The Golden Compass (2007)

Director: Chris Weitz

Writer: Chris Weitz (Screenplay) Philip Pullman (Novel)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards, Ben Walker, Freddie Highmore, Ian McKellen, Eva Green, Sam Elliott

 

Plot: In a parallel universe, young Lyra Belacqua journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Been Here Seen This

 

Story: The Golden Compass starts in a world with parallel universes where the human spirits can walk next to humans in animal form known as daemons, with a Golden Compass being the only way to find the different universes. We meet young Lyra (Richards) who lives with her Uncle Lord Asriel (Craig) who is an adventurer that is seeking the Dust which can travel between universes.

With the children getting taken by Goblers Lyra in her high life promises to search for poor boy Roger’s (Walker). Lyra is chosen by Mrs Coulter (Kidman) to help with her research in the North which just so happens to be where Lord Asriel is heading, in what looks like a battle for the dust.

Learning that Mrs Coulter is behind the missing children Lyra teams up with a host of other characters in the Gyptians as they search for the children and her Uncle before Coulter’s research is complete.

 

Thoughts on The Golden Compass

 

Characters/PerformanceLyra is the type of leading child you will need for this type of film, she comes from a rich background, she is curious and brave. Mrs Coulter comes along as the villainous character that believes in the cause she is fighting for with Lord Asriel is the explorer looking to change the future. The rest of the characters do their part well as Lyra goes on her adventure.

Performance wise, Kidman and Craig both do a good job in their roles, but it is Richards that really struggles in the lead role, she is meant to come off posh but too often comes off a common which takes away from the character.

StoryThe story is one I have come to believe was butchered from the book, which when you watch you can see, it gets the basics correct but anything which involved developing a character sadly gets forgotten as the film unfolds. The story ends up becoming slightly messy and focuses on just doing action to cover the lack of story.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure side of this film should be clear, but it just shows one person’s adventure, I don’t feel the family could enjoy this movie but the fantasy world we find ourselves in does work well.

SettingsThe settings all look good with their own fancy way of saying countries we all know in the world just having slight twists on them.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects all work well, but there are moments which look pretty bad for the CGI.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a cliff hanger that never gets complete, well here is the film for you.

 

Overall: This seems like a solid start to the franchise but we will never see the end.

Rating

 

 

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August Rush (2007)

august-rushDirector: Kirsten Sheridan

Writer: Nick Castle, James V Hart (Screenplay) Paul Castro, Nick Castle (Story)

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, William Sadler, Marian Seldes

 

Plot: A drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Fantasy Drama

 

Story: August Rush starts as we meet Evan Taylor (Highmore) a young boy at an orphanage who believes in the music to life as he dreams of finding his long lost parents. We flashback to the night Evan’s parents Lyla (Russell) a member of an orchestra and Louis (Meyers) a rocker from England.

Evan is determined to find out about his parents and sets out on an adventure with music guiding him to learn just who his parents really were. On his adventure Evan meets Wizard (Williams) who has been guarding other orphans in the big city who all have dreams of becoming musicians on their own and it is here where Evan learns to play the music he has only ever heard before.

August Rush plays into the idea music can bring everyone together regardless of the style it is always about just how it is played. We get to see how you can regret moments in life but the ones that are most important are were always meant to be. We get a story that shows us all how you can believe in your own dreams no matter who stands in your way. We also get a great performance from Freddie Highmore along with great performances from the supporting cast. This a film that went right under the radar and does deserve the time to go out and watch.

 

Overall: Delightful story that can be watched by all the dreamers out there.

Rating75

 

 

Finding Neverland (2004)

logoDirector: Marc Forster

Writer: David Magee (Screenplay) Allan Knee (Play)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Ian Hart, Kelly Macdonald, Mackenzie Crook

 

Plot: The story of J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Welcome to Neverland

 

Story: Finding Neverland starts by introducing us to J.M. Barrie’s (Depp) newest play which is met by a chorus of displeasure by the audience. Looking for new inspiration he wonders around the park where he stumbles upon Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Winslet) and her four boys Peter (Highmore), Jack, George and Michael. Barrie entertains them in the park along with his dog who he pushes them to challenge their imaginations.

Barrie continues to become friends with the Davies family and amuses the children with his wild tales, while trying to help Peter come out of his shell after his father’s death. As the story continues Barrie pushes Peter to embrace his imagination and along the way finds the perfect idea for his next play. Barrie does have the next idea planned but talking his producer Charles (Hoffman) into giving him another show along with the social question marks about his relationship with the family being questioned is just the start of the problems he must overcome to make one of the greatest stories every told.

Finding Neverland shows us how important imagination is and however bleak a situation is if we open our eyes we might be able to get through it. It is brilliantly told on how something as simple a human kindness can help people suffering with grief in a very personal way can open up to try and get through it. I may not know much about plays of the time period but this idea that Mr Barrie came up with looked like it redefined how people took the theatre experience and that is good to see. In the end this becomes ones of the most touching and easy to watch stories you will see. (8/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Johnny Depp: Sir James Matthew Barrie the play writer who befriends a widow and her four boys, where he gains inspiration for his greatest work. He tries to help the lives of the family while dealing with social awkwardness for the time period. Johnny got one of his Oscar nominations for this role and does a great job as the play write. (10/10)

 johnn and peter

Kate Winslet: Sylvia Llewelyn Davies the widow who along with her children befriends Mr Barrie all while she keeps her mysterious illness secret from her children. Kate does a great job as the struggling widow who knows that her time is short and tries to keep her children happy. (9/10)

 

Julie Christie: Mrs. Emma du Maurier the over baring mother of Sylvia who wants to help her find a new husband to help look at the boys but comes off controlling trying to push Mr Barrie away. Julie does a good job. (8/10)

 

Freddie Highmore: Peter Llewelyn Davies one of the children and the one that is struggling most with the loss of his father, closing himself off from the world and not letting him imagination through. Freddie does a great job in an early role for the rising star. (9/10)

 

Support Cast: Finding Neverland has a cast that revolves around J.M Barrie, be it his wife who feels neglected by him, the other children in the family or the people involved with the theatre work. Each member of the cast helps with the story and does a great job doing so.

