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Mumfie's Quest: The Movie (2014)
Cheerful adventure with catchy songs. Shame about cuts.
I'm delighted to discover my favourite animated TV series has re-surfaced. Mumfie possesses optimism and bravery. He meets lovable characters, each with a unique characteristic, and helps to re-inspire them. In return, they give him the friendship he's been looking for. There is plenty of adventure, mystery, danger and especially, hope. The songs are catchy and I love the quirky dialogue/narration. It's also in refreshing 2d. I enjoyed the story as much as ever. It's just a shame that for reasons of length and flow, certain songs/scenes were cut. This will only be jarring for the biggest fans though. I strongly recommend the movie to everyone of any age. It's full of absolute charm and heart.
Jolie perfect for re-imagined tale. Some flaws.
While there are nods to the original classic, the story and characters have been re-imagined. The narrator explains this at the beginning. This leads to various strengths and weaknesses.
Angelina Jolie is excellent as Maleficent, who is given greater motivation for her actions. The costume is perfect.
My favourite character is Diaval (Sam Riley), the raven-familiar. He shape-shifts as required.
Aurora (Elle Fanning) a.k.a. "Beastie" has a sweet relationship with both of them.
Maleficent's magical forest subjects are delightful also.
Exciting action scenes are well balanced by tenderer sequences.
This was my first 3D experience. No cheesy FX or discomfort.
The 3 Good Fairies have thankfully been re-named. They are of no use whatsoever and are simply annoying. They are insults to the originals.
Prince Philip is not developed at all and is barely seen.
King Stefan has more to do, but he is no longer gentle.
Both the animation and live-action versions have their faults, but they are both equally entertaining. Maleficent is always a treat.
Modern Ferngully. Fantastic animation. Funny characters.
I love Blue Sky's "Ice Age" series and I was delighted to see Scrat in the logo. This leads to a beautiful and energetic opening sequence. Epic has just the right mix of action, emotional scenes and humour. Perhaps the main characters are generic, but I cared about them and their quest. While it does have "Ferngully" plot elements, especially the shrinking & the destructive evil power against the benign forces of nature; these are much bigger and exciting. No preaching involved. The comic relief snail & slug are amusing and have an essential role in the plot. The scene stealer is often Ozzy the dog, who also has his part. Watch out for one of the villain's guards too. I enjoyed the creativity of the background flower, mushroom, twig population. Also the armour worn by the evil forces. The animation for the action sequences is especially impressive. The voice talent is excellent.
Alpha and Omega (2010)
I suspected from the trailer that this wouldn't be good. Being a fan of wolves & animation though; I gave it a chance. First, the good. There are sweet moments for B couple, Lilly & Garth. Also, there are beautiful backgrounds. A cuddly bear cub scene-steals. Unfortunately these are over- shadowed by the BAD. The attempts at humour are dreadful. Too much "bathroom" for a start. The golfing goose & his duck companion just don't work as comic relief. Instead their presence reminds us of a better wolf film - BALTO. The big names are wasted in this poor fodder. The plot could have been interesting, but was too much old ground. The log sledging & Kate's acrobatics get repeated over & over. Maybe not a problem for younger children. Adults will get bored. I certainly won't be watching the sequels.
Inside No. 9 (2014)
Dark & twisty. Love Reece.
While I'm not a "League of Gentlemen" fan; I loved Reece's performance in "A Field in England." Therefore I was prepared to give "No 9." a go. This series has an impressive line up of guest stars from Katherine Parkinson to Tamsin Greig. Each episode is a mini-play set in a different location. I especially liked the creepy mansion in the final one. The stories contain twists, humour & horror. Only one of them ("The Last Gasp") disappointed me. The make-up and costumes for Reece & Steve are great. "Sardines" has a terrific end to hook viewers in. "A Quiet Night In" is full of surprises. "Tom & Gerri", my favourite, is a compelling moral tale. "The Understudy" examines the price of success. "The Harrowing" is traditional horror with a scene stealing role for Reece. I look forward to a second series.
Bunny and the Bull (2009)
Unique adventure with hope and melancholy.
I love surreal films and this was one I overlooked. I'm glad I finally gave it a chance. The trailer doesn't really do it justice. My favourite cameo actor was Julian Barratt of the Boosh. (I was disappointed with Noel's scene though.) Also pleased to see Richard Ayoade. While these two provide light relief, the main story-line is dark and traumatic. It is accompanied by bizarre animated sequences and an excellent soundtrack by the Ralfe Band. Stephen and Bunny's loyal and tortured relationship is at the heart of this film though. Their adventure is revealed through Stephen's memories stored up in his flat. They are imaginatively linked. The conclusion is perfect.
Les revenants (2012)
Eerie, compelling viewing.
This is the best creepy drama I've seen this year. I was gripped every second. The title sequence is full of mysteries. Disturbing and yet beautiful imagery. The music is by Mogwai and it stirs the soul. It is the very heart of the series. All the cast are excellent. The "Returned" characters, especially the young Vincent, are both sympathetic and scary by turns. Some are seeking love and acceptance. All are hungry and confused. They are not your typical horror monster. They are just people who happen to have been given a new chance at life. The plot-line unfolds slowly and subtly. Some scenes are left to the imagination, but there are still shocks. Certainly lots of questions which lead to questions, but that did not bother me. I was simply drawn further in. I am excited about the 2nd series.
A Field in England (2013)
Incredible Cast. Mesmerising Movie. Fantastic surrealism.
Excited by the trailer, I chose to order the DVD. I was not disappointed. The cast includes a favourite actor of mine, Julian Barratt. He's only in a single scene, but he is memorable. All the casting is marvellous, especially for O'Neill and Whitehead, the main adversaries. The black and white imagery is astounding. There is intimacy and violence, humour and surreal beauty. It's a unique experience and I was mesmerised. While I am usually slow to watch commentaries and extras, for this film, I devoured them. There's also a Masterclass available on the internet. This is definitely my Film of the Year and I would encourage you to see it. It's impossible to describe and will no doubt divide, but it's certainly a triumph for all cast and crew. A full 10 from me certainly.
Family Tree (2013)
Chris O'Dowd is an extremely lovable actor and simply perfect for the role of Tom. He carries each episode well, being charming to almost everyone, even when embarrassed. He shows enthusiasm for each new branch discovered and participates willingly in all family activities. The scene stealer, however, is Monk, the constant puppet companion of Tom's eccentric sister, Bea. Nina Conti is delightful. I also enjoyed Tom Bennett as his daft best friend, Pete. The show gently mocks the "Who am I?" documentaries, plus other genres via characters' televisions. The script-less format means there is some miss, but mainly it works well. The actors are creative and are having fun with each other. The relationships between everyone, especially Tom and Bea, are touching. I hope this can get renewed.
The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)
James Herbert Done Right
I have read the book and this is the best adaptation of a James Herbert novel yet. The first episode is the scariest - lots of ghost story clichés, but they are effective. The music, the darkness, the doors, the well & the cane especially. The casting is perfect, especially Douglas Henshall as the insane Augustus & Sarah Smart as his cruel sister, Magda. There is a change to the ending. (Stefan dies horribly in the book, but in a way that is too offensive to show.)The couple coping with the loss of their child are sympathetic and your heart goes out to every young victim and their champions. While the cruelty and child loss scenes have been handled with care, some viewers may be upset. Be warned that there is a lot more of it in the book, plus nudity.