Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Perculiar Children

When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But Mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers… and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jacob discovers that his own special “peculiarity” can save his new friends.

This is time for 2017’s second film with my school’s film club; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Perculiar Children.

I feel like the other descriptions that I’ve read of it being a “Gothic” X-men feels rather apt. Except for the fact that pretty early on in the xmen films I felt a certain attachment to the characters… and the ability to evoke that reaction in me is often difficult therefore I didn’t really feel empathy for these characters. That is not to say I wasn’t left emotionally moved by this film. Anyway… back to the characters — they all have gifts… they just call them ‘perculiarities’ rather than ‘mutations.’ There’s someone who ants to guide and help the confused children… it’s easily to draw parallels between the two.

Woah! It’s dark! It’s really dark! To be honest, I’m surprised I’m watching this with students as young as twelve because the whole no-eyes, gangly limbs and terrifying ‘possession-type-moments’ are definitely giving me the heebie gejeebies! In case I haven’t mentioned before, I don’t really do anything remotely scary! I have a very low horror-film-tolerance … and I really feel like this 12-rated film is testing those boundaries!

Actors;

Eva green is impeccable! There’s a possible comparison here with Mary Poppins… but again, a slightly darker version! The Semi-Victorian dress, the posh British accent, the need to assist and care for children. She’s can portray the perfect level of professionalism and necessary pretentiousness whilst maintaining the hilarity and mystery required for the role. Perhaps its because she is surrounded by a large group of child-actors that can be wooden/forced at the best of times that she appears so outstanding. On the other hand, I do not with to discredit any of her abilities of an actress.

Asa Butterfield has been known for some of his quite poynient roles; The Boy In Striped Pyjamas and Ender’s Game. I do feel like, although he at risk of being typecast in these more serious roles, he is showing a great deal of talent for a boy of 19. Child actors can really grate on me and Ella Purnell (Emma) and Milo Parker (Hugh) were of the most irritating. I do struggle to watch films that contain a large number of children – it was however definitely aided by the fact that I was watching this film at school with many children relating to certain aspects of different characters. Ella Purnell was definitely tolerable in Maleficent and I hope that as the years progress she will soften. I do often sense potential and Ella most certainly has it… she is just very wooden. I hope this will ease with age and experience in the industry. 

Pixie Davis has to be the most adorable child actress ever! I fell in love with her when she appeared in We Bought A Zoo alongside Matt Damon. I’ve seen her in Humans, Esio Trot and Nativity 2! At no point did I think that she was too wooden or that she was over acting. She is a complete natural and I can’t wait to see her in a Mary Poppins Sequel later next year.

Review: T2 Trainspotting

First there was an opportunity……then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance. Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
-Synopsis taken from IMDB

I feel like all my reviews at the moment are “The reason this film wasn’t brilliant was because it was, in essence, wasted potential.” But for me, that is the summary I would use for T2.

Spontaneous-Brain-Thoughts;
An aside… what is it with the only films being made at the moment being sequels and remakes? Is it that difficult to find more book adaptations or original plot ideas? The Oscar nominations might be a little heavy-going but at least they’re full of originality!

The vast majority of the film was setting the scene for the ‘betrayal’ and played largely off references to the first. This was certainly not a stand-alone-film. That isn’t an insult as it was advertised heavily as being a sequel to a cult classic. If you enjoyed the first, then you’re likely to enjoy the second. On the whole, if you went in expecting it to be as good, you were bound to be disappointed.

Begbie was being cast as the villain in this film and Robert Cartlyle was amazing. That man is such a versatile and outstanding actor. Ewan McGregor is fantastic in everything he’s in and the fact that he was able to get back into a character that initiated his career was admirable. I know that there was a disagreement between the director and him for a considerable length of time but hearing them talk about it on the Graham Norton show it’s clear that they’ve set all their differences aside. It was clear that this time around, these characters reached new depths I didn’t think fathomable.

There was a moment towards the end that would have changed my impression of the film substantially. In the first film they killed off a main character… and it actually added to the plot. I think we all knew they wouldn’t do it again. When that was happening… I found myself being amazed by the shock and I was empathetic for all of the characters. They didn’t, however, follow through with it… leaving me with a bit of a lackluster sensation about the film.

Random-Brain-Thoughts

Come on, guys! 2017 has to be better for film!!

