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Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Review

Very Good

The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy, which has clearly been planned as a franchise-launcher. Energetic and funny, the movie is packed with wonderfully engaging characters and animated with clever visual inventiveness. But even though it's a lot of fun, it's difficult to escape the feeling that Disney is trying to sell us a whole new range of products.

The setting is a world populated only by animals, where predators and prey have learned to get along. The story centres on feisty rabbit Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who grew up under pressure to work in the family carrot-farming business. But she wants to be a cop, even though no bunny has ever made the force. Top of her class at police academy, she's assigned to the Zootropolis Police Department, where Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) makes her a meter maid. But she's too ambitious to write parking tickets all day, and teams up with con-artist fox Nick (Jason Bateman) to look into the strange case of a missing otter, which might be linked to a series of unexplained events in which predators suddenly became aggressive and dangerous.

The writers and directors have a great time with the premise, peppering scenes with knowing references mainly to other movies but also to resonant aspects of society, such as the genius casting of sloths as government workers. And there are also much bigger themes rattling around the edges, from how other peoples' expectations constrain us to how politicians use fear to control the public. There's also a cleverly pointed undercurrent about prejudice and diversity. And at the centre, Goodwin and Bateman give solid vocal performances as natural enemies who find a way to trust each other. Of the supporting cast, Elba is the standout as a buffalo who is all bluster.

Continue reading: Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Review

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Review

OK

After the more thrilling Insurgent, this saga reverts to the talky style of the original Divergent movie, constantly explaining this post-apocalyptic world's convoluted mythology before indulging in whizzy action that has little to do with the story or characters. It's a strange step back for a franchise that has such a strong cast and high production values. And this movie also feels frustratingly incomplete, because it's only based on the first half of Veronica Roth's third and final novel (a fourth film, Ascendant, is due next year).

When we last saw our hero Tris (Shailene Woodley), she and her hunky boyfriend Four (Theo James) had overthrown the nasty Erudite leaders to create a "factionless" society in Chicago under new leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts), Four's mother. But Evelyn's willingness to indulge in military excesses causes a rift with the more peace-loving leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer), sparking a civil war. Bored with this, Tris and Four free Tris' brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) from death row and escape over the walls out of Chicago along with cohorts Peter and Christina (Miles Teller and Zoe Kravitz). Fleeing into the fringe, they encounter a peaceful, futuristic community called the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, run by David (Jeff Daniels). There they learn new facts about their past, but they're unable to ignore the unravelling situation in Chicago.

As in the first film, this script is over-packed with long conversations about the society's complicated set-up, and the Bureau has its own set of issues. Some of this information provides welcome context to the earlier films, but the screenwriters also hold back a lot of key details for next time, so this episode is oddly inconclusive. And that also makes it feel dull and contrived, especially since it leaves the characters' motivations so badly muddled. There's also the problem that these movies continually steal ideas and imagery from other films (this time it's Mad Max and The Truman Show).

Continue reading: The Divergent Series: Allegiant Review

Insurgent Review


Very Good

A sharp improvement on the original, this second entry in The Divergent Series has a much stronger sense of its premise and characters, which makes it much more exciting to watch. Where Divergent felt gimmicky and a bit shallow, this chapter pushes the characters much deeper, giving the actors a chance to bring them more engagingly to life, which makes the odd set-up more involving as well.

It picks up immediately where the first film ended, with Tris (Shailene Woodley) escaping from post-apocalyptic, segmented-society Chicago with her boyfriend Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and their shifty cohort Peter (Miles Teller). Hiding out in the Amity agricultural community, they know that Erudite leader Janine (Kate Winslet) has sent her goons (Jai Courtney and Mekhi Phifer) to find them. Actually, she needs a divergent to open an artefact from the pre-war days so she can rid Chicago of pesky divergents forever. When their location is discovered, Tris and pals head back into the city, teaming up with factionless leader Joanna (Naomi Watts) and getting help from the head of Candor (Daniel Dae Kim) before going to Erudite to face Janine.

