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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Spectacular Spy Flick, 19 February 2015

When Eggsy was a toddler, his father was killed in the line of work. He was given a special medal by a well-dressed gentleman, telling him that he can call when he is in trouble. Seventeen years later, growing up in a rough London suburb, Eggsy got himself thrown in jail after engaging police in a backwards car chase. He calls the number behind the medal, and in comes the dapper Harry Hart to the rescue. Knowing Eggsy's wasted talents in gymnastics and academics, Harry brings him to try out for a vacancy in his ultra-secret spy organization, the Kingsmen.

The fun begins with the opening credits, when letters would form out of the rubble that fell from various explosions of an ancient temple, to the tune of Dire Straits' hit "Money for Nothing". You knew by then that you should be ready for something tongue-in-cheek. The beginning sequences do not hide the fact that this would be a graphically violent film. Throughout the film we will be regaled with fights with guns, bombs, and blades, all in extraordinarily spectacular fashion we have never seen before.

Colin Firth, an actor who is practically typecast as the shy or dour guy in romantic comedies, shows a totally screen persona here. As Harry Hart, aka Galahad, he is a swashbuckling super spy like we have never seen him before. Mark Strong makes another memorable screen appearance as Merlin, the Number 2 man among the Kingsmen. The ever reliable Michael Caine plays Arthur, the head Kingsman. You know he can play this role with his eyes closed.

Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious as the villain Richmond Valentine, an insane megalomaniac telecom tycoon with a lisp planning to have mankind kill each other. Exotic beauty Sofia Boutella is Valentine's vicious henchman Gazelle, a graceful killer with her deadly sharp prosthetic legs. Mark Hamill was unrecognizable as the elderly environmentalist Professor Arnold, whose abduction starts the action.

The biggest surprise is the breakthrough star-making performance of Taron Egerton as Eggsy. In the beginning it took some time getting used to the new face. But as the film went on, Egerton will possess the screen with his action skills and suave charm, even in the presence of his esteemed co-stars. By the time the film ends, you could not wait to see more of this young man in future films.

Overall, this is a very entertaining, visually stimulating film. The production design, with all those gadgetry and weaponry, is very inventive and eye-catching. The musical score is pulsating and exciting. The action sequences were really relentlessly bloody, with various body parts getting impaled, sliced off or blowing up. Yet, this was all done with typically British wry humor and aristocratic class.

Director Matthew Vaughn takes the James Bond genre, and mixes in the superhero and hi-tech elements of two excellent films he directed before ("Kick-Ass" and "X-Men: First Class"), as well as some Cockney elements from his earlier productions like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". With "Kingsman", he has actually managed to create something even more fantastic. This is the best 2015 release so far. 9/10.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dubious Domination, 18 February 2015

"Fifty Shades of Grey" is a very popular 2011 erotic novel that dealt with a sexual relationship marked by domination and submission. It started as "Twilight" fanfiction written by British author E.L. James on her website. It later gained viral status as an e-book, leading to a best-selling print publication and worldwide notoriety as "mommy porn."

Now, it had gone one step further and has been brought to life on the silver screen. Of course, controversy continued to hound this film production, starting from the casting choices for the lead roles, which were never popular with the fans. Locally there was a lot of talk about censorship with "blurs and blocks", despite the fact that it had already been rated R-18. (While in France, I saw that this film had been incredibly rated as R-12.)

Of course, all this media hullabaloo resulted in more audience curiosity. Despite scathingly bad reviews when it opened on Valentine's Day, this film pulled in a startling box-office haul of $95M in its first weekend alone. Against my better judgement, I simply had to see what the fuss was all about.

Anastasia Steele is a college student majoring in English Literature. When she met young business tycoon Christian Grey, she was attracted to his strength of character and the mystery of his person. Mr. Grey, likewise taken by Ana's charm and innocence, pursued her with gifts, from first editions of Thomas Hardy novels to rides on the company helicopter.

However, when the virginal Ana was falling in love with Grey, she would discover that he was not into the traditional romantic affair she was expecting. His "thing" was sexual domination and submission, as proved by the array of whips, chains and cuffs he had in his "playroom." Will Ana willingly submit to this man's perverse idea of a relationship?

