REVIEW: MUPPETS MOST WANTED

CAST

Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Steve Whitmore (The Dark Crystal)
Eric Jacobson (Sesame
Dave Goetz (Inside Out)
Bill Barretta (When Families Grieve)
Matt Vogel (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Tony Bennett Analyze This)
Hugh Bonneville (Paddington)
Jemaine Clement (Legion)
Sean Combs (Get Him To The Greek)
Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies)
Mackenzie Crook (One Chance)
Celine Dion (The Magic Sword)
Lady Gaga (Sin City 2)
Zach Gilifianakis (The Hangover)
Josh Grodin (The Hollars)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Tom Hiddleston (thor)
Tom Hollander (Mission Impossible 5)
Toby Jones (Atomic Blonde)
Frank Langella (Superman Returns)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Usher Raymond (She’s All That)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lvoely Bones)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

Following the events of the previous film, The Muppets find themselves at a loss as to what to do until Dominic Badguy suggests the Muppets go on a European tour with him as their tour manager. As the Muppets begin their tour, a criminal mastermind named Constantine, a near-exact double for Kermit the Frog in appearance, escapes from a Siberian Gulag and joins his subordinate Dominic to begin a plot to steal the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.Once the Muppets arrive in Berlin, Germany, Dominic secures them a show at a prestigious venue. Frustrated with the group’s incessant requests and Miss Piggy’s insistence they marry, Kermit goes for a walk at Dominic’s suggestion. Constantine ambushes him and glues a fake mole onto his cheek then slips away. Mistaken for Constantine, Kermit is arrested and sent to the Gulag. Taking Kermit’s place, Constantine’s blunders in imitating him are covered by Dominic; however, Animal knows the truth. After the Berlin performance opens with Constantine freezing at the audience, Scooter has to introduce the show. Constantine and Dominic steal paintings from a museum while the Muppets perform. The next morning, Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon and CIA agent Sam the Eagle grudgingly team up to apprehend the culprit whom Napoleon believes to be his nemesis “The Lemur” – the number-two criminal in the world.Meanwhile, Kermit has attempted several times to escape the Gulag but is thwarted each time by prison guard Nadya, who is not only aware of his true identity but is as infatuated with him as Miss Piggy is. Nadya orders Kermit to help organize the prisoners’ annual talent show.Following hidden instructions on the stolen painting, Constantine and Dominic divert the tour to Madrid, Spain. Constantine allows the Muppets to perform whatever they wish, much to Walter’s confusion. During this show, Constantine and Dominic break into a museum and destroy a roomful of busts to find a key needed for their plan. Even though the performance is a disaster, the Muppets receive critical acclaim. Sam and Napoleon deduce that the connection between the crimes is the Muppet tour, and the pair interrogates the Muppets, only to find that they are too ill-equipped to be guilty. The instructions on the stolen key lead Constantine and Dominic to schedule the next show in Dublin, Ireland.In Dublin, Walter discovers that Dominic has been giving away show tickets and bribing critics to ensure a packed house and rave reviews, while Fozzie Bear notices Kermit’s resemblance to Constantine. They both realize that Constantine has taken Kermit’s place and brought in Dominic as his accomplice. Constantine attacks Walter and Fozzie, but Animal fends him off and the three escape from the train to rescue Kermit. During the Dublin performance, Dominic steals a locket from a museum and Constantine proposes to Miss Piggy onstage; Piggy accepts, and the pair plan a ceremony to be held at the Tower of London in London, England, where the Crown Jewels are kept.Fozzie, Walter, and Animal reach the Siberian Gulag on the night of the performance, and Kermit uses it as a front to allow them, himself, and all the prisoners to escape the Gulag. Kermit, Fozzie, Walter, and Animal infiltrate the Tower as the wedding begins, and Dominic (with the help of Bobby Benson’s Baby Band) manages to steal the jewels.Kermit interrupts the ceremony, revealing Constantine’s ruse, but the crook takes Piggy hostage and flees to a helicopter, where he is intercepted by Dominic, who is actually the Lemur and intends to double-cross him. Constantine ejects him from the helicopter and tries to take off with Piggy, but Kermit jumps aboard and the rest of the Muppets climb atop each other to stop the escape. Kermit and Piggy knockout Constantine and both criminals are arrested. Nadya arrives in London to arrest Kermit for escaping. The other Muppets tell her that if she arrests him, then she will have to take all of them as well; she relents, allowing Kermit to go free. The Muppets perform at the Gulag with Constantine and the prisoners participating, ending the film.The heart and soul of the film is about the way the characters manage to bring a sense of togetherness and unity to the Muppets and how this unity brings joy to all those around. Throughout the film, Kermit manages to be a core reminder as to why The Muppets are generously wonderful creations for the world: the optimism, the kindness, the laughter: everything combines to form a strong impression that both children and adults can feel completely enamoured by. This is a film that is full of magic and it sits alongside The Muppets magnificently and is not to be missed.

