Saturday, 19 January 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

By Brett Haynes 19/01/19

Score: 8.5/10

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the third and final entry to the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy and should be placed up there with Toy Story and Kung Fu Panda as animated franchises that continued to get better with each new entry.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is also proof that at its best DreamWorks can match it with anyone. The first How to Train your Dragon film came out back in 2004 and has since made a small fortune for the studio. The Hidden World really does feel like a conclusion with a much darker tone and a more emotional feel.

We once again join Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Dragon Toothless as they try to create the first Dragon/Viking utopia. This vision is threatened by Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), an old school dragon hunter who is hired to capture Toothless who will in turn bring all the other dragons with him. Knowing this Hiccup is searching for the Hidden World, a lost area of Earth which is inhabited by Dragons.

This time around the filmmakers have given Toothless a girlfriend. A light furry as they so delicately call it. Watching Toothless try and flirt (dragon style) are some of the funniest scenes in the film.  You also know what it’s leading to and as much as you can prepare yourself, the last act of this film is an emotional rollercoaster.

The voice cast does an amazing job bringing these characters to life. F. Murray Abraham provides Grimmel with a low-key voice very similar to Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It suits his character to a tee. Cate Blanchett returns as Hiccups silky voice mother Valka who is really a supporting role while Gerard Butler Stoick has a cameo in several flashback scenes.

How to Train Your Dragon The Hidden World is beautifully animated. The animation continues to improve with each new entry. Unlike other series, this one really does feel like the end. Sure they might do a spin off but this particular trilogy is done. It provides the closure that a series like this needed. It still has its emotional moments which it evens out quite nicely with the more comedic moments provided by Hiccups group of merry idiots in Fishlegs, Ruffnut, Gobber the Belch and Snotlout.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is proof that DreamWorks can still match it with the best. This is a beautifully animated, well-told story with interesting characters that we actually do care about. It beautifully closes this trilogy with an ending that will have you going for a tissue. That’s the power of good animation.

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By Brett Haynes 19/01/19

Score: 6.5/10

Of all the superhero films coming to theatres in 2019, Glass was on top of a lot of peoples most anticipated list. The two films that have come before this in Unbreakable and Split are often referred to as two of director M. Night Shayamalan better works. Unfortunately Glass doesn’t quite reach the mark that those two films reached and while it isn’t a bad movie overall, it just tries to do too much which doesn’t always come off.

Glass biggest problems lie with it trying to be a sequel to both Unbreakable and Split which it never quite gets the balance right. This feels more like a sequel to Split with Unbreakable characters just thrown in. So for fans hoping that they will finally get that long awaited Unbreakable sequel, they might be disappointed.

The film starts off reintroducing us to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who has accepted his role as the hero. We are never told much about his crime fighting endeavours except that his gotten a reputation online, as is the comic book troupe. One thing I will say is that Bruce Willis really is giving it his all. The last couple of Bruce Willis roles I’ve seen his just been phoning it in but here his really giving it 110%. The first time we see Dune he is beating the shit out of some teenagers for performing some lame YouTube stunt. These little takedowns are just to past the time as he hunts down the real villain in the city.

Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) is the Horde and as comic book films go is the muscle. His up to his old tricks kidnapping a group of girls he deems to be impure and a perfect sacrifice for the beast upon his emergence. McAvoy is this films MVP nailing all 20 of his multiple personalities that he has. McAvoy Kevin easily gets the most amount of screen time as Shayamalan almost tries to change his character completely by the third act. I can see what he was going for unfortunately it feels like his just forgotten everything his done in the previous film and a half.

Dunn and Kevin are taken to a psychiatric facility where we are reintroduced to Mr Glass (Samuel L Jackson). Jackson once again plays Glass with a villainous charm more then he did in Unbreakable. Here he knows his the mastermind, always one step ahead of everyone else. Jackson is good here, unfortunately of the three characters, Mr Glass is given the least to do. Though his interaction with the Beast and even with David are some of the better moments in the film.

Mental Health plays a part in the story similar to how it played a role in Split. Now granted this isn’t the perfect representation of mental health or DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) but I never expected it would be. The introduction of Sarah Paulson as Ellie Staples, a psychiatrist who believes that their mental illness is leading to these delusions of grandeur is a good premise. Its that kind of thinking that made Unbreakable such a good film unfortunately Shayamalan never follows through with it.

Paulson is really good with the material she is given to work with. To really talk about what I thought about her would lead into spoilers so lets just say there is more then meets the eye with her character. Anya Taylor Joy returns as Casey Cooke, the only surviving member of the Horde from Split. Joy while not given a whole lot to do really does bring a lot of heart to the film. Though some of her character decisions don’t make a hell of a lot of sense she is given some really sweet moments with McAvoy throughout.

The biggest problem with Glass is trying to blend the tones of Unbreakable and Split together. Split is a psychological thriller while Unbreakable is a superhero construct. Throwing them together and you just get a Superhero film that is entirely watchable, its just not what a lot of people would have been expecting.

