REVIEW: NORM OF THE NORTH

CAST

Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Heather Graham (The Hangover)
Maya Kay (Alpha and Omega)
Ken Jeong (Community)
James Corden (Into The Woods)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
Salome Jens (Green Lantern)

Norm the polar bear is the son of the king of the Arctic. In his youth, he develops the ability to speak to humans, a trait shared by his grandfather. Because of this, he is made an outcast from the other animals, only being accepted by Socrates, a wise bird, and Elizabeth, a female polar bear whom Norm is in love with. Years later, Norm’s grandfather has disappeared and human tourists are filling the Arctic. Socrates shows Norm and three Arctic lemmings a luxury condo that has been installed on the ice. Inside this condo is Vera, a representative for wealthy developer Mr. Greene. After Norm saves Vera from an avalanche, Mr. Greene tells her to find an actor to play a polar bear for their campaign. Socrates convinces Norm and the lemmings to stow away on a ship to New York City.3In the city, Norm, pretending to be an actor dressed as a bear, auditions for Mr. Greene’s commercial and is taken to dinner by Vera. Greene, who realizes that Norm is a real bear, suspects that Norm has come to free his grandfather, whom Greene has captured. During a public incident involving Greene trying to shoot Norm in the restaurant, Norm subdues Greene, gaining the attention of the media and heightening Greene’s approval ratings. Greene decides to hire Norm as his mascot. Before going on a television show, Norm meets Vera’s daughter Olympia, who tells Norm to raise Greene’s approval ratings and then speak out against him to save the Arctic. Norm’s popularity heightens the approval ratings, but Greene sabotages Norm’s plan by playing recorded dialogue stating that Norm supports Greene’s developments.2Defeated, Norm is comforted by Vera and Olympia, who reveals that Greene is developing more homes to install in the Arctic. Norm and the lemmings discover that Greene is bribing a high-ranking member of the Polar Council, and exposes this to Pablo, one of Greene’s investors. Vera resigns her position and is hired by Pablo, while Norm and the lemmings chase the truck holding the houses. Greene sends another truck carrying Norm’s grandfather, and Norm is captured as well. After being freed by the lemmings, Norm and his grandfather catch up to the boat carrying the houses to the Arctic, and are able to detach the houses. However, Norm is separated from his grandfather and the lemmings, and is knocked unconscious. Norm awakens in the Arctic and reunited with the lemmings and the other animals, who reveal that his grandfather was not found. Because of his heroism, Norm is crowned the king of the Arctic, before his grandfather arrives at the ceremony. Meanwhile, Mr. Greene is humiliated after his plan is exposed, and Vera and Olympia are happy with Pablo as their new boss, while Norm and Elizabeth have three cubs together.ANORMOn the whole this movie is a fun outing that the whole family can enjoy. It also opens the door to talk to kids about protecting the environment without being preachy or taking aim at anyone who feels the ways to do so are up for discussion. Rather than say the science is closed it says let’s talk about this and see what kind of solution we can come up with. For me at least this seems like a responsible way to let kids know and hopefully will help them grow up to find solutions rather than focus on who to blame

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REVIEW: ONE CHANCE

CAST

James Corden (Into The Woods)
Julie Walters (Paddington)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Alexandra Roach (The Huntsman)
Mackenzie Crook (Game of Thrones)
Jemima Rooper (Hex)
Valeria Bilello (Miele)
Trystan Gravelle (Mr. Selfridge)
Stanley Townsend (Killing Bono)

A great underdog story The underdog in this story is the real life Paul Potts, the cell phone salesman turned Pavarotti-esque opera singer who won Britain’s Got Talent and became an instant sensation. The film is endearing and tough to dislike as so many. It’s constructed in such a by-the-numbers fashion that it makes Potts’ story seem like a work of fiction.

Comic James Corden, does a surprisingly good job as the South Wales chap who overcame bullying, a less-than-supportive father (Colm Meaney), and a severe lack of confidence to embrace his love of opera, despite being bullied mercilessly for it. The film breezes much too quickly through pretty much every aspect of his life, as if producer Simon Cowell had designed it to be a fill-in episode of one of his many talent-based shows. Potts works in the Carphone Warehouse alongside his RPG-loving best friend Bradden (Mackenzie Crook), but despite his rapturous voice that everyone loves, his lack of self-confidence prevents him taking it any further. He finds that extra boost in Julie-Ann (the lovely and genuine Alexandra Roach), the online girlfriend he’d been too scared to meet in the flesh. Nicknaming one another ‘Brad Pitt’ and ‘Cameron Diaz’, their relationship becomes a guide post for Potts, even as his journey takes him to Venice and a performance in front of his idol, Luciano Pavarotti.

