Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

arton25751Disclaimer: this review is about the 2014 French-German Beauty and the Beast movie, not the 2017 American version. While I enjoy the original french version of the fairytale, the animated 1991 version is the one that remains in my heart. I remember being absolutely taken with the film and its story remains as one of my favourites. In fact, I watched it so many times, that I actually forgot (for a good couple years!) that the original French tale was different (no transformed servants, other siblings, no Gaston, etc.). So when it came to this adaption, my original assumption was that it was going to be based off the 1991 film. However, this film goes back to the basic french version, albeit with some changes.

The story remains the same for a large part. Belle asks for a rose from her father. He finds one and in the processes ends up bound to the Beast. Belle exchanges her life for her father’s. She comes to live with the Beast in his magical castle. He tries to win her love with his extravagant lifestyle. She goes to visit her family. And she eventually returns to save the Beast and in the process, revert him back to the Prince he once was. However, there are also the following differences: the Beast happens to be a widower, the magic has a background story, there’s a pool of magical healing water, and Gaston is replaced by Belle’s brothers and some thieves.

On that note, I don’t think any of the changes really affect the tone of the movie too much. I actually thought of some of them were quite interesting and enjoyable. However, I also felt that Belle and the Beast’s love story left a lot to be wanting. According to the original tale (or at least my interpretation of it), Belle fell in love with the Beast due to his nature. He was nice to her and became her friend. There was genuine affection that turned into love. I found that connection lacking in this one. Or rather, there was an instant connection between the Beauty and the Beast (largely due to the chemistry of the actors), but it was never really explored to my preferred depth. In this movie, the Beast was generally quite aloof towards her (which is understandable due to his insecurity over his looks and general life), while Belle oscillates between being scared and angry. I mean, it was implied that she fell in love with him as she witnessed his love for his previous wife. Yet, even then, I just found it to be quite odd and would’ve much preferred her to have fallen in love with him due to his behaviour towards her vs. his behaviour towards his first wife.

Secondly, the movie did have the tendency to drag on for a bit. However, it’s not big flaw or anything and is actually quite acceptable due to the visuals.

Coming to the visuals, in my opinion, they are the best thing about this movie. The graphics are insanely beautiful and enchanting. I quite enjoyed them and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Definitely the highlight of the film. As mentioned earlier, the stunning graphics managed to make the slowness of the movie bearable.

That said, acting was pretty good too. I’ve seen Vincent Cassel in other films and always enjoyed him, so I figured I’d like him in this too. Although I definitely did miss seeing his face in the movie (he was the Beast for a large section of the movie), I enjoyed his act as the Beast. He brought this vulnerability to the Beast, that was also simultaneously mixed in with ferocity and aggression. It really was fantastic and I think according to the story, it captured the general feel of the character really well. Lea Seydoux was also actually really good. Although at times, her Belle didn’t really have much to do besides look sad. However, together, both Cassel and Seydoux were fantastic. The chemistry between them was top notch. And the director, Christophe Gans, did a good job positioning scenes to capitalize on their chemistry. I also quite enjoyed the expository scene switching from storybook to movie visual. It was very well done.

My rating: watch it for some beautiful visuals and to witness the original The Beauty and The Beast fairytale.


The Wedding Party Movie Review

The-Wedding-Party-posterI was immediately taken by how extravagant The Wedding Party looked on its poster. As a visual person, I respond favourably to pretty things and this movie poster was no exception. Plus, when  I heard that this movie was the highest grossing movie in Nollywood, my interest was further piqued. So one fine evening, my sister and I sat down to watch them movie. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Basically, The Wedding Party, is about that — a wedding party. The action all happens within a day and most of it is contained to the wedding party of the main characters, Dunni and Dozie (played by Adesua Etomi and Banky Wellington, respectively). Both leads are descended from rich families (although Dozie’s family is richer), hence the extravagance.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what to talk about because there’s a lot of stuff that happens. During the whole wedding day, we’re shown how the two mothers don’t really like each other. How one mother is so extra all the time (LOL). How an ex comes to try and sabotage the wedding. How a friend ends up almost ruining the wedding. How the wedding planner struggles throughout the day. And how the fathers try to keep calm on the wedding day. In other words, it completely lives up to its title.