The topic of sexual domination and submission in itself is not palatable to most tastes, including mine. To be fair, the film had been careful in showing that there was consent as far as Ana's concerned when it came to sexual activities. The screenplay is based on the book, so the shortcomings of the book are the same shortcomings of the film, when it comes to cheesy situations and lines.

As far the sex scenes were concerned, this film paled in comparison with "Basic Instinct" or "9 1/2 Weeks" when it comes to erotic danger and urgency. To add further damper, the "blocks" the local distributors employed to protect the eyes Filipino audience from prurience were so ugly. Sometimes these black blocks would occupy an entire half of the wide screen! Anyway, these unsightly "blocks" aside, I think the boring depiction of sex in this film was because the actors playing Ana and Christian did not have any chemistry between them.

I thought Jamie Dornan was woefully miscast as Christian Grey. Physically, he was not tall and imposing enough. Attitudinally, he did not look dominant or confident enough. In fact, he looked awkward in a lot of scenes. He did not look like he was having any pleasure at all with what he was doing. Stripped down to basics, this main conflict of this film was Christian fighting the romantic love he was feeling for Ana in order to fulfill his domination fetish. Dornan could not effectively get this across. With all the staring that Grey had to do, I also get distracted with Dornan's right eye, which bulged bigger than the left.

In contrast, Dakota Johnson (daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) was able to convey the conflicts in her character quite well, I thought. She was in love and at the same time intimidated by Grey. She had more nude scenes than Dornan, which was ironic for a film targeted for a female audience. I guess this was done for the benefit of the husbands and boyfriends who will be "forced" by their wives and girlfriends to watch this with them. She did show acting talent here, so I hope doing this film will not stagnate her career.

With its slick-looking production design and a killer pop soundtrack, this film is not the total bore it was made out to be. Ironically for a major Valentine release however, the relationship we see in this film is romance-less, thrill-less and loveless. Even if audiences knew what the film was going to be about when they go in to watch this, many will still be repelled, disturbed or disgusted by the aberrant and abusive sexual behavior they see on screen.

Groom Glitches, 17 February 2015

Doug is a nerdy introvert who is about to get married to a beautiful girl Gretchen. However, with two weeks to go before their grand wedding, Doug still could not come up with a Best Men and six groomsmen. Enter the smooth-talking hustler Jimmy who runs a Best Man for rent business to provide what Doug so desperately needed: a best friend. The spoofy title comes from the traditional Best Man duty of bringing the wedding rings during the ceremony.

Many wedding comedies would be about the bride, like "My Best Friend's Wedding" or "Bride Wars." There have been movies about the parents, like "Father of the Bride" or "Mother of the Bride". There have been been movies about the "The Wedding Planner" or "The Wedding Singer' or even "Wedding Crashers.' More recently, there had films about members of the entourage of either gender, "The Hangover" and "Bridesmaids." As a point of distinction, "The Wedding Ringer" is an uncommon wedding comedy made from the point of view of the groom.

Josh Gad is well-cast as the shy and socially-inept groom-to-be Doug. With his chubby frame, smiling face and polite demeanor, it is not hard to rally behind him and root him on. It is not really hard to conceive how a significant number of men could face the problems as Doug, not having male friends close enough to call a best man or groomsmen. He is easy for the audience to identify with.

Kevin Hart is a natural to play the boisterous and gregarious Jimmy, who had to fit in all the tall tales that Doug told Gretchen about his imaginary "best friend" dubiously named Bic. Despite his character's filthy mouth prone to profanity, Hart still manages to be funny and engaging in a potentially annoying role.

The other actors portraying the "groomsmen" were a rowdy random bunch of the strangest types of men. They were hit and miss in their jokes, many times coming off as too cringe-worthy. Easily recognizable among them is hefty, long-haired Jorge Garcia. The very final scene is even a well- placed reference to Garcia's most famous role on the hit TV thriller series "Lost."

As the bride Gretchen, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting basically reprises her breakthrough role as a sexy but flaky girl in an unlikely relationship with a nerd on hit TV comedy series "Big Bang Theory". More positively impressive is Olivia Thirlby as Gretchen's younger sister Alison. Ms. Thirlby is very pretty and smart, making a mark despite her limited screen time.

