Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Characters)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Maggie Smith

 

Plot: Nanny McPhee arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war, though she uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons.


Tagline – The magic’s back, warts and all.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Serious Sequel

 

Story: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang starts as we meet mother Isabel (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family home and raise her three children, while her husband is away at war, adding to her pressure is her brother-in-law Phil (Ifans) that is looking to get money and two cousins added to the family that are used to the luxury life.

When Isabel starts struggling, she gets the call from Nanny McPhee (Thompson) who offers to help put the children back in line with her magic. The children must learn to work together to help the farm stay in the right hands.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is the magical nanny that comes to family’s when they are in need of support, she has come to this family in their time of need to help teach them how to be together in one of the most difficult times in their lives, the war, she brings her rules like before as she looks to bring the best out in the people. Isabel is the mother of the three that is trying to run and farm and work, her husband is at war, with the uncertainty of whether he will be returning. She doesn’t want help, but must accept it to keep the pressures of her life away from her children. Phil is the brother-in-law to Isabel, he has created his own gambling debts and wants the farm to clear the debts, he will do anything to get what he needs. Mrs Docherty is the boss of Isabel and family friend, she isn’t quite all there which makes her character come off funnier than she should. The children do come from different worlds which does see them clash in the time of conflict.

PerformancesEmma Thompson does continue to enjoy playing this role which she handles with ease. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets to play the role well through the film, which shows us just how difficult a position her character is in. Rhys Ifans does everything you would imagine in the comedy role in the film, while Maggie Smith also adds plenty of comedy through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that takes over the family farm with her husband away at war, with money running low and the stress of life getting to her, that gets help from Nanny McPhee. The story here easily becomes a much more serious one because we are dealing with children that are being separated from their parents during war, where they don’t know if their family will be together once the war is over. This story does have a very different tone to the first one, one that does feel real, even though it does seem slightly stranger for Nanny McPhee to be here, this time around. The story here is more entertaining than the original which is always a good thing.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film does hit better than the first film, most of it comes from the arguments which feel funnier, the fantasy in the film does work too, which ends up blending with the comedy involved.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within one farm which does show us just how much trouble the family will be facing in their time of need.

Special EffectsThe effects here are the biggest step back sadly because we can see the CGI moments looking completely out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Connection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel that does have a strong story to cover up the weaker CGI being used in the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful sequel.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee (2005)

Director: Kirk Jones

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Books)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly Macdonald, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Jennifer Rae Daykin, Raphael Coleman

 

Plot: A governess uses magic to rein in the behavior of seven ne’er-do-well children in her charge.


Tagline – You’ll Learn To Love Her. Warts And All. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Fantasy

 

Story: Nanny McPhee starts when widow Mr Brown (Firth) is struggling to keep a nanny to care for his seven children led by the oldest Simon (Brodie-Sangster) who has always planned to push the nanny away with schemes that will leave them in terror. Reaching the end of his potential candidates, Mr Brown is drawn to a mystical Nanny McPhee (Thompson).

Nanny McPhee uses different methods to get the children in order, using her magic, with the warning When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. Can the children be put into order before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is a magical nanny that comes when families need her most, she uses the magic to push the children into following her rules, letting them learn from their mistakes unlike any previous nanny. Mr Brown is the widowed father of seven that runs a funeral parlour, he has become distant from his children because of the added pressure of needing to find a new wife as h is clearly stricken with the grief in his life. Evangeline is the help around the house, she is learning from the children in a way that sees her being one of the only adults that can get through to them. Simon is the oldest child that plans what the rest get up to, he needs to learn the biggest lessons as the others will look up to him most.

PerformancesEmma Thompson is wonderful choice as Nanny McPhee, she always has your attention on screen no matter what she is teaching. Colin Firth is a great choice in this role, he has the fatherly side down and a man that needs to find love. Kelly Macdonald works well in the maid role in the film bring a calm to the chaos the children usually have. Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the lead of the children stars shows that he was one of Britain’s best at the time.

StoryThe story follows a widow that must find a new wife within a month, but is struggle to make sure his children have a nanny after they have chased the rest out of town, a magical nanny comes along to save the day and teach the children a lesson. This story does tackle adult themes like grief and learning to communicate with your family after a tragic loss. We don’t overly focus on the serious side of the film because this is meant to be a kids movie, which is fine, which does pose the question just why would somebody have seven kids and not be able to control them. We do get to through the usual life lessons that the children must learn without being anything special.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film usually falls into the slightly more immature level which is more for the children audience, the fantasy comes from just how Nanny McPhee operates.