And that’s actually something I did not expect. I’m finding it difficult to put into words (I’ve tried to write this over five times and each attempt refuses to stick), but basically, in romantic comedies in which leads are often faced with hurdles in their love, the movie generally contains its focus to the leads and their love. Usually in such movies, we’re shown how the leads persevere through the depth of their love. Yet surprisingly, in this movie, the focus doesn’t really remain on the two leads and their love story isn’t very fleshed out. We know Dunni and Dozie love each other, but we’re really only given hints to their love story (we’re never told how it started, their dates, what they have in common, etc.) and a lot of screen time is actually given to other stuff. We get many scenes devoted to various family members, friends, situations, etc. I mean, the two leads are *technically* front and centre, but rather than being the nucleus of the film, I felt as if they existed as supporting characters in their own film, vs. the main characters.

Similarly, despite each hurdle that cropped out, their resolutions weren’t necessarily very deep. In other words, the problem was handled and that was that. Again, in romantic comedies with hurdles, often times, the resolution of problems preaches a deeper underlying message (ex. getting through problems together, or how differences don’t matter, etc.). Yet, again in this movie, this doesn’t happen. Instead, the problems just get resolved and the movie doesn’t spend much time making any sort of statement.

So like I said, not what I expected at all. In fact, it was almost the opposite of my expectations. However, that doesn’t mean the film was bad. In fact, it was actually a pretty entertaining film and enjoyable to watch. And actually, I think that’s probably a highlight of the film — its just pure enjoyment. It doesn’t attempt to preach to the audience or show an epic romance. It literally just shows a couple’s wedding party and the shenanigans that happen during it. And I think it worked for the film. It was enjoyable to watch. If anything, I think my expectations for the movie’s genre are wrong. Rather than being a romantic comedy, I think it’s more of a pure comedy.

On a more technical note, supporting the movie, was the acting and directing. The leads were pretty solid actors and quite good looking too, especially Banky Wellington. The supporting cast was also good. The mother of the bride, played by Sola Sobowale actually stood out quite a bit. She was a little bit annoying, but always a scene stealer. Fantastic acting. Directing was also really solid, having been done by Kemi Adetiba. I enjoyed the way shots were framed. All in all, a decent entertaining movie.

My rating: watch it if you’re looking for an uncomplicated good time or if you’re a fan of the actors.

Phillauri Movie Review

phillauri-movie-1I’m a HUGE fan of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. In fact, I’d have to say that it ranks up among some of my favourite movies ever. So when I heard that a Bollywood film, Phillauri appeared to be a live-action Corpse Bride inspired movie, I was quite excited. For those of you unaware, Corpse Bride is a stop-motion animated movie. It’s about a man, Victor, who accidentally marries a corpse, Emily. The marriage in fact, sort of “revives” Emily from a deep sleep. Unfortunately, Victor is in love with the very-much-alive Victoria and in order to be “married” to Emily properly, he’d have to die. The rest of the film deals with the conflict.

Phillauri begins with a similar story. Kanan (played by Suraj Sharma) has recently returned from Canada and immediately, his parents set up his marriage with his childhood love, Anu (played by Mehreen Pirzada). Kanan has cold feet and due to his horoscope, must first marry a tree to ensure that he has a happy married life (?). As he marries the tree, in turns out, that he ends up marrying a ghost named Shashi (played by Anushka Sharma). While dealing with being married to a ghost and his cold feet, the movie also flashes back to Shashi’s past. Shashi was a young woman in an Indian village named Phillaur. During her youth, she used to write poetry and was in love with a singer named Roop Lal (played by Diljeet Dosanjh).

The movie actually played quite similarly to Corpse Bride, beginning from the male leads having cold feet, to the corpse/spirit bride having unfulfilled love stories preventing them from passing onto the next world. However, despite the unique premise, I felt that Phillauri fails to bring forth the heart and emotional depth that Corpse Bride did. There seemed to be a number of things off about Phillauri, for me at least, that prevented me from loving the film.

Firstly, the focus of the story. Phillauri focuses on two love stories simultaneously, those of Anu and Kanan and Shashi and Roop. However, the former story lacks any sort of warmth whereas the latter one is left too long. In other words, Kanan and Anu’s love story never really went anywhere. Anu was shattered with Kanan’s cold feet, but was willing to go through with the marriage anyway. Whereas Kanan’s cold feet never really got resolved, nor did the movie really divulge why he had them in the first place. It just felt so unresolved and void of emotions. On the other hand, Shashi and Roop’s story was definitely sweet. Theirs had a lot more emotion, despite the stereotypical aspect of it. And yet, the stretched-out scenes kept their story from fully impacting the audience. Instead of being enthralled in their romance, viewers just got bored and kept on waiting for one scene to end and another to begin.