Overall Glass isn’t the conclusion a lot of people would be wanting. Its great to see Willis and Jackson face off once again as Dunn and Glass but where Unbreakable was more thought provoking taking the concept of comic books and using them as a basis for the next stage of human evolution, here it just is a comic book. The third act is where the film completely drops the ball ruining what had been a fine film up to that point. The story has a few good moments and as a simple comic book movie it’s fine but as a sequel to Unbreakable and Split, it completely misses the mark.

Images owned by Universal

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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Favourite

By Brett Haynes 16/01/19

Score: 9.5/10

The Favourite is one of this years Oscar frontrunners and it thoroughly deserves to be. Lead by Olivia Coleman and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite is a bizarre black comedy that is loosely based on true events. The story is centred around the story of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough and her cousin Abigail, Baroness Masham as the go head to head for the affection of the emotionally wounded Queen Anne.

The film dives into the political love triangle that has the power to reshape the course of British politics. Lanthimos has created a unique style for this film, which surprisingly works. This art-house style gives The Favourite a look all its own, making it stand out from other films. Lanthimos characters enjoy long corridors to walk down while being dressed to the nine in ridiculous wigs. Think Tim Burton Sleepy Horror but more artistic.

This film is made by its lead, Olivia Coleman. She has created a hilarious take on Anne who also has a lot of emotional baggage connected to her. This is a character who has suffered a lifetime of emotional manipulation, while trusting people doesn’t come easy. She gets carried everywhere in a wheelchair or sedan chair even though she is quite capable of walking. Some of her funnier moments come when she goes off at people having fun or playing music due to her self-hating inability to participate in pleasure.   Coleman not only brings the laughs but also provides some powerful emotional moments as well. There is a tragedy in her past that has more or less turned her into a crazy bunny lady. She also loves to race lobsters and ducks as a hobby.

Rachel Weisz plays her lady in waiting Lady Sarah, who manipulates Anne by using every sexual and emotional trick in the book to ensure that the Queen continues to support the war in France, an endeavour that will make her husband Marlborough (Mark Gatiss) a war legend. Naturally there is opposition to this war in the form of the opposition leader Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult) who is suppose to represent the people.

Emma Stone plays Abigail, Sarah cousin who seeks employment at the court. Her knowledge of medical herbs helps with the Queens gout and she starts to grow in the Queens graces. While Abigail is manipulating the Queen, she is also manipulating the nobleman Lord Masham (Joe Alwyn). What unfolds is an 18th Century version of cat and mouse between Abigail and Sarah with Anne being stuck in the middle.

Overall The Favourite shows life at court wasn’t all respect but was a series of manipulation, backstabbing and dishonesty (so like parliament today). The Favourite is helped by an amazing cast with a funny plot; it deserves to go in as one of the hot favourites.

Images owned by Fox Searchlight

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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

2019 Golden Globes recap

By Brett Haynes 08/01/19

The 2019 Golden Globes were yesterday and wow…. I didn’t see that coming. There were a few predictabilities but there were also some curve balls, which has really divided Film Twitter. It might not be safe to go back on till after the Oscars.

Sarah Oh and Andy Samburg who both did a good job hosted the night. I felt Seth Myers did a better job last year but they were still entertaining. The big winner of the night was Bohemian Rhapsody, which surprisingly won best picture drama while Rami Malek (less surprisingly) won best actor in a drama. This created controversy online with the films director Bryan Singer (who was fired halfway through shooting) is accused of several counts of Paedophilia. Many people saw this as an insult to his accuses. Also Bohemian Rhapsody was easily the weakest of the five films nominated.

The Comedy side didn’t fare much better with Green Book winning Best Picture Comedy/Musical, which also beat out stronger contenders. Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor also for Green Book. Glenn Close spoiled Lady Gaga night by claiming Best Actress Drama for her performance in The Wife while Olivia Coleman won Best Actress Comedy/Musical for her performance in The Favourite. Christian Bale had the best speech of the night where he thanked Satan during his acceptance speech for Best Actor Comedy/Musical for his role as Dick Cheney in Vice. Regina King won Best Supporting Actress for her role in If Beale Street could Talk.

Director and Best Foreign Language film both went to Roma. Lady Gaga night wasn’t a complete lost winning Best Original Song for Shallows from A Star is Born. It was a disappointing night for Disney who didn’t win an award, losing out to Spider-man: Into the Spider verse for Best Animated Feature.

Television was also praised on the night with The Americans winning Best Television Drama and The Kominsky Method Best Comedy/Musical.

Overall this years Golden Globes taught us nothing about what’s to come this award season. While I think Best Actor is really only between Christian Bale and Rami Malek, I seriously doubt that Bohemian Rhapsody will earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Everything is still as fuzzy as it was going in.

