Guest Review: Beauty and The Beast (2017)

guestpost
Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopoulos
Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes

I cannot begin to explain how excited I was to get to review this movie. If I hadn’t been in a theater with about twenty-five other reviewers, I might have burst into tears as soon as the title appeared on screen. Beauty and the Beast was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and it will always have a special place in my heart. It’s still one of my favorite movies. It’s a beautiful film, has some of the most memorable songs of all time, and features a princess whose defining characteristic is her love of reading. When I heard about the live-action remake, I was both excited and nervous. I’m not the kind of person who worries that a bad adaptation of a beloved classic will destroy my childhood, but I still wanted to like the new version. Luckily for me, I was not disappointed.

If you’ve been living under a rock your entire life and don’t know the story, Beauty and the Beast is about a beautiful bookworm named Belle (Emma Watson), who lives in a small French village with her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), where her bookish ways are misunderstood by the other townspeople, including Belle’s brawny, brutish suitor, Gaston (Luke Evans). One night, when a traveling Maurice unwittingly trespasses in a castle in the middle of the forest, he is taken prisoner by the beast (Dan Stevens), a prince who was cursed (along with his servants, who were all turned into household objects) by an enchantress. The only way to break the curse is for the beast to find true love, and to be loved in return. Belle bravely offers to trade places with her father, and, over time, begins to see what kind of man the beast can be past his appearance.

As someone who is very sentimental about the original, I can safely say this is an incredibly faithful adaptation. Much of the dialogue from the original is included verbatim in the remake, and there are lots of little moments and details from the animated version that are featured in this one, making me feel wonderfully nostalgic. At the same time, the remake offers some much-needed updates. For example, Belle is a better-developed character in this version. Besides just being a bookworm mostly interested in fairy tales, she helps her father with his creations and shows her own innovation. She’s also more relatable, showing her self-consciousness about how the other villagers view her as “odd.” The romance between Belle and the Beast is better handled as well. The movie shows how their friendship develops first, which makes the transition to romance more believable. The fact that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens have excellent chemistry helps sell it as well.

Besides the actors behind the titular characters, the rest of the cast give wonderful performances as well. Luke Evans and Josh Gad were born to play Gaston and Le Fou. Kevin Kline is a less scatterbrained (but still dreamy) Maurice, and the chemistry between him and Emma is heartwarming. The household staff all gave solid performances, and Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth were especially entertaining.

Besides the adaptation in general, I was mostly nervous about how the singing would be. Emma Watson is a fantastic actress, but I wasn’t sure how she’d do as a singer, and she had some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, she did not disappoint. Watson has a lovely, bright-toned voice, and while it’s not as full-sounding as Paige O’Hara’s was in the original, it was still an excellent fit for the character. Luke Evans gives a decent performance as well; while there isn’t as much bravado in his voice during Gaston as I would like, he really shines in Kill the Beast. Ewan McGregor nails Be Our Guest with his warm, sparkling voice, although something about the number overall feels kind of underwhelming; I’m not sure if the tempo is a little slower, or if the phrasing could be tighter, or there isn’t as much background chorus as there was in the original, but it doesn’t pack the same punch the Oscar-winning number did in the animated version, although it is still enjoyable. Emma Thompson’s rendition of Mrs. Potts’s titular song holds its own against Angela Lansbury’s, which is no small feat. Naturally, Broadway royalty Audra McDonald as Garderobe is the best singer out of the cast, and while her song at the beginning isn’t particularly memorable, she still makes it sound amazing; seriously, she could sing the dictionary and make it sound good. My last music-related critique is that the orchestra is pretty overpowering and tends to drown out the singing a bit.

Lastly, the movie is visually stunning, as anyone who has seen the trailers has probably already gathered. The big group scenes are beautifully shot and reminiscent of the original. The sets are lovely, and the castle is especially breathtaking. The CGI for the beast and the other enchanted characters is very impressive. Most memorable, though, are the costumes; they remain faithful to the animated version while still adding incredible detail. While Belle’s trademark yellow ball gown is gorgeous, my favorite is the one she wears in the final scene of the movie; if I ever get married, I will walk down the aisle in a replica of that dress. 
 While I’m sure I will continue to be skeptical of this wave of live-action remakes Disney has been churning out, Beauty and the Beast is excellent, both as an adaptation of an animated film and as a movie on its own. Whether you’re a hardcore, nostalgic Disney fan like I am or a casual movie-goer, I have no doubt you will enjoy this.