Character writing = Good.
Plot = Hit and miss.
Acting = Incredible.
Enjoyment Factor = 6.5/10

Review: Jurassic World

Premise: 22 years after the original Jurassic Park failed, the new park (also known as Jurassic World) is open for business. After years of studying genetics the scientists on the park genetically engineer a new breed of dinosaur. When everything goes horribly wrong, will our heroes make it off the island?

I’m not sure I’d have the most positive things to say about this film other than the fact that the graphics are sublime! The new and old dinosaurs are exceptional.

I’ve recently become part of an advocate for film & literature at my local school (I’m a secondary school teacher) and have subsequently joined a monthly film club. I must admit that I was hesitant and somewhat skeptical to watch this film surrounded by a group of students. It did, however, make the watch more enjoyable — mostly because the eye-rolling predictability was somewhat lost on them. (“I know why they wouldn’t tell us what it’s made of…”)

On its release I was certainly worried that the film was so popular; the reason being is that I think it is a very misogynistic film. 5/6 of the directors and writers were male and I would like to add a note that the person credited with the character writing (Michael Crichton) is also male. I have no qualms with a male-heavy crew, that has never been the issue. I’m bothered purely by the lack of a decent female role-model in this film.

The lead, Claire, was utterly ridiculous of the most part of the film; she was complaining about running in heels and a business suit… she cheesily rolled up her sleeves, pathetically tied something around her waist and did this whole “ready for action” thing – only to be a running and screaming powerless woman in need of rescue by her big hunky boyfriend. Also, both children were male, why? Why did the main three characters who actually managed to contribute to the plot and the solution have to be male? I really do think I would have felt less insulted by the film if they’d successfully included a woman within the plot. (Don’t even get me started on the woman who was supposed to be looking after the children – Karen, was it? Eugh!)

Initial opinions from the students (and I’m paraphrasing); it’s a good stand alone film but didn’t have the same feel as the original. They felt that this was mostly due to the fact that the original was filmed mostly at night with a lot of rain but this one was fundamentally more colourful. Think they’re trying to hard – they had to create a make believe dinosaur in order to adhere to blockbuster expectations and people becoming accustomed to the drama in current films. The SFX were amazing but the amount of the blood was a bit unnecessary. Perhaps these films are just made for slightly younger audiences? But then my argument would be don’t pick a classic film where an older generation that saw the original would want to enjoy it.
Edit: Someone added that they might’ve made this film for the original fans to watch with their children.

I do have an additional thing that I should be thankful for – the ‘easter eggs’ and throwbacks to the original! I enjoyed that because it wasn’t all done in a cheesy terrible manner. Some of the nods to the classic were subtle and tasteful – I loved them. Overall, I wish that I’d not been able to predict everything.

By the way, I’m not naïve enough, to realise that the film wasn’t taking itself seriously.– but it didn’t stop it being irritatingly formulaic.

I love blue!

 

Review: Trolls

From the creators of Shrek comes the most smart, funny, irreverent animated comedy of the year, DreamWorks’ Trolls. This holiday season, enter a colourful, wondrous world populated by hilariously unforgettable characters and discover the story of the overly optimistic Trolls, with a constant song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have trolls in their stomach. Featuring original music from Justin Timberlake, and soon-to-be classic mash-ups of songs from other popular artists, the film stars the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Gwen Stefani, and many more.

I will always remain to be a person that adores easy-watching family films; which is why Disney and Pixar will never cease to captivate me. I have an inital opinion that Dreamworks can be hit and miss but the fact that Anna Kendrick was amongst the cast made me optimistic about this one. Also, when someone dabbles in something you have fond childhood memories off, it can make you skeptical and for this reason, it’s safe to say that I approached this film with caution.

Within a few minutes, I was confident that even if the film was awful, I would leave with a smile on my face simply because of the catchy music, multitude of colours and the abundance of happiness. I, actually, found it incredibly cute and worthwhile watching.

Visually, it was hard not to be blown away with the incredible bright colours that, even though they could have become garish at some stage, always stayed the right side of the line. Colour makes you happy! I didn’t even realise just how much it can affect you until now! Poppy should teach a master class in scrapbooking happiness into the hearts of people – I was practically skipping out of the screen!

Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake did a wonderful job as the protagonist couple and even though the ending was wonderfully predictable from the beginning, I was executed with a laugh and warm feeling inside – not an eyeroll or tut anywhere!

