Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? πŸ˜‰

My Rating: 6/10

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Spotlight (2015) Review

Last weekend, I tried to catch up on watching some Oscar nominees. Of the Best Picture nominees, I’d already seen Mad Max: Fury Road (awesome), Room (amazing), and The Revenant (pelts!). I went to Spotlight & then what I really wanted to see was The Hateful Eight but it was sold out & I was stuck having to go to The Big Short instead. Were Spotlight & The Big Short worth my time? Let’s find out. I’ll review Spotlight today & The Big Short on Wednesday. 

Spotlight (2015)

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic Priests. It is based on a series of stories by the real Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

My Opinion:

Yes, Spotlight is a good film. It’s very much “Oscar material”, so I can understand why it’s up for awards. Is it the BEST MOVIE EVER?? No. Is it one of those Best Picture nominees that people will barely remember ten years from now? Hmm. Yes, I think so. Sorry. It’s pretty much your typical “serious true story” made into a Hollywood drama just in time for Oscar season. I mean no disrespect to the unthinkable true story behind this film but, judging it just as a film as opposed to the topic the film covers, it’s indeed a solid piece of filmmaking but is certainly not up there with some of the absolute classics that have been nominated for Best Picture in the entire history of the Oscars.

But, yes, it’s at least worthy of a nomination (for Best Picture – not so much for the acting categories). Sorry to start out sounding so negative – I promise that I have nothing bad to say about this movie from here on out (I’ll save my negativity for my next review). I’ll talk about all the things that I thought were good about Spotlight. There’s honestly nothing at all bad about it – I think my negativity is aimed more at the Academy being so out of touch with the general public nowadays. But I’m getting ahead of myself again – that complaint belongs in the review I’ll be posting on Wednesday. I apologize to Spotlight – I think it’s just unfortunate that I saw it on the same day that I saw The Big Short!

Spotlight takes a serious issue and, thankfully, doesn’t exploit it. Movies based on true stories can often take things too far down that tearjerker, emotional DRAMA(!!) route and quite often end up feeling insincere. The story focuses mainly on the Spotlight team of investigators as opposed to the actual victims of sexual abuse by their priests and I think that was the best way to approach telling this story. We don’t need to see the abuse or get specific details – just knowing that such a thing could happen and that it was so widespread is bad enough. It disgusts me that adults in a position of trust can betray children in such a horrible way. But back to discussing the movie itself, not the topic it covers…

I liked this film’s approach as I’ve never been a fan of over the top melodrama and I think the quiet & subdued performances in this are much more realistic. However, it also felt like any professional actor could have played any of the roles in this film so I’m quite surprised that both Mark Ruffalo & Rachel McAdams are up for acting Oscars. I don’t think they have any chance of winning. It’s not because they’re not both good in this (they are) but these just aren’t exactly defining roles. Actually, the best performance here may be from Stanley Tucci in a small role. 

I think the Academy too often confuses “worthy topic” with “good filmmaking & acting”. But a lot of what I’m saying may also be down to my own personal preference – I like a worthy film now and then but I most often watch a movie for escapism so will almost always choose sci-fi, fantasy, etc, over a dramatic true story. The story behind this film is a very important one so it’s great that they did a Hollywood film about it as that’s (sadly) sometimes the only way the public becomes fully aware of a certain topic. But, for me personally, after watching movies like these I often feel like I’d be better off just watching a documentary (if one exists) instead of the Hollywood version of true events. Spotlight is a good film, though, and most certainly one you should watch if you like the genre and want to see how they’ve handled the story.

My Rating: 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) Review

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

My Opinion:

Well, I was attempting to take a week off from blogging but I just watched the final Hunger Games film so figured I should say something about it before the weekend (I also watched Steve Jobs this week but a review for that can wait until next week). Hmmmmmmmm……. Mockingjay – Part 2………….. What can I say? I want to stay very spoiler-free, even for those who’ve read the books as I’m sure the readers will be very curious to know if certain things get changed. But I’m not going to tell you! I can say that I’ve read the books and was a very big fan (of the first two, at least. like most people). I also think the first two films are very good. These final two, though? Well… I’ll get to that more in a bit.