4Reels

laura_review


Have you seen ‘Beauty & The Beast’? Well, what did you think? 

Advertisements

Everybody’s Chattin + Music Break: Moulin Rouge’s YOUR SONG

EverybodysChattin

Happy Wednesday all! Boy I felt like I’ve worked five days already the way my life’s been going… SO. MUCH. TO. DO. I do enjoy all the Twin Cities Film Fest festivities though, I’ve talked to so many great filmmakers/talents, whether in person or via email, so hopefully y’all will stop by next week for the start of my TCFF 2015 coverage!

Well, I’m never too busy to do some community blogging post, hey that’s what makes the blogging world go around 😉

So about those links…

You might’ve read my thoughts on the latest Peter Pan adaptation, but hey, some people actually loved PAN, so check out Andrew‘s and Josh‘s take on it.

Meanwhile, I have yet to read a bad review of SICARIO and Mark is another blogger who loved it.

Since October is popular for horror fans, Chris posted mini reviews of a bunch of horror flicks.

My pal Cindy is hosting a discussion on the Shakespearean classic The Lion In Winter. I’m glad I got to see it in its entirety this past weekend.

On the TV front, Margaret reviewed the first episode of provocative series American Horror Story‘s fifth season and calls it a triumphant return. The Flash also just had a season premiere, its second, and Rodney has some fine praise for it.

Last but not least, Nostra reviewed another documentary on British street artist Banksy: Banksy Does New York. Boy this reminds me I still need to see Exit Through the Gift Shop!


Music Break/Scene Spotlight

I’ve been listening to Moulin Rouge!‘s soundtrack in my car lately. I used to listen to it constantly after I saw it more than a decade ago and I still loved it now. I was going to highlight Come What May but then I realize I had done that for a music break three years ago. There are SO MANY lovely scenes in this movie, but this is the first time I heard Ewan McGregor sing in the movie and I was immediately transfixed!

I love how romantic and whimsical this scene is, and Ewan has such an intoxicating earnestness whilst he’s singing it. The production design of Satine’s elephant room is so gorgeous and fun to look at. In fact, this whole sequence is perhaps my favorite romantic fantasy sequence ever put on screen. Moulin Rouge! shall remain my favorite Baz Luhrmann’s film, it never fails to put a smile on my face.


Hope you enjoyed today’s music break!

Labor Day Weekend Roundup: a goofy comedy, a road trip doc + a fantasy romance

It’s been quite a nice and mellow three-day weekend for me… the calm before the *storm* as it were, as the later part of September is going to be a pretty busy one for me. Twin Cities Film Fest is just a month away, but we’ll get a preview of the film festivities this coming Friday with the Fundraising Gala. I have a friend from out of the country staying with us the following week and then we’ll be taking a trip to Sedona, AZ and hopefully meet up w/ my pal Cindy C.!

Well, a good part of my weekend is full of script writing… AND dreaming of Deauville — Deauville American Film Festival that is…

Of course THIS is who I’d most like to meet…

Deauville2015_Stanley1
One lucky lady got to meet my French crush, Stanley Weber

Anyhoo, I didn’t go to the cinema all weekend but I must say my home viewing can only be described as eclectic.

Zoolander (2001)

At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

ZoolanderFinally got around to seeing this movie. I’m familiar w/ the premise and it’s become such a pop culture phenomenon of sort that a sequel is in the works. I thought I’d watch it before it comes out next year. Crazy that it’s been 15 years since this came out and I think both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson still look pretty much the same.

