The Secret Garden (2020) Movie Review

Director: Marc Munden

Writer: Jack Thorne, Frances Hodgson Burnett (Screenplay)

Starring: Dixie Egerickx, Richard Hansell, David Verrey, Tommy Gene Surridge, Julie Walters, Maeve Dermody, Colin Firth, Isis Davis, Edan Hayhurst

Plot: An orphaned girl discovers a magical garden hidden at her strict uncle’s estate.

Tagline – Unlock Your Imagination

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Secret Garden starts as a young orphan girl Mary (Egerickx) finds a new home from her Indian residents back in England with her Uncle Archibald Craven (Firth) a man that is strict with how his home is run, keeping his son Colin (Hayhurst) away from everyone else.

Mary does struggle to adapt to this new way of life, until she finds herself a place on the land, a secret garden, which will continue to give her hope of a better life, away from the pain of losing a loved one.

Thoughts on The Secret Garden

Characters & Performances – Mary has come from the life of luxury in India, where she would have had people wait on her hand and foot, only she finds herself alone in this world with nobody else, given to her estranged Uncle to raise her, she needs to learn to adapt to this world if she is going to make it, with her sense of adventure helping her cope with the loss she has experienced. Mary does come off as very self-centred and selfish, leading her to need to learn to be more accepting of people around her. Dickon is a young man that works the grounds, he befriends Mary as they look to learn more about the secret garden, seemingly close to nature. Colin the son of the uncle that is kept away from everyone else in the house, believing he is ill, Mary is looking to help him break out of this mindset. Archibald Craven takes Mary in, but he is broken after the death of his wife, which leaves him not anting to care about everything else in her life. The performances through this film are solid enough, without being as strong as they should be.

StoryThe story here follows a young girl who becomes orphaned and taken in by her estranged Uncle that has closed himself off from the world, the young girl gets curious discovering a beautiful garden that brings her the first bit of light in her life for a long time, a place she wants to use to help cure the whole family. This is a story that is focused on showing how people will be dealing with loss in a different way and will need help to get over the biggest changes in their life. The magical side of the story doesn’t seem to hit hard enough and the characters do feel overly stuck up for us to get behind though.

ThemesThe Secret Garden does use the colour pallet to show the different location, with the beauty of the location of happiness, while the darker colours inside the estate, showing it is a place left in darkness, that needs light bought back into after the tragedy around it.

The Secret Garden is a solid story but it does seem to lack the magical that would make it standout even more.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – V – Van Helsing (2004) Movie Review

Director: Stephen Sommers

Writer: Stephen Sommers (Screenplay)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley, Elena Anaya, Will Kemp, Kevin J O’Connor

Plot: The notorious monster hunter is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein’s research and a werewolf for some sinister purpose.

Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Highly Entertaining

Story: Van Helsing starts as Dr Frankenstein completes his monster (Hensley) for Count Dracula (Roxburgh), only to lose the monster in the villager attack, move to Paris, legendary monster hunter Van Helsing (Jackman) is hunting down Mr Hyde for the order.

The latest mission for Van Helsing is to head to Transylvania to help Anna Valerious (Beckinsale) in the fight against Count Dracula and a new werewolf threat, getting welcomed like every town, Van Helsing will learn about his own past when he comes into battle against Dracula.

Thoughts on Van Helsing

Characters – Van Helsing is the legendary monster hunter, capturing or destroying them all over the world for the order back in Rome, his reputation strikes fear in some monsters, while others are hunting him. He doesn’t remember his past, he doesn’t always work well with others, but now he must and now he is going to face his toughest test now. Anna Valerious is the last member of her family, one that has defended a town for centuries, hunting down Dracula without any success, expert with a weapon, she is willing to risk it all to save the world and her family. Count Dracula is all controlling, like most version of him, the normal vampire killings don’t work on him, this Dracula has a greater plan, to fill the world with his children and is searching for a solution to give them life. Carl is the assistant set with Van Helsing for this fight, he is basically a rip off of Q in the Bond franchise.

PerformancesHugh Jackman does work very well in the leading role, he has the natural charisma to become the hero with a dark past. Kate Beckinsale as the leading lady will always look, with Underworld under her belt, we know she is an actress that is good for the fighting side of films too. Richard Roxburgh does everything he can with the Dracula character, one that has started to get overused by now. David Wenham gets most of the laughs in the film, which is needed to help everything flow smoother.