SettingsThe film is set in the house that Mr Brown lives in with his children, it shows that he is in the upper class in the time they are living in.

Special EffectsThe effects come from how Nanny McPhee pulls her magic to make the life better for the children.


Scene of the Movie –
The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Overly childish jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple enjoyable family fantasy film that can be enjoyed by the whole family, it doesn’t bring anything new, but it doesn’t break anything too.

 

Overall: Fantasy film 101.

Rating

 

 

Donnie Yen Weekend – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay) Du Lu Wang (Book)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jason Scott Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Roger Yuan

 

Plot: A story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption.


Tagline – The past returns with a vengeance.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sequel

 

Story: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny starts 18-years after Yu (Yeoh) saw her love die returns to safeguard the sword of destiny, after a warlord Hades Dai (Lee) goes in search for the sword believing it will give him the power to conquer the land.

Needing to protect the sword, Yu puts out a call for warriors to come and help defend it, which sees Silent Wolf (Yen) put together a five-person army, while Yu takes on a new student Snow Vase (Bordizzo) with skills advanced of her age.

 

Thoughts on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

 

Characters – Yu has returned from her isolation and mourning after 18-years away only to stumble into the next attempt to steal the Sword of Destiny, here she must learn who to trust, reunite with an old ally and put herself in the teaching position. Silent Wolf has lived a life in isolation, where his loved ones believed him to be dead, he returns to help defend the sword for the greatest honour in his life. Wei Fang is a young warrior that is being forced into stealing the sword to protect his master, he learns about his past and along with Snow Vase who also has a decision of her own to make, provide the unsure future for Yu on who to trust. Snow Vase is the talented young fighter knowing skills beyond her age, she askes to be taught even if she isn’t as disciplined as she should be.

PerformancesMichelle Yeoh returns to this role, she brings the fight skills that made the first one fantastic and must play the role with an emotionless feeling of being broken, which she does with ease. Donnie Yen takes up the mysterious fighter role which is a role that he could take any day and never look out of place. it is the new comers that impress in the fighting side of things, where they struggle in places with the emotional factors at play in their characters.

StoryThe story here returns Yu back to the land she once fought for, where she must defend it from a new warlord that wants the sword which could bring power to control the land. This is a sequel that does well to return one of the favourites which also dives into her past to bring a new character, while also offer people that could become the new leads if the series was going to continue. When we break down the story it does play into tradition of being loyal and honour. It would have been nice to see more from the villain which only has a few moments which are just generic villain style, without seeing him do anything truly villainous.

Action/FantasyThe action in the film is the martial arts material we have enjoyed for years, we have the weightless effects which were famous from the first which add the style required to be unique. This does play into the fantasy of the action which goes against the physics of fighting.

SettingsThe film brings back the settings we knew and still look fantastic, with the final showdown being in a new location which is used to add to the fight.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to make the fights feel like they could be real, the weightless style is the best part of the fights.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain moments of the Wei Fang and Snow Vase does drag at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel to a much more superior original, it will entertain without being anywhere near the level original.

 

Overall: Entertaining for the fans.

Rating

 

 

Skinwalkers (2006)

Director: James Isaac

Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson

 

Plot: A 12 year old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives.


Tagline – For them to live, we must die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Werewolf 101

 

Story: Skinwalkers starts as Varek (Behr) leads the hunt for a young boy for his werewolf pack, joined by Sonja (Malthe) he learns the location of Timothy (Knight) which takes him to small town to collect him.

Varek didn’t count on Timothy being under the watch of another prepared werewolf pack led by Jonas (Koteas) and his daughter-in-law Rachel (Mitra) who wasn’t ready to learn the truth that on Tim’s 13th birthday everything changes in the battle.

 

Thoughts on Skinwalkers

 

Characters – Varek is the leader of the werewolf pack that wants Timothy dead to stop the event he will cause, he hunts calmly through the film knowing how to get ahead of his enemies, though he is unaware of his connection to the child. Jonas has been protecting his nephew for years now, knowing what he means to the species, he has built the team his truss around him to make sure he is safe. Rachel is the mother of Timothy, she thinks he is just a normal kid and that she lives in a normal town, he must learn fast how to cope in this world filled with werewolves and protect her son. Sonja is the deadliest fighter on Varek side of the war, she enjoys hurting people and we see her take pleasure in this.

PerformancesJason Behr as the conflicted werewolf is good to watch, he shines on the bad boy side of this story, though when he must show the other side of the emotions we see him struggle at times. Elias Koteas is strong for his role which is one that we often see him in. Rhona Mitra does well in the reluctant heroes being the strong need to learn to battle mother figure in the film. everyone else in the film is fine without needing to be anything special, they fit their roles well to help the story flow.