They’re both hilarious in this satire of the fashion modeling industry. There are actually some famous male models, like the outrageously gorgeous Tyson Beckford and Claudia Schiffer. In fact, this movie is worth seeing just for the cameo, esp. David Bowie! I expected it to be goofy good fun and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

3halfReels

Long Way Round (2004)

This documentary series follows actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorcycle trip around the world. The two friends will travel through such places as Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Alaska, before finally ending the journey in New York.

LongWayRoundMy hubby was watching this when I went downstairs to our entertainment room and we ended up watching a couple of episodes. I thought it was fascinating AND quite hilarious as the Scottish actor and his buddy prepare to go on this crazy motorcycle journey around the world for three months!

They also interviewed their wives (as well as their parents) and their reaction of this trip. But the funniest bits are all the challenges of all the logistics and training (medical, even self defense) as they’d go into some dangerous territories like Ukraine.

Of course the main draw initially is the fact that Ewan is a big film star, but after a few minutes we forget about that as he’s such a real and down-to-earth guy and this film is as much about Ewan & Charlie’s friendship as it is about the motorbike roadtrip.

4Reels

The Age of Adaline (2015)

AgeOfAdaline

A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into.

I’ve been wanting to see this film for ages. There’s something about this romantic premise that beguilles me. I’m a huge fan of period dramas a la Jane Austen, so more on the old school romance so long as it doesn’t have the name Nicholas Sparks attached to it [shudder]. I have my full review ready so I’ll post that sometime this week.
….

BELLEmovie_Gugu_Sam

I also rewatched BELLE on Labor Day as I’m in the mood of period dramas. I absolutely LOVE this movie. I’ve seen it a dozen times and it gets me every single time… I have SO many favorite scenes from this film, I wish I could find the one where Davinier declared passionately, ‘I love her, I love her with every breath I breathe!‘ in that carriage [swoon] 😛

But I also LOVE this scene between Belle and John… Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid are absolutely perfect together [le sigh]


Well, that’s about it for my weekend. How ’bout you? Seen anything good?

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of SEPTEMBER 2014

Sept2014Recap

Welcome to October, folks! Autumn is officially here, though yesterday morning felt like Winter with temp in the 40s already, ugh. Autumn in Minnesota is rather unpredictable. We went from mini dress + sandals weather to jacket + boots in the span of 18 hours! I sure hope we still get some Indian Summers in October though, fingers crossed.

It’s yet another slow month for press screenings for me. Either the timing doesn’t work out or I’m simply not interested enough in seeing them. I also didn’t watch a lot of new stuff, but did see a lot of old favorites, some are Toby Stephens-related [natch!] But hey, October is TCFF month so there’ll be a heck of movies to watch this month, yippee!!

Posts you might’ve missed:

Blogathon:

Fisti Recastathon: Recasting 3 Oscar-nominated roles w/ 3 actresses of color

New-to-me Movies/TV:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

Gotham Series – Pilot 

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

LadiesInLavender

The main draw for me was of course the two female leads. I LOVE seeing real-life Dame BFFs Judi Dench and Maggie Smith together on film, and they played sisters in this one. Their lives was turned upside down when a mysterious foreigner washed up on the beach of their 1930’s Cornish seaside village. Daniel Brühl played the young stranger whom Dench became infatuated with. It’s a sweet and touching film, though there’s a 30+ age gap between Dench and Brühl, it’s not at all creepy and their bond is more of a soulful nature. The pace is a bit on the slow side though, but the actors were able to keep my interest. There’s drama with a bit of mystery here as Brühl‘s character befriends a Russian woman, played by Natascha McElhone. Game of Thrones‘ actor Charles Dance actually directed this one and I think he did a great job! There’s gorgeous violin music here too, courtesy of Joshua Bell, though Brühl did a convincing job pretending to be a maestro violinist. (3.5 out of 5)

Beginners (2010)

Beginners2010
I’ve been wanting to see this for ages, glad we finally did. It’s quite a moving story about father/son relationship, and how a young man named Oliver deals with his dad, Hal, coming out as gay AND he also has terminal cancer. The story weaves back and forth between the time they spent together and the time following Hal’s death. I thought all the relationships presented in the movie was dealt in a touching, funny and poignant way. Christopher Plummer won an Oscar for his performance and rightly so. But I have to say Ewan McGregor‘s sensitive performance was terrific as well, and so was Mélanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic in the supporting roles. (4 out of 5)

September Blindspot: Double Indemnity (1944)

Rewatches:

Favorite Movie Seen in September 2014:

This is an easy pick for this month. It’s definitely going to be on my Top 5 Favorite Blindspot films of the year. It’s my first viewing of Barbara Stanwyck but certainly won’t be the last! I need to check out more Billy Wilder’s work, too!