StoryThe story here follows Van Helsing as he travels to Transylvania to fight Count Dracula along with a host of other monsters from the universal monster collection. When it comes to the battles between Van Helsing and Count Dracula, we have seen it happen for decades now, we do find ourselves going through the normal ideas, but we have an idea that Dracula is planning something bigger, which is the fresh side of the story, we have a couple of unique ideas for Dracula here too, with the ice tomb he sleeps in, being the true stand out. The mix of using werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster add plenty to the film too. This is big and wildly over the top for story, but it is a lot of fun.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action is massive scale fights, swinging, shooting, different weapons, it all helps add to the fantasy world we are entering for the Universal Monsters, while the horror is weaker than we would like to see from such iconic characters, it does keep everything as a more fantasy accessible level.

SettingsThe film takes place mostly in Transylvania with the cast of Dracula being massive, hidden from the world to add extra mystery to the story, everything in the film looks beautiful on the settings side of things.

Special EffectsThe special effects are the biggest mixed bag, following on from what we saw in The Mummy, we get certain moments, including Frankenstein’s monster look truly brilliant, while certain transformations look CGI heavy.

Scene of the Movie – Van Helsing’s first day in the village.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The transformations are the weakest part of the film.

Final Thoughts This is a fun fantasy action film that brings to life some of the more popular Universal Monsters in a fresh tale that brings them together like never before.

Overall: Enjoyable Action Fantasy.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – J – Harmony (2018) Movie Review

This is under J because of the lead actress Jessica Falkholt.

Director: Corey Pearson

Writer: Corey Pearson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Falkholt, Jacqueline McKenzie, Eamon Farren, Salvatore Coco, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Jerome Meyer

Plot: Born with an energetic power to absorb fear from others, a young woman must find love to balance the fears of her own and fight an ever growing storm of negative energy.

Tagline – Discover the secrets, unblock the universe

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Harmony starts as we learn about Harmony (Falkholt) who has the ability to take away the pain from people, washing it away, living as an outsider in the world, she keeps to the shadows with only a group of punks led Jimmy (Farren) causing the problems around her. Mason (Meyer) a social awkward young man is looking to fix things from his past, who has a connection to Harmony, finally gives her someone she can touch without feeling the pain somebody is suffering.

With the two lost souls needing to find the truth about their place in the world, each with incredible abilities that will make the world a better place for everyone to live in, despite the evil negative energy in the world.

Thoughts on Harmony

Characters – Harmony is an outsider in the world, but has amazing abilities to take away the pain from people, giving them a reset on their lives, she needs to wash away the paid, which will cause her immense pain and forcing her to want to stay away from people. She tries to help people most in need, which will see her meet Mason who could help her balance the pain. Mason is a social awkward young man that is living in his own pain of what he has caused, he always wants to help people in need, showing a purely kind hearted person in a world filled with pain. He finds himself having a unique connection to Harmony, one that will see him coming out of his comfort zone, willing to risk everything for a stranger he feels like he always knew. Jimmy is the leader of the punks that is always looking to get into trouble, leading him to target Harmony. We get to meet people who know the importance of what Harmony and Mason can bring to the world, as well as the people that could cause more problems to it.

PerformancesJessica Falkholt is great in the leading role of this film, which could have been the start of what could have been a wonderful career, before it was tragically taken away from us. Jerome Meyer brings us such a pure performance which will show all the good in his character, with Eamon Farren brings the darker side to what these powers could bring.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman with incredible abilities to take away the pain from people, bringing them peace to continue their lives, while he ends up meeting a social awkward young man that has a unique connection to her. This is the start of something that was always meant to be bigger, we learn the balance of the world through here, where we learn about the bigger connection within the universe. It is a very interest concept and it is one you would like to dive into the bigger picture, which sadly, it doesn’t look like we ever will get.

Fantasy/RomanceThe fantasy side of this film does come from the idea behind the character’s abilities, while the romance shows how everything could change for the characters.

SettingsThe film uses the big city setting to show us just how people could have secrets you never know about round every corner.

Scene of the Movie – Mason’s driving breakdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The punks feel too generic.

Final Thoughts Harmony is an ambitious movie we could easily see more from, with the interesting world created.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – W – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Movie Review

Director: Mel Stuart

Writer: Roald Dahl (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone, Denise Nickerson

Plot: A poor but hopeful boy seeks one of the five coveted golden tickets that will send him on a tour of Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.

