From the hard streets of 1970s Glasgow to the magical forest of the land of far, far away… gotta love how cinema can take you to so many different places!
Directors: Nathan Greno, Bryan Howard
Cast (Voice): Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi (Chuck!!), Donna Murphy
Runtime: 100 minutes
Before we start, let me just enthuse about how much I love Disney. I love Disney. The cheesy songs, the complete escapism from anything remotely real… So good!
Tangled is, of course, a Disney fairy-tale movie, so you might think that it’s going to be very predictable. And, to some extent, so it is. You’ve got your Princess Rapunzel locked up in a tower, denied her true destiny by the evil Mother Gotham, with a healthy dose of Disney magic and (admittedly pretty cool) sparkly 3D butterflies.
Happily, our heroine isn’t quite the timid wallflower often portrayed in Disneyfied fairy tales, though she can be slightly dim at times. The principal antagonist is also far more layered than your average crone, and has some amazingly funny quips in her songs - highlight of the movie: “Don’t be a dummy / Come with mummy!”
The soundtrack is great, the atmosphere sublime, and the plot generic but with interesting twists. (And a few requirements for you to completely suspend all disbelief… but it is Disney after all!)
Overall verdict: go and see it. Now. 9/10.
See also: Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3, Enchanted.
I haven’t been to the cinema in so long… prior to this, I last saw Harry Potter, and prior to that it was way back in August with Scott Pilgrim. So when thepatter asked me to review NEDs, I thought “why not?”, and went along to the lovely Grosvenor, knitting in one hand (I needed to distance myself from the violence, ok?) and pen in the other. It was a (an?) historic occasion, marking the first time I’d seen an 18 in the cinema, and only the second 18 I’ve ever seen, the other being Sweeney Todd.
Director: Peter Mullan
Runtime: 124 minutes
To put it mildly, NEDs is an uncomfortable watch. It certainly merits its 18 certificate for the harsh language and violence that permeate the movie, and director Peter Mullen is clearly aiming for ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic’ accolades.
The story is that of John McGill (Conor McCarron), a young boy growing up in the shadow of his violent elder brother and drunkard father, who transforms from prize-winning primary 7 pupil to knife-wielding, psychotic gang member over the course of a few short years. There is some exploration of the factors which contribute to John’s fall from grace – the violent youths who surround him on his housing estate, the schoolboys laughing at their swotty coursemate, and a posh young friend who ‘drops’ John for no reason – but overall, the story seems to focus on what he does, without offering many explicit reasons for it.
NEDs stands in stark contrast to Hollywood’s sugary tales. This is no Cinderella story. No happy endings here, for anyone, though the question of redemption hangs over the very end… if the rolling of the credits can be called an ‘ending’, as even after the overly-long screenplay the final minutes brought no sort of conclusion. At times, it is unexpectedly funny; at others, rather offensive (a hallucination sequence in which the crucified ‘Jesus’ beats up John was particularly so, as well as contributing nothing to the plot).
Not having lived in a deprived area of Glasgow in the 70s, I couldn’t argue one way or another for its historical accuracy, but the portrayal of certain issues does ring true today, and it is true that in certain parts of the city this gang culture is still pervasive, as well as the stigma attached to succeeding academically; or rather, the belief that there is no point in doing so. On the other hand, non-Glaswegian viewers are probably best advised that for the most part young people have many things to do other than roam the streets with knives, and the images of a corrupt and toothless policeforce are certainly outdated.
Overall verdict? The film probably wouldn’t have absorbed me if casually watching at home, but on the big screen it certainly made an impact. 7/10.
This article - albeit slightly long-windedly - sums up my main problems with the new “Narnia” films. I’ve not been to see the third one because Prince Caspian so appallingly warped the book… and not just because I’ve admittedly had a bit of a crush on Peter the fictional character ever since reading the series for the first time.*
The point is that Peter, and Caspian as well, are meant to be *good*. Their petty rivalry should not exist, but rather they should view each other as equals under Aslan’s authority (even though they may have or have had power over the Narnians as their king). However, in the film, in the words of the linked article:
In the first place, it is hard to describe Hollywood’s Peter as anything other than a bumbler. He is not part of the deliverance that comes from the blowing of Queen Susan’s magic horn. He is instead part of the problem, a stupid, proud, boorish, arrogant fool who speaks and acts with ridiculous vanity and, far from delivering others, needs to be delivered himself. His arrogance and vanity are explicitly highlighted in the film:
We first encounter Peter as the cause of a brawl in a London subway, which he started simply because someone bumped him.
Once in Narnia, Peter sets out to lead the other children and gets hopelessly lost, but he keeps insisting (with stereotypical male vanity), “I’m not lost,” “We weren’t lost,” etc.
