Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Tale as Old as Time

An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.’ (IMDb) (by Bill Condon, 129 min.)

 

Beauty & The Beast is one of those classics that are written in the memories of countless childs all around the world. It’s also the first animated movie being nominated at the Oscars for the Academy Award for Best Picture, so you can immediately see that this was a huge success and a truly remarkable film. One of a kind really.

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When you do look closely to the animated feature, you can see there are some plot holes that aren’t explained and for which there still aren’t any answers. But the sheer beauty of the picture and the story, make that you don’t notice them or don’t mind them. I didn’t and I still don’t. But when Disney announced they were making a live-action version, everybody, myself included, hoped they would do something about those plot holes.

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And the most important question of them all: will this movie, with a long list of A-list actors and actresses, be any good? The director and actors, the producers and the entire team stood before a huge piece of work with a lot of expectations from all different sides. First pictures that were released eased the minds of many and when the first trailer dropped you could feel the pressure release a little bit. Yes, this movie would be beautiful. Yes, the beast does look a bit strange, manipulated by a whole lot of CGI. But yes, Emma Watson is marvelous as Belle and can actually sing.

So, what did I think of the movie? (because off course, I had to see it as quickly as I could.)

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It was marvelous, just marvelous. I enjoyed it so much. From watching the trailer, you could already tell that they would follow the story of the original closely. But after reading here and there, it became clear they would give a lot more information, a lot more background story and they would fix a few plotholes. Are they all fixed? No. There are still some burning questions that aren’t answered. But most of them are. What happened to Belle’s mother? If Beast is a prince, where are the king and queen? Where is Mr. Pot? Etcetera…

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With the different backstories and some other little things that help to understand the story better and to make it feel whole, you feel absolutely absorbed by this film. The narrative is the same as the animated movie. You do recognize everything and our favourite songs return. With some new songs (Evermore, the most important addition and to my opinion one of the bests) the movie flies and takes us on a story we know and love.

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It all blends beautifully together. The graphics are amazing. Lumière and Cogsworth are funny and recognizable, but still a bit more modern and given a bit more expression in their ‘new’ bodies. Emma Watson is beautiful as Belle and her costumes were an ode to the animated movie. Especially the yellow gown was flowing, beautiful, but simple. A bit more refined than in the original, but I thought it was gorgeous. The one thing I was worried about was the Beast. In the trailer you could easily see that they used a whole lot of CGI to make him as real as possible and I thought it looked a bit fake in the trailer. And I had the same thought when I first saw him in the shadows. But then he came into the light and everything changed. It was as if I saw him for the first time together with Belle, and all my thoughts about CGI and other graphics faded away. I was lost in his eyes, in they way his mouth moved. I’m highly anticipating the release of the Blu-Ray to see how they made it all possible. To see a sneak peek of how this came to be.

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The blend of the actors, the music, the cinematography, the songs, the costumes, the production design… Everything felt beautifully in place and you just feel the love for the original of all those who participated in making it. Bill Condon stayed true to the original, but found a beautiful blend between the original material and his new ideas, a perfect blend between the style of the animated feature and his own.

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A beautiful rendition of a classic and one you must go see in cinema to see it in all it’s glory. The reason I only gave it 8.5 stars, is because I still wanted more. This is a world I love and I revisit every time to dream away with the music and the story. And while I’m glad they sticked to the story and gave us a little more backstory, there are still some questions left unanswered. The second reason is the freaking effects they put on Emma’s voice. You feel Disney and Emma herself as well, weren’t a 100% sure if she could carry the songs, so they decided to help it along and put some auto tune on it. That’s really unfortunate, because I do believe she would have been able to carry it completely.

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I’m loving it though and I already want to go back to the cinema to see it again… It’s a real charm…

8.5/10 stars

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Trailer Review – Justice League

Justice for All

The new trailer for the Justice League is here and it looks… dark.

Watch it right here.

We get a better look at what this movie has in store for us and there will be ‘Others’. They look like Transformers turning into aliens and I don’t know how I feel about it. This trailer doesn’t give me a real look at how the story will turn out. But it does give us a better look at the characters and the craziness that will happen in this movie.

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We are introduced to the different characters that are the Justice League. We see Wonder Woman taking the lead with Batman. Aquaman standing strong against the waves. We have some funny moments between the Flash and Batman. I think  we’ll have a few more funnier and lighter moments when these two are together. But these moments will be few. It’s going to be dark, really dark.

