REVIEW: SHREK

 

 

CAST

Mike Myers (Austin Powers)
Eddie Murphy (Dr. Dolittle)
Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Thirteen)
Conrad Vernon (Bee Movie)
Chris Miller (Turbo)
Cody Cameron (Open Season)

 

Shrek, a green ogre who loves the solitude in his swamp, finds his life interrupted when many fairytale characters are exiled there by order of the fairytale-hating Lord Farquaad. Shrek tells them that he will go ask Farquaad to send them back. He brings along a talking Donkey who is the only fairytale creature who knows the way to Duloc.

Meanwhile, Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man into giving the location of the remaining fairytale creatures until his guards rush in with something he has been searching for: the Magic Mirror. He asks The Mirror if his kingdom is the fairest of them all but is told that he is not even a king. To be a king he must marry a princess and is given three options, from which he chooses Princess Fiona, who is locked in a castle tower guarded by lava and a dragon. The Mirror tries to mention “the little thing that happens at night” but is unsuccessful.

Shrek and Donkey arrive at Farquaad’s palace in Duloc, where they end up in a tournament. The winner gets the “privilege” of rescuing Fiona so that Farquaad may marry her. Shrek and Donkey easily defeat the other knights in wrestling-match fashion, and Farquaad accepts his offer to move the fairytale creatures from his swamp if Shrek rescues Fiona.

Shrek and Donkey travel to the castle and split up to find Fiona. Donkey encounters the dragon and sweet-talks the beast before learning that it is female. Dragon takes a liking to him and carries him to her chambers. Shrek finds Fiona, who is appalled at his lack of romanticism. As they leave, Shrek saves Donkey, caught in Dragon’s tender clutches, and forces her to chase them out of the castle. At first, Fiona is thrilled to be rescued but is quickly disappointed when Shrek reveals he is an ogre.

As the three journey to Duloc, Fiona urges the two to camp out for the night while she sleeps in a cave. Shrek and Donkey stargaze while Shrek tells stories about great ogres and says that he will build a wall around his swamp when he returns. When Donkey persistently asks why, he says that everyone judges him before knowing him; therefore, he feels he is better off alone, despite Donkey’s admission that he did not immediately judge him when they met.

Along the way, Shrek and Fiona find they have more in common and fall in love. The trio is almost at Duloc, and that night Fiona shelters in a windmill. When Donkey hears strange noises coming from it, he finds Fiona turned into an ogre. She explains her childhood curse and transforms each night, which is why she was locked away, and that only her true love’s kiss will return her to her “love’s true form”. Shrek, about to confess his feelings for Fiona with a sunflower, partly overhears them, and is heartbroken as he mistakes her disgust with her transformation to an “ugly beast” as disgust with him. Fiona makes Donkey promise not to tell Shrek, vowing to do it herself. The next morning, Shrek has brought Lord Farquaad to Fiona. The couple return to Duloc, while a hurt Shrek angrily leaves his friendship with Donkey and returns to his now-vacated swamp, remembering what Fiona “said” about him.

Despite his privacy, Shrek is devastated and misses Fiona. Furious at Shrek, Donkey comes to the swamp where Shrek says he overheard Donkey and Fiona’s conversation. Donkey keeps his promise to Fiona and tells Shrek that she was talking about someone else. He accepts Shrek’s apology and tells him that Fiona will be getting married soon, urging Shrek into action to gain Fiona’s love. They travel to Duloc quickly, thanks to Dragon, who had escaped her confines and followed Donkey.

Shrek interrupts the wedding before Farquaad can kiss Fiona. He tells her that Farquaad is not her true love and only marrying her to become king. The sun sets, which turns Fiona into an ogre in front of everyone in the church, causing a surprised Shrek to fully understand what he overheard. Outraged by Fiona, Farquaad orders Shrek killed and Fiona detained. Shrek whistles for Dragon who bursts in along with Donkey and devours Farquaad. Shrek and Fiona profess their love and share a kiss; Fiona is bathed in light as her curse is broken but is surprised that she is still an ogre, as she thought she would become beautiful, to which Shrek replies that she is beautiful. They marry in the swamp and leave on their honeymoon while the rest celebrate by singing “I’m a Believer”.

Shrek is a sprawling surge into fairytale archetypes and stereotypes – the ogre, the noble steed, the damsel in distress, the evil lord, a fire-breathing dragon, Pinnochio, the three little pigs, the medieval tournaments and the festering forest swamp – it indulges and loses itself in the fun of these staples and it makes no pretense about it. The creators at DreamWorks Studios brush up on an old fairytale premise of a hero saving the damsel in distress from the dragon’s keep with intelligent, deft strokes. The result is a meticulously animated, hilarious, heartwarming fluff of a film.

