Wonder (2017)

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, Jack Thorne (Screenplay) R.J. Palacio (Novel)

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Mancy Patinkin, Danielle Rose Russell

 

Plot: Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.


Tagline – Auggie Pullman will change your world

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotionally Moving

 

Story: Wonder starts as we meet the 10-year-old Auggie (Tremblay), he has had 21 surgeries to both save his life and rebuild his face after being born with a birth defect, he has been home schooled by his mother Isabel (Roberts) his whole life, with his father Nate (Wilson) and older sister Via (Vidovic) always there to support him, at home he is like no other 10-year-old.

Auggie is going to be starting middle school for the first time, this is a huge step for the young boy who is used to people staring at him, but now he enters school, where it is kids, who are less likely to accept him at first. Auggie hates school, he gets picked on because of his looks, but over time he learns to accept this and tries to let people in. This is where the story gets smart, we move away from seeing everything from Auggie’s perspective and follow of Via’s life has been affected by Auggie need the attention more, she is starting High School and is feeling just as alone in need of a friend. We follow fellow middle school student Jack Will (Jupe) one of the kids selected to try and help Auggie through school and how he feels about being pushed into being the friend. We finally follow Miranda (Russell) who was Via’s best friend and almost like a sister to Auggie too, she has become distant from Via and we learn her growth through the year.

We follow a school year for these people, the highs, the lows and the moments that will shape their futures.

 

Thoughts on Wonder

 

Characters – Auggie the 10-year-old born with a birth defect, that still has the scares from the surgeries to save his life, he learns about starting school, meeting new people who instantly question his looks, he learns a lot in this year, but most of all people learn a lot from his bravery. He dreams of space and loves Star Wars and uses it to help him through the difficult moments of his days. Nate is the father of the household, he loves his children and wants them to have the best future they can, he puts everything into a positive spin for Auggie. Isabel has home schooled Auggie for his whole life, she gave up her Masters to do this, with him starting school she can continue the work always worried about his well-being. Via the big sister, she does love her brother deeply, but we learn that she needs some attention too, she struggles inside with her problem, ones that aren’t shown, alone in her new high school, she does try to fit in and learns to break free. We do meet the fellow middle school students, we have the main bully who is a by the books character and we get the ones that want to accept Auggie, the ones that are brave enough to do this first, showing they accept the person other the look. Miranda was Via’s best friend, but this year she is different, we learn the reason for her actions through the film, but I do wish we spent more time with this character because of the moments we learn about.

PerformancesJacob Tremblay, you know the kid from Room, he is fantastic in this leading role again, showing us that was not a one off, this kid has talent. Julia Roberts is strong through the film, while I wouldn’t say the character is overly challenging to play I do think Roberts brings it to life in ways only she could. Owen Wilson, where has he been for the last couple of years? This shows that we missed him, he is a great father figure, he has a smile on his face hiding his own fears in every scene and the one scene he is broken, you join him in his tears. Izabela Vidovic mostly likely what get as many people talking about her performances, but don’t take anything away from her, she is great and at times you want to spend more time with her characters story. The rest of the cast do a wonderful job too as we understand every decision the characters are making.

StoryThe story does focus mostly on Auggie and his first day at school, leading into his first year at school, which on its own, is something we have seen before. It is a good go to story because it will teach about understanding people’s differences both physical and mental, this check all those boxes. Where this story is stronger than just that is following the lives of the people around Auggie, be it his sister who doesn’t get an equal amount of attention while having her own problems. A best friend that’s world has come crashing down and has pushed people away or the young boy that already has the pressure thrown on him, now needing to learn to accept an outsider, while he was once that outsider. I think showing how the lives of others have change is just as important for this story to show, the year these characters must go through.

FamilyI do think the family could enjoy this, I think it has enough to make you smile and laugh together and the moments that will make you cry too.

SettingsNew York is the setting, one of the busiest cities in the world and it shows how Auggie will need to get used to the crowds that are out of his control, where people will judge him unfairly, the school is the first steps for him.


