13 February 2010

Don’t call it a Disney comeback...

The Princess and the Frog - Ron Clements and John Musker

With the merge of Disney and Pixar, John Lasseter, the head of Pixar stood firmly with the belief that Disney can once again make fairy tales classics that will stay with audiences forever. To incorporate the success and the hard-working mentality of Pixar into Disney is hard work, and the changes won’t happen overnight, especially in the films Disney release. The last 2D picture Disney produced was Home on the Range, an awful film that most people won’t remember as it was drowned out by Pixar. The last film Disney made that was successful in its animation department, to a certain degree, is Lilo and Stitch, which too many people has its up and downs. Now it’s been nearly seven years since the last one, does The Princess and the Frog do justice for Disney, raise up from the ashes and show the Pixar flair with the classic style of the likes of Aladdin, The Lion King or Hercules or does it show that Lasseter was wrong to buy the company and that Disney should just stick to producing teen dramas or musicals like High School Musical and Hannah Montana?

In basic terms, The Princess and the Frog is delightful. It’s got heart, it’s certainly got soul and it’s genuinely funny in parts. Not laugh at loud like Wall E or Toy Story, but it works. It’s great to see the style back, it’s great to reminiscence about the films i saw when i was younger, having a fascination with Disney films and watching them over and over again. They were a staple for a kids growing up. Giving them morals and sometimes dreams, i don’t think there is anyone out there who didn’t want to be a princess or a prince, or be a lion or be any one of the Disney characters. Watching the film, you get strong hints of Corpse Bride, the Tim Burton film, along with hints of past Pixar films, the colours are magnificent here, and it defiantly looks better than any Disney film from the last decade. Capturing New Orleans in the film, its picture perfect, it really gives the city a heart and soul and includes music that fits together with the picture.

The film follows Tiana, a waitress who dreams of opening her own restaurant. She one day accidently kisses a prince, Prince Naveen or thinks Tiana is a princess and which will break the spell of him being a frog. Tiani suddenly turns into a frog, and both Tiana and the Prince must find a way to break the spell and defeat the evil voodoo master who put them under it. Along the way they meet funny and charming characters like the trumpet playing crocodile. It’s a simple premise for children, but adults can defiantly get into it and dig the story. It’s a film i wasn’t expecting much from, but it does the job it’s set out to do. The story is a sad one, but it has the common, heroes and villains. It would be a great modern film to let your children see to let them learn lessons but at the same time, teenagers, adult and mature people will enjoy the soul and heart of the film.


Simon Childs

7 February 2010

HOLY SHIT! Dumbo meets Rambo...

Ong Bak 2 - Tony Jaa

Coming into this film, i had doubts, because of massive speculation of Tony Jaa leaving production half way through and living in a forest for 6 months. That little story had me worrying if the sequel will live up to the awesomeness that was Ong Bak. We’ll this isn’t a sequel; it’s a prequel, maybe the furthest prequel every in terms of years apart. Ong Bak was set modern day, Ong Bak 2 is centuries ago. It’s strange, it doesn’t feel like the same movie, where Ong Bak had very distinctive Hollywood influences, where as this has a strange cocktail of Tony Jaa’s warped mind along with traditional Asian cinema. You can see why he lost it, if he did, but he sure makes some great fighting sequences. Animal lovers beware, there are a few scenes which will make you want to kill Jaa and put his head on a stick in front of thousands of animals to prove a point. He fights on elephants; i shit you not!

The plot follows in the year 1421, a boy named Tien watches as his whole family dies, and he runs away from the King who ordered his Father’s death. Tien is then captured and tested when he is thrown into a pit of crocodiles by slave traders. Whilst Tien fights off the crocodile, he is saved by a leader of a pirate gang. The leader sees potential in Tien as a fighter and begins to train him in several different techniques of fighting, leading him to become one of the strongest fighters ever. It’s a typical martial arts film plot where a man first is weak then becomes the best and defeats a shit-ton of people. And there are a lot of people that get killed by Tien. And i mean a lot. A ridiculous amount. It almost feels like he is taking on a whole army. Just by himself; it’s amazing to watch but it becomes repetitive. The fight sequences are memorable for the great technique and flair Jaa possess.

Ong Bak was remembered for its humour and it’s no effects, no strings fighting, the breaking of bones and the real danger of people getting hurt. It what made it a cult success. Ong Bak 2 does this, but less on the humour, and it suffers for it. The fights will always be the draw for this type of film, even with Ong Bak 3 being released this year, it seems like Jaa just wants to punch and kick a lot of people and not break the stereotype of being Bruce Lee’s new protégé.


Simon Childs

Trailer Watch VI

7th February - 14th February

Welcome longtime and new readers to the weekly check up on trailers, from independently fianced flicks to the big hitters coming your way over the year or maybe next year. This week selections has a slight focus on remakes and sequels. Well decent ones anyway. We apoligse for the delay in certain reviews, but over the next couple of weeks we shall be flooding you with more news and reviews on the latest and greatest releases on DVD and in your local cinema.

1. Cop Out

2. The Wolfman

3. The Losers

4. Shutter Island

5. Daddy Longlegs

Fish and Chips

Fish Tank - Andrea Arnold

The first feature length film from Andrea Arnold, and the style and technique seen in her award winning short Wasp is evident. The realistic characters in real settings, living the life of which many people are living right now, it tells the story of a teenage girl struggling to fit in, and using dance as a form of release. Along the way she has fights, Mother issues and of course, stealing said mothers’ new boyfriend. It’s a common occurrence in these types of families. I was surprised not to see an appearance of Danny Dyer in the background. But if they would have cast Dyer in the lead male role, the film would be very different. Michael Fassbender, recognised as the Englishman in Inglorious Basterds, is brilliant here. Shows his true acting chops by pulling this film about chav culture into a heart warming tale of growing up and not always rebelling. He plays the character well giving him a personality of sliminess and general affection for children, and his pushing for their future and career, especially the lead character Mia, played by first time actor Katie Jarvis.

At times in the film, Jarvis plays the role to perfection, capturing that teen angst where she quickly switches from enjoying her time to hating every person in sight, but after a little while, it runs thin, and becomes boring. We all know teenagers can sometimes be emotional swings, but not everyone is like this. Some of her characteristics annoyed me, like her random drinking at ridiculous hours of the day. Seriously, i never did that. The relationship between her and her gobby, smoking little sister was not much of great value because the little sister got to swear and shout a lot. It’s annoying after a little while, but the film does have some touching and funny scenes. It has a mix of both of heartbreak and tenderness wrapped around a working class family, living in a shithole, where dance and relationships seems to be the only release. It’s different to most of the British cinema kitchen sink dramas like Danny Boyle or Shane Meadows films because of its unique style. Harking back to classic British films like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, it does show the stereotypical working class family, the drinking, smoking and fighting lifestyle but it gives these characters quirks that have not been seen or used before. It’s a great little British film but hopefully in the DVD release, will get a massive push and sales and people will get to see Andrea Arnold in action.


Simon Childs