What’s interesting is that my husband, who hasn’t read the books, had quite a different reaction to this film than I did. He thought the first two were good but did NOT like these final two. He had a lot to say about it but I’m not going to go into any of that – I just find it interesting that he disliked these final two so much & wonder if others who haven’t read the books will have the same reaction that he did. I think they probably will. I think they’ll feel exactly the same way about the final two films as us book readers felt about the final book.

I think The Hunger Games book trilogy is fantastic. I know it’s “YA”, which puts some people off. But it’s nothing like things such as Twilight – Collins is a great writer and the first two books are two of my very favorites that I’ve read in the past decade or so. Yeah – the first two. Not the final book. I think most readers felt the same way about that one.

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this movie as, for me, it’s impossible to review it on its own & not compare it to the book. No, I didn’t like the final book. So… I was never going to love the final two movies (not helped by the fact that splitting one book into two movies pisses me the hell off). As a whole, though, these movies are quite faithful adaptations & that’s always very important to me. It’s been a long time since I read these but Mockingjay – Part 2 is very faithful from what I remember (without giving away to the books’ readers whether or not anything big was changed). So, I can’t fault the two Mockingjay films. They did what they could with them and remained pretty loyal to the source material. Which is great! It’s just unfortunate that the source material isn’t so great.

I haven’t reviewed the first film as I wasn’t blogging yet but I reviewed Catching Fire (HERE) and Mockingjay – Part 1 (HERE). Catching Fire was really good (I gave it 8/10) but Mockingjay – Part 1 felt pointless as there was no need to turn it into two films (I gave it 7/10). Part 2 is at least a bit better than Part 1 since you finally get a conclusion instead of being left hanging halfway through a story. I once again enjoyed re-visiting these characters & stand by my opinion that Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss (although the hubby thought she seemed bored in these last two films, which I don’t totally agree with but do admit that it did feel that way a little at times).

Elizabeth Banks & Woody Harrelson have very small roles in this final film, which is a shame as they’re two great characters. The character of Peeta is once again a bit of a bore (sorry if you like him! but his character is a bit bland). One big complaint I’ve had all along & still have is that I don’t think they developed the character of Primrose (sister of Katniss) enough. Well, the books were kind of guilty of this as well if I remember correctly but they should have given more screen time to the two sisters and slightly less to the somewhat annoying love triangle. I don’t think the films fully gave you the sense of love that Katniss has for her sister and also felt they didn’t fully explain some important plot points to a movie audience that hasn’t read the books. I think I’d have been slightly lost during the two Mockingjay films if I hadn’t read the books.

Summary:

I really want to hear from you guys what you all thought of this one & whether or not you’ve read the books. I’ve not yet read any other reviews so don’t know what kind of reaction this movie is getting but I’d guess that those who haven’t read the books will feel the way that my hubby did & won’t really like this film. As I said, I can’t really fault this movie as it’s a good adaptation and I think they’ve done a pretty great job in choosing the cast for this entire series (especially Lawrence). Mockingjay – Part 2 is a good film but I kind of lost interest in it in the same way I did with the final book. Obviously you’ll want to see it if you’ve watched all the others but don’t expect it to be much different than Part 1. However you felt about Part 1, you’ll probably feel the same about Part 2

Sorry for that rather uninformative review! It’s a very hard one to talk about without spoiling things so feel free to discuss it with me further in the comments. πŸ™‚ Just try to put a spoiler warning at the start.

My Rating: 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Review

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Julianne Moore
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

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My Opinion:

I love YA fiction (especially of the post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi variety!) and have read The Hunger Games books. It was before this blog started but I did review the Catching Fire movie (HERE if you’re bothered). The first two books are possibly my favorite of the YA stuff I’ve read in recent years and I think the first two films were very faithful, especially the second, and I’ve been happy with them and with the choice of actors (other than maybe Josh Hutcherson). I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of the final book so I’m naturally unlikely to like these last two movies as much as the first two. However, from what I can remember of the final book now all these years later, I think this film again stayed pretty faithful. It’s a solid movie and everyone again does a good job with their roles but I still can’t help but feel a bit “meh, so what?”. It especially doesn’t help that they’ve done that thoroughly annoying thing again of splitting the final book of a series into TWO movies. Why why why?! It’s not as annoying as the whole Hobbit bullshit but, seriously – they’re doing it to get more money out of us as opposed to making sure to make the best piece of “art” they can and it gets on my nerves.

