Cinderella

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I love Disney. In case that wasn’t clear already (almost all of my reviews for Disney films on this site have been extremely positive). Having said that, Cinderella was never one of my favourites from the studio’s catalogue. I simply just never found interesting and would often find myself bored when watching it as a kid. It’s got good elements to be sure, such as fun side characters and spectacular animation, but overall it’s a film that I’m not the biggest fan of. When I heard that Disney was going to release a live action remake, my interest was nonexistent. Having said that, my interest sparked ever so slightly when I began hearing nothing but good things about the film from critics, as well as the news that there would be a Frozen short film at the beginning. So I ended up seeing the film to see if it could either live up to the praise, or bore me to tears. So which one was it? Well, in some ways it was both.

MV5BMjM2NzU1Njk3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjY2MTA2NDE@._V1__SX1242_SY652_Let me explain. First and for most, this is a direct retelling of the classic 1950 film with little to no changes made to the story. They make a few attempts to shake things up, such as Cinderella and the Prince meeting before the ball, and some of the characters given more backstory, but overall, it’s a very by-the-book adaptation. This is probably my biggest grip with the film. There were many times where I was sitting there just waiting for certain plot points and events to occur just so that the plot would move along already. Having said that, the simplicity is perhaps part of this film’s charm. It doesn’t try to complicate things too much, or make drastic changes to the source material that lack payoff. (Take notes, Maleficent) Instead we are given a sweet little story that we may have all heard before, but it’s presented in a way that was tasteful enough to keep my attention. It’s still a flawed story, but I’d be lying if I said I left the theatre without a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The cinematography is quite impressive, as well as the costumes and sets. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie was nominated for an oscar for best costume design) It’s not the most beautiful looking film I’ve ever seen or anything, but it certainly is lovely to look at.

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The characters come off as pretty static, but the truth is that’s how they were in the original too, so I was somewhat expecting it. Cinderella herself (played by Lily James) is certainly not that interesting, however her kindness and hopeful nature does make her a bit endearing, So can’t go far enough to say I hated the character. the prince is pretty silly though. I guess you could say this is technically an improvement over how he was portrayed in the original (If I remember correctly, The Prince (Richard Madden) only has one line of dialogue in the animated film, and that line is “Wait!”) But he’s still only about as interesting as my socks. Him and Cinderella do share more time together onscreen than they did in the original, but it’s still the typical formulaic “love at first site”deal. The Fairy Godmother is pretty well handled, but she’s not on screen enough to really analyze her character. Cinderella’s nasty Stepsisters are pretty one dimensional as well, serving as bullies for Cinderella and little else. The evil Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) fares better, providing us with the same despicable character that we all know, but with a bit more depth concerning her backstory. Truthfully, I think that the villains in the original animated film packed a bit more of a punch when it came to their actions (The dress tearing scene was nowhere near as heartbreaking in this film as it was in the original) but it was still nice to see some development in their characters (specifically the Stepmother) for this adaptation.

cinderella_2015_shoes What we have here is an adaptation that’s technically done very well, but what’s really going to make or break this film is you’re opinion on Cinderella story in general. Personally, I put this movie about on pretty much the same level as the original film. There’s elements of both that I like, but the story itself isn’t particularly my cup of tea. Having said that, I still thought the movie was undeniably sweet and good hearted, much like Cinderella herself. It’s a decent film that I think does the best with what it had, and that’s enough to gain a positive review out of me.

 

(P.S The Frozen short film, “Frozen Fever” Was cute. But I would’ve preferred if it was a little longer.)

 

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

spongebob_squarepants_two_xlg Am I a Spongebob fan? It’s hard to say. I find the first three seasons very funny and adore the first movie, but the show has continued to go downhill so fast over the past ten years that it’s currently hit Rock Bottom. When I heard the announcement of another Spongebob film, and saw the poster and trailer for it, I had a hard time getting truly excited….until I discovered that the original creator of the TV series (Stephen Hillenburg, who’s last project with the franchise was the first film and has been noticeably absent since season 4) was going to return to assist the production of this movie. My interest grew considerably, and I became more optimistic about the project as the release date crept closer. So how was The Spongebob movie: Sponge out of Water? In short: it made me feel like a ten year old kid again. UF9Qr9r Now that’s not to say that the film is a masterpiece. It’s good, but it’s definitely not as good as the first film. The first Spongebob Squarepants movie set the characters on a grand adventure that had a much larger scope than any episode of the TV show. Sponge out of Water certainly has the same Adventurous flair of it’s predecessor, but it feels like a bit of a smaller scale. If anything, this movie feels exactly like an extended episode of the TV series (A very GOOD episode, mind you.) If you’ve never been a fan of Spongebob and disliked the show even in it’s golden years, than you probably shouldn’t even bother with this movie. For fans who grew up watching the cartoon when it was a well written comedy, this film is going to leave them satisfied. If you’ve read any other reviews for this movie, you’ve probably heard people complain that the “out of water” sequence (where the characters go onto land and become CG) only last for a little over ten minutes, and the majority of it was spoiled in the trailer. This is true, but in my opinion, the scenes of the characters on land are the film’s weakest link. For the most part, the film plays out and looks like your traditional Spongebob episode, with some noticeably improved and more detailed animation, making it suitable for the big screen.