Scene of the Movie –
Graduation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While diving into Miranda’s year, we miss that one scene where the two make-ups.

Final ThoughtsThis film will make laugh, smile and cry all the way through, it has so much about accepting people for being different both for their flaws and strengths.

 

Overall: Fantastic, moving, emotional and beautiful movie.

Rating

 

 

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Millions (2004)

millionsDirector: Danny Boyle

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce (Screenplay)

Starring: Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Christopher Fulford

 

Plot: Ethics, being human and the soul come to the fore when a 7-year old finds a bag of Pounds just days before the currency is switched to Euros and learns what we are really made of.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful

 

Story: Millions starts with Europe changing currency to the Euro and in this world the UK is about to too, two young boys Damian (Etel) and Anthony (McGibbon) are moving with their father Ronnie (Nesbitt) to a brand newly built house.

When Damien the religious of the two boys has visions of different Saints coming to visit him hoping one would know his mother in heaven he ends up being rewarded with a bag of money. Sharing it with his brother the two have different ideas of what to do with the money Anthony wants to invest while Damian wants to help the poor of the world like the Saints would have.

As the differences between the boys continues to come through they learn about a money robbery that their bag is actually one of making the boys want to be extra carefully with their money but as the time comes together the heart Damian has help people comes through.

 

Thoughts on Millions

 

StoryThe story going on in Millions is bar far one of the best in as we see how two boys are both dealing with tragedy of losing their mother and both dealing with in in different ones, our main focus is on the one that has turned to religion for answers. We see how two children would deal with having large amount of money suddenly. The ability this story has to balance what is right and wrong works very well throughout which makes us wonder what we would do in the same situation.

Comedy/Crime/FamilyThe film has light moments of comedy going on through the film but it is about the family connection with the crime background going on through the story. each genre balance the story well to make us care about what is going on throughout.

Characters/PerformanceThe two boys both give wonderful performances throughout with great performances from Nesbitt and Donovan complimenting the two. The characters also come off likeable throughout as we see Damian as the nice kind hearted boy next to the business hunger older brother.

SettingsThe settings all work showing the everyday life style these characters would be involved in which brings this story down to Earth for us to enjoy.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the nicest dramas you will see this year, that shows us that at Christmas you should be giving rather than being selfish with the only one that can see this is Damian the youngest child.

 

Overall: Wonderful Christmas story from a modern world idea.

Ratingcard

 

 

Original v Remake – The Karate Kid (2010)

This is the follow up entry to the Now and Then Blogathon from Thoughts All Sorts.

 

Director: Harald Zwart

Writer: Christopher Murphey (Screenplay) Robert Mark Kamen (Story)

Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P Henson, Wenwen Han, Rongguang Yu

 

Plot: Work causes a single mother to move to China with her young son; in his new home, the boy embraces kung fu, taught to him by a master.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Stand Alone Movie

 

Story: The Karate Kid starts as Dre (Smith) and his mother Sherry (Henson) move from Detroit to Beijing, China. While this is a bigger move that the original we follow the same idea, Dre meets a girl Meiying (Han) and grabs the attention of the local bullies led by Cheng (Wang).

When the bully looks like Dre will find himself in trouble he can’t get out of, the handyman Mr Han (Chan) comes to his aid. Mr Han sees the Master training the bullies and gets Dre entered into a tournament leading to him to teach him kung fu before the tournament, this gives Dre the level of discipline he would need in life.

 

Thoughts on The Karate Kid

 

Characters – Dre is our teenager that goes from Detroit to China, he faces a language barrier, needing to make new friends and worst of all bullies. When he gets the chance to learn kung fu, he gains the discipline needed to be w worthy fighter. Mr Han is the handyman that becomes the teacher for Dre, he keeps to himself for the most part but when he sees Dre in looks to pass on his training. Sherry is the over protective mother that moves her son to China. In this film the love interest and bully do seem to have small parts to the bigger picture though.