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Now that I got that little rant off my chest: Is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Freaking 1 any good? Yes, it’s fine. I enjoy the story and seeing the characters again and still think Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for the role of Katniss (even though we’re starting to see her in too many movies and I’m afraid she could someday be on my annoying list instead of my favorites list). They have some very famous actors in these movies and it feels like they take their roles seriously as opposed to just “phoning it in”, which it feels like famous actors do in some other YA films. I think it makes The Hunger Games movies feel a bit more “grown up” than others (which I see as a good thing). The final book is the darkest and the movies have been good at getting the tone right but, hopefully, no parents are letting anyone see these if they’re TOO young…

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Summary:

I don’t think I need to go into this film much. If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one even though you may be annoyed at again not getting any sort of “conclusion”. If you like the books, you’ll be happy enough with this adaptation. The acting is really good, especially for a “YA” film, and Lawrence is still the perfect Katniss. I understand that the story needed to take this direction in the final book and couldn’t just do the same thing once again but it just didn’t work as well for me and I don’t expect to like the final two films as much as the first two. Speaking of YA stuff, I saw The Maze Runner a couple weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to review it yet. Maybe Wednesday…. Yes! I’ll make this a “movies based on novels” week here at CPD since I also just watched Odd Thomas! Anyway, although I think Mockingjay is the superior film, I kind of enjoyed The Maze Runner more as I haven’t read the books and liked watching a story unfold without already knowing what would happen. I’ve watched Mockingjay as I want to see how they handle the books but I really wish they’d just made this into one film. But I’ll of course shell out money once again this time next year to see Part 2. And I’m sure I’ll complain about that once again. πŸ˜‰

My Rating: 7/10

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Maid In Manhattan (2002) Review

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Maid In Manhattan (2002)

Directed by Wayne Wang

Story by John Hughes

Starring:
Jennifer Lopez
Ralph Fiennes
Natasha Richardson
Stanley Tucci (TUCCI!)
Tyler Posey
Frances Conroy
Chris Eigeman
Amy Sedaris
Marissa Matrone
Priscilla Lopez
Bob Hoskins
Lisa Roberts Gillan
Maddie Corman (Hey! It’s the middle sister in Some Kind Of Wonderful!)

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Rich politician guy falls in love with a maid when he mistakes her for a guest at the hotel where she works. Blah blah. You’ve seen this before. No surprises here.

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My Opinion:

I actually went to see this when it came out back in 2002. It was needing a review for this blogathon so I gave it a quick, half-assed re-watch the other day (only one or two Hughes movies will end up not being reviewed. That’s an AMAZING turnout. Thank you everyone!). So… What can I say about Maid In Manhattan?

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Is it predictable? Oh HELL yeah! Every step of the way! Is it romantic? Meh – as much as any girly rom-com is these days. Are the characters likeable? Luckily, they actually are pretty likeable in this one, which is about all you can ask for from a lot of rom-coms. Does it feel like a John Hughes movie? Not in the slightest. The story is by him – I don’t know if there was much involvement from him beyond that. Probably not. So there’s none of the old John Hughes classic lines & characters in this movie. Don’t watch this one expecting any Hughes-ness – there’s not a trace of it to be found.

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However, it’s not a horrible movie. I am NOT a “rom-com” girl. I’m a movie lover and will watch most anything, though, so I’ve seen my fair share of this genre. This is a respectable enough entry. If you DO love this genre, I think you’d like Maid In Manhattan just fine. It’s not “smart” like something like The Devil Wears Prada (I like that one. And, hey – Stanley Tucci is in that AND this! Love my Tucci! Hmm… That sounds kinky….). BUT it’s not as dumb as, say, a Kate Hudson rom-com.

