Cinderella Review

I went to see the new Cinderella movie with a friend last week and absolutely loved it. It was sweet and innocent and just all around lovely. My only issue? Not enough Helena Bonham-Carter (she’s been a long time favorite of mine). But the real stand out here was the set and costume design, both of which were absolutely magnificent. It was a glorious riot of Rococo, Victoriana, and 1940’s influences that, at times, had me paying more attention to what people were wearing and where they were standing than what they were actually talking about. So rather than talking about the movie, I’ll just show you.

The young Cinderella and her mother.

The young Ella and her mother.

Cinderella's daily wear- nicer than most of my good clothes.

Cinderella’s daily wear- nicer than most of my good clothes.

Cate Blanchett as the stepmother and the two stepsisters. I liked that the stepsisters weren't physically ugly, they just had pretty ugly personalities.

Cate Blanchett as the stepmother and the two stepsisters. I liked that the stepsisters weren’t physically ugly, they just had pretty ugly personalities.

I loved the rather lurid pinks and yellows that the stepsisters were dressed in. They always matched exactly and they always wore their color. And the dresses were beautiful, just maybe not in a color I would ever wear.

I loved the rather lurid pinks and yellows that the stepsisters were dressed in. They always matched exactly and they always wore their color. And the dresses were beautiful, just maybe not in a color I would ever wear.

Prince Kit, also known as King in the North. I like him better scruffy but he makes a good, clean cut Disney Prince. Most of his costumes were military style, but they were still ornate with beautiful details like the design seen on this hunting coat.

Prince Kit, also known as King in the North. I like him better scruffy but he makes a good, clean cut Disney Prince. Most of his costumes were military style, but they still had ornate and beautiful details like the design seen on this hunting coat.

Helena Bonham-Carter looking absolutely luminous as the fairy godmother. At times I found her even prettier than Cinderella (but that could just be my own personal bias...).

Helena Bonham-Carter looking absolutely luminous as the fairy godmother. At times I found her even prettier than Cinderella (but that could just be my own personal bias…).

The step family at the ball. There was always so. much. going on with the sisters' gowns.

The step family at the ball. There was always so. much. going on with the sisters’ gowns.

Cinderella's marvel of a ball gown. I wanted to touch it so badly. All those petticoats! The shimmeriness! The tulle! The twirliness! I can't get enough of it!

Cinderella’s marvel of a ball gown. I wanted to touch it so badly. All those petticoats! The shimmeriness! The tulle! The twirliness! I can’t get enough of it!

I'm not normally a huge fan of wedding dresses but this one was pretty nice. Surprisingly subdued, but look at the embroidery on it! Lovely.

I’m not normally a huge fan of wedding dresses but this one was pretty nice. Surprisingly subdued, but look at the embroidery on it! Lovely.

Has anyone else seen this version yet? What did you think of it?

Jupiter Ascending

Am I the only one who liked this movie? Granted, it had plenty of problems but overall I enjoyed it. (Disclaimer: I wanted to like this movie. And generally when I want to like something, I do.)

Jupiter (played by Mila Kunis) is an illegal immigrant from Russia, spending her days as a house cleaner with her mother and aunt. But it turns out she’s actually a genetic copy of a Queen (sort of) and she gets thrown into a dynastic struggle between the heirs of that queen that takes her throughout space with, naturally, nothing less than the Earth itself at stake. It’s got Channing Tatum as a love interest, Sean Bean as a helper/protector/guide (who DOES NOT die – astounding!) and Eddie Redmayne as the villain.

It’s silly and a bit overblown and sometimes feels like it might be taking itself a bit too serious but I found it to be a fun movie. Done by the same people that made the Matrix trilogy and Cloud Atlas, it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at. There are flaws (including a penchant for Jupiter to rarely travel beyond the damsel in distress) but if you’re looking for a fun movie to spend a few hours, you could do worse than this one.

Maleficent

This movie had a lot against it in my opinion. I’ve never been a huge fan of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (#BeautyandtheBeast4lyfe!) and I get tired of villains being made sympathetic. Sometimes evil really is just evil. But this retelling worked, for the most part.

First the bad:

  • The Moors, where Maleficent lives, looks a bit like it was taken from the latest straight-to-DVD Tinkerbell release. It’s sugary bright and seems unsuited for the tone of the movie which, yes, is family-friendly, but that doesn’t need to mean it looks like a cartoon.
  •  I understand the idea behind this movie is that we’ve been told the wrong story. But the main character’s name is Maleficent, her assistant’s name is Diaval, she has big devil horns, and her wings look like they came straight from a gigantic bird of prey. Either she’s a villain, or the deck’s been stacked against her in a big way.
  • Aurora is under the curse for all of what, an hour? While I understand the need to continue the plot of the story, it’s hard to take the curse seriously when we know she’s not going to be fighting it long.

Now the good:

  • I don’t like Angelina Jolie. All I can think when I see her is the absolutely crazy (bad crazy, not fun crazy!) antics she used to perform pre-Brad Pitt and motherhood. But she somehow fits perfectly in this role, both as good Maleficent and bad (that mouth!).
  • Goodness. That wing stealing scene is brutal (in the best way?!). It’s a powerful and absolutely believable back story to the bad Maleficent. Not only has the best part of her physically been stolen, but her heart has truly been broken, by the loss of her wings and a betrayal from the man she loved and thought loved her in return.
  • But love! The great redeemer. And not romantic love. We meet Prince Phillip, but he only meets Aurora once before the curse takes effect and while there’s an obvious attraction, his kiss does not break the spell. SPOILER It’s Maleficent! She watches over Aurora from birth and even before learning to love the little princess, Maleficent begins her redemption by caring for Aurora. It’s lovely and not entirely unexpected, but still nice to see this recent theme in movies and TV that non-romantic love is just as valuable and powerful as romantic love.