PerformanceJaden Smith does lack the charisma which we had in the first film to carry the leading role. Jackie Chan is fine in his role working as the mentor but doesn’t bring anything new to the role. Taraji P Henson does a solid job as the mother role.

StoryThe story is boy moves to new town or in this case country where he must learn a new culture as well as discipline when it comes to defending himself, we have the same training idea leading to the same tournament. The differences come from the idea that Sherry moves for a promotion, the love interest does feel awkward as they seem too young and we have kung fu over karate. This doesn’t have the same magical feeling the original film had but could be enjoyed if you haven’t seen the original.

Action/Family/SportThe action does feel weaker than the original, it is a tame couple of chases and then the tournament. I feel it would be hard to get the family to enjoy this because of the running time of nearly 2 and half hours.

SettingsThis is the biggest plus for the film, the setting of China makes the move impossible for Dre to go back on, he must learn the new culture and it does get to look at moments of the spiritual side of the kung fu.

Scene of the Movie – What happened to Mr Han’s family.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This is a subtitles moan or a lack there of for moments when the kids are arguing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake we didn’t need, it does lose what made the original magical but as a standalone film it can be watched for what it is meant to be.

 

Overall: Remake waste, solo film enjoyment.

Rating

 

 

Original V Remake – The Karate Kid (1984)

This is also an entry into the Then and Now Blogathon, with the Then appearing on Realweemidget site

 

Director: John G Avildsen

Writer: Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay)

Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, martin Kove, Randee Heller, William Zabka

 

Plot: A martial arts master agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Classic

 

Story: Karate Kid starts as Daniel (Macchio) moves from New Jersey to California with his mother, he needs to make new friends and it isn’t long before he meets a girl Ali (Shue) from his new school but also grabs the attention of the local bullies and their leader Johnny (Zabka) who knows karate.

When the handy man Mr Miyagi (Morita) of the building sees Daniel’s struggle he comes to his aid showing that he is a martial arts master and agrees to train him ready to face Johnny and the bullies in a karate tournament. Daniel goes through an unusual training routine to prepare him for the fight.

 

Thoughts on Karate Kid

 

Characters – Daniel moves to a new town where knows nobody, he finds himself targeted by the local bullies but with the help of Miyagi he learns karate to get one over the main bully. Miyagi is the karate master that works as a building handyman to cover his personal pain, he does see bright things in Daniel and agrees to train him with unusual methods. Ali is the girl that Daniel falls for at school, she is the ex of the bully, she likes Daniel even though he is from the wrong side of town. Johnny is our bully, he doesn’t like that Daniel will stand up to him and uses his advance karate to point him in his place.

PerformanceRalph Macchio gave us a performance here that made people want to be in a karate movie, he sums up the lost teenage perfectly. Pat Morita is fantastic in his role as the mentor which often gets emulated but never duplicated. Elisabeth Shue is good as the love interest and William Zabka is good as thee bully.

StoryThe story shows how an ill-disciplined student can be turned into a calm fighter ready to defend himself against anyone who challenges him. This shows us that anyone can blossom into something great given the right guidance and self-belief in their own abilities, making it a bench mark for anyone that has been questioning their own skills.

Action/Family/SportThe action plays to a typical 80s musical background being high school level chases and fights. The family side shows us just what you need to be doing within a family when it comes to guiding children. The sport is karate in competition.

SettingsThe settings show us the places 80s high school student would hang out and the trouble they can find themselves in.

Scene of the Movie – Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would say the film is slightly too long for the same point message.

Tagline – He taught him the secret to Karate lies in the mind and heart. Not in the hands.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the classic films of all cinema, it is a film that shows character needed to defeat in the right manner.

 

Overall: One of the best sports films of all time.