Overall, "The Wedding Ringer," with all its derivative, shallow and raunchy humor, still manages to come across with some insightful ideas about male friendships and its intricacies. The lead pair of Josh Gad and Kevin Hart share a vibrant bromantic comic chemistry together that is a lot of fun to watch. Looking forward to watching more film projects starring these two upcoming young comedians. 6/10.

Paddington (2014)
Ursine Whimsy, 15 February 2015

From the jungles of deepest darkest Peru, British explorer Montgomery Clark discovers a family of special bears who can speak English and loved orange marmalade. He tells the bears that if ever they get to London, he will be more than happy to take them in. One day, after a strong earthquake causes the death of his beloved Uncle, a young bear decides to stowaway on a ship to go to London to find a better life for himself.

In London, a friendly family, the Browns, decide to take him in. They named the bear after the train station they found him in, Paddington. The father Henry is always wary of his family's safety, while the mother Mary is more welcoming and warm. The daughter Judy is a whiz with languages, while the son Jonathan is a genius with mechanical matters. While searching for the elusive Mr. Clark, Paddington crosses paths with Millicent, a sadistic taxidermist who wants to make him a stuffed bear, for more reasons than it would seem.

I only knew Paddington Bear as a piece of childhood trivia. I never really knew him, other than the fact that he was a cute little British teddy bear with a hat and overcoat. I have not read any of the books by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, which was first published back in 1958.

This film was my first formal introduction to this beloved character and I clearly can see why he has endured through the years. He is truly adorable! His childlike innocence is heartwarming and delightful. It is to the credit of Xian Lim, who voiced Paddington in the local release. Lim does not really have a truly distinctive recognizable voice. However, more importantly, he was able to convey the most essential heart and spirit of Paddington. In the original British version, Paddington was voiced by Ben Whishaw. It appears they have a different voice actor per country of release, an interesting publicity gimmick.

Like "Roger Rabbit", "Space Jam" and "Garfield" before it, the animated Paddington flawlessly interacts with live human actors. "Downton Abbey" actor Hugh Bonneville plays a stern but kind Henry Brown. "Happy Go Lucky" actress Sally Hawkins plays the quirky and happy Mary Brown, she who always wore red. Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin play the two Brown children. Two-time Oscar-nominated actress Julie Walters as plays Mrs. Bird, the loyal housekeeper of the Browns.

Nicole Kidman plays the cruel Millicent with so much evil relish, it is fun to watch her. Her final scene is hilarious! Other esteemed British actors fill out the other character roles. Jim Broadbent plays Samuel Gruber, friendly antique shop owner. Peter Capaldi plays the Brown's annoying neighbor, Mr. Curry. Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon provide the voices of Paddington's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo back in Peru.

Be you a long-time fan or first time viewer, this "Paddington" will endear himself to you. His antics, mishaps and misadventures were so well-executed by director Paul King, who also wrote the script together with Hamish McColl. The timelessness of the story and characters is also reflected in the wonderful production design which mixed elements from various decades seamlessly. Some moments as the story turns dark can be scary for very young kids so parental guidance is recommended. Overall though, be prepared to enjoy and be enthralled this very charming piece of British comedy. 9/10.

61 out of 101 people found the following review useful:
Generally Entertaining, Thanks to Mila and Channing, 5 February 2015

"Jupiter Ascending" is the latest attempt by the Wachowski siblings Andy and Larry (now Lana), to recover their lost glory after The Matrix phenomenon eventually fizzled out after unsuccessful sequels to the groundbreaking 1999 original.

Despite her stellar first name, Jupiter Jones is an ordinary girl. She and her Russian immigrant mother worked as house cleaners for the rich and famous in Chicago. When alien beings try to abduct her, she was rescued by a valiant warrior with flying boots named Cain Wise. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect that she would be involved in an cosmic power struggle for control of Earth itself.

Meanwhile, millions of light years away, the three Abrasax siblings -- the power-hungry Balem, the vain Kalique and the hedonistic Titus -- indulge in their power play for control of their own sectors of the universe. For these members of the intergalactic ruling class, planet Earth is a valuable farm of life essences just waiting to be harvested.

This film has a 127 minute running time during which it tries to ambitiously build a complex new mythology of a trans-universal order. I am assuming this would be the first episode of a planned franchise, and so its creators really took their time to define its rules and parameters. The worlds they built were fantastic and imaginative, wonders of computer-generated imagery. The elaborate costumes and out- of-the-box production designs are the best features of this film. The action sequences were very well-choreographed and executed. he multitude of characters can get confusing at first, but they had me fascinated, maybe except for the extended family of Jupiter (mostly there for comic relief).