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Ralph Fiennes & especially Jennifer Lopez do just fine in this one – you like their characters & want them to live “happily every after”. I didn’t fully buy a romance between the two of them but, whatever. I really liked the boy playing J-Lo’s son – he’s smart and sweet & the two of them have a good relationship. There are a lot of good supporting characters and it’s a shame we don’t actually get to see more of them (including Stanley Tucci & Bob Hoskins). The only complaint would be that they made Natasha Richardson’s character a little TOO annoying (but you’re not meant to like her). The best thing about this movie is that it DOES manage to give the audience plenty of characters they’ll like and, as I said, that’s about all you can ask for from a rom-com. It’s really not too much to ask yet plenty movies in this genre don’t manage it (for instance – those damn Kate Hudson movies. Ugh!). Maid In Manhattan won’t change your life but it won’t exactly ruin your day either. I think this is one time where people have judged this movie too harshly (the IMDB rating is very low. 4.9? Too harsh). Chill, people! It’s a bit of light entertainment.

My Rating: 6/10

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Review

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Lenny Kravitz
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 146 minutes

Plot synopsis:
After their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have become symbols of hope to those in the Districts of Panem. President Snow will do whatever it takes to make sure that this hope doesn’t lead to a rebellion.

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My Opinion:

I read the Hunger Games books and loooooved them (Well, loved the first two at least…). So I was very excited to see the films. I thought the first one was a very good adaptation and feel the same way about Catching Fire. I know they can never put absolutely everything from a book in the movie as there’s just not enough time – As long as no major changes are made, I’m happy. It’s been a while since I’ve read these but, from what I remember, Catching Fire is extremely faithful to the book so that should keep the fans happy.

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I’d actually be more interested to know what people who haven’t read the books think of these films. I often try to read the book before the movie and all that but it does take a little fun out of the movie for me. I just like to be surprised & like not knowing what’s going to happen. I always enjoy seeing the movie bring a book “to life” but… I have no idea what point I’m trying to make here! Just that, you know – I knew what was going to happen every step of the way.

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However, both of these films have done a great job creating the overall look of this world and especially bringing these characters to the screen. I really can’t fault ANY of the casting. Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely perfect as Katniss Everdeen. She’s totally what I’d pictured while reading the books and she does an excellent job in these films (well, she IS an Oscar winner, you know). For a young adult series, it’s a very dark story and she does all the serious & emotional stuff brilliantly. I can’t really imagine anyone else in the role. And I think with these young adult adaptations, the actors don’t always take the material as seriously & it sometimes feels like the big name actors are only there for the paycheck & are giving a half-assed performance. I don’t feel this way with the Hunger Games films, though. Everyone seems to be giving their all.

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Woody Harrelson – Also perfect. He’s a great Haymitch and one of the biggest highlights of these films. I also love Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Even though he’s not what I’d pictured from the books, he’s also one of the best characters in the films (for me). I also loved seeing Effie having a bit more depth in this one (and, again, I think Elizabeth Banks does this role very well).

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Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone – All good! Liam Hemsworth & Josh Hutcherson are both fine as Gale & Peeta but are the only ones that aren’t *quite* right for me (especially Hutcherson). However, both have grown on me & I fully see them as those characters now after this second film. I’d love to see Primrose get a lot more screen time – I feel that the audience barely knows her if they’ve not read the books. Also not 100% sure on Finnick or Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch – Hoffman was good but kind of just seemed his usual self.

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Summary:

I know I’ve not said anything about the story as, well, I know the whole story from the books. I loved the books – the story was really intense and I couldn’t read them quick enough. Luckily, the films are the same way – they’ve been very faithful adaptations so far and I don’t think fans of the books can have any major complaints. The world looks great and, more importantly, the casting has been perfect. I really can’t complain about any of the actors at all but the ones they especially got right were Haymitch and, luckily, Katniss. If they’d gotten the wrong actress for Katniss, I don’t think these films would be quite as successful. Catching Fire is just as good as the first film (although you really can’t top the first film just as you can’t top the first book in the trilogy). If you haven’t read the books but liked the first film, you’ll definitely like Catching Fire and you’ll get a lot more character development than you did in the first film.

It’s going to be VERY interesting to see what they do with that final book…

My Rating: 8/10

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