DoubleIndemnityFaveSept14

What I’m looking forward to in October:

TCFF2014bannerOctober is always an exciting time for me because of TCFF. Hope you’ll stay tuned for the coverage and reviews!

What you won’t see here this month is any kind of horror/slasher marathon of any kind. I’m not a fan of that genre nor do I generally celebrate Halloween, so this site will remain relatively horror-free.


So, what movies did you get to see in September and which one is your favorite?

‘August: Osage County’ review from a fan of the award-winning play

This review is courtesy of guest blogger Sarah Johnson who mainly writes reviews for the Twin Cities Film Fest.

AugustOsageCounty_bnr
Well, I’ll say one thing for “August: Osage County” – I wouldn’t wait until August to see it. When the play opened on Broadway in 2007, Charles Isherwood, the New York Times theater critic, called it “a fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown.” That sounds about right. It focuses on the Weston clan in the sweltering weeks of August. Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mullroney, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard and Benedict Cumberbatch play the male roles in the movie but the story is really about the strong-willed women in the family and a crisis that brings them all home.

After it won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, I saw it when the touring production came to Ordway Center in St. Paul in 2010. That was more than three years ago and I still think it’s the best play I’ve ever seen. Whenever I see the movie version of a show after I see the live version that I really liked I always wonder- Am I going to like it as much? I did and for two reasons.
AugustOsageCounty_still
The first is the incomparable Meryl Streep as Violet Weston, the venom-spewing matriarch suffering from mouth cancer in a drug-induced haze. Her performance reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? At a family dinner, she doesn’t just re-open old wounds, she rips off the scabs and pours a gallon of salt in them. It’s one of those hypnotic performances you can’t take your eyes from.
I’m not the biggest Julia Roberts fan in the world but she does a good job of stripping away her sometimes annoying toothy grin acting style and admirably portrays Barbara, the oldest daughter. (I would say as the oldest with her own daughter she has the most baggage but every character in the show has enough baggage to fill a stagecoach.) Of course, Roberts’s problem is she’s playing opposite Meryl Streep. Good luck with that.
The second thing I noticed about this film was in the opening credits. Tracy Letts, who wrote the book for the Broadway play, also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Of course, I was thinking after seeing the movie, who else could have adapted this? The movie is about an hour shorter than the play (the live version actually had two intermissions and, believe me, you needed both of them) but it doesn’t lose much impact.
AugustOsageCounty_stills1
It’s obvious Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Eugene O’Neill (Long Day’s Journey Into Night) were influences on Letts. Not knowing anything about his background, part of me wonders what happened in his life to enable him to write such a savage tale of family dysfunction? Drug abuse, incest, suicide, mental illness, alcoholism…yep, it’s all there.
Shows like August: Osage County ring so true because everyone can relate to them. But what gives this one an edge of reluctant comedy is when you start to think, “Geez, my family may be weird but at least they’re not as messed up as these people!” I think anyone could go on and on about the multiple layers in this show. Having seen both versions, I can say while the play seemed more visceral and intimate as you were watching this catastrophe unfold before you in real time, it closed on Broadway in 2009 and the national tour was only at the Ordway for a short time. If you didn’t get a chance to see either of those (or even if you did), the movie is your chance to see it on the big screen. Don’t miss it.
fivereels
5 out of 5 reels

TCFF_reviewer_Ruth


Thoughts on this movie and/or the cast? We’d love to hear it!

