Naomi Watts Weekend – King Kong (2005)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (Screenplay) Merian C Cooper, Edgar Wallace (Story)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell

 

Plot: In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.


Tagline – The eighth wonder of the world.

Runtime: 3 Hours 7 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic Remake

 

Story: King Kong starts when struggling actress Ann Darrow (Watts) loses her latest job in the packed city of New York, she gets lucky when she meets disgraced director Carl Denham (Black) who is rushing to find a leading lady, taking Ann for his latest film, with his screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Brody), the every man Ann wants to work with.

Escaping New York before Carl gets arrested, he sets out searching for the mysterious Skull Island, which he wants as his backdrop for his movie, a place nobody has ever set foot on. Once on the island the crew get attacked by a tribe who take Ann to feed to their feared leader King Kong.

With the crew going in search of Ann, they discover the island is crawling with animals they have never seen, with Carl continue to shoot his picture, the desire to hunt down Kong for display being the biggest attraction in New York.

 

 

Thoughts on King Kong

 

Characters – Ann Darrow is a stage actress who has ben performing in an unsuccessful show for years until her theatre gets closed down, she is getting desperate to work with famous play write, only to find herself meeting a film director working with him. Ann jumps at the chance to have a paid gig, only this becomes more than she ever bargained for, when she becomes the object of King Kong affections on Skull Island. Carl Denham is a film director whose latest film isn’t impressing his investors, he decides to run before having the whole projects plug pulled, taking his crew to an unknown island and even after the danger starts, he continues to film his evolving story. Jack Driscoll is the screenwriter that is trying to get back to his stage work, only to find that Carl has tricked him into remaining on the boat, forcing him to work on the screenplay, he starts to fall in love with Ann along the way too, willing to risk his own life to save hers. Kong is the feared ruler of Skull Island, he takes Ann as a sacrifice falling in love with the human on his island, he can fight any threat, including T-Rexes. He is the icon that we know from previous films bought to life once again.

PerformancesNaomi Watts in the role made famous by Fay Wray, brings her own stamp to the role, handling the small comic moments very well through the film too. Jack Black might not have been many people’s first choice for the director role, but he proves a lot of people wrong with his performance, which still remains one of his best. Adrien Brody proves to be a great choice too because he gets to poke fun at the Hollywood stereotypes.

StoryThe story here follows an ambitious director who takes his crew including a desperate young actress to Skull Island, a mysterious uncharted location only to find a land filled with unseen monsters including the king of the island Kong, who becomes friends with Ann the actress. This is the remake of the one of the classic films of the 1930s, it does tell the same story, only builds on everything to new levels, because back then, nobody knew how big movies were going to be, so this time we can look back at the movie building era, showing more of the conflicts between movies and theatre. The island is also much larger in scale with plenty of creatures which add to the story. we do even have small side stories which do work to fill the films lengthy 3 hour plus run time. We do get to see just how destructive the human can be to new worlds too.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is massive, edge of the seat and most importantly brilliant to watch, be it the fights between creatures, monsters and humans, right down to the New York showdown with Kong. The adventure does take us to a new world, where we haven’t seen the creatures before, or at least not this size. It shows the most dangerous side of the explorer’s journeys in the world.

SettingsThe film does use two main settings, first New York which is re-created for the time period perfectly, the second is the island which is filled with the beauty and terror you would have come to expect from an unknown location

Special EffectsThe effects are one of the biggest talking points of this film, first of all Kong looks fantastic, large amounts of the film looks brilliant, but that one chase scene will drag this down because it is such a weak point for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Kong versus the T-Rex.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The canyon chase the CGI looks awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the remakes that works because of the improvement in technology, it is epic in scale and manages to capture the true feeling behind what made the original such a memorable movie.

 

Overall: Stunning remake that lives up to the scale of the movie.

Rating

 

 

Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia (1994)

Director: Peter MacDonald

Writer: Jeff Lieberman (Screenplay) Michael Ende (Characters)

Starring: Jason James Richter, Melody Kay, Jack Black, Carole Finn, Ryan Bollman, Freddie Jones

 

Plot: A young boy must restore order when a group of bullies steal the magical book that acts as a portal between Earth and the imaginary world of Fantasia.


Tagline –  It’s a brand new beginning in the adventure that never end
Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What the Hell Happened?

 

Story: Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia starts as Bastian (Richter) is moving in with his new step mum and sister Nicole (Kay), with a new school which also has new bullies known as the Nasties lead by Slip (Black). While escaping from the bullies Bastian jumps to Fantasia only to leave the book in the hands of Slip who starts causing havoc in the world.

Bastian must return to the human world to get the book back and save Fantasia once again and tackle the bullies in the real world.

 

Thoughts on Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia

 

Characters – Bastian is older, but seemingly less wise, he must learn to adapt to a new school where he must once again save Fantasia from the human world this time. Nicole is the new step-sister of Bastian who doesn’t want him in her life ruining her social circles at school, she doesn’t believe him along the way of helping the residents of Fantasia. Slip is the leader of the Nasties, the school bullies that target Bastian and use the book to try and bring down Fantasia.

