With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually a stand-alone movie. It requires some understanding of the context as it chronicles events that lead directly into 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. It's also a seriously rousing action film with a riveting cast of characters and a surprising willingness to embrace even the darkest elements of storytelling. In other words, it might be the first Star Wars movie made specifically for grown-ups.
It opens as the Empire is systematically crushing the rebellion, leaving them wondering if there's any point to continuing the fight. Rumours are swirling that the Empire is building a massive Death Star, and rebel Jyn (Felicity Jones) discovers that it was designed by her long-lost father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who sends her a message saying that he left a flaw in the system specifically for the rebels to exploit. So she joins a team to contact him, led by Cassian (Diego Luna), who doubts that Galen is on their side. They're accompanied by pilot Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), plus the blind wannabe Jedi Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and his battling sidekick Baze (Jiang Wen). And as their mission goes rogue, they come up against the slimy Imperial Director Orson (Ben Mendelson) and the vicious Darth Vader (again voiced by James Earl Jones).
Director Gareth Edwards (Monster) packs the movie with visual references to A New Hope, cleverly matching the design work by avoiding fakey digital effects in lieu of more practical, battle-scared models and lively settings on a series of new planets and a familiar one. This gives the film an electric atmosphere that's edgy and unpredictable even though we all know exactly how this mission has to end. At the beginning, the plot feels a bit splintered, but the strands come together with power, building a gnawing sense of momentum and some real gravitas along the way.
Continue reading: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that might put off some audience members: it's a pure fairy tale. This time, the studio has resisted the snarky, post-modern spin that threatened to turn previous live-action remakes (Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent) into pointless Lord of the Rings-style action epics. Instead, this is a genuinely beautiful, surgingly romantic, exquisitely made fantasy.
With only a few minor tweaks, this is the classic story of Ella (Lily James), whose widowed father (Ben Chaplin) marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). She arrives with her two spoiled daughters Drizella and Anastasia (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), and when she is also widowed, Ella ends up running the household just to keep things from falling apart. But Lady Tremaine and her daughters taunt her with the nickname "Cinderella" and treat her like a slave, refusing to let her attend the ball thrown by the Crown Prince (Richard Madden). He had met Ella before, and is hoping to see her at the ball, but she only gets a chance to go when her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) turns up with some magic to make that happen. And after dancing with the Prince all night, her sudden disappearance sends him on a desperate quest involving a single glass slipper.
To spice things up, screenwriter Chris Weitz has included a conspiratorial sideplot in which the increasingly wicked stepmother plots with a royal advisor (Stellan Skarsgard) to thwart the Prince's wishes. But otherwise, the film hews closely to both Charles Perrault's 1697 folktale and Disney's 1950 animated classic. This includes lavish sets and costumes that continually take the breath away, giving the characters the same silhouettes as their cartoon counterparts. And within this extravagant design work, the actors are able to create surprisingly textured characters. James' Ella isn't a simple farm girl in need of a man. Madden's Prince is looking for real love. And Blanchett's riveting Lady Tremaine is eerily sympathetic even in her darkest moments.
Continue reading: Cinderella Review
Fairytales are being adapted for audiences with modern values.
Richard Madden opens up about just how Cinderella and her Prince Charming get together, and how they rely on each other to free them from the restrictions in their lives in the forthcoming adaptation by director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz.
Richard Madden stars as Prince Charming in Cinderella
It's nice to see modern big screen fairytale re-tellings looking at relationships in a much more equal way. Rather than princesses of late being swept of their feet by proverbial knights in shining armour, they're coming together while fighting for justice in their own lives. You had 'Snow White and the Huntsman', which saw a clear romance forming between the two title characters as they worked together to lead an army, and then there is, of course, 'Frozen' which saw bravery on the part of both Anna and her faithful quest companion Kristoff. Now 'Cinderella' brings together two souls, who must help each other escape the prison of their families.
Kenneth Branagh brings 1950 Disney favourite 'Cinderella' to life with live action adaptation.
Finally, Disney has unveiled the first full trailer for Kenneth Branagh's live action rendition of one of the world's most beloved fairytales: Cinderella. And it looks to be one of the most visually stunning fantasy flicks of the coming months.
Lily James stars as the troubled Cinderella
The movie industry has been going crazy with its throwback Grimm adaptations, and it doesn't look like anyone's had enough of it yet. While many movies have opted for the spin-off, original stories - such as 'Sleeping Beauty' adaptation 'Maleficent' and 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' comeback 'Snow White and the Huntsman', not to mention forthcoming fairytale omnibus 'Into The Woods' - director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriters Aline Brosh McKenna and Chris Weitz have gone for the more traditional approach with 'Cinderella'.
Carolos Galindo, an illegal immigrant and single parent, moved to the U.S. to chase the American Dream, bringing his teenage son, Luis, with him. Carolos spent what little money he had to work as a gardener and hopes to make a career out of it and eventually pay off his debts. He also hopes to make a better life for himself and Luis, by enrolling him in high school and keeping themselves out of poverty.
Continue: A Better Life Trailer
I should note that I have read the original Philip Pullman books that this trilogy will be based on. Like Tolkien, Pullman creates a multi-layered world to journey through, but he tends to be tighter with narrative style than Tolkien. What he lacks in verbosity he makes up for in texture, and this may be where some problems will lie for an audience, as he is comfortable not sharing useful character and cultural details immediately. Over the course of this film, some information does get left out to respect the audience's time in a theater, but it in no way affects the enjoyment of watching Lyra's (Dakota Blue Richards) story unfold.
Continue reading: The Golden Compass Review
The Klumps once again revisits the life of Sherman Klump, an overweight university science professor looking for love in all the wrong places. Sherman has just invented a new "youth drink" that enables man or beast to become younger for a short period of time. Janet Jackson is the love interest who chooses the lovable Sherman for a soul mate rather than excel at her career as a university professor (and for the most ridiculous reasons). With love on his mind, Sherman is determined to rid himself of his alter ego, Buddy Love from the first Professor, who still resides with vigor inside his psyche and causes Sherman to act like a bad imitation of Vince Vaughn from Swingers. With some convoluted mumbo-jumbo about DNA extraction, Sherman extracts the "Buddy Love" link in his DNA and smartly deposits Buddy into a handy-dandy lab beaker. But one night, the beaker is knocked over and Buddy Love is regenerated... because every movie like this needs an unnecessary villain to thwart the good guy.
Continue reading: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Review
Whatever else may be said, this film is the work of consummate professionals, and that doesn't mean it's soulless but competent hackwork. Writer/director Paul Weitz showed with his wonderful, glowing adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy that he could tell heartwarming stories that didn't insult the mind and could inject just enough acidity into a romance to keep a movie from flopping into a messy, Love, Actually-style mess. The directing and writing here are superbly crisp, and one really couldn't ask for better performances, both from the stars and supporting cast.
Continue reading: In Good Company Review
Ninety-five minutes of feeling creeped out and uncomfortable passes for indie flick entertainment in "Chuck and Buck," a movie in which the audience supposed to sympathize with a stalker just because he's naive and slow-witted.
Buck, you see, never grew up. He's a 27-year-old whose mind gave up around age 11. He wipes his nose on the back of his hand; sucks on lollypops all day; makes collages with construction paper cut-outs, sparkles and Elmer's Glue. And when his mother dies, he becomes consumed by an obsession with his "best friend" Chuck -- a kid he grew up with but hasn't seen in 15 years.
The two childhood pals are reunited at the funeral, and for the simple, infantile Buck nothing has changed. He's ready for the two of them to run through sprinklers or play Chutes and Ladders.
Continue reading: Chuck & Buck Review
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