Top 10 Favorite Scottish Actors

Today’s Gerry Butler’s birthday. For the past three years I’ve been making all kinds of tribute posts to my former crush. But y’know what, I don’t think any of you would be surprised that I won’t be doing a tribute for him this year, instead, I figure I’d finish the list that’s been sitting dormant in my draft folder for some time. I was originally going to post this shortly after I posted my picks of Top 10 Favorite Irish Actors which was three years ago!

Scotland_Bagpiper

As you know, I have a penchant for the Scots. But really, can you blame me? There’s got to be something in the water in Scotland that churn out an endless supply of talented, AND handsome blokes. To top it off, they seem to have a charming personality to go with ’em too, and of course, there’s the irresistible Scottish burr. I’d say there aren’t enough Scots working in Hollywood right now, especially since Connery’s been out of the game for some time. In any case, here are my current faves right now in alphabetical order [Yes Gerry, you’re still on the list… for now] 😀

Billy Connoly

BillyConnoly

I’ve only seen him in a few movies but some have become my favorites. Love him in Mrs. Brown alongside Judi Dench, in Dustin Hoffman’s debut Quartet, as well as his voice work in the recent Pixar feature film BRAVE. He’s got such a charming but mischievous personality that I often associate with Scottish men.

Brian Cox

BrianCox

Brian Cox is easily of the most underrated actors working today. It’s one of those actors you wonder why he hasn’t gotten an Oscar yet given his consistently excellent performance. Even in small roles, it’s hard not to be impressed by the Dundee-born actor, i.e. The Bourne Supremacy, Rob Roy, X-Men 2Red, etc. I even like his performance as Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter more than Anthony Hopkins’ in The Silence of the Lambs.

Craig Ferguson

CraigFerguson

Ok so now he’s switched to be a talk show host on CBS, but Ferguson is quite a great comic and voice actor. He was a hoot in Saving Grace with Brenda Blethyn, a hilarious British crime comedy. I also enjoy his voice work in How To Train Your Dragon as well as Brave, and once in a while I’d tune in to The Late, Late Show and watch his gregarious monologue and hysterical interviews!

Dougray Scott

DougrayScott

I think a lot of moviegoers probably only know him from Mission Impossible II or as the actor who missed out on the role of Wolverine in the X-Men franchise. But he’s actually a pretty good actor. I like him as the Handsome Prince in Ever After, as well as in smaller movies like Enigma and Ripley’s Game. Who knows, his breakthrough role could be just around the corner.

Ewan McGregor

EwanMcGregor

Perhaps the most prolific Scottish actor in Hollywood today, McGregor is as hard working as he is talented. He’s quite versatile as well, playing different types of roles and moving from one genre to the next. Just this year alone he was in The Impossible, Jack The Giant Slayer and August: Osage County, which couldn’t be more different from each other. He’s also got a beautiful singing voice too, as displayed in Moulin Rouge! I’d totally buy his album if he ever decide to be a recording artist!

Gerard Butler

GerryButler

Ok Gerry, I guess I still have a smidgen of hope that you’d star in something I REALLY want to see again. The ‘Die Hard in the White House’ movie sequel London Has Fallen and that video game movie based on Kane & Lynch aren’t likely to top my must-see list 😦 He did impress me in Coriolanus and Machine Gun Preacher, both of which are grossly overlooked, so he’s still got it in him if the role calls for it. I think he ought to take a page from Matthew McConaughey’s book of career re-invention. I wrote this role for him in an espionage drama with Timothy Dalton as his dad and James McAvoy as his half brother. I’d SO love to see him in an ensemble cast like that by a stellar director, even if he’s only doing a supporting part.

James McAvoy

JamesMcAvoy

I always think that he looks so much like Gerry Butler’s younger brother, but the one with the better acting chops. The first time I saw this Glaswegian native was in The Chronicles of Narnia as Mr. Tumnus, but since then he’s had been on a roll in Hollywood, balancing small/medium indies (The Last Station, Atonement, The Last King of Scotland) to big blockbuster movies like Wanted and X-Men: First Class. He’s also not afraid to take on unsympathetic anti-hero roles, Trance, Welcome to The Punch and Filth, all of which are released this year alone.