 

Director Review: Marc Forster – Marc does a great job directing this film showing how the imagination should work and keeping everything realistic to the time period. (9/10)

 

Biographical: Finding Neverland is a great look at how one of the most iconic plays got written and the man behind it. (9/10)

Drama: Finding Neverland is a perfectly placed drama how the interaction between people can change lives. (9/10)

Settings: Finding Neverland has authentic looking settings throughout, that help bring us into the position the characters are in. (9/10)

Suggestion: Finding Neverland is one to watch, it really is a very special film that shows how simple making movies really are. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Neverland

Worst Part: I always struggle to find a bad thing to say about this film.

Funniest Scene: Dog dance.

Favourite Quote: J.M. Barrie ‘Young boys should never be sent to bed… they always wake up a day older.’

 

Believability: It is inspired by true events. (9/10)

Chances of Tears: You could have some by the end of the film. (5/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture. It was also nominated for 6 more Oscar including best Actor for Johnny Depp.

Box Office: $117 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: How far can your imagination take you.

 

Overall: Beautiful Drama From Reality to Neverland

Rating 90

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

posterDirector: Tim Burton

Writer: John August (Screenplay) Roald Dahl (Book)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, AnnaSophia Robb

 

Plot: A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world’s most unusual candy maker.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Colourful Remake

 

Story: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starts by showing us the golden tickets being placed into the chocolate bars which later get distributed around the world. Time to introduce Charlie Bucket (Highmore) a regular boy whose family struggles to make ends meet, who live in an odd shaped house. Back story time and we learn about Willy Wonka (Depp) who started with a small corner shop before entering into his factory, telling us he has a knack for the strange. We learn how Wonka became a recluse because of how his secrets got stolen, but for one time only he offers a chance for 5 children a chance to see his factory.

We start by meeting the kids who win the tickets Augustus Gloop (Wiegratz), Veruca Salt (Winter), Violet Beauregarde (Robb) and Mike Teavee (Fry) all these kids have signs of showing who they really are and what type of people they will become. Charlie’s life is about to change when he finds money lying on the street and buys a Wonka bar that just so happens to have the last golden ticket. Charlie along with Grandpa Joe (Kelly) go to the factory for the tour along with the rest of the winners. Wonka shows off his factory and its work force the Oompa Loompas (Roy) for an adventure of a life time for all the children.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the first books I read, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of the first films I loved even though I know they changed the book slightly. This visually is everything I imagined from what I once read. I also think the story is captured perfectly, but one to the negatives. I didn’t really like the whole Willy Wonka backstory I felt it looked very forced and took away from the adventure in the factory. The story itself will always be a classic and to be fair to the story is base idea is captured well. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Johnny Depp: Willy Wonka the recluse chocolate factory owner who invites five children to tour his factory. He lacks social skills and clearly has father issue, he is also very strange. Johnny does a great job to create and change the previously created character to be his own. (8/10)

 wonka

Freddie Highmore: Charlie Bucket the poor average nothing special boy who gets the chance of a lifetime to go to Willy Wonka’s factory where he will have the adventure of a lifetime. Freddie does a good job in this early role that showed he was going to be a bigger name. (8/10)

charlie

Support Cast: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a mix of supporting characters the other contestants all works well and show the problems children can end up having. We have the Bucket family who all give Charlie hope and the Oompa Loompas all played by the same actor. Every single actor does a great job in the role they play.

 

Director Review: Tim Burton – Tim does a great job putting his stamp onto this film showing how colourful if could be. (8/10)

 

Adventure: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gives the five children a chance of adventure which would be amazing for someone in Charlie’s position. (8/10)

Comedy: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory doesn’t have the most comedy it has a few chuckles but nothing full blown funny. (5/10)

Family: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is always going to be a family classic and this will offer discuss about which is the favourite. (7/10)

Music: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has good songs used but nothing as catchy as the originals. (5/10)

Settings: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has beautifully created settings that make you feel like you are on the adventure along with the heroes. (10/10)
Special Effects
: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has great effects with what happens to the ‘naughty’ kids during the trip in the factory. (8/10)

Suggestion: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one for the family to sit down and enjoy together. (Family Watch)

 

Best Part: The first moment you see the candy room.

Worst Part: Dentist father is not needed.

Favourite Quote: Willy Wonka ‘Everything in this room is eatable, even *I’m* eatable! But that is called “cannibalism,” my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.’

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for Best Achievement is Costume.

Box Office: $475 Million

Budget: $150 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Tagline: Willy Wonka Is semi-sweet and nuts

Trivia: To his surprise, Deep Roy played every Oompa-Loompa himself, repeating the same movements several hundred times. While these were then put together digitally, each Oompa-Loompa represents a separate performance by Roy. In recognition of this, Roy’s salary was raised to $1,000,000.

 

Overall: Let the discussion about which is better begin

Rating 72