When he finally assumes command of the Narnians and then is confronted by Lucy, who tries to talk sense into him and get him to wait patiently for Aslan, he condescendingly replies, “I think it’s up to us now… . We’ve waited for Aslan long enough.”
In the enemy castle, in the midst of their failed attack, Peter stupidly and obstinately refuses to call for retreat, crying out instead, “No, I can still do this!”—which prompts Susan to ask, “Exactly who are you doing this for, Peter?”
These instances could easily be multiplied. At every point, the Peter of Hollywood’s Prince Caspian is the problem, not the solution. The high king of Narnia seems to have devolved into a young, handsome version of Homer Simpson.
Director Adamson claims that he had his reasons, but again, they’re just warping the books:
Director Andrew Adamson helps us understand just what is going on in this scene in a commentary that is one of the bonus features on the Prince Caspian DVD. Adamson explains,
I always felt … how hard it must have been, particularly for Peter, to have gone from being high king to going back to high school, and what that would do to him, do to his ego… . I always thought that would be a really hard thing for a kid to go through.
Adamson acknowledges that this emotional turmoil was “not something that C. S. Lewis really got into,” but as director he wanted “to create more depth for the characters, more reality to the situation.” He wanted “to deal with what all the kids would go through having left behind that incredible experience and wanting to relive it.”
This emotional realism was Adamson’s explicit aim, and as a result, the screenwriters who put this scene together were actively encouraged to think about what it would be like to go from “king” to “schoolboy”—not a pleasant prospect, of course, and one to which any of us might react with bitterness and resentment, just as Peter does.
Right, any of us might react that way—but that is because we have not breathed the air of Narnia. We are thinking like ordinary persons (and worse, like self-sufficient, twenty-first-century, Western intellectuals) instead of like knights or kings. In Lewis’s telling of all of the Narnia tales, the children’s experiences as kings and queens in Narnia consistently transform them into nobler, more virtuous people in their own world. They are not spoiled children wanting to be kings again; they are noble kings who carry that very nobility back into their non-royal roles as schoolchildren.
But not so in Hollywood. To be a king at all is to hunger for power forevermore, like a tiger that has tasted human blood and ever afterwards is a “man-eater.” To lose imperial power by being transported back to England is to become a bitter, sullen, acrimonious brat. That is just what Peter has become, and his folly is the driving force behind most of the action in the movie.
Plus, there’s the Caspian-Peter rivalry, as far away from the book as you could be, where Peter specifically states “I haven’t come to take your place, you know, but to put you into it.”
Meh. Stupid Hollywood.
*I refuse to believe that this is as weird as some people make out.
I don’t think this is officially out in the UK yet, but when it is on the 25th of August, GO AND SEE IT! (And while you’re there, go and see Toy Story 3 and Inception as well, of course, but this is definitely a worthy rival to the other two.)
Director: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shawn of the Dead)
Cast: Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman
Runtime: 112 minutes
The story is that Scott Pilgrim (Cera) has a massive crush on a girl, Ramona Flowers, who comes with a whole load of baggage in the form of a league of 7 evil ex’s who all try and kill him. Fortunately, albeit somewhat inexplicably, he is well equipped to deal with them, turning ex after ex into nought but some coins on the floor and +1000 points.
Sometimes films with as much style as this end up with no substance (I’m thinking of, for example, Up In The Air), but Scott Pilgrim vs The World was just all-round fantastic. I mean, Michael Cera practically acts! The movie does still follow the “how to make a Michael Cera movie” diagram*, but even so you can almost see another side to him. And even his co-stars aren’t the normal host of awkwardly indie characters.
As you may have noticed from the above reference to points, references to geek - and specifically gaming - subcultures infuse the movie, in a way which I suppose makes it similar to Kick-Ass at basic plot level, although Pilgrim is definitely a far superior film. There’s animation and randomly inexplicable objects and people appearing and disappearing, and Scott’s initial attempt at a pick-up line with Ramona involves the word-history of “Pac-Man”.
All in all, the film was utterly enjoyable. It also contained some very quotable quotations, my favourite of which was probably:
"Todd Ingram: Talk to the cleaning lady on Monday. Because you’ll be dust by Monday. Because you’ll be pulverized in two seconds. The cleaning lady? She cleans up… dust. She dusts. And she has weekends off, so… Monday, right?"
Verdict: 10/10. I can’t think of anything I’d have changed about it.
I no longer post here, really, except sporadically, so come say hello at Baking and Life
I post what I like and I like what I post. I am a law student, which kills my spare time, but I somehow manage to find time to bake and to knit and to see people. Occasionally. I could pencil you in in about 4 months, perhaps?
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"Random Irrelevancies"... funny, geeky, and think-making reblogs in conjunction with more original musings. Amusez-vous! :)