Robert Carlyle

RobertCarlyle

Yet another great but underrated Scot. Mr. Carlyle has had an illustrious career since the early 90s. His breakthrough role in Trainspotting got him noticed, and since he’s juggling a TV and film career, some of which don’t seem to deserve his talent [*cough World is Not Enough *cough]. He’s also the best thing in the ABC show Once Upon a Time as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. Let’s hope he gets more meaty film roles in the near future!

Peter Mullan

PeterMullan

I think I’ve noticed Mr. Mullan in his supporting role in Braveheart, but it was his role in Boy A as a surrogate father to Andrew Garfield that really made me a fan. He’s also memorable in War Horse though his performance is easily overlooked by the younger supporting cast the likes of Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. I still need to see On a Clear Day and Sunshine on Leith that my Scottish friend Mark Walker highly recommends.

Sean Connery

SeanConnery
Ok so technically he’s retired, but really you can’t have a Favorite Scot list and not mention THE most iconic of them all. Yes the Edinburgh-born actor is the first and to most people, he’s still the best James Bond, but I also like his roles post 007. The Hunt for Red October, Finding Forrester, Rising Sun, Just Cause, The Rock, to name a few, as well as two of my personal favorites: The Untouchables and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. He’s not only a distinguished actor, but he’s also got one of the most recognizable accent in all Hollywood.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Billy Boyd
  • David Tennant
  • Iain Glen
  • John Hannah
  • Robbie Coltrane

Now, these five men are talented Scots as well, I just haven’t seen enough of their work to put them on my list. I’d love to see all these actors get more work in Hollywood, especially David Tennant who obviously has got quite a career in British TV. Perhaps that Broadchurch remake would be his American breakthrough. As for Iain Glen, I first saw him in the first Tomb Raider movie and I thought he made a charming villain. He’s also very memorable in BBC’s Spooks, love all his episodes with my Brit crush Richard Armitage! I’ve been slow going catching up with Downton Abbey, but I’m looking forward to seeing Glen’s performance in it, too!


Hope you enjoy my list of great Scots! Who’s YOUR favorite Scottish actor?

Follow-up Question of the Week: Favorite FICTIONAL biopics?

Hello everyone! As I’m still working on my review of Lee Daniels’ The Butler that’ll be up tomorrow, biopics are still on my mind this week. Thanks to Chris from Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop and Nick from Cinematic Katzenjammer for bringing up this topic on the comments of yesterday’s post on favorite biopics.

When I did my post, I excluded documentaries from the discussion but I didn’t think of fictional biopics, which are actually made quite often in Hollywood. I do think it’s a separate sub-genre than straight biopics that are based on real life individuals. Nick brought up Forrest Gump, in which Tom Hanks winning an Oscar for playing the fictitious protagonist, and Big Fish in which Albert Finney & Ewan McGregor plays a fantastical character Ed Bloom. I’d think that The Great Gatsby is a fictional biopic on a larger-than-life character Jay Gatsby.

FictionalBiopics

Of course I can’t leave out my own personal favorite, Ben-Hur. Perhaps one of the most epic of all fictional biopics, shrewdly mixing the fictitious Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur with historical events, i.e. Christ’s crucifixion. As far as music-themed ones, you might consider Velvet Goldmine a fictional musical biopic as the character Brian Slade is based on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character. It’s a bizarre and amusing film for fans of Christian Bale and Ewan McGregor, and a must for Bowie fans too naturally.


So for today’s question, what’s your favorite FICTIONAL BIOPIC(s)?

FlixChatter Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

JackGiantSlayerPoster

I’ve actually never seen any Jack and the Beanstalk movie before, but of course I’m familiar with this bedtime story. I was curious enough about this one given that it’s directed by Bryan Singer.

It starts unpredictably enough, with Jack’s father reading him a bedtime story and of course Jack always believed it’s not just a myth. Fast forward to a decade or so later and Jack’s now living with his farmer uncle. After his father’s death and on the way of selling his horse to make ends meet, he inadvertently comes into possession of the magic beans that has the power to open the gateway between human race and giants. “No matter what you do, makes sure you don’t get these wet,” said the man who gave Jack those beans. Well, that’s exactly what happen when one of them fell underneath Jack’s house and rain poured heavily one fateful night. That one small bean ends up growing into a giant beanstalk that shoot up and up to the sky… and soon, all hell break loose.