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REVIEW: IBOY

iboy-netflix
CAST

Bill Milner (Son of Rambow)
Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria)
Rory Kinnear (Spectre)

When geeky Tom (Bill Milner) discovers his friend Lucy (Maisie Williams) being viciously attacked, the thugs turn their attention to him and he’s badly beaten up.  As he recovers, he learns that fragments from his mobile phone are embedded in his brain, giving him strange new powers.  All the better to take revenge for what happened to Lucy and run her attackers out of town.The trailer for iBoy took off like a rocket when it was launched a few weeks ago, with over one million hits on just one night.  Not bad going for a low-budget British sci-fi fantasy, even if the presence of Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams probably gave the figures a boost.On the face of it, there’s nothing especially new about the film.  The idea of somebody being injured and acquiring super powers as a result has all been done before, as has those powers being used to right a wrong or two.  It’s what superhero movies are made of and that’s what iBoy is, even if it’s a long way short of being a blockbuster.  In fact, it doesn’t have any pretentions in that direction.  What it’s trying to do is bring a new twist to the genre.And as a British low-budget superhero movie, with its feet rooted very much in present day reality, it has a certain novelty value.  The special effects enhance the overall hi-tech feel, showing us exactly what Tom can see – and hear – from other people’s electronic devices because of his superpowers.  He’s the ultimate eavesdropper and, with his hoodie and half covered face when he’s out taking revenge on the gang, something of a low-budget ninja.screen_shot_2017_01_12_at_10_14_01_am_0Director Adam Randall has made every penny of his low-budget count.  Many of the scenes, especially at night, are given a blue wash to further emphasise the story’s techie credentials, contrasting with the harsh lines of the tower blocks on council estate and the omnipresent graffiti bringing it all back down to earth with a bump.   All very dark and all very sinister.bbt-guys-on-the-vanThe film teams Randall for the second time in the space of twelve months with director of photography Eben Bolter: they were also behind last year’s Level Up, which shares some similarities with iBoy, especially the idea of somebody single-handedly trying to save the person they love.  And, while that common ground is another reminder that the storyline isn’t especially new, the film is well acted, visually arresting and is snappily paced.  And, while there are moments when the film and its hero could do with a quick upgrade, the present day urban setting keeps everything nicely grounded.

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)

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: 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 GOBLET OF FIRE

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Frances de la Tour (Into The Woods)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)

Harry Potter dreams of Frank Bryce, who is killed after overhearing Lord Voldemort discussing plans with Peter Pettigrew and another man. Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys, but after the game, Death Eaters terrorise the spectators, and the man who appeared in Harry’s dream summons the Dark Mark.

At Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore introduces ex-Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He also announces that the school will host the legendary event known as Triwizard Tournament where three magical schools are going to compete against each other in a very deadly competition by facing three dangerous challenges. The champions are selected by the Goblet of Fire: Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff is chosen to represent Hogwarts, Viktor Krum will represent Durmstrang Institute, and Fleur Delacour will represent Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. The Goblet unexpectedly chooses a fourth champion: Harry Potter. Dumbfounded, Dumbledore is unable to pull the underage Harry out of the tournament, as the Ministry official Barty Crouch Sr. insists that the champions are bound by a contract, and therefore, Harry is invited to compete. This makes Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley jealous of him.