Rating

 

 

Kepler’s Dream (2017)

Director: Amy Glazer

Writer: Sylvia Brownrigg, Ann Cummins, Amy Glazer, Vijay Rajan, Sedge Thomson (Screenplay) Juliet Bell (Novel)

Starring: Isabella Blake-Thomas, Sean Patrick Flanery, Holland Taylor, Kelly Lynch, Steven Michael Quezada, Esperanza Fermin, Kelly Hu

 

Plot: Eleven-year-old Ella is a city girl forced to spend the summer on the New Mexico ranch of her reclusive grandmother, Violet Von Stern. while Ella’s mom undergoes chemotherapy in another state. As she tries to cope with her grandmother’s strict rules and snooty friends, Ella longs for her mother and begs her estranged father for rescue. But Ella’s dad has his own reasons to stay away from his childhood home. Meanwhile, Ella finds allies in fatherly ranch hand Miguel and his down-to-earth daughter, Rosie. But when a priceless book is stolen from Violet’s collection, Miguel is the key suspect, and Ella must find the real thief in order to save her friends. Emotional connections are reshaped, and a family that was lost finds its way. The music of Patrick Neil Doyle helps tell this unusual and heartwarming story.


Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Coming of Age Tale

 

Story: Kepler’s Dream starts as we meet Ella (Blake-Thomas) an 11-year-old girl that lives with her mother Amy (Lynch) who is about to undergo surgery for her leukaemia, which means Ella needs someone to look after her, when her father Walt (Flanery) doesn’t make himself available he sends her to New Mexico to stay with his mother Violet (Taylor), a relative she has never met.

Ella gets a friendly welcome from Miguel (Quezada) and his daughter Rosie (Fermin) who helps out on Violet’s ranch, while Violet is a mystery to Ella, a well-travelled lady who enjoys collecting artefacts from her journeys, but we have no wi-fi here.

As Ella’s time in the house continues she learns about a Kepler’s Dream book, one of only two in the world, but this only shows ore of the strict rules her grandmother has, be it using proper English or not touching anything. It is Miguel that offers her the only positive moments in the summer, teaching her to ride a horse. When he priceless book is stolen the suspects are a very short list and now Ella wants to solve the mystery and save the friendship she has started with Rosie.

 

Thoughts on Kepler’s Dream

 

Characters – Ella is an 11-year-old girl, daughter of divorced parents with her mother battling cancer, her father distant, she must spend her summer with her grandmother who she has never met. This is always going to be hardest summer of her life, but it also offers her new adventure in the world. Violet is the grandmother, she has travelled the world as well as collected books and objects to add to her prized collection. She hasn’t ever met Ella but tries to help even with her stricter rules. Miguel is the ranch hand that helps out, he offers Ella the friendship she requires with his own daughter Rosie as the two bond over the summer. Walt is Ella’s father who always found a reason to be busy and away from his daughter even when she needs him.

PerformancesIsabella Blake-Thomas is our new face and lead in this movie, she is full of the innocence needed for this role. Holland Taylor is great as the strict grandmother who has lived an enjoyable life. The rest of the cast are good through the film showing us the different emotional range needed for what is happening through the film.

StoryThe story does follow the development Ella needs for life, she is going to go through a tough summer that will help define her life. The big case that needs solving though is the weakest part of the film because we don’t dive into it enough. The story does focus on Ella and her experiences, her feelings her difficulties she will be face which is good to watch because it shows how growing up will be painful if they go through the same experiences.

Adventure/Family/MysteryThe adventure side of the film comes Ella experiencing a new location, which is plays into the western themes being used. The this a very family oriented movie even though it does have a small mystery moment going on.

SettingsThe settings are important here, first we have the busy city where Ella is but taken her to a new location where she wouldn’t know or have experienced teaching her more about the bigger world.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth about the book.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would like more about the missing book.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good coming of age film, it will be targeted more for the young girls, with certain decisions being made, the troubles she goes through could apply to either sex though. It does have an important message but has the tagged-on mystery in places.

 

Overall: Good coming of age movie. 

Rating