You can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. In fact, this movie has zero intrigue as it’s as if you’ve seen this story played out in your head. Now, there are a lot of fairy tale movies where you know the story by heart but yet the fresh adaptations still manage to surprise and entertain you (Tangled is one that comes to mind, which is based on the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel). Alas, this film is NOT one of them.

JackGiantSlayerStill1

Neither the adventure nor the romance is the stuff of legend as it were, in fact, if you’re older than say seven or eight, you’ll likely be bored watching this movie. The British pair Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson as Princess Isabelle barely has any chemistry despite their best effort, but then again they never stood a chance when their dialog is so uninspired. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this was written by Christopher McQuarrie who gave us the abysmal The Tourist!!

This film has all the elements money can buy, what with the computer-generated giants and impressive effects of the beanstalk forming all the way up to the sky, but clearly money doesn’t buy great scripts. I mean it SHOULD, but for some reason, studios seem intent on squandering their money on CGI and elaborate set pieces instead of a story and characters worth caring for.

JackGiantSlayerStills

It’s a big waste of talents too. I mean, I think 23-year-old Hoult is a pretty decent actor and has enough leading man charisma, but for some reason he’s just not all that interesting to watch here. Tomlinson looked like she’s about to cry at every moment it’s irritating, I don’t really know if that’s the director’s fault or that’s just her acting style.

The supporting cast is an even bigger waste! Ian McShane, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan McGregor are so grossly underutilized here it’s criminal! Even McShane seems bored and uncomfortable under that gold full plate armor and the only funny part involving Tucci you’ve already seen it in the trailer. The CGI giants look realistic enough, which I’m sure that’s where most of the gigantic budget cost went to, but despite their size they have no personality whatsoever other than the stereotypical gross, uncivilized behavior. They remind me of the goblins in The Hobbit, only much less amusing. The 3D is just fine, not distracting, but it doesn’t add much either. Once again it’s just another studio gimmick to extract more money when a regular format would do just fine.

Sounds like box office forecast already predicted that this movie would NOT slay the box office (it only grossed a measly $7 mil on Friday). That’s got to be a major blow for the studio, especially since this movie was supposed to open last June 2012!

Final Thoughts: I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I’d think Bryan Singer could’ve delivered a much more compelling and entertaining movie. After all, this is the director who brought us the excellent X-Men franchise before all the superhero movies came along. He’s proven that a comic book movie could be more than just fluff, you’d think he could do the same with a fairy tale story.

Unfortunately, this film is such a giant waste of $190+ mil to me. Overused plot lines, cliched characters and dialog, and every joke and line seems to have been recycled from things we’ve seen before. Kids might enjoy the CGI wonders… but adults will realize it’s a soulless piece of cinema.


2 out of 5 reels


Has anyone seen this one? Do share your thoughts of this film.

Top 3 Favorite Nicole Kidman Roles

This post is for the current LAMB Acting School 101 on Nicole Kidman.  As I haven’t got a chance to catch up on a ton of her work (as I’ve mentioned here), I decided to just choose the top three favorite roles of the 11 films I’ve seen her in so far.

I actually include Nicole in my Movie Alphabet I did recently as I generally quite like her and I think she’s one of the most glamorous Hollywood actress working today. I included her in the Honorable Mentions in my Top 10 Hottest Aussie Actors, but in hindsight, I’d probably swap Sam Worthington with her as I’m not too fond of him lately.