Secondly, the acting was a little uninspiring as well. Suraj Sharma started out well. However, his scared act and high pitched squeal started getting grating about halfway through. I especially hated the high pitches squeals whenever he was caught unaware/ scared. Mehreen Pirzada, on the other hand, had nothing to do except look weepy. She was so boring onscreen. The only time where I liked her a little bit, was when she finally saw/ talked to Shashi; but other than that, I didn’t care for her. Diljit Dosanjh was also okay. He gave a respectable performance for sure, but again, it was nothing new or to talk home about. The only person who stood out for me, surprisingly, was Anushka Sharma and the actor who played her brother, Manav Vij. I had initially found Anushka’s looks to be a little too modern and urban for her to play a village belle, but she ended up winning me over. She acted really well. Manav Vij was also spectacular, probably the star of the movie for me. Not for a second did I doubt that he was an actor and not Shashi’s brother; again, fantastic acting.

Thirdly, directing was decent. From what I’ve been able to gather online, this was the directorial debut of Anshai Lal and I think he did okay. Nothing too amazing or standout, but okay enough. If anything, I think what killed this movie (at least for me), was the lack of editing. Some scenes just went on way too long (especially the end scenes), other scenes were just too stereotypical, and some necessary explanation scenes never appeared. A little bit of firm editing could’ve gone a long way. It could’ve saved the movie and move it into “decent” category vs. the just “okay” category.

My ratingwatch it if you’re a fan of any of the actors, but you wouldn’t miss much if you don’t.

Quote of the Week

I was looking through my blog and realized that the last time I shared a quote, was over two months ago! That’s a long time to go without a quote and quite ironic considering that one of my apprehensions over having a “Quote of the Week” was that my blog would eventually just consist of various quotes rather than reviews (LOL). In order to remedy this shortfall, I figured that I’d share a quote that relates quite deeply to my own experience. I’ve always been a night owl and one of my favourite things to do at night, was to read. I cannot count the number of nights I spent just staying up late (on school nights no less!) just reading books! For some reason, I always found it difficult to put them down and get some sleep. This quote speaks to that experience.

To read for an hour or so at night is to enter a magic realm in which people are more interesting, informed, amusing and intelligent than anyone you encounter in everyday life.”   —- The Torchlight List, Jim Flynn

The Covenant Movie Review

onesheetIf you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a whole ‘so bad, it’s good” movie marathon for a while (LOL). While The Covenant doesn’t quite manage to make the list for me, I figured it’s still close enough to talk about.

The Covenant is about four teenage boys with superpowers aka “The Sons of Ipswich” as the movie refers to them. The premise of the movie is this: during the 16th and 17th century American witch hunts, the Ipswich colony (located in Massachusetts I think?) managed to survive by forming a covenant. The five families agreed to keep silent about their powers. Unfortunately, one of the five families was still lost, so only four managed to remain by the time the movie rolls around. The four boys (descendants of the four families) possess the power to do anything, including telekinesis, super strength, super speed, invisibility, etc. (except not mind control or reading). They reach the full potential of their power on their 18th birthday, also known as “ascending.” However, the catch is, the more power they use, the more rapidly they age. So if one were to continually use (abuse) the power, their mortal body would age, thereby allowing (for example) one to be only 44 years old, but look over 100 yrs old. Although the movie is about the four boys, the focus is mainly on Caleb (played by Steven Strait) as he is the closest to ascending.

The premise itself, in my opinion, is SUPER cool and interesting. I’m always down for fantasy stuff like vampires, zombies or witches. Plus the inbuilt mythology set up for the film sounded really unique and full of potential. However, despite this strong start and having all the elements for a “so bad, it’s good” film (good looking leads, wooden dialogue and acting, teenage drama), the movie still never manages to reach its potential.

For me, the biggest let down of the movie, is the disparity between the level of special effects. The thing is, some of the effects are fabulous; like literally amazing. For example, in the beginning of the movie, all four boys use their powers to drive a car off a cliff and then back onto the road. Similarly, there’s a scene where Caleb gets into an accident that smashes his entire car but using his powers, he’s able to repair the entire car (including himself) to be as good as new. I’m not describing it that well, but they are definitely pretty good. But then as the movie continues, the level of the effects goes down. This is especially evident in the main fight scene that happens at the end of the movie. All the characters do, are some kicking and punching moves and balls of “power” are released or evaded (LOL). I’m not against bad effects or anything, but I’m definitely very big on consistency. If you want to have bad effects, make them consistent. Similarly, if you start off with good effects, ensure that they remain good. The final battle scene was just such a let down, it really dampened the mood.