The story has a strong push to it, driving these rebels ever closer to a confrontation with their nasty nemesis, and their journey is fraught with surprise wrinkles, vicious battles and some mind-bending imagery. In fact, there are so many dreams, flashbacks and computer simulations that it's not always clear if what's on screen is actually happening or not. But it all looks so cool that we hang on to discover where it'll go next, so the two hours passes briskly, and sometimes breathlessly. The film looks terrific, as director Robert Schwentke keeps the focus on the characters while creating some amazing effects around them, especially in the simulation sequences.

Continue reading: Insurgent Review

Dave Annable and Octavia Spencer - A host of stars were snapped as they attended the premiere of Disney's "Cinderella" The premiere was held at at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 1st March 2015

Dave Annable and Octavia Spencer
Dave Annable and Octavia Spencer

The Oscars Suffer From Worst Ratings In Six Years


Neil Patrick Harris Octavia Spencer Ellen Degeneres

This year’s Academy Awards was the least watched in six years, according to preliminary viewing figures. USA Today reported that initial Nielsen estimates put the 87th Awards stats at 36.6 million viewers, the lowest since 2009.

Sunday’s ceremony, hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris and dominated by Birdman, was a pretty steep 16% drop on last year’s awards when 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. Ellen Degeneres hosted that one and, powered by a memorable selfie which was then re-tweeted around the world, it had 43.7 million viewers.

David Burtka Neil Patrick Harris
2015 Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris (R)

Continue reading: The Oscars Suffer From Worst Ratings In Six Years

Octavia Spencer - Hollywood's biggest stars were snapped on the red carpet as they arrived for the 87th Annual Oscars awards ceremony which was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 22nd February 201

Octavia Spencer

Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer - A variety of stars were photographed as they attended the Los Angeles premiere of 'Black Or White' which was held at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE. in Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 20th January 2015

Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer
Jillian Estell and Octavia Spencer
Jillian Estell and Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer

Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer - Los Angeles premiere of 'Black or White' - Arrivals at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 21st January 2015

Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer
Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer
Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer
Paula Newsome and Octavia Spencer
Erica Hubbard and Octavia Spencer
Erica Hubbard and Octavia Spencer

Black Or White Trailer


When a young girl's mother dies in childbirth, she is sent to live with her grandparents. After her grandmother dies in a car accident, Elliot Anderson (Kevin Costner) takes on the responsibility of raising her by himself. When his granddaughter's African American grandmother Rowena (Octavia Spencer) arrives to tell him that they should share custody, Elliot is reluctant to the point of hostility. Despite his granddaughter having more family living in the South - including her drug-addicted father - Elliot furiously battles for sole custody, stating that his fight is not born of racial hatred, but due to the loss of both his wife and daughter making his granddaughter the only thing he has left in the world. 

Continue: Black Or White Trailer

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer


Following on from the events of 'Divergent', the mysterious government has discovered a magical maguffin which had the power to create the idyllic future they have always hoped to fulfil. The only catch, is that it requires a Divergent in order to activate it. As the government begins testing any and all Divergents they can find, Tris (Shailene Woodley) is already on the run, and meets up with an army of secret, hidden Divergents. When it is revealed that she may be the only one to truly activate the maguffin, the Divergents rise up as an Insurgency, and take the fight to the government that has oppressed them for too long.

Continue: The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

Fox Pulls 'Red Band Society' Mid-Season


Octavia Spencer

In news which will exacerbate what has been a pretty disastrous fall for new TV shows across all networks, Fox has announced that it will halt production on its freshman comedy-drama ‘Red Band Society’.

Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer stars in comedy-drama 'Red Band Society', which has been pulled by Fox today

The network will stop producing the episodes after its initial order of thirteen episodes wraps up, but it’s not yet officially been cancelled. It is however in a critical condition (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Continue reading: Fox Pulls 'Red Band Society' Mid-Season

Get On Up Review


Very Good

With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather of Soul's iconic musical talents, although the fragmented script undermines any emotional kick in his story. The film also struggles to build up momentum, because it continually leaps between various chapters in Brown's life. Which means that it never quite connects these disparate episodes into one coherent narrative. Even so, Chadwick Boseman delivers an electrically charged central performance.

Boseman plays James from the time he was 16, thrown into prison for stealing a suit in 1949, until his comeback in the 1990s. Raised in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) after his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) abandoned him, James is in prison when he meets visiting gospel singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in on his release. Together they form The Famous Flames, gaining small-time success as James catches the eye of a manager (Dan Aykroyd), a record executive (Fred Melamed) and the public. A string of major hits followed in the 1950s and 60s, then James went solo in the 70s before the usual issues of fame caught up with him: money, drugs and guns. But he returned to the stage in the 1990s.

The film completely skips over his Hollywood years in the 80s, which wouldn't be a problem if the decade was so notably missing from the film. As the story skips back and forth through the years, the audience is forced to make sense of the disparate scenes, filling in several holes along the way. Aside from one rather surreal scene in a Southern Gospel church, there's never much of a sense of how Brown found his voice or developed his inimitable style. It also never quite captures his impact on the music industry as a whole.

Continue reading: Get On Up Review

Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette


The cast and crew of forthcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' talk about the legacy of the pioneering entertainer and the impact he had following his spectacular live show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem which was subsequently transposed to his 1963 live album entitled 'Live At The Apollo'.

Continue: Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette

Octavia Spencer - 2014 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour - FOX All-Star Party at Soho House in West Hollywood - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 21st July 2014

Octavia Spencer

Get On Up Trailer


Since he was a child, he knew he'd become a star. He may not have had the easiest life growing up in a poor family and enjoying frequent brushes with the law (something that continued for the rest of his life despite his illustrious career), but he was a pioneer in what he did best. Following his first stint in prison as a teenager, he embarked on a musical career that would create a whole new way of looking at music. His funky rhythms, mind-blowing voice and effortless moves on stage would go on to inspire artists for generations even if his troubled personal life left much to be desired. He even took his soul magic to Vietnam during the 20-year conflict - a venture that demonstrated both his patriotism and his bravery. This is the story of James Brown.

Continue: Get On Up Trailer

Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer Quick Links

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Octavia Spencer

Date of birth

25th May, 1970

Occupation

Actor

Sex

Female

Height

1.57




Octavia Spencer Movies

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy,...

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Movie Review

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Movie Review

After the more thrilling Insurgent, this saga reverts to the talky style of the original...

Insurgent Movie Review

Insurgent Movie Review

A sharp improvement on the original, this second entry in The Divergent Series has a...

Black Or White Trailer

Black Or White Trailer

When a young girl's mother dies in childbirth, she is sent to live with her...

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

Following on from the events of 'Divergent', the mysterious government has discovered a magical maguffin...

Get On Up Movie Review

Get On Up Movie Review

With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather...

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Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette Trailer

Get On Up - Memories Of James Brown Featurette Trailer

The cast and crew of forthcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' talk about the...

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer

Following the revelation that she is Divergent and not specialised for any of the dystopian...

Get On Up Trailer

Get On Up Trailer

Since he was a child, he knew he'd become a star. He may not have...

Get On Up Trailer

Get On Up Trailer

The stars of the upcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up', Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis...

Fruitvale Station Movie Review

Fruitvale Station Movie Review

With his debut feature, writer-director Ryan Coogler recreates a real-life event with remarkable artistry. Even...

Snowpiercer Trailer

Snowpiercer Trailer

In a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly ice age has taken over the Earth, there...

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Get On Up Trailer

Get On Up Trailer

James Brown didn't have the easiest childhood being born to two young parents who were...

Paradise Trailer

Paradise Trailer

Lamb Mannerheim was a beautiful, smart, strictly religious, perfect young girl and the pride of...

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