic ending, until Master Tilney arrives to arrest everyone for indecency due to Viola’s presence.

But the Queen is in attendance and restrains Tilney, instead asserting that Kent’s resemblance to a woman is, indeed, remarkable. However, even a queen is powerless to end a lawful marriage, and she orders Kent to “fetch” Viola because she must sail with Wessex to the Colony of Virginia. The Queen also tells Wessex, who followed Viola to the theatre, that Romeo and Juliet has won the bet for Shakespeare, and has Kent deliver his £50 with instructions to write something “a little more cheerful next time, for Twelfth Night”.

Viola and Shakespeare say their goodbyes, and he vows to immortalise her, as he imagines the beginnings of Twelfth Night, imagining her as a castaway disguised as a man after a voyage to a strange land.

Stoppard certainly knows what he’s about: The plot is delightful and the references elegant, clever parodies if you spot them or inconspicuous parts of the plot if you don’t. And the references are on all levels: to Shakespeares plays, his unknown life and the many theories that have been made about it, and his writer and actor collegues Will’s muse is Violet, played wonderfully by Gwyneth Paltrow, who shows off in this film her finest acting to date and credibly pulls off the tricky task of being both an object of poetic inspiration and a genuine, down-to-earth human being.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Fracture)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Frances de la Tour (Hugo)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Camelot)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)

The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, addresses the wizarding media, stating that the Ministry will remain strong even as Lord Voldemort gains strength. Harry, Ron and Hermione prepare for a journey to find and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes, with Harry watching the Dursleys depart and Hermione wiping her parents’ memories of her.

Severus Snape arrives at Malfoy Manor to inform Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters of Harry’s impending departure from No. 4 Privet Drive. Voldemort commandeers Lucius Malfoy’s wand, as Voldemort’s own wand cannot be used to kill Harry, because the wands are “twins.”

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix gather at Privet Drive and escort Harry to safety, using Polyjuice Potion to create six decoy Harrys out of everyone else. During their flight to the Weasley family home at the Burrow, all are ambushed by Death Eaters. They kill Mad-Eye Moody and Harry’s owl, Hedwig, injure George Weasley, and knock out Hagrid. This forces Harry to take over and drive his flying motorbike while fighting Voldemort. In the process, destroying some power lines that causes a blackout to the city. After arriving at the Burrow, Harry has a vision of the wand-maker Ollivander being tormented by Voldemort, who claims that Ollivander had lied to him. Ollivander claimed that the only way Voldemort could kill Harry was by using another person’s wand.

Scrimgeour arrives at the Burrow with Albus Dumbledore’s Will and distributes three items to Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron receives Dumbledore’s Deluminator, Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry the first Golden Snitch that he ever caught in a Quidditch match. Scrimgeour reveals that Harry was also bequeathed the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. The minister states, though, that the sword was not Dumbledore’s to pass on and, in any case, is missing.

Next, the Death Eaters assassinate Scrimgeour and replace him with their puppet Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse, under the influence of the Imperius curse, begins persecuting Muggle-born witches and wizards. Then the Minister disrupts the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, by sending a patronus charm to tell everyone what they did and attack them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron Disapparate to London and find sanctuary at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. There they discover that the “R.A.B.” from the false Horcrux locket is Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. Kreacher, the Black’s house-elf, tells them that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real locket. Kreacher and Dobby apprehend Fletcher, who reveals that the locket is in the possession of Dolores Umbridge. Under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry. In the courtroom, Umbridge is interrogating a Muggle-born witch and threatens her, which enrages Harry, who says to her “You’re lying, Dolores. And one mustn’t tell lies.” He then stuns her and Hermione successfully retrieves the locket. The trio escape from the Dementors by fleeing into the wilderness after accidentally revealing the location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Yaxley, a Death Eater.

Unable to destroy the Horcrux, they take turns wearing it to dilute its malignant power. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort interrogating Gregorovitch, a renowned wand-maker, who claims that a teenage boy had once stolen the legendary Elder Wand from his shop. While Ron wears the locket, he is overcome by his negative feelings and after arguing with Harry, he leaves, upsetting Hermione. Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit Harry’s parents’ graves and the house where they were killed. Next Harry and Hermoine visit Bathilda Bagshot, who they believe has the Sword of Gryffindor, which they deduce can destroy Horcruxes. They are surprised by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, who has been possessing her corpse. Hermione accidentally breaks Harry’s wand as they escape into the Forest of Dean. Hermione is able to identify the mysterious thief seen in Harry’s vision as Gellert Grindelwald.