The central character of Jupiter Jones, as charmingly played by the lovely Mila Kunis, was engagingly likable. I like the way she delivers her lines, especially the funny, sassy ones. She makes me smile. Her rescuer Cain, as stoically played by athletic Channing Tatum, was gracefully heroic in his action skills. It came to a point though that it already felt a tad repetitive with Cain rescuing Jupiter over and over and over, you knew she was never really in any danger at all. The love angle between the two took a lot of screen time, but the poster did not hide that aspect of the story. I thought they had excellent chemistry together.

Sean Bean (best known as Ned Stark in "The Game of Thrones") was impressive as the usually reliable Stinger, a good friend and former comrade-at-arms of Cain. Eddie Redmayne (current Oscar nominee for "The Theory of Everything") gives a totally over-the-top, breathy-voiced rendition of the main antagonist Balem. Redmayne's performance is one of the more polarizing aspects of this film, as some viewers can totally hate it.

The handsome Douglas Booth (recently seen as Romeo in the 2013 film version of the Shakespeare classic) played the shrewd Titus with relish. The beautiful Tuppence Middleton (who was also seen in "The Imitation Game") was quite daring with her portrayal of ever-youthful Kalique.

Overall, I thought the film was very entertaining, anchored on the charisma of Jupiter and Cain, as played by Kunis and Tatum. The Wachowskis have created another universe, albeit not too original anymore. But I thought the characters of Jupiter and Cain look great together, and I would not mind seeing this pair again in a sequel. 7/10.

Wild (2014)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Questionable Quest, 4 February 2015

After a devastating family tragedy involving her mother, Cheryl Strayed decided to embark on a long hard hike along the punishing Pacific Crest Trail to recover her bearings and to find and heal herself. "Wild" follows Cheryl on her harrowing 1,100 mile solo hike, as she faces potential and real dangers from mother nature and from fellow humans along the way.

Reese Witherspoon is getting award nominations for playing Cheryl. However, I am not engaged by her performance. Her enormous backpack looks really heavy, but it seemed like the difficulty stopped there. The rest of the time, her hardships of the hike were obviously just acting, never felt real to me. It does not also help that the character she is portraying does not inspire sympathy as she was written. The way this film portrayed Cheryl, she had unrealistically over-the-top responses to regular challenges we all face as human beings. Her losses were not particularly extraordinary to push her to such unreasonable extremes of negative behavior.

Laura Dern scored a surprise Oscar nomination for her very fleeting appearance here as Cheryl's mother Bobbi. In those few minutes on screen, I can already see why Cheryl was devastated by what happened to her mother. The portrayal of Ms. Dern is very effective and memorable despite its brevity. Laura Dern made more of an impact on me in those few minutes, than Witherspoon in the whole film. Dern's affecting performance was the saving grace of this film for me.

The beautifully photographed desert and snow vistas aside, I did not like the way director Jean-Marc Vallee told Cheryl's story, unlike the way he handled "Dallas Buyers Club" last year. In that film, Matthew McConaughey's character was a homophobic sex addict, not exactly hero material. Yet the way his story was told by Vallee, we still rooted for him to get through his ordeal with AIDS. This did not happen for me in this film in Cheryl's case. I see her physical journey and her emotional journey. But the spiritual journey, which was supposed to uplift and inspire me, I did not see.

Among the Oscar-nominated films this year, this is the film that I do not get what the awards buzz was about. This film is based on Strayed's memoirs entitled ""Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail". I get the "Lost" part. But the film never gave me the "Found" part. 5/10.

Tangerines (2013)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Webs of Wartime, 4 February 2015

With a nondescript title like "Tangerines", I did not know what to expect from this Estonian film nominated for the Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It turns out, unlikely as it may be, it is the film I will be rooting for to win the big prize come Oscar time.

The time is 1992. It is a time of war in the Abkhazeti region of Georgia. In a mountain village, only two men have stayed behind while their family and compatriots have all return home to Estonia. Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) makes crates for the tangerines that his friend Margus (Elmo Nüganen) grows.