Tagline – Charlie is let loose in the chocolate factory and every kid’s dream comes true.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory starts when a reclusive chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka (Wilder) creates a competition for five lucky winners to visit it factory, the world is taken by storm with the panic to be the lucky ones to get the tickets. Charlie Bucket (Ostrum) would love a chance to get the ticket, but his family being painfully poor can’t afford the luxury of buying endless amounts of chocolate and he sees Augustut Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teevee get the tickets from around the world, until Charlie finds some money and buys two bars, finding the final ticket and taking his Grandpa Joe (Albertson) to Willy Wonka’s factory, an experience that will be filled with imagination.

Thoughts on Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Characters – Willy Wonka is a reclusive chocolate factory owner that shut the doors on his factory after rivals tried to steal his recipes. He decides to open his doors for a one off special tour for five lucky children, when he first appears you can tell he hasn’t been around people with the mix up of words, with his style being unique and his reluctance to help after the children disobey his rules. Charlie Bucket is from a poor family with his mother always working and his grandparents all sharing one bed, he doesn’t have any luxuries in life, he gets lucky with the last ticket and his humble approach will go against any of the other kids to win the tickets. The four other kids are all filled with a greedy side that has seen them win tickets without feeling like they deserve it.

PerformancesGene Wilder is amazing in the leading role of this film, his delivery of his lines adds to the distant character he has to create in this film. The child stars did work very well through the film, showing the bad natures of the four and the innocent natures of Charlie too.

StoryThe story here follows a famous chocolate factory owner that opens his doors for the first time in decades for five lucky winners, who are promised a prize if they make it to the end. This is a story that shows us how children will need to be raised right it, if they are to learn any values in life, showing us four very demanding selfish children who are the complete opposite to Charlie, who has only ever known nothing. The journey through the factory is filled with magical musical numbers that show us just how important being honest truly is for people to succeed.

FantasyThe fantasy side of the film comes from the different environments the characters find themselves in during the factory tour, each one does feel magical to be in.

SettingsThe film does take us to the different locations from around the world for the winners, that shows the different backgrounds, while keeping the factory grounded in the normal town setting, while we enter the factory, we get amazing creations per different rooms.

Scene of the Movie – The first room.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a truly amazing fantasy musical that will give everyone enjoyment.

The Wanting Mare (2020) Movie Review

The Wanting Mare – Beautiful World Building

Director: Nicholas Ashe Bateman

Writer: Nicholas Ashe Bateman (Screenplay)

Starring: Jordan Monaghan, Josh Clark, Yasamin Keshtkar, Edmond Cofie, Christine Kellongg-Darrin

Plot: In Whithren, a line of women pass a recurring dream through multiple generations.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Wanting Mare starts as we meet Moira a young woman that has recurring dreams that pass through the generations of herself, she lives in the Whithren alone in this world until she meets a man named Lawrence that has been trying to escape this land in the only way, a ticket, Lawrence steals tickets from people, which ends up with him trying to help Moira, only not everything goes to plan.

Thoughts on The Wanting Mare

Characters & Performances – Moira is the woman who is raised in the Whithren, she has dreams that fill the generations of her previous family’s lives, which will guide her and want her to make more, her kind nature sees her help someone in need, hoping to escape this world, giving her the feeling of love for the first time. Lawrence is the man Moira helps, though he is a man that steals tickets, which will offer people freedom from this world, he wants to help Moira in return for her kindness, but not everything goes to plan. This film is filled with strong performances throughout, without anyone getting the big impactful scene that could elevate everything to the next level.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman living in the Whithren that is alone, but filled with memories in her dreams that have come from generations before her, she finds herself meeting someone that could help her escape this world getting her a chance of a ticket to freedom. This is a story that will flow well, with a hint of mystery about what is going on, we are left to see how much this world could offer anyone, while not letting them just take it, the generational dreams are the highlight, showing us how we could see someone experience their family’s previous life through dreams, but we do end up having more of the world creation being left to the imagination.

ThemesThe Wanting Mare brings us a fantasy film that will look to cover space and time, through a world of emptiness, which looks both bleak and beautiful.

The Wanting Mare is a beautiful movie that is a pleasure on the eyes, that does have a brilliant concept that will be engaging, despite a few flaws along the way.