What did you think?

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review

Wow. So it’s been a while since I posted anything. I promise though I have a good excuse! (Kinda.) I was temporarily transferred at work to a much busier location for a few months and well, I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with this. I’m back to my home location now though and I’ve certainly got a lot of reviews to catch up on. Because honestly, what a summer for the huge fantasy/sci-fi blockbusters, am I right? So today I’ll talk about the the most recent movie I saw and hopefully work my way backwards until I’m all caught up.

Disclaimer: I am not a Trekkie. I saw the last Star Trek movie and enjoyed it. It led me to watching a few of the older original Star Trek (watch them here!) and I grew up around family members who loved The Next Generation. This means that I have a basic understanding and knowledge of the Star Trek world but I don’t know who would win in a fight: Kirk or Picard.

I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible.

The movie opens up with the U.S.S. Enterprise on a mission. The crew encounters  a few hiccups along the way to completion which causes some major issues for Kirk and Spock once they are back on the ground. Meanwhile, in London, a Star Fleet officer has been approached by a mysterious man- he will heal the officer’s sick daughter for a price. The officer’s acceptance and follow through of his part of the deal set in motion the events of Into Darkness and introduce us to our villain, John Harrison (played magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch who seems dead set on getting into every geek fandom possible. Will he be in the next Star Wars movie? At this rate, probably!).

Well, some things happen over at Star Fleet headquarters in America (no need to be too detailed!) and the crew of the Enterprise ends up taking off in pursuit of the mysterious Harrison with 72 missiles to use against him. They find him easily enough on the Klingon home world where we get to see his amazing fighting skills. Despite his obvious physical superiority, he willingly surrenders to Kirk when he hears about the weapons they have on board and are threatening to use against him. Bones and another science officer (an important character but you can meet her yourself in the movie) end up making a discovery about the missiles that corroborates with the story Harrison has told Kirk and Spock. We also learn who John Harrison actually is.

The last half of the movie is the Enterprise trying to figure out what to do with the information they have learned. Do they help Harrison? Or destroy him as they were instructed? It’s a pretty intense second half but thoroughly enjoyable. We get to see Kirk be a sacrificial captain and we get to see Spock get emotional in defense of a friend. And we get to see the Star Fleet headquarters deal with more destruction. Poor guys. They just seem to have a giant target on top of them. Again, I’m not a huge Star Trek fan. But I really enjoyed this sequel. I don’t really like when successful movies turn into unending franchises but I personally would love to see another Enterprise adventure.

More Hobbit-y Goodness

It’s so close I can taste it!

Just a few more weeks until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters! Last night was the actual premiere in Wellington and lots of fun pictures floating around of the stars and related paraphernalia (including Air New Zealand’s Hobbit plane!). So how about a few more trailer viewings just to get even more excited?

The full soundtrack is already available to listen to here. You can only listen to the whole thing straight through and I’ve only heard bits of it but those bits have sounded fantastic! But I don’t really want to listen to the whole thing yet; I’d like to save the music to enjoy in the context of the film.

Another fun little thing I found was this article on the actor transformations into dwarves. It includes all 13 dwarves (plus Bilbo) and is a neat way to see the actors side by side with their dwarf makeup and hair (and beards!).

Closer to home, we’re almost finished with our Hobbit Read-Along! It’s been a lot of fun and don’t forget to check out the posts from all the lovely bloggers who participated. It was a great idea from David over at The Warden’s Walk and I am so happy I could participate!

So have you bought your ticket yet? It’s going to be great fun I think, regardless of the changes Jackson may have made to the story. Although I have to admit, I’m just as excited about the extended edition marathon viewing of The Lord of the Rings I get to see the weekend before in theaters! The beauty of those original films, back on the big screen- I can’t wait!

Chronicle

Have you heard of this movie, Chronicle? It came out earlier this year and was a small indie film. I never heard that much about it, beyond enough to know that it was out and that reviews were decent.

It’s been out on DVD long enough at my library that there was no waiting list for it. A few days ago I saw it sitting on the shelf and decided to check it out.

It was an enjoyable movie, for the most part, and if you get the chance, I would recommend watching it.

It’s basically a combination of two movie genres: the superhero movie and the found footage movie. It works really well and becomes an interesting addition to the big budget, highly polished studio superhero movies we have gotten used to seeing.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Here’s the story: Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is your stereotypical loser/loner. His mom is sick, his dad’s a drunk and his only friend is his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell). Andrew’s recently decided to start filming his life so it’s through his camera that we get most of the story. One night Matt drags Andrew to a party where they, along with popular jock and student council president Steve (Michael B. Jordan), come across…something. It’s never explained and the behavior of the camera at this point is one of the most interesting things in the whole movie.

The three boys realize quickly that something extraordinary happened to them that night and they quickly begin to show off their powers to each other. Andrew, in particular, becomes stronger than the other two which leads to trouble later when his anger and bitterness begin to take over.

It was an entertaining movie and a good one, but not a great one. Parts of the movie felt very cookie cutter superhero-ish (for example, Andrew as the villain) and the movie felt very flat to me for some reason. I had a hard time really caring about the characters, except for Andrew, oddly enough, who lost my sympathy as soon as he became a monster. Several characters die in the movie and not once did I ever feel sad at their loss.

I think I liked it mainly because it felt very real, as in, the three boys actually seemed like they were in high school. Events at the end could potentially lead into a sequel. Would I watch it? Probably, if for no other reason than to find out how they got their powers in the first place.