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REVIEW: ROBIN HOOD (2010)

CAST

Russell Crowe (Gladiator)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Max Von Sydow (Minority Report)
William Hurt (The Host)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars – Episode VII)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Arthur Darvill (Legends of Tomorrow)

In 1199 A.D., Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a common archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston). A veteran of Richard’s crusade, he now takes part in the siege of Chalus Castle. Disillusioned and war-weary, he gives a frank but unflattering appraisal of the King’s conduct after the King asks him to answer him honestly. Though the Kings commends him for his honesty Robin and his comrades – archers Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle) and Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes) and soldier Little John (Kevin Durand) – find themselves in the stocks.
When the King is slain during an attack on the castle, Robin and his men decide to free themselves and desert. They come across an ambush of the English royal guard by Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight who has conspired with King Philip of France to assassinate the King. As Godfrey flees Robin attempts to shoot him but only succeeds in wounding Godfrey’s face with an arrow. Robin decides to take advantage of the situation by having his men impersonate the dead English knights to return to England. As they depart, Robin promises one of the dying knights, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), to return a sword to his father in Nottingham.
As Robin and his men become drunk on the voyage, they awake too late to flee unnoticed and Robin is forced to assume the identity of the slain Loxley and publicly inform the royal family of the King’s death. He witnesses the coronation of King John (Oscar Isaac), who orders harsh new taxes to be collected, dispatching Sir Godfrey to the North to do so – unaware that Godfrey will instead use French troops to stir up unrest and create an opening for Philip to invade England.
Robin and his companions head to Nottingham, where Loxley’s elderly and blind father, Sir Walter (Max von Sydow), asks him to continue impersonating his son, to prevent the family lands being taken by the Crown. However, Loxley’s widow, Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), is initially cold toward Robin, but warms to him, when he and his men merrily recover tithed grain for the townsfolk to plant. Godfrey’s actions incite the northern barons, who march to meet King John. Speaking now for Sir Walter, Robin proposes the King agree to a charter of rights to ensure the rights of every Englishman and unite his country. Having realized Godfrey’s deception, and knowing he must meet the French invasion with an army, the King agrees. Meanwhile, the French marauders plunder Nottingham and Godfrey murders Sir Walter. Robin and the northern barons arrive and stop Godfrey’s men.

As the French begin their invasion on the beach below the Cliffs of Dover, Robin leads the now united English army against them. In the midst of the battle, Robin duels with Godfrey, who attempted to kill Marion and flees until Robin finally succeeds in shooting him with an arrow from afar. Philip realizes that his plan to divide England has failed and calls off his invasion. When King John sees the French surrendering to Robin instead of himself, he senses a threat to his power. In London, John reneges on his promise to sign the charter, instead declaring Robin an outlaw to be hunted throughout the kingdom. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) announces the decree as Robin and his men flee to Sherwood Forest with the orphans of Nottingham. Marion narrates their new life in the greenwood, noting that they live in equality as they right the many wrongs in the Kingdom of King John.

Helgeland wrote a clever script, showing Medieval ideology and a complex political situation. His previous Medieval film was A Knight’s Tale, which he wrote and directed. But with Robin Hood he seems to have grown up as a writer and gives this film a little more of a complex plot and shows a bigger picture. He also cleverly mixes different aspects about how the legend has changed, like how Robin starting as a commoner and pretends to be a higher ranked man. The film also covers its bases by showing the two sites places that claim to be Robin’s home, Nottingham and Barnsdale. However this film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on screen like this before.  Robin Hood is also historically suspect, with events and dates being changed and made up, some ideas and culture also seems to be the victim of artistic license. But Scott knows that storytelling requires character development and show a more balanced picture, particularly with historically set films. At least this film does accept that it is a piece of historical fiction.

REVIEW: ROBIN HOOD: BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST

 

 

CAST

Robin Dunne (Sanctuary)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Mark Gibbon (Roadkill 2)
Cainan Wiebe (Sucker Punch)
Richard de Klerk (Andromeda)
Bill Dow (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Paul Lazenby (Arrow)
David Palffy (House of The Dead)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Robert Lawrenson (Human Target)
David Richmond-Peck (V)

There are four reasons to watching this film– the CGI were-dragon, Katherine Isabelle as Alina the were-dragon, the CGI wolf-lions, and Erica Durance as Marian. The were-dragon sequences are incredibly well done and very realistic. The creature’s design is distinctive, with a body like a winged puma. The transformations are very well done.  Katherine Isabelle, who played the title character from the GINGER SNAPS series, is great at playing troubled, distressed, terminally sad characters. She’s  She really does steal the film with her portrayal of the tragic Alina.The lion-like wolves in the Beyond section of Sherwood Forest are quite believable as well. They are a nicely executed hybrid of natural wolf and magical hell-beast. Their interaction with their would-be human victims is spot-on. Erica Durance….. anything from her post-Smallville debut is worth watching just for a chance to watch her. She gets a few action scenes in, either practicing on a helpless dummy or fighting the were-dragon Alina. And she looks great in a medieval pantsuit.

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All in all, a good tv movie highlighted by Erica Durance and Katherine Isabelle, it’s probably the strangest telling of the Robin Hood story but it is a fun one.