One day, a deadly encounter happens in their village. Two men, Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze) and Niko (Mikheil Meskhi), were left alive when the battle was done. Ivo is forced to take them into his house and nurse them both back to health. Big problem though, because Ahmed is a Chechen mercenary, and Niko is a Georgian soldier. These were the two sworn enemies in this war.

Writer and Director Zaza Urushadze has created this effectively tense fable with four main characters who need to interact within a very confined space of Ivo's house. The slow but steady development of the story built up to a very satisfying climax. The main topic of the story is simple, and the execution was elegantly direct to the point. Ironic for a film set in the midst of a heartless war, "Tangerines" profoundly showed us the meaning of humanity. 9/10.

Vice (2015/II)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This Sci-Fi is Stale, 2 February 2015

VICE is a resort where members can indulge freely in any psychologically or sociologically sick fantasy of their choice. Owned and designed by Julian Michaels. Vice boasts of having "artificials", humanoid staff who act, think and feel like real humans. Clients can do anything he wants with these artificials, going to the extremes of sex and violence that are unacceptable in real life.

One day, a pretty resident artificial named Kelly suffers a glitch in her programming and was becoming aware of past acts of violence done on her. Confused, she wants to escape her predestined fate. She encounters A.I. genetic designer Evan Lund and a crusading policeman Detective Roy Tedeschi on her flight out of Vice. Can they beat the powerful Mr. Michaels at his own game?

Bruce Willis headlines this film as the debonair Julian Michaels. However, despite the prominent billing, he is not the main character here. Willis only brings his cool presence and name into the project, and nothing else. His performance is quite bland. To begin with, there is nothing much that his character had to do, so he probably just spent only a day shooting all his parts.

Most of the story revolved around lesser-known actors in the cast. Thomas Jane is over-the-top as the loud, unkempt, tough cop Roy, who was against the "untouchable" operations of Vice. Bryan Greenberg brings in the sensitive dramatic aspects of the film in his role as Evan, who designed Kelly out of his recently-departed wife Michelle.

The central character in all this is Kelly, brought to life by Ambyr Childers. Childers had this blond bimbo make-up which made her look like a young and generic-looking Denise Richards or Heather Graham. She just had that blank stare look on her face which does not show much emotion. Despite being in the lead role, I don't think Ms. Childers would get much positive career mileage from her performance here.

The basic sci-fi concepts behind this film's story was actually very good and interesting. On paper, the integration of real human DNA into androids had the potential for a sophisticated film which could match "Blade Runner." Unfortunately, in the hands of writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore and director Brian A Miller, "Vice" ended up an ordinary forgettable B-rate action flick. The first scenes alone screamed B-movie.

The ending even seemed to promise a sequel. Unless they can come up with a much better way to showcase their slick sci-fi ideas, no thanks. 2/10.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Steamy, but Silly, 30 January 2015

Claire, a beautiful classic literature teacher at a local high school, is currently separated from her unfaithful husband. One day, a handsome strapping boy Noah, moves in next door, befriends Claire's shy sickly son, does the manly work around her house. Seduction led vulnerable Claire into bed with Noah, which led to a guilty conscience. However, Noah simply would not accept NO for an answer anymore.

Ever since her return to the limelight via American Idol, Jennifer Lopez is still trying to convince all of us that she is still hot and sexy even past age 40. I will not deny that she really is. She does not really need to resort to in-your-face tactics to do it, but she does. Lately, she had that trashy "Booty" song and video, more revelatory deeply-plunging gowns at award shows, and now this vanity project which she herself produced.

JLo is ever-glamorous in this film, with perfectly coiffed hair, impeccable make-up and stylish outfits all the time. She exudes "sexy" in all her scenes, even when she was just lounging around her living room posing on her divan, or slyly peeking out her upstairs window into the privacy of her neighbor's bedroom. Her anticipated bed scene was mostly moaning and teasing in the shadows, which will disappoint those came to see more of her. Her acting is not bad as you may think. She did what the script told her to do, as embarrassing as those lines and scenes were.

As the 19-year old title character Noah, 27-year old Ryan Guzman was the ideal charming lover boy in the first half, and the unshakable nightmare in the second half, both personas played with obvious relish. The way this film closed the camera in on his biceps and torso and behind, it seemed this movie was made for cougars and "mommy porn" book fans in mind. To be fair, Guzman registers very well on the big screen, with charisma like Ryan Phillippe or Freddie Prinze, Jr. in their heyday. Let us see if he can get on with his career after this.