The film takes full advantage of every opportunity to tug at your heartstrings and feel for Potts, who it seems can’t stay out of the hospital bed for any manner of physical ailment. Dressing like a sad clown to perform Pagliacci in front of a rowdy hometown crowd, Potts floors them with his unlikely voice; an early achievement that helped set him on his path. But every time he’s about to take the next step something awful occurs, like a terminal bout of stage fright, or a burst appendix before a major show, or getting hit by a car. These are only given enough emotional weight to earn our sympathy and pity, but even if you’ve never heard of Potts ( how this story turns out won’t come as a surprise.

Directed with workmanlike efficiency by David Frankel, who will perhaps always be known as the guy who helmed The Devil Wears Prada, the film finds a winning formula in the combination of Corden and Roach. The Tony award-winning actor acquits himself well as Potts, lip-syncing to his powerful voice and capturing his warm-hearted spirit. Some may recognize Roach as the teenaged Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and she shows a different sort of strength and sturdiness here. In a film that doesn’t stretch much beyond formula, their relationship is one that we want to get that storybook happy ending.

REVIEW: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2011)

CAST

Matthew Macfadyen (Robin Hood)
Logan Lerman (The Number 23)
Ray Stevenson (Thor)
Milla Jonovich (Resident Evil)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Gabriellla Wilde (Carrie 2013)
James Corden (Into The Woods)
Freddie Fox (St Trinians 2)
Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises)
Til Schweiger (This Means War)
Carsten Norgaard (The Man In The High Castle)
Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass)

In Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, the Three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans), with the help of Athos’ longtime lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), steal airship blueprints made by Leonardo da Vinci. However, they are betrayed by Milady, who gives the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Upon returning to France, the Musketeers are forced to disband by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) for their failure, and they end up on the streets of Paris.

A year later, a young man named d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves his village in Gascony for Paris in hopes of becoming a Musketeer as his father was, only to learn that they no longer exist. At a rural bar, d’Artagnan accuses Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of Richelieu’s guard, of offending his horse, and challenges him to a duel. Rochefort shoots him while he is distracted but he is saved by Milady de Winter. Arriving in Paris, d’Artagnan by coincidence separately encounters Athos, Porthos and Aramis accidentally offending all three, then scheduling duels with each at 12:00, 1:00 and 2:00 pm respectively.

Athos brings Porthos and Aramis to the duel as his seconds. d’Artagnan realises they are the Musketeers he is seeking. He is prepared to continue with the duel but Richelieu’s guards break it up. The three are inspired by d’Artagnan and fight together and defeat the soldiers, but later are summoned before the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his wife, Queen Anne (Juno Temple). Richelieu asks the king to execute the four, but the queen is impressed by their bravery and the king congratulates them and invites them to an event, which to Athos’ anger, turns out to be Buckingham’s arrival (who comes in an airship built following da Vinci’s blueprints).

Later, Richelieu orders Milady, who is actually working for him, to plant false love letters among Queen Anne’s possessions, steal Queen Anne’s diamond necklace, and take it to the Tower of London to frame Queen Anne as having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. The affair would force King Louis to execute Queen Anne and declare war on England. At this point, the people would demand a more experienced leader: Richelieu himself. But Milady demands that Richelieu declare in writing that she is working on behalf of France, to protect herself in case of palace intrigue.

The false letters (saying that the necklace has been given to Buckingham) are found by a maid and are given to King Louis, who is advised by Richelieu to set up a ball at which Queen Anne would be forced to wear the necklace. If she doesn’t, then her affair is real, and there will be war against England. Queen Anne’s lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Gabriella Wilde) discovers Richelieu’s plan and asks the Musketeers to stop him. The Musketeers plan to sail to England and retrieve the jewels before the ball. However, at the dock, Rochefort sets up a blockade to prevent anybody from boarding the ships. Constance takes d’Artagnan’s hat, cape and horse to divert the guards standing in front of the boat to allow the Musketeers to board undetected.

In London, Milady warns Buckingham that the Musketeers have arrived to take revenge on him. Milady instructs Buckingham of all their tendencies in battle, but Athos predicts this and the Musketeers resolve to do just the opposite. Buckingham captures d’Artagnan, but he was a decoy to let the Musketeers steal the airship. The Musketeers rescue d’Artagnan, demolishing the top floor of the Tower in the process. Athos was sure that Milady would have fled, taking the necklace with her as insurance, so he planted the Musketeers’ manservant Planchet (James Corden) as her carriage driver to take her to an isolated spot where the airship could pick up the carriage. As retribution for betraying them, Athos prepares to execute Milady. However, Milady leaps off the airship before Athos can shoot, apparently dying on her own terms.