For the tournament’s first task, the champions must each retrieve a golden egg guarded by a dragon. Harry succeeds after he summons his broomstick to retrieve the egg, which contains information about the second challenge. Shortly after, another event known as the Yule Ball dance takes place, during which Harry’s crush Cho Chang attends with Cedric, and Hermione Granger attends with Viktor, which makes Ron jealous of Viktor. During the second task, the champions are instructed to dive underwater to rescue their mates. Harry comes out in 3rd place but is placed second behind Cedric due to his “moral fiber”. Afterwards, Barty Crouch Sr. is found dead by Harry. Harry visits Dumbledore at his office, and while waiting for him, he discovers a Pensieve, which holds Dumbledore’s memories. Inside it, Harry witnesses a trial in which Igor Karkaroff (Durmstrang Institute’s Headmaster) confessed to the Ministry of Magic names of other Death Eaters, after Voldemort’s defeat. He named Severus Snape as one, but Dumbledore defended him; he then named Barty Crouch Jr. Barty Crouch Sr. was left devastated, and his son was taken to Azkaban. After exiting the Pensieve, Harry deduces that the man he has seen in his dreams with Voldemort is Barty Crouch Jr.

In the third and final task, the competitors are placed inside a hedge maze and must reach the Triwizard Cup. Viktor, under the influence of the Imperius Curse, incapacitates Fleur. After Harry saves Cedric when the maze attacks him, the two claim a draw and grab the cup together, which turns out to be a Portkey and transports the two to a graveyard, where Pettigrew and Voldemort are waiting. Pettigrew kills Cedric with the Killing Curse and performs a ritual using a bone of Voldemort’s father, Pettigrew’s flesh and Harry’s blood, which rejuvenates Voldemort, who then summons the Death Eaters. Voldemort releases Harry in order to beat him in a duel to prove he is the better wizard. Harry is unable to defend himself, but tries the Expelliarmus charm at the same moment Voldemort attempts the Killing Curse. Their wands do not work against each other, and Voldemort’s wand is forced to disgorge the last spells it performed. This results in shadow impressions of the people he murdered appearing in the graveyard, including Harry’s parents and Cedric. This provides an ample distraction to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, allowing Harry to escape with Cedric’s body by grabbing the Portkey.

Upon his return, Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort has returned and is responsible for Cedric’s death. Moody takes a devastated Harry back to his room to interrogate him about Lord Voldemort, where he inadvertently blows his cover when he asks Harry whether there were “others” in the graveyard, despite Harry never saying that he was transported there. Exposed, Moody reveals that he was the one who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and that he had been guiding and manipulating Harry throughout the tournament to ensure that he would win, so Voldemort would take Harry’s blood to return. Moody then tries to kill Harry, only for Harry to be saved by Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall. The teachers force Moody to drink Veritaserum, a truth telling potion where it is revealed that he isn’t Moody, and that the real Moody is imprisoned in a magical trunk. The false Moody’s Polyjuice Potion wears off and he is revealed as Barty Crouch Jr., working for Voldemort. Crouch Jr. is sent back to Azkaban, from which he had escaped.

In the morning, Dumbledore reveals to the students that Voldemort killed Cedric, although the Ministry of Magic is against this. Later, Dumbledore visits Harry in his dormitory, and apologizes to him for the dangers he had to go through. Harry reveals that he saw his parents in the graveyard; Dumbledore names this effect as “Priori Incantatem”. Dumbledore acknowledges that even though Harry’s parents appeared through Voldemort’s wand, no spell can awaken the dead. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he is not alone. Soon after, Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons bid farewell to each other.For fans of the books, you should find this adaptation a commendable reflection of Rowling’s tale. Naturally, some parts had to be modified or cut entirely – there’s no way to avoid that without making it a 10 hour movie – but the parts that were cut were either not critical to the story line, or will be easy to account for in the films to come. Unless you’re an obsessive nitpicker about every last detail, you should find this a satisfactory film version of Goblet of Fire.

REVIEW: THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009)

 

CAST

Emily Blunt (The Huntmans)
Rupert Friend (Homeland)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Mark Strong (Green Lantern)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
Harriet Walter (Sense and Sensibility)
Michiel Huisman (world War Z)
David Robb (Highlander: The Series)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Matrix Revolutions)

Princess Victoria of Kent is the heiress presumptive to the throne during the last years of the reign of her uncle King William IV and is subject to a political tug of war for influence over her. On the one side is her mother, the Duchess of Kent, along with the comptroller of the Duchess’s household, Sir John Conroy, who tries to force Victoria to sign papers declaring a regency and giving him and her mother power.