I liked the use of the literal “happiness is on the inside” thing with the fact that the Bergens believed they could only access happiness by digesting it and even better that there was a moral within the story as well! Children will hopefully be leaving believing that they don’t have to eat to be happy – whether that was an intention to reduce childhood obesity or not, I think it might’ve worked. On leaving the cinema, I heard a child say that he knows happiness is on the inside and eating stuff won’t help. Sure, he was probably about 5 and not craving a chocolate bar, but it was progess!

Well done, Dreamworks! My favourite in a long time! A new go-to happy film and with an amazing soundtrack!!!!!

Review: Girl on the Train (Film)

Ultimately, I was disappointed. I really don’t think that the film lived up to the hype that it’d had for months. Also, I’m not sure that I’ve been this disappointed in a book-film adaptation in a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I did find the book a little slow. It was unique in the sense that it remained a page turner despite lacking pace. I conclude that it most likely achieved this because of the confusion that it placed on the reader; you were left continually wondering what was real and what wasn’t. I’ve always been the type of person that has unintentionally been able to predict the endings and twists to stories. It can be irritating but when I read Girl on the Train, I couldn’t see where it was going (hence the “page turner.”) And yet with every turned page, it still lacked pace, adrenaline, fervour…

The film was on a whole new level of mundane. When I thought it was because I’d read the book before, I remember my reaction to Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep – I’d read those books and I still thought the films were brilliant! Girl on the Train was advertised to be in the same league of these thrillers and it really wasn’t.

Credit where credit is due though; Emily Blunt proved herself to be quite the versatile actress. She is usually so pristine, so naturally beautiful and I can’t begin to comprehend the hours of work that she had to undergo in order to look so disheveled and rough. Although appearance can help solidify an impression of a character, the quality of the acting had a really lasting affect. Emily Blunt played it well.

I feel bad that this review is so short… but I’m really not sure what else to say. I guess if you’re reading this review before you’re going to see it I might have done you a favour – if someone had lowered my expectations this much, I may have actually found it enjoyable to watch.

It almost became a very expensive nap!

Review: Finding Dory

Wow. What. A. Disappointment. I haven’t felt this let down from a Disney (all be it Pixar) film since Chicken Little. 

After waiting months for a possible time to go and see it (birthdays, work and other commitments) I managed to get tickets for a midday showing on a Sunday. Yes, it was near the end of screening time. Yes, the cinema was mostly empty bar some ladies with their children. Yes, there wasn’t the euphoric height of excitement when you’re surrounded by buzzing fans… but I wanted to enjoy it!

Leaving the screen, I desperately tried to find some positives as I didn’t want to be left with such a negative feeling towards Pixar after all – they were the people who bought us Toy Story! (Now that’s how you do a sequel!) so the three positives I could find were as follows;

  1. The animation was brilliant. Sure, you could argue that Pixar never fails in terms of producing high-quality animations or that you would hope so given how much time/money was spent… but I don’t think you should diminish the fact that the finish was so aesthetically magnificent that every time the plot was sending you to sleep, you could still find some interesting to marvel at. 
  2. I did laugh on occasions (with the “follow me” “you’re in a cup” stuff not to mention the “mummies and daddies” section), but it wasn’t as frequent as I was expecting or hoping for.
  3. Baby Dory was super cute. It’s safe to say that the flashbacks to baby Dory with her big eyes and adorable forgetfulness

I was so keen to hold on to the fact that Pixar were way above producing something so mind numbing in plot that I started to clutch at straws in a deep and meaningful way. What if the repetitive nature of the film and the perpetual loop in the plot and script was there to essentuate how Dory must act on a daily basis, I thought. What if the way that Nemo never gave up on Dory is supposed to mimic how we shouldn’t write off Pixar. What if…? What if…? What if…? Then, I came to the conclusion that if that’s what they were trying to achieve, all they did was make me empathise with the people who try not to get frustrated with Dory because they’re watching and hearing the same stuff for two hours. 

On the plus side, the Pixar short that was on just before Finding Dory was lovely and so cute. It hit only appealed to the child in me that would be attracted to cuddling small fluffy animals, it also appealed to my maternal instincts and I did just want to wrap the little bird up and keep him safe! It was wonderful – full of remarkable animation! I’ve concluded that I must watch The Good Dinosaur soon and that I hope, with all my heart, it restores my faith in Pixar. 