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Am I looking forward to this one? Hmm. I don’t know. If you’ve read my last post on Wonder Woman, you’ll know how I feel about DC Comics. But I’m super excited about the casting of Jason Momoa as Aquaman. For that reason alone I will probably go watch the movie. If he was not in it? Not. 

What do you think? Are you excited?

Let me know in the comments below.

Trailer Review – Wonder Woman

This June, witness the future of justice

The new trailer for the 2017 Wonder Woman is out and gave us a little sneak peak of what is to come. You can see it right here.

I’m not a huge fan of DC Comics, I’m more of a Marvel girl myself, but I did enjoy The Dark Knight series by Christopher Nolan. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, but here I thought he made these stories really his and left his mark on the superhero genre. So when Ben Affleck came as the new Batman and they made an entire new series with this character, I was hugely sceptical. And honestly I haven’t seen the latest one, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I heard this wasn’t the best story out there. This is the movie though where Wonder Woman is first introduced. I am highly anticipating her Origin story though.

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Wonder Woman has in my mind always been one of the strongest female superheroes out there and one I always looked up to. I’m especially interested in this one, because next to being an Origin story, they’re also making it a war film. And we’re going to get the entire story, from when she first arrived on the island of Themyscira, until she leaves to fight in WWI.

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Judging by this trailer, the production design will be sick. They pulled all the stops out. The images look great. The costumes are fierce and all the Amazons look magnificent. The action scenes are breathtaking. And this is only the trailer. Can you feel how excited I am? Gal Gadot is also remarkable as Wonder Woman and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the character. Costume- and look-wise she’s Wonder Woman incarnated and I can’t wait to see her on the big screen in her own movie, the first superhero movie focused on a female character.

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One thing I want to touch upon, but only a tiny little bit, is the shaved armpits. Why did this blow up so much? Yes, they didn’t have any ads that showed them beauty and the rules they have to follow, but women have been following specific rules long before advertisements ever became a thing. Women always had to look beautiful and different then men, so my question to you is why couldn’t there be any rules on their island? Why couldn’t there be any rules (not touched upon in this trailer, movie or in the comics) regarding beauty? They braid their hair, they wear specific type of clothes that facilitate their fighting. So why couldn’t there be any rules about this? Would I have preferred that she had some armpit hair? Yes. But does it bother me she doesn’t? Not at all. And I’m sure it won’t take away from my pleasure seeing this movie. I’m just glad there’s finally a female superhero movie.  

This is one of the superhero movies that I’m most looking forward to this year and I can’t wait until it comes out in theatres on June 1st.

Movie Review – Inside Out

by Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen

by Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen

‘After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.’ (IMDb) (by Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen, 94 min.)

This movie was one of my favourites. I saw it I think three times in total in the cinema and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The entire concept is so unexpected and new.

With almost every movie Pixar puts out there, you can say it’s a masterpiece. It has so many layers and can be enjoyed by all, small or old. It’s beautifully animated and the idea that we have these small voices in our head that makes us act and react is so enjoyable.

I saw it recently again and with each viewing I see new things and I notice other things. There are so many details that you just can’t get enough out of it by just watching it one time.

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I especially like the combination of Joy and Sadness. The quirkiness and happiness of Joy, maybe the excess of joy, is a nice contrast to the realness and the slowness of Sadness. Seeing them on their way, with the rest of the group (Anger, Disgust and Fear) trying to balance Rileys life and getting her through this huge change in her life, is really entertaining.

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Pixar doesn’t shy away of getting real, showing how fickle memories are and how we forget some things that once were really important to us. Here I especially think of Bing Bong, another quirky character in this gorgeous movie. This was something I didn’t see coming at all and shows how brave and fearless Pixar are to tell a story, not shying away from harder themes.

This is a marvelous story and one I’m eager to share with my little nephews and nieces when they’re old enough.

8/10 stars

 

Movie Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

a movie made by a fan for the fans

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by Gareth Edwards

‘The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.’ (IMDb) (by Gareth Edwards, 133 min.)

This was the surprise of 2016 for me. I did not suspect I would like this as much as I did. I did go into it a bit reluctant, because I just didn’t know what to expect. Would I love it? Would I hate it? I heard it was a bit different and I didn’t know if I could handle it.