Kristin Chenoweth does not sing here, but her character was a lot of fun of watch. Silly and kooky, she does not exactly convince us that she was the assistant principal of her school. Her Vicky was an interesting side character. Too bad she did not get to do too much, or else the movie would have ended earlier. She provides most of the comic relief of the film, the intended ones.

Director Rob Cohen did not really have to worry about humor, his whole film was actually peppered with unintentionally (?) hilarious moments. The way Claire and Noah would finish each others sentences as they discussed Homer, the way Noah gifted Claire with a fresh-looking first edition of "The Iliad", the list goes on. And top it all off, the film ends an over-the-top fiery, eye-popping Armageddon in an isolated barn. I had to stifle my LOL during those final fight scenes.

In the final verdict, this movie was, in its own shallow way, entertaining. It was bad, but not annoyingly bad. Razzies are likely forthcoming next year for this, but hey, I bet you will have some mindless naughty fun while watching it. 4/10.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Merry Mash-Up of Fairy tales, 29 January 2015

"Into the Woods" is a musical play with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It made its Broadway debut on November 5, 1987, when it won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason). Bernadette Peters memorably portrayed the Witch, singing the main song for which the show is known,"Children Will Listen."

A baker and his wife was cursed childless by a vengeful wicked witch. The witch asks for four special items in order to break the spell. The couple crosses paths with various Brothers Grimm fairy tale characters, like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (and the Beanstalk), Rapunzel, and Cinderella in their quest. Unfortunately, the merry mix-up of circumstances still do not seem to work in their favor. Will they be able to meet the witch's deadline and finally get the child they had long been waiting for? Will everyone be getting their happily-ever- after?

Understandably, owing to the fantasy nature of this story, film is expected to be an ideal medium for the tale to unfold. This film version was just begging to be done. Now, thanks to Disney, the dream of the original show's many fans is finally a reality. I had seen a local production of the play many years ago and I remember I liked it very much. The all-star cast assembled as well as the awards buzz around it made me very excited to see it.

Director Rob Marshall had worked on film versions of three other Broadway hits before with mixed results. His first directorial job was the TV version of "Annie" in 1999, winning Emmys. He hit the major jackpot with "Chicago" in 2002, going on to win the Oscar for Best Picture and five other categories, nominated for 7 more. His interpretation of "Nine" (2009) though did not go too well, but it still earned him four Oscar nominations. "Into the Woods" gets three nominations: Supporting Actress, Production Design and Costume Design (by Colleen Atwood, who already won Oscars for her work in "Chicago", "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Alice in Wonderland").

James Corden plays the Baker, yet another kindly gentle musical man in his list of characters much similar to those he played in "Begin Again" and " One Chance." He projects real goodness on his face, making him fit for this role. Emily Blunt not only displays her talents for drama and comedy, but also surprises us with her singing prowess in her role as Baker's Wife. This was a far departure from her other big role in 2014, that of the futuristic battle heroine in "Edge of Tomorrow," proving her versatility.

Meryl Streep earns yet another Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as the Witch. This gives her a grand total of 19 nominations from the Academy, for which she has won three. Ms. Streep goes all over the top in her performance here. That she can sing is not a surprise anymore since she took on "Mamma Mia." I think she could get a nomination in whatever film she is in really if the role is unique enough, even though it is not really one of her best.

Anna Kendrick plays Cinderella, with Chris Pine as her Prince Charming and Christine Baranski as her Stepmother. If you have read the original Grimm version of Cinderella and how gruesome the shoe fitting went, this was how it was done here. Johnny Depp plays the Big Bad Wolf to Lilla Crawford's Little Red Riding Hood. Their first encounter where the Wolf singing "This Little Girl" was supposedly tamed down from the original stage version but it was still very uncomfortable to watch.

The first half of the film was so much fun to watch with all the action so cleanly edited together the complex story of intertwining fairy tales flowed very smoothly and hilariously. Fun and momentum bogs down quite a bit, making time pass a little more slowly in the stranger, more darkly contemplative second half. Anyhow for me, this is one entertaining movie overall. However, those not familiar with with the original play and its music may not like it as much as I did, or even flat out hate it. 8/10.

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