On the other side is her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium, who wishes to use his influence through family ties to secure an alliance between Britain and his kingdom. He decides to have his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha seduce Victoria and he is coached in her likes and dislikes. The Duchess invites the Coburg brothers, Albert and Prince Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to visit the household. Victoria and Albert develop an early fondness for each other, despite Victoria knowing that Albert was sent by their uncle to win her favours. They begin writing to one another after Albert returns home.

At a birthday reception in Windsor Castle, the King states his wish to be closer to Victoria and insults her mother. But when the King increases Victoria’s income, this is rejected by Conroy, who physically subdues her in front of her mother, heightening the animosity between them. The King then sends the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne to advise her. Victoria agrees to make him her private secretary, and he appoints ladies-in-waiting for her from political families allied to him.

King William dies after Victoria’s 18th birthday, avoiding a regency. After accession, Victoria immediately begins to exert her independence, including moving into her own room and banishing Conroy from her household and coronation. During her first meeting with the Privy Council, she announces that “I mean to devote my life in service of my country and my people”. Victoria now moves into the recently completed Buckingham Palace and her aunt, Queen Adelaide, advises her against giving in too much to Lord Melbourne’s direction. Albert then comes to England to spend more time with Victoria. They bond more, dancing together during her coronation and later discussing together the condition of the poor. Albert hints at taking their relationship further but the self-sufficient Victoria resists and he leaves.

When Lord Melbourne loses a vote in Parliament, the new Prime Minister designate, Sir Robert Peel, wishes to replace some of her ladies-in-waiting with supporters of his own party and the queen refuses. Peel in turn refuses the queen’s invitation to form a new government, allowing Melbourne to continue as Prime Minister. The subsequent crisis damages Victoria’s popularity, leading to demonstrations outside the palace and insults hurled at her in public. Her loneliness during the turbulence draws Victoria closer to Albert through their letters and decides her to invite him back to Britain. Since protocol prevents him suggesting marriage, she proposes to him herself.

Their marriage is loving and the birth of their first child helps heal the breach between Victoria and her mother, who had earlier sent a letter of support during the crisis. Nevertheless, Albert is frustrated at his initial powerlessness and Queen Adelaide advises Victoria to allow him to take on more duties. He then reorganises the running of the royal household and dismisses Conroy for mishandling funds. As Victoria’s primary adviser, he now blocks the influences of Lord Melbourne and King Leopold. However, Victoria quarrels with him fiercely for going over her head with Peel in the matter of her household.

Soon after, when Victoria is fired upon by a would-be assassin as they are riding in an open carriage, Albert throws himself across her and is wounded. This bravery leads to their reconciliation and Melbourne advises her to share with Albert also her work for the social welfare. The final title card sketches in their successful future until Albert’s death at the age of 42.

The film shows how lighthearted Victoria was in her younger years with that spring in her step, whilst at the same time pursuing her duty of becoming Queen and knowing her responsibilities. A great historical film.

REVIEW: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1999)

CAST

Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)
Whoopi Goldberg (Star Trek: Generations)
Simon Russell Beale (Into The Woods)
Ken Dodd (Hamlet)
Gene Wilder (willy Wonka)
George Wendt (Cheers)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Richard Coombs (Labyrinth)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Elizabeth Spriggs (Impromptu)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Peter Ustinov (Animal Farm)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Donald Sinden (the Day of The Jackal)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Joanna Lumley (Corpse Bride)

The film follows the storyline of the book closely, save for adding some scenes from Through the Looking-Glass. It also changes the opening real world scene from Alice and her sister sitting at a riverbank to Alice in her bedroom, reluctantly practicing the song “Cherry Ripe”, which she is expected to perform at a garden party. (The party guests are played by the same actors as the Wonderland characters, and are shown as resembling them in appearance and personality, in a similar manner to the MGM version of The Wizard of Oz. The toys in Alice’s room also reflect the residents of Wonderland). Thanks to stage fright, and constant nagging from her confident governess (Dilys Laye), Alice runs out of the house and hides herself in the woods nearby until the party has ended. However, an apple floats down from the tree and seems to hover in Alice’s face. She is suddenly distracted by a human-sized White Rabbit (voiced by Richard Coombs) rushing by. Curious, Alice follows the White Rabbit, falling down his rabbit hole and ending up in Wonderland.