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One area where this film improves upon it’s predecessor is that it actually gives the supporting characters (Sandy, Mr. Krabs, Squidward and more) more screen time and stuff to actually contribute to the plot. Contrary to what the trailers may imply, the two main characters of this movie aren’t Spongebob and his best friend Patrick, but rather Spongebob and Plankton, the franchise’s recurring villain. I really liked their interactions with each other, and thought that the scenes featuring the two of them to be the highlights of the movie. Plankton may have actually been the most developed character in the film, which was an unexpected surprise. One new character introduced in the film is the main antagonist,  Burger Beard, (played by Antonio Banderas) Although I claimed to not find the live action sequences anything to write home about, I did find his character to be a pretty enjoyable villain. There’s even a character who is animated entirely in stop-motion that plays a pivotal role in the story, but I won’t spoil who it is here. MV5BMTQ4MTg0NjM2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjUwNDAzNDE@._V1__SX1193_SY564_ If you couldn’t tell already, I really enjoyed Sponge out of Water. Part of that may have to do with the fact that when I was in elementary school, Spongebob was my life and I even found myself identifying with the main character in alot of ways. Nostalgia aside, i still think that this is an enjoyable movie, and if you’re a Spongebob fan, past or present, you’re almost guaranteed to find something to enjoy here. It may be no more than an extended episode of the television series, but It’s a GOOD extended episode of the television series.  It’s good day to be a Spongebob fan. At long last.

Paddington

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Paddington had every right to suck. The first trailer showcased almost nothing  but gross out and bathroom humour, the track record for live action/CGI hybrid films has had little success in the past ( with dreadful films like Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Smurfs, just to name a few.) And to make matters worse, the release date got shifted from November to January in the US and Canada. If you pay attention to the film industry, you would know that January is the month where studios often release the films that they have absolutely no faith in whatsoever. (hence why we get so many crappy horror movies at this time of year) Keeping all of these facts in mind, a part of me was very hesitant to see the outcome of Paddington, especially since I have many fond memories of watching the television series as a child. Thankfully, if you had similar fears they can be put to rest, as Paddington is anything but a bad movie. In fact, it could end up being one of the most endearing of the year.

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Within the first few minutes, I knew Paddington was something special. Right off the bat, the movie gives the viewer a clear sense of what kind of humorous tone it’s going for. Paddington, much like the character himself, is quirky and strange, bringing to mind Wes Anderson’s style, but not overly so where it becomes distracting.  The movie is undeniably and delightfully British, so if you’re a fan of British humour, you’ll have a great time with this movie. Having said that, I think most of the jokes are also accessible enough for people who aren’t fans of British humour to also enjoy. The film balances the humour with the heart nicely, providing audiences with a well rounded family film. It’s hard not to fall in love with a story as simple and sweet as this film provides, and the unique visuals create a magical vibe that exists through the film. The movie isn’t afraid to go into some darker territories (specifically in the film’s opening, which gets surprisingly intense) But overall, Paddington is a very likeable and warm film.

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Paddington himself looks remarkably real. the special effects that bring the bear to life are Some of the best effects I’ve seen since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and often times, I completely forgot I was watching a Computer generated bear and not a real live character interacting with the humans. Paddington is just that convincing. The filmmakers thankfully don’t feel a need to make Paddington rap or wear a hoody, and instead keep him to his traditional marmalade loving roots, resulting in a much more timeless character. The family that ends up taking Paddington into their home (The Browns) is also made up with likeable characters. Even the two children go through their own struggles and story arcs. Almost no character feels wasted or out of place….save for the villain. There’s an unfortunate subplot in the film that involves an evil taxidermist named Millicent that hunts for the bear, and it’s sadly just not needed and feels like it distracts from the real story. Millicent does get some laughs here and there, and her character can be genuinely intimidating, but her overall story just feels like it should’ve been trimmed down or even removed from the final film. There is also a disappointing lack of  Mr. Curry, one of my favourite Paddington characters growing up, although the actor (Peter Capaldi) does a very good job at portraying him.

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Confession time: I’d never tried Marmalade before watching this movie. Paddington’s obsession over it encouraged me to try some when I returned home from the cinema. It was pretty good. “Pretty good” doesn’t properly define Paddington however. Paddington is pretty impressive. The loveable characters and simple yet endearing story are reason enough to give it a watch. The film will most likely please longtime fans of the character, and will probably gain some new ones. It’s a fun family film that’s much better than it had any right to be, and for that, it gets a strong recommendation from me.