StoryThe story here follows two warring werewolf packs that know the importance of a child for both their existences, so basically something we have seen before only with a modern style to it. The fact the story does feel like an introduction to a much big world building idea is promising and while it isn’t the film’s fault we didn’t see the next chapter, it does show us how story telling can think ahead of time. If we are being honest this is a by the book storyline, it doesn’t bring us anything new to the werewolf mythology it just tries to keep it in the modern world.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action sequences are mixed bag because we have shoot-out which are routine and lack the peril for certain characters, while the fights show the effects that two werewolves fighting would have on each other. The fantasy world of werewolves living among humans is nicely done, showing two sides to them, though the horror does seem weak because we never feel terrified by what we are seeing.

SettingsThe film uses the settings in a mix of quality and generic, the small town gets the big surprise with everyone being part of the protection, then we hit the road and its nothing we haven’t seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects for the werewolves and wounds look nice, its just most are hidden from the full effect of the shock.


Scene of the Movie –
Town stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There are a few blink and you miss it moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book werewolf film, it has good moments, it has forgettable moments and ends up feeling like the pilot for a television show.

 

Overall: The werewolf genre done safely.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Thor: The Dark World (2013) Revisited

Director: Alan Taylor

Writer: Christopher L Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, Robert Rodat (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Walter Simonson (Comics)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi

 

Plot: When Dr. Jane Foster gets cursed with a powerful entity known as the Aether, Thor is heralded of the cosmic event known as the Convergence and the genocidal Dark Elves.


Tagline – There was darkness.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Sequel

 

Story: Thor: The Dark World starts as Thor (Hemsworth) must restore the power in Asgard after Loki’s (Hiddleston) actions, this has made him in the position he should be, waiting to take over his father Odin’s (Hopkins) role. Meanwhile on Earth Jane (Portman) is trying to move with her life, but in London she discovers an unusual series of events which ends up taking her to Elf world.

When Jane becomes cursed, Thor takes her to Asgard to find a cure, which gives Malekith (Eccleston) a chance to lead his army back into combat so he can return the universe back to darkness. Thor must turn to Loki t help him defeat Malekith and save the universe.

 

Thoughts on Thor: The Dark World

 

Characters – Thor is once again preparing to take his throne in Asgard, he has restored faith in the nine realms, but he still misses Jane. When she becomes cursed, he returns to Earth to save her, which only brings back an ancient enemy to the Asgardians in the Dark Elves, he must disobey his father once again to end the threat and save the woman he loves. Jane is trying to get on with her life now, her research has taken her to London where she is trying to get over Thor, her investigation sees her cursed and taken to Asgard to learn about Thor’s home world. Loki is locked up for his actions, after his mother is murdered, Thor turns to him for help to get vengeance. Malekith is the leader of the Dark Elves, he has waited for his chance to bring the universe into darkness once again, killing Frigga the mother of Thor.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth continues to make Thor one of the most entertaining character in the universe. Natalie Portman was known to not be interested in being in the film, it does show in her performance which does disappoint. Tom Hiddleston brings another dimension to his character here which is only going to make him a more loved character. Christopher Eccleston does give us a basic villain, one that is only after power and is mostly under make up, making his performance harder to judge.

StoryThe story here follows Thor on his latest adventure, one where he must face an ancient enemy who wants to put the universe into darkness, while finally returning to Jane who has become cursed by the Dark Elves magic. This is another sequel that does address the previous films in the franchise by showing the hints the Thor and Loki could still rebuild their bond even after what Loki has done, we address forbidden relationships between Thor and Jane, have a villain that is obsessed with power, though isn’t the most three-dimensional and see Thor needing to learn more about his responsibilities as a potential king. This is everything you would expect a sequel to be in this universe.

Action/FantasyThe action involved in this film is mostly big CGI chases sequences between spacecrafts, we do get Thor doing the hammer routine which works well enough for the film. the fantasy side of the film continues to build on the idea that the worlds above have been fighting longer than people could imagine with fresh enemies waiting in the shadows.

SettingsThe film uses Asgard, the home world of the Dark Elves and London as the main settings, each has its own action sequences which also shows what Thor is fighting for.

Special EffectsThe effects are not as strong as previous films, but we do get some very impressive scenes none the less, the certain moments of weakness do hold the marks up though,


Scene of the Movie –
London battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain isn’t as interesting as previous ones.

Final ThoughtsThis is still an entertaining sequel, it might not be as strong as some of the previous films, but it entertains throughout.

 

Overall: Fantasy Filled Sequel.

Rating