When the movie started, I kept waiting for the scroll and the Star Wars Theme to come, and then it didn’t. For the first 15-20 minutes I just couldn’t connect to it. It felt like Star Wars, but it wasn’t Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of resemblances and little nods to the old movies (the blue milk, the back story of Jyn, Tarkin…). But the beginning felt like a completely different movie, and it bothered me until I thought why? Why am I making this into a Star Wars Movie? It’s Rogue One, and from the moment I let it go, I enjoyed every minute of it.

 

The story was so fun. Starting with introducing a lot of characters. (I mean, a lot) Setting up the story and the stakes and then the last third of the movie (when it really let go of all the different references to the other movies) just knocked everything else out of the park. It was so action-packed with an incredible ending (kuddos for that ending), great character-evolution and a perfect standalone film in the Star Wars Universe.

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Felicity Jones is great as fierless Jyn and it is refreshing to start the story with a character who already got into all the mess and fighting. When we meet her, she’s in jail and kicks ass from the start. K-2SO is so freaking funny. He’s a new favourite of mine and gives the rather dark story, a lighter touch. A lot of this is thanks to Alan Tudyk. You feel the passion for the character in his play and tone. Cassian was a little harder for me to warm up to though. From the start his character was portrayed as a sort of spy and assassin and some of his choices seemed a bit off to me. Also the way he treated Jyn in the beginning kept me with an odd feeling.

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Saw Gerrera was another character that was screaming with references to the other movies. The sound his machine makes sounds a lot like Darth Vader. The way the camera moves around him did make him a more important character than he actually was. I would have liked to see more of him and what drove him to his actions. Maybe learn a bit more of his background and his reasons.

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What surprised me most was the technical abilities that you can see in this movie. Tarkin is completely made with motion-capture and then they recreated his face. I didn’t see it at all in the movie. It wasn’t until afterwards that I looked up how they made it happen and it quite astonishing. When you know how they made it all possible, you notice it a little bit, but it doesn’t scream in your face (like in some other movies). And what also was a nice nod, and one I did notice, was that they used some unused footage from ‘A New Hope’. I recognized some characters from that movie and I did feel satisfied I noticed it.

In the end, it was a movie I really enjoyed. One that got really interesting from the moment it let it’s heritage loose and went its own way.

8/10 stars

Movie Review – Kubo and the Two Strings

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by Travis Knight

Beautifully animated

‘A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.’ (IMDb) (by Travis Knight, 101 min.)

The studio that brought us Coraline, Paranorman and The Boxtrolls, comes to us with a new tale. I must be honest, when I saw the trailer the first time, I didn’t connect this movie with Laika Studios. The animation style did stir a memory within me. But it is so much more colorful than the other movies they put out, that I didn’t immediately make the connection.

The moment I started this movie though, I was smitten. I was spellbound. Kubo, a young boy, lives with his mother in a small village. Only rule: he has to be home before dark. He takes care of his mother and goes to the village to tell stories and earn money. Until one day, he stays in the village after dark and strange and powerful forces find him. From there starts his adventure to find a magical armour to help vanquish the evil forces trying to capture him.

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The entire story is beautifully told and tells the story of family bonds, of courage and strength. It’s the story about how far a person goes to save the people he loves. It’s a story about the power of memories. It’s a universal story, told many times before you might say, but the way they go on to tell the story is unique. Young Kubo is helped in his search by a monkey and a beetle, that will have an important part in his travels, but they also are important part of his past, as we will learn at the end. The story does never stand still and after each action points there comes another, evolving into a story that keeps you on your toes from begin to end.

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The technique used to make this movie is one of a kind and it is what Laika Studios is known for. After the first 10 minutes you just forget it is made with stop motion and you lose yourself in the colours and the style. I think they especially outdid themselves with the Origami bits. They feel simple and real, yet are full of feeling and easy to understand. The monkey, Kubo, Beetle, the leaves, the origami… it all is full of detail and I especially liked the skeleton they encounter at one point.

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I think this is the best movie Laika Studies put out to date, and this is saying much as Coraline is one of my favourite movies. It is a film for all ages, with a beautiful design and everyone can read this movie in a different way, which is perfect if you like discussing movies with friends or family.

8/10 stars