Alice travels throughout Wonderland, meeting a large number of bizarre people and challenges. Alice first has problems keeping her size the same while attempting to go through a small door leading to a beautiful garden, eventually she grows massively tall and floods the room she is in with her tears before shrinking to the size of a mouse. She then meets Mr. Mouse (Ken Dodd) and his avian friends who participate in a Caucus Race, where everyone wins. Alice encounters the White Rabbit again who directs her to his house. There, Alice comes across a bottle of liquid that makes her enormous and trapped in the house. The White Rabbit and his gardeners Pat (played by Irish comedian Jason Byrne) and Bill attempt to remove Alice by going down the chimney, but Alice shrinks again. Wandering in a forest, she encounters Major Caterpillar (Ben Kingsley) who advices her to not be afraid before transforming into a butterfly. Alice grows back to normal size by eating part of a mushroom. She ventures to a nearby manorhouse where she meets the musical Duchess (Elizabeth Spriggs), her baby, her pepper-obsessed plate-throwing cook (Sheila Hancock), and the Cheshire Cat (Whoopi Goldberg). The baby is left in Alice’s care but it turns into a pig and is released. The Cheshire Cat advices Alice to visit the Mad Hatter and his friends the March Hare and the Dormouse.

Meeting the trio at a tea party, Alice is given rather odd advice on how to avoid stagefright, the Mad Hatter (Martin Short) leaping onto the table to do his performance he previously did at a concert of the Queen of Hearts. Alice eventually leaves when the Mad Hatter and March Hare begin smashing cups and plates. They also try stuffing the Dormouse into a teapot. She comes across the small door and using her intelligence, succeeds in getting through it into the garden which is actually the labyrinth maze belonging to the Queen. The Queen of Hearts (Miranda Richardson) invites her to a bizarre game of croquet, but her love for decapitating people annoys Alice. The Cheshire Cat’s head appears in the sky and is ordered to be executed, but reasoning from Alice stops the Queen. The Duchess arrives to answer the King’s question of who the Cat’s owner is, but the Cat has vanished. Alice leaves the croquet game, meeting the Gryphon (voiced by Donald Sinden) and the Mock Turtle (Gene Wilder). The two sing with Alice, teaching her the Lobster Quadrille and encouraging her. Alice then wanders into a darker area of Wonderland, meeting a White Knight (Christopher Lloyd) who encourages her to be brave and also shows her his newest invention.

Alice meets some talking flowers: a Tiger-Lily (voiced by Joanna Lumley) who is the most sensible out of all of them, some Roses which are not too bothered about Alice being lost, and some Daisies who are rascals. Having the flowers helping her, Alice walks off. Alice then meets Tweedledum (Robbie Coltrane) and Tweedledee (George Wendt) who have some antics with her before getting into a fight over a dropped rattle. Alice is then taken to the royal court where the Knave of Hearts (Jason Flemyng) is put on trial for apparently stealing the Queen’s jam tarts. The Mad Hatter and his companions appear as witnesses but he is accused of stealing someone else’s hat and is recognized by the Queen for singing at her concert, prompting him to sing his Twinkle Song. Alice is then called to the stand but she uses some mushroom pieces to grow to great heights. She sees the jam tarts have been untouched and the trial is pointless. She openly criticizes the Queen, the King and Wonderland. The White Rabbit, who is present at the court, reveals he deliberately lured Alice into Wonderland to conquer her fears. He does so by first asking her if she is self-confident. Upon Alice answering yes, he simply states, “then you don’t need us anymore.” He then sends her back home using the same hovering apple that brought her there in the first place.

Awakening back home, Alice courageously sings in front of her parents and their guests, but instead of singing Cherry Ripe, she sings the Lobster Quadrille which she finds much more interesting. The audience enjoy her performance and applaud. Alice spots the Cheshire Cat in the audience who smiles at her in a term of congratulations. The film ends with the lobster quadrille, beautiful soup and some back ground music all during the end credits.

The acting and visual effects in this adaptation are second to none in my opinion. Just check out the actors involved. Impressive! The perfomance by the young Tina Majorino is nothing short of excellent, and I can’t imagine anyone improving on Martin Short’s Mad Hatter. It is wonderful treat to find films that can be shared with enjoyment by both children and adults. This is a film that achieves this – the difficult art of mixing “adult” an “naïve” qualities. It is only too rare to find these days. In short an excellent film!