The Musketeers fly back to Paris with the necklace, but they are attacked by Rochefort in another airship, as Milady had given Richelieu copies of da Vinci’s blueprints. Rochefort then reveals that he has Constance, and threatens to kill her if they don’t hand over the necklace. d’Artagnan agrees to exchange the necklace for Constance, with whom he is infatuated, but Rochefort knocks him out and captures him as soon as the necklace is in his possession. Rochefort then proceeds to attack the Musketeers’ ship, at first gaining the upper hand due to the superior size and weaponry of his airship. However, the Musketeers lure Rochefort into a storm cloud, burst the balloon of the airship and make the ship crash onto the Notre Dame Cathedral. On the roof, d’Artagnan duels and stabs Rochefort, who falls to his death. Meanwhile, Constance returns the necklace to Queen Anne.

The Musketeers arrive at the ball in Buckingham’s damaged airship. However, for the sake of King Louis and his people, they claim that Richelieu had it built for the king, but an attempt was made by Rochefort to sabotage it, also showing King Louis the authorization Richelieu had given Milady, pretending that it was given to them. The King then congratulates the Musketeers, and thanks d’Artagnan, who he sees as his best friend, for everything. Richelieu, impressed by how the Musketeers handled the situation, offers them places in his employ, but they refuse. Richelieu threatens them by saying they will one day regret their choices, but they laugh him off. As Louis and Anne dance, d’Artagnan and Constance kiss. The Musketeers then leave, promising that they will protect France as Musketeers when they are needed.

At sea, Milady (who survived her fall) is rescued by Buckingham, who reveals that he knows that she was working for Richelieu and says that he is going to fight against France. The camera backs away and shows Buckingham advancing towards France’s shore with a massive fleet of battleships and airships.

This is a good fun romp, the latest version of the classic tale is not to be taken seriously in any way whatsoever. Done very tongue in cheek with good action scenes and decent performances, this is a good fun film the whole family can enjoy though it has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt as 17th century airshps do battle. Yes, you read that right, airships. The cast are all good, all the classic characters are there, D’artagnan, Porthos, Aramis, Athos, Milady, Rocehfort & the Cardinal. The film is daft, yes and takes liberties with the plot of the novel but as i said it’s all done very tongue in cheek with everybody involved hamming it up like there’s no tomorrow. And the end screams sequel.

REVIEW: INTO THE WOODS

CAST
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Daniel Huttlestone (Les Miserables)
James Corden (Gulliver’s Travels)
Emily Blunt (Looper)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Tammy Blanchard (Blue Jasmine)
Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher)
Tracey Ullman (Corpse Bride)
Lilla Crawford (Little Miss Perfect)
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)
Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
A Baker and his Wife wish for a child but suffer under a curse laid upon the Baker’s family by a Witch who found the Baker’s father robbing her garden when his mother was pregnant. The Baker’s father also stole some beans which caused the Witch’s mother to punish her with the curse of ugliness. The Witch offers to lift the curse, but only if the Baker and his Wife obtain four critical items for her: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. The Witch later tells the Baker that she asked him to do this task for her because she is not allowed to touch any of the objects.
The Witch’s demands eventually bring the Baker and his Wife into contact with Jack, who is selling his beloved cow Milky White and to whom the Baker offers magic beans left him by his father (which were stolen from the Witch) which grow into a large beanstalk; with Red Riding Hood, whose ruby cape the couple notices when she stops to buy sweets on her way to grandmother’s house; with Rapunzel, whose tower the Baker’s Wife passes in the woods; and with Cinderella, who also runs into the Baker’s Wife while fleeing from the pursuing Prince.
After a series of failed attempts and misadventures, the Baker and his Wife finally are able to gather the items necessary to break the spell. Meanwhile, each of the other characters receive their “happy endings”: Cinderella marries the Prince; Jack provides for his mother by stealing riches from the Giant in the sky, and kills the pursuing Giant by cutting down the beanstalk; Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother are saved from the Big Bad Wolf; and the Witch regains her youth and beauty after drinking the potion.
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However, each of the characters learns their “happily ever after” is not so happy: the Baker is worried he is a poor father to his newborn baby; the Baker’s Wife is temporarily seduced by the Prince; Cinderella is disenchanted by the cheating Prince; and the Witch learns that she has lost her powers with her restored youth and beauty. The growth of a second beanstalk from the last remaining magic bean allows the Giant’s Wife to climb down and threaten the kingdom and its inhabitants if they do not deliver Jack in retribution for killing her husband. The characters debate the morality of handing Jack over. In the process, Red Riding Hood’s Mother and Grandmother, Jack’s Mother, and the Baker’s Wife are killed. The characters quickly blame each other for their individual actions that lead to the tragedy, ultimately blaming the Witch for raising the beans in the first place. She curses them for their inability to accept their individual responsibility and disappears.
The remaining characters resolve to kill the threatening Giant’s Wife, though Cinderella and the Baker try to explain to the distraught Red Riding Hood and Jack the complicated morality of retribution and revenge. The Giant’s Wife is killed, and the characters move forward with their ruined lives: the Baker, thinking of his Wife, is determined to be a good father; Cinderella leaves the Prince and decides to help the Baker; and Jack and Red Riding Hood, now orphans, live with the Baker and Cinderella. The Baker’s son begins to cry and The Baker begins to tell their story to his son—”Once upon a time…” Meanwhile, the Witch sings to the audience a moral: “Careful what you say and do, children will listen,” meaning that children can change due to the parent’s actions and behaviors. The movie ends with the cast singing the finale and it closes with Cinderella singing, “I wish!”
On the whole, I’d say that I enjoyed Into the Woods. It was a good musical and I was particularly impressed with the quality of the singing.