PerformancesThe performances from the kids are acceptable for the film, Jack Black is wildly over the top for a bully character, but this is largely terrible for performances when it comes to the voice over characters.

StoryThe story shows Bastian in a new home, new school facing a new problem with Fantasia when the creatures come into the real-world. This does make for an interesting twist, but is completely doesn’t work, first of all the attempted humour thrown into the movie misses so often. When Nicole gets the necklace she just uses it to go shopping, come on really is this the best writing we could come up with. The real world references don’t work either.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure throws us to the real world which doesn’t seem to work for where the film has gone before, the family might get more of the jokes, but won’t enjoy the adventure side because the fantasy world just doesn’t work for the film.

SettingsHaving the film set in the real world takes away the beauty in the landscapes that were created.

Special EffectsThe effects take a huge step back here because they all look terrible now.


Scene of the Movie –
There really isn’t one.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The awful attempt to make this a comedy.

Final ThoughtsThis was awful, what happened is the only question I have left for this movie because it takes so many steps back to become beyond awful viewing.

 

Overall: Terrible throughout.

Rating

 

 

Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Holiday (2006)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Christmas Film

 

Story: The Holiday starts as we see Iris (Winslet) a wedding columnist who is madly in love with a co-worker Jasper (Sewell) but discovers he is now engaged to a fellow co-worker destroying what she wanted in life. We move to LA where we meet Amanda (Diaz) who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Both women want to spend Christmas away from home and the stresses of their lives find themselves swapping homes for a couple of weeks. Both women find themselves like a fish out of water, with Amanda befriending Iris’ brother Graham (Law), while Iris meets composer Miles (Black) and her 90-year old neighbour Arthur (Wallach) who is just as lonely as she finds herself.

With the story unfolding the two women get to learn a new way of life they could never imagine and find themselves learning they could one day love again.

 

Thoughts on The Holiday

 

Characters/PerformanceAmanda is a movie trailer cutter who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes searching for a getaway from her life, she finds herself in England meeting Graham who shows her a new way of life. Iris is an English woman that has found herself trapped hoping that one day she will end up with one co-worker. She agrees to go on the house swap to LA where she meets a man whose getting older and feels forgotten by his work as well as a man in Miles who is going through the same problems is. Graham is a single father trying to balance any sort of relationship with a career and raising his children. Miles is a music composer for movies that offers friendship for Iris but connection on the levels,

Performance Wise, Diaz shows once again she is great for romantic comedies, with Winslet showing here that she can handle comedy, Law shows he is always good for this type of role and Jack Black steps up to go toe to toe with true A-listers.

StoryThe story is about love, how we these women go through a bad patch but will find a way to be stronger once they come through it. While it is all very much created to say there will always be a quick fix after a break up, we do get to experience the joy they go through. By the end of the film you will have said you enjoyed the journey we go through.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t too heavy but comes off when it needs to, with the romance side of the story tackling break ups, letting people go and most of all taking a chance on someone new.

SettingsThe settings are used well to show the different worlds both Amanda and Iris have come from and how they get used to the new lives they are living for two weeks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great Christmas film that gives us all hope when it comes to love even when we think we might have lost it all when it comes to hope.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Christmas film for all to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston, JK Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 3 starts as we see how Kai is trying to escape from the spirit world where he has been trapped for 500 years. Po on the other hand is being pushed into become the teacher which Po isn’t prepared for and when his father Li arrives in town, he gets to learn about his past.

Po must learn the art of chi to defeat Kai and only his real father claims to be able to teach him this skill, so Po goes on an adventure of self-discovery. With Po learning about his past the rest of the Furious Six must find a way to stop Kai before he takes all of the students of chi.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 3

 

Characters Po is ready for the next step of being a master and that is to become the teacher, but as he isn’t ready he searches advice from his father only to learn that his real father is still alive and willing to teach him chi. Li is the real father of Po who wants to bring him home with the promise of teaching him chi. Kai is a vengeful spirit who was once a feared warrior but now he is obsessed with getting all the chi in the world to make him the most powerful creature on Earth. The Furious Six are barely used through this outing with Tigress being the only one who is involved in the main story. The world building of characters is good here as we learn more about the past with other warriors and future with new warriors.

StoryThe story here does show us how Po is continuing his development in training to be a grand master, we have the biggest threat in the villain who isn’t just well trained but has supernatural abilities. This is a huge improvement on the last outing and makes us want to follow the story on the deeper level. The dealing with the parent issues also does come off as an important lesson.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action once again is great and entertaining with the comedy being hit or miss throughout. This does seem to be for the family and will entertain the whole family more than the last outing.

SettingsThe settings once again look great and dive more into fantasy this time which is great to see.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic which is something we have come to know in this franchise now.

Final ThoughtsThis is an improvement on the last outing and I feel is more entertaining than the