Review: Bridget Jones’s Baby

It’s safe to say that the general consensus on this film is that of pleasantly surprised enjoyment. I think all loyal Bridget Jones fans will, if they’re honest with themselves, admit Edge of Reason was good but certainly not on par with Bridget Jones’ Diary. The third enstallment of the series seemed to satisfy most fans. Although I would disagree that it is the “Best Jones yet” (as the tag line would suggest), it definitely exceeded expectations. (And none of the others had Emma Thompson in and she was flawless – as always)

The brilliance of the film deserves to be recognised as it had a lot to live up to. The hype of a third film had been building for years and the news that Hugh Grant had decided not to return had been a big disappointment to many that were following the news so closely. With all of this pressure, I was fearful it would be a massive let down. Most sequels are flops and I think that’s what I was preparing myself for. (Amongst all of the excitement and anticipation, of course.) As many others have, I would dub it “better than the second, by far, but not quite as good as the first.” I certainly was no  disappointed. 

My opinion varies on whether or not Hugh Grant should have made an appearance. Rumour has it that he thought that he had reached a point in his career that he thought he was better than returning to do a sequel to the film franchise that had lay dormant for years – I beg to differ, I think it was those films that helped him obtain a larger fan base and he’s rarely playing a different “type” of character than Daniel Cleaver. Don’t get me wrong, Four Weddings and a Funeral made him famous, in Notting Hill he won the hearts of many, but he definitely capitvated a lot more ladies after Bridget Jones. He’d read the script and tried for some adjustments but couldn’t seem to work with the idea of returning. I think he made a mistake for his career there, but although to begin with, I missed him, it’s clear that Hugh Grant isn’t fundamental to producing a successful Bridget Jones Film.

Patrick Dempsy’s addition was… interesting. I think he was marvellous and definitely the as dreamy, as successful and (controversially) slightly more charming competitor to rival Mark Darcy.  Yes, Patrick was amazing. His character, though…? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a little bit contrived. His first appearance in the film brought in “Prince Charming” references and Enchanted flashbacks. I was concerned he was going to be a cliché two dimensional perfect character and, in a way, I think he might’ve been. The short scene where he went through the motions of their ideal relationship in five minutes was heartwarming. He won us over then, I think. Jealousy and competition changes people but I felt that his character was inconsistent. The nastiness that came out toward the end, and the “breathe out the pain” nonsense didn’t seem to match the logical, mathematical structure that was presented in the first half of the film. It made me wonder if the slightly cruel edge was put in to make you feel more for Mark Darcy’s situation…?

Speaking of Mark… he certainly wasn’t as “wooden” in the previous films and I find myself plagued with thoughts of how him and Bridget raising a child together just wouldn’t work. The Eton argument in film number two, his inability to do emotional declaration…etc etc etc! Every time a pivotal decision needs to be made in that boy’s future, they with have polar opposite views. I agree with Bridget when she says, “Sometimes you love someone for all the reasons they’re not like you,” but I also think that sometimes you can’t force opposites together no matter how comfortable or “like home” they feel. This would be if you were viewing this from an entirely cynical perspective! I, on the other hand, am a sucker for a story that works out alright in the end. I believe it was clear character development in Mr Darcy’s case was necessary but he showed that he was willing to make the effort to change on multiple occasions towards the end of the film. Wether it was forced or not, Mark’s ability to adapt to what Bridget and the baby needed ,accompanied by Colin Firth’s phenomenal acting skills, made the pairing suitable and pleasing.

As for Renée – other than my huge disagreement with her outright lie about not having any work done, I’d say she was perfect! In the films initial opening, I was definitely concerned about the remaining two hours. I (wrongly) judged the fact hat she was clearly thin, her lips were a completely different shape and her expressions had become less expressive. It was clear she’s had some form of Botox or something and I thought that would infringe on her ability to portray Bridget Jones. It didn’t.  I was wrong. Her mannerisms, her diction, her gate and her clumsy performance were perfect. Absolutely spot on! I’m glad she didn’t force the weight back on and I’m glad she returned for the role. No other woman would have been so outstanding.

The film successfully orchestrated a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings though out. Did I want it to be Mark’s? Did I want it to be Jack’s? I couldn’t really be sure of my own preference until almost the very end! Ultimately, It was hilarious. I even found myself laughing at bits I would’ve wanted to roll my eyes at! I have, and would even still, pay to see it again.