I do think Nicole should lay off on the Botox and not be so obsessed with looking perfect as she ends up looking so plastic with scary lips! I mean the statuesque 5’11” actress looked so fresh when she was starting out, with her freckles and glorious curly red hair. I mean just look at her photos from then and now…

In any case, she is a talented actress and I give her props for trying out different genres and not afraid to portray morally-ambiguous, even down-right evil characters. I thought she was pretty good in the far-more-watchable Joel Schumacher Batman movie Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. An interesting trivia – She has co-starred with four actors who’ve played Batman in a movie: In My Life (1993) with Michael Keaton, Batman Forever (1995) with Val Kilmer, The Peacemaker (1997) with George Clooney and The Portrait of a Lady (1996) with Christian Bale.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work, especially her Oscar-winning performance in The Hours, as well as her most recent ones such as Hemingway & Gellhorn with Clive Owen and her role as the eternal beauty Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks of Nicole’s Top 3 performances:

To Die For (1995)

I saw this years ago but was impressed by her fearless performance as a ruthless TV personality who’s willing to get what she wants, no matter what the cost, even killing her own husband! She’s the ultimate femme fatale: seductive and dangerous! Apparently she fought to get this role and was quite relentless in that pursuit, even tracking down director Gus Van Sant & calling him personally. Well, it paid off and I think she won a Golden Globe for her performance. Joaquin Phoenix turned in a memorable performance as well.


Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I adore this film and it stands as one of my all-time favorite musicals. I wasn’t sure about the pairing of Ewan McGregor and Nicole at first, but they both wowed me here. Not only did they sound fabulous singing together, they also have excellent chemistry here. Nicole was appropriately sultry as an elite courtesan, but she also displays her comic timing in the scene where Satine first met Ewan’s character whom she thought was the Duke in her bedroom! She also conveys believable pathos towards the third part of the film, displaying her versatility as an actress.

Far & Away (1992)

She’s done three films with her ex-husband Tom Cruise but I pick this one as I don’t think I’ll be seeing Eyes Wide Shut and I barely remember Days of Thunder. I actually saw this on the big screen with my brother years ago and I remember really enjoying it. Ok, the Irish accent is all over the place but I like the feisty chemistry between her and Cruise, she was quite feisty in her role and she still has that fresh-face look with her red curly hair.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

NINE – She’s not my favorite female actress in this film (that would be Marion Cottilard) but I thought she was pretty good as Claudia, as the muse of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Guido. She has a beautiful voice and definitely suits the glamorous but icy demeanor that her role requires.


Well, that’s my favorite list so far, I might update this once I see more of Nicole’s films. What do you think of my picks?

Music(al) Break: Moulin Rouge’s Come What May

I was dusting off my CD collection the other day and found my Moulin Rouge soundtrack I used to listen every day for like two months after seeing the movie. So I’ve been listening to the CD in my car now. I LOVE, LOVE this movie, it’s so original, artsy and passionate.

Image from Daniella’s Bureau website

In any case, the musicals genre just might be back in style, what with Rock of the Ages, Sparkle and Les Miserables coming out the same year. It’s tricky to do a good musical, but Moulin Rouge is certainly one of the most creative. Baz has a great eye for elaborate costumes and fantastical set pieces, he seems to subscribe in ‘more is more’ philosophy but it works well here. He’s also got an ear for music, even the anachronistic style of using classic songs from Elton John, Whitney Houston, etc. as a dialog between Christian and Satine is just brilliant. I adore the Elephant Medley up on the roof. The El Tango De Roxanne is absolutely thrilling, it definitely tops this list of five awesome movie tango scenes.

Ewan McGregor has never looked more bewitching and Nicole Kidman is perfect as the stunning but icy object of his affection. They both have wonderful singing voice so their duets are really great to listen to over and over Listening to Ewan singing Your Song made me wish he had recorded an album, his voice is just gorgeous, and he sings with such confidence and passion. I tell you, what is it with gorgeous Scottish actors being awesome singers? 😉

My ALL TIME favorite has got to be the love theme, Come What May


The song is composed by David Baerwald for the film, and I love how the song appears in the film as Christian wrote the song for the musical Satine is starring in. It’s his way to secretly declare their love for each other. I’m not a hopeless romantic but it certainly can turn me into one. I think this shall stand to be my favorite movie from Baz Luhrmann, he seems to have a thing for tragic love stories, doesn’t he?


Hope you enjoyed the music break. Are you a fan of Moulin Rouge?