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.

REVIEW: HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE

CAST (VOICES)

Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Megan Fox (Transformes)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Jeff Bridges (Iron Man)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2)
James Corden (Into The Woods)

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a toothless satire raised from plain-jane mediocrity to legitimately pleasant all-rightness entirely by the performances of Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst. Director Robert Weide’s adaptation of the famous book is a hit-and-miss half-assery of star-skewering and romantic comedy fluff that fails to dig deep enough to draw blood despite ample opportunity, and yet its watchable.Pegg plays Sidney Young (an interpretation of the book’s real-life author Toby Young), the creator of the supposedly scathing British tabloid the Post-Modern Review. One of his former idols is Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges, sporting an incredible wig), who has gone on to be the editor-in-chief of Sharps Magazine in New York City, where Sidney feels he’s lost his bite. After Sidney ruins one of Clayton’s fancy parties by crashing it with a pig in tow, Clayton gives Sidney a call and offers him a job at Sharps. Seeing an opportunity to bring some cutting criticism back into Clayton’s work, Sidney accepts, flying to the States to start cracking heads. Instead, however, he finds himself under the watchful eye of co-worker Alison Olson (Dunst), whose current assignment seems to be keeping Sidney in check.The main problem is the film’s fear of being truly caustic, despite it literally being Sidney’s goal to do so. It’s clear that Weide and screenwriter Peter Straughan worry that giving Sidney the teeth to tear into someone could also make him an unlikable jackass, but if there’s anyone in the world who could have balanced the anarchic with the amicable it’s Simon Pegg. Instead, Sidney bluntly nags an actor about their sexual orientation, and the joke falls flat because not only is the line of questioning more unwise than outrageous, we’ve got no bearing on the “actor” in question. A real-life recognizable face might have packed a stronger punch. Similarly, while Max Minghella’s pretentious, ego-trip director has considerably more screen time, the film never aims below-the-belt. The character is merely dazed and distant, when it’s a perfect chance to stick it to both abstract artistes and David-O.-Russell-style directorial explosions.The remaining plot tracks the love-hate Alison and Sidney’s love hate-relationship, which reeks of a Hollywood book-to-film adaptation. Could these two actually have something in common? Boy, I wonder! And yet there’s Pegg and Dunst, generating crackling romantic and comedic chemistry, both exceptionally charismatic and appealing from the first frame to the last.Props for Pegg are expected, as he continues to elevate everything he’s in, but I want to shine a light on Dunst’s performance, Her career of late is faltering more than she deserves, and while Alison’s character arc is no great shakes, she still imbues it with more life and charm than many actresses could muster. This includes the exceptionally boring Megan Fox as the exceptionally boring Sophie Maes, a movie star who is probably not interested in Sidney, no matter how much he prays. Her fake Mother Teresa biopic is chuckle-worthy, but it’s got nothing on Downey Jr.’s Satan’s Alley from Tropic Thunder.How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is the kind of movie you’d enjoy on television and forget by the end of the week.