When evening falls, Harry sees a Patronus in the form of a doe which leads him to a frozen pond. Gryffindor’s sword lies beneath the pond’s ice. Harry breaks the ice and jumps in to reach the sword. The locket around his neck attempts to strangle him, but Ron arrives to rescue Harry. Despite the soul inside the locket attacking both of them, Ron manages to destroy it with the Sword of Gryffindor. Hermione is angry with Ron at first but then reconciles with him.

The trio then visit Xenophilius Lovegood to learn about a symbol seen several times on their journey. He tells them that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Lovegood betrays them to the Death Eaters in an effort to have his kidnapped daughter returned.

The trio escape into the wilderness once more, but Snatchers appear and chase them. Harry has a vision of Voldemort learning from Grindelwald that the Elder Wand lies with Dumbledore in his grave. They are then captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange imprisons Harry and Ron in a cellar, in which they discover Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook the goblin. Bellatrix tortures Hermione for information on how they got the sword of Gryffindor. After Dobby apparates in the cellar to save them, and incapacitates Peter Pettigrew, a short battle ensues; Harry duels and disarms Draco Malfoy. Narcissa Malfoy’s wand is taken by Dobby who says “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf. And Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends.” Dobby is killed by Bellatrix right after he helps Harry and the other captives escape. Meanwhile, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand.You know that this will end in a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is, whetting your appetite to devour Part 2 , just so to witness how the film franchise of our generation will fittingly conclude.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Jane Eyre)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)

The Order of the Phoenix, a secret organisation founded by Albus Dumbledore, informs Harry Potter that the Ministry of Magic in denial of Lord Voldemort’s return. While at the Order’s headquarters, Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, mentions that Voldemort is after an object he did not have during his previous attack.Upon arrival at Hogwarts, Harry learns that Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge has appointed a new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor: Dolores Umbridge. She and Harry immediately clash, and she punishes Harry for his “lies” by forcing him to write a message with a magic quill, scarring his hand. When Ron and Hermione notice Harry’s scars, they are outraged but he refuses to go to Dumbledore, who has distanced himself from Harry since the summer. As Umbridge’s control over the school increases, Ron and Hermione aid Harry in forming a secret group to train students in defensive spells in the Room of Requirement, calling themselves “Dumbledore’s Army”. The Slytherin students are recruited by Umbridge to expose the group. Meanwhile, Harry and Cho Chang develop romantic feelings for each other.Harry has a vision involving an attack upon Arthur Weasley, from the point of view of Arthur’s attacker. Concerned that Voldemort will exploit this connection to Harry, Dumbledore instructs Severus Snape to give Harry Occlumency lessons to defend his mind from Voldemort’s influence. The connection between Harry and Voldemort leads Harry to further isolate himself from his friends. Meanwhile, Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius’ deranged cousin, escapes from Azkaban along with nine other Death Eaters. At Hogwarts, Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad expose Dumbledore’s Army. Dumbledore escapes as Fudge orders his arrest. Umbridge becomes the new Headmistress. Harry’s relationship with Cho falls apart, as he believes she betrayed Dumbledore’s Army to Umbridge, unaware that Cho was under the effects of Veritaserum potion. Harry discovers through Snape’s memories why Snape hated Harry’s father James, who often ridiculed him.Harry has another vision, this one of Sirius being tortured by Voldemort. Harry, Ron and Hermione rush to Umbridge’s fireplace to alert the Order via the Floo Network, since hers is the only fireplace not being monitored, but Umbridge stops them before they can do so. As Umbridge tortures Harry, Hermione tricks Umbridge into entering the Forbidden Forest in search of Dumbledore’s “secret weapon”. She and Harry lead her to the hiding place of Hagrid’s giant half-brother, Grawp, only to be confronted by centaurs who kidnap Umbridge after she attacks and insults them. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Neville and Ginny fly to the Ministry of Magic on Thestrals in an attempt to save Sirius.The six enter the Department of Mysteries where they uncover a bottled prophecy, the object Voldemort was after. However, they are ambushed by Death Eaters including Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix. Lucius reveals that Harry only saw a vision of Sirius being tortured; it was simply a ruse to lure Harry into their grasp. Harry refuses to give Lucius the prophecy, and a fight between Dumbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters ensues. The Death Eaters take everyone (except Harry) as hostages, threatening to kill them unless he surrenders the prophecy.Harry obliges just as Sirius and Remus Lupin arrive with Order members Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody. As they attack the Death Eaters, the prophecy drop and breaks. Just as Sirius overpowers Lucius, Bellatrix kills Sirius. Voldemort appears, but Dumbledore arrives through the Floo Network moments before Voldemort can kill Harry.A duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore ensues, destroying much of the Atrium, while Bellatrix escapes. After the two prove evenly matched, Voldemort possesses Harry to have Dumbledore sacrifice Harry, but the bond Harry feels for his friends and Sirius makes it impossible for Voldemort to remain in his body. Ministry officials arrive before Voldemort disapparates; Fudge is forced to admit that Voldemort has returned and resigns as Minister in disgrace. Umbridge is removed from Hogwarts and Dumbledore returns as headmaster. Dumbledore explains he distanced himself from Harry throughout the year hoping it would lessen the risk of Voldemort using their connection. Harry comes to terms with the prophecy; “Neither can live while the other survives.”What really made the movie for me was the talent of the actors. As expected, the older cast members deliver some of the best acting England has to offer.  I was especially impressed with how much Daniel, Emma, and Rupert have improved their acting since the last movie. Another great sequel.

REVIEW: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010)

CAST

Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak)
Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Crispin Glover (Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter)
Matt Lucas (Bridesmaids)
Frances de la Tour (Mr. Holmes)
Marton Csokas (Xena)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
Stephen Fry (Sherlock Holmes 2)
Barbara Windsor (Eastenders)
Paul Whitehouse (Corpse Bride)
Timothy Spall (Rock Star)
Michael Gough (Batman)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Paddington)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Lucy Davenport (Gangster Squad)

Troubled by a strange recurring dream and mourning the loss of her beloved father, nineteen-year-old Alice Kingsleigh attends a garden party at Lord Ascot’s estate. There she is confronted by an unwanted marriage proposal to Hamish Ascot and the stifling expectations of the society in which she lives. Unsure of how to proceed, she pursues a rabbit wearing a blue waistcoat and accidentally falls into a large rabbit hole under a tree. She emerges in a forest where she is greeted by the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Dodo, the Talking Flowers, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. They argue over her identity as “the right Alice” who must slay the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky and restore the White Queen to power, as foretold by Absolem the Caterpillar and his prophetic scroll. The group is then ambushed by the Bandersnatch and a group of playing-card soldiers led by the Knave of Hearts. Alice, Tweedledum and Tweedledee escape into the woods. The Knave steals the Caterpillar’s scroll. The Dormouse leaves the others behind with one of the Bandersnatch’s eyes in her possession. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are then captured by the Red Queen’s Jubjub bird.

The Knave informs the Red Queen that Alice threatens her reign, and the soldiers and Bayard the Bloodhound are ordered to find Alice immediately. Meanwhile, the Cheshire Cat guides Alice to the March Hare and the Hatter. The Hatter helps Alice avoid capture by allowing himself to be seized instead. Later, Alice is found by Bayard the Bloodhound; but Alice insists upon helping the Hatter. At the Queen’s citadel, the Red Queen is unaware of Alice’s true identity and therefore welcomes her as a guest, named Um from Umbridge. Alice learns that the Vorpal Sword, the only weapon capable of killing the Jabberwocky, is locked inside the den of the Bandersnatch. The Knave crudely attempts to seduce Alice, but she rebuffs him, and a jealous Red Queen orders Alice beheaded. Alice obtains the sword and befriends the Bandersnatch by returning its eye. She then escapes on the back of the grateful Bandersnatch and delivers the sword to the White Queen. The Cheshire Cat saves the Hatter from the executioner, and the Hatter calls for rebellion against the Red Queen. The rebellion is quickly put down by the Jubjub bird, but the resistance flees to the White Queen’s castle, and both armies prepare for battle. Former caterpillar Absolem advises Alice to fight the Jabberwocky just before completing his transformation into a pupa.

On the appointed day, the White and Red Queens gather their armies on a chessboard-like battlefield and send Alice and the Jabberwocky to decide the battle in single combat. Encouraged by the advice of her late father, Alice fights the Jabberwocky among the ruins surrounding the battlefield and finally jumps from the remains of a spiral staircase onto the Jabberwocky’s neck and beheads it. The White Queen sends the Red Queen and the Knave into exile. After the Hatter performs a celebration dance called Futterwacken, the White Queen gives Alice a vial of the Jabberwocky’s purple blood whose power will bring her whatever she wishes. She decides to rejoin the everyday world. Back in England, Lord Ascot takes Alice as his apprentice with the idea of establishing oceanic trade routes to Hong Kong. As the story closes, Alice prepares to set off on a trading ship. A light-blue butterfly lands on her shoulder, and Alice recognizes him as Absolem.

This film is a modern take on the traditional tale of Alice in wonderland, it is absolutely brilliant I cannot recommend it enough. It is highly entertaining and definitely extremely enjoyable for families as well as any aged disney fan.