Barring that, I think everything else about the movie was spot on — especially in terms of how bad it was. It had everything, from a snail’s pace tone, to random shots, to cheesy groan-inducing dialogue, to a fairly predictable plotline, and some very good looking leads. For reference’s sake, the main four boys were played by Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, and Chace Crawford. The secondary characters were played by Laura Ramsey, Jessica Lucas and Sebastian Stan. Although they all looked way too old to be playing high school students, I didn’t mind it too much. I’m shallow enough to appreciate pretty scenery (LOL).

Had the graphics been consistent enough, this movie would’ve been firmly cemented in the ‘so bad, it’s good’ category, rather than being on the cusp.

My rating: if you’re in the need for some pretty scenery but nothing else, then check out this movie; but it’s definitely skippable otherwise.


Battleship Movie Review

battleship_ver15Last week I reviewed Priest and mentioned that there were better “so bad, it’s good” movies out there. An example of such a movie, in my opinion, is Battleship; based upon the literal ‘battleship’ game, wherein players attempt to attack each other’s ships. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed playing ‘battleship’ and so I suppose I was a little biased when it comes to this movie.

Battleship, while about the game ‘battleship’ at its core, also attempts to have larger over-arching plots. Firstly, it’s a maturing story for the main character, naval officer Alex Hopper (played by Taylor Kitsch). Secondly, it’s an aliens vs. humans for planet Earth scenario. The two plot-lines intersect (obviously) and are peppered with a multitude of characters. And that’s really it for the plot-line. There are various scenes devoted to both stories. For Hopper’s maturation, we get the typical — bad-boy with an attitude problem who undergoes a major trauma and has great responsibility thrust upon him — story. While for the aliens vs. humans plot line, we get the predictable “Aliens want to destroy Earth for its resources” trope. Although, I think the latter plot is a slight variation on most stereotypical Alien invasion plots. Much like other alien stories, the aliens in Battleship are concerned with communicating with their larger fleet in space. However, the aliens in this movie also aren’t extremely ruthless. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they do kill a fair amount of people and destroy large parts of the world, but they don’t attack defenseless humans. As we’re shown, they do a sort of value judgement and only attack if their value judgement indicated that the object is hostile to them and needs to be attacked (ex. industrial buildings and people shooting at them). I think its an interesting change.

I’ve read a few reviews for this movie online and most of them basically pan the movie. Saying that it has no real plot-line, the acting is bad, that it only has action scenes and nothing else, it takes itself too seriously, etc. And if I really meditate upon it, I suppose I can understand where these reviewers are coming from. Yet, I still really enjoy this movie. This silliness mixed with the overly serious tone just works for me somehow. To give you an example of the two, in one scene of the movie, the main characters are at a stand-still on a dock in Hawaii. Their naval ships have been destroyed by the aliens and the threat still remains. In the background of this angst, we see random patriotic shots of older veteran soldiers standing upon an older American battleship that was presumably used in a war, and now functions as a museum. Seeing them, Hopper gets the idea to use the old battleship museum as a real ship to attack the aliens, with the randomly standing around veterans acting as crew members (LOL). The next scene is a montage where Hopper salutes them, asks them for their help, and they help get the old battleship ready to fight the aliens. It’s literally ridiculous LOL. What type of old museum still has working old ammunitions and when do random veterans ever stand around on old museums in full uniform? Instead of touching upon this absurdity, the movie actually plays these moments for serious patriotic value. And I LOVE it. It’s just so stupidly cheesy that I cannot help but smile.

And that basically sums up how I feel about the movie. It’s definitely cliche, predictable and cheesy, but also so earnest (at least during some parts).

What I also like about the film, is the casting choices. First off, I like how there’s definitely some people of colour in the film. Although Hopper, seaman Ordy (played by Jesse Plemons), and Hoppy’s girlfriend Sam (played by Brooklyn Decker) are shown to be white, the other supporting characters are generally people of colour. The petty officer who convinces Hopper off his self-destructive path with the aliens is played by John Tui. The weapons officer is played by songstress Rihanna. The Japanese captain who actually theorizes and executes the ‘battleship’ game is played by Tadanobu Asano. And retired Lietantant Colonel Mick is played by Gregory D. Gadson. That actually relates to another point I like: some of the extras/ actor were real-life military men. Gregory D. Gadson is actually a retired decorated Colonel. Plus the World War II veterans shown earlier in the film, were also played by real-life retired army men. I just thought it was so cool of the director to include that.

That said, of course as a bad film, it also has its flaws (slight undercurrent of racism in one or two scenes), as mentioned earlier. But on the whole, I still enjoy it for what it is: a movie based upon the game battleship (LOL).

My rating: watch it if you’re in the mood for an enjoyable, dumb, action movie and are not too concerned with depth (or realistic-ness).