Full List of Winners

Best Picture Drama: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Picture Comedy/Musical: Green Book
Best Actor Drama: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Best Actress Drama: Glenn Close (The Wife)
Best Actor Comedy/Musical: Christian Bale (Vice)
Best Actress Comedy/Musical: Olivia Coleman (The Favourite)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Best Screenplay: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Best Animated Feature: Spider Man Into the Spider Verse
Best Foreign Language Film: Roma
Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Best Original Song: Shallows (Star Is Born)
Best Television Series Drama: The Americans
Best Television Series Comedy/Musical: The Kominsky Method
Best Television Limited Series or TV Movie: Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Best Actress Television Limited Series or TV Movie: Patricia Arquette (Escape at Dannemora
Best Actor Television Limited Series or TV Movie: Darren Criss (Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Best Actress Television Drama: Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Best Actor Television Drama: Richard Madden (Bodyguard)
Best Actress Television Comedy/Musical: Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvellous Mrs Maisel)
Best Actor Television Comedy/Musical: Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Best Supporting Actress Television Limited Series or TV Movie: Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects)
Best Supporting Actor Television Limited Series or TV Movie: Ben Whishaw
(A Very English Scandal)

Images owned by NBC

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Monday, 7 January 2019

Mary Poppins Returns

By Brett Haynes 07/01/18

Score: 8/10

It’s been well over 50 years since we last saw everybody’s favourite nanny on the big screen. The original Mary Poppins is often regarded as one of Disney true masterpieces, the only film watched over by Walt himself to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well as receiving a total of 13 nominations, winning 5. So when a sequel was announced, it felt like another clinical cash grab by Disney. Fortunately what we got with Mary Poppins Returns has the heart, charm and style of the original that it’s quite easy to fall in love with Mary all over again.

Mary Poppins Returns never quite reaches the same level as the original but you can believe that this film is set in the same universe. Set 25 years after the first film, Mary Poppins (who has Doctor Who regenerated from Julie Andrews into Emily Blunt) drops in once again to look after the Banks children. The main children from the first film are grown up now; Michael (Ben Whishaw) is suffering after the death of his wife and is trying to keep it together while looking after his three kids. His sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) helps him out in between setting up rallies for workers rights (takes after her mother). One of the funniest scenes is watching Michael and Jane’s reaction to seeing their old nanny who hasn’t seemed to have aged a day.

Mary Poppins takes Michael three children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson) under her wing using her magic to take them on adventures including a journey under the sea via the bath as well as a trip into the world on a porcelain vase. They are joined on their adventure by Jack (Lin Manuel Miranda) who was one of Bert’s young understudies back in the day.

The main plot focuses on Michael owing money to the bank and them on the verge of total disaster. The stakes are raised a lot more in this one and it is interesting to see how the filmmakers tackle such difficult subject matter. Sometimes they get it right and other times they just miss the mark.

Fortunately Mary Poppins Returns is in safe hands with director Rob Marshall who also bought us Into the Woods while written by David Magee. The story plays very similar to the first movie but fortunately they change enough that you don’t feel like your just rewatching the first film again. This time we are transported to depression era London as we once again venture down Cherry Tree Lane. To the production designer’s credit, it looks almost identical to the original films set. The film also recaptures the original 2D animated sequences with beautiful hand drawn animation, which is worked in with the live action sequences really nicely.

Performance wise Emily Blunt was born to play this role. Blunt is easily the best thing about this film capturing the charm and arrogance of the titular character. Blunt doesn’t just do a Julie Andrews impersonation but instead gives her own take on the character who this time around is aloud to be more vain and hilariously sterner. Its quite easy to fall in love with Blunts performance as she is allowed to get away with a lot more then Andrews would have been back in the 60’s. Lin Manuel Miranda is fine as Jack, though he has no hilariously bad cockney accent. The two of them don’t quite have the chemistry that Van Dyke and Andrews have in the original but they do provide some enjoyable musical numbers. This time around Jack has his eyes for someone else making it clear that these two are differently not a couple, much to P.L Travers delight.

Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer play Michael and Jane as a united unit similar to the first film. Whishaw has a few really emotional scenes, which he pulls off. The kids all provide an innocence that has been damaged by having to grow up way to fast.

The songs in this are nowhere as memorable as the ones from the original but are catchy. The one that will most likely get the most notice is Can You Imagine That. The one that allows Miranda and Blunt to really showcase their skills is A Cover is not the Book. There is no Chim Chim Cher-ee or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious here though you can tell that the writers are really trying to recreate those numbers.

Overall Mary Poppins Returns manages to recapture the spirit and charm of the original. Emily Blunt is practically perfect as Mary Poppins while Lin Manuel provides a good partner in crime. It’s also great to see some beautiful 2D hand drawn animation again. Its problems revolve around its over use of relying on the original but when it allows itself to be its own movie, Mary Poppins Returns is a joy to watch.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD Review By Brett Haynes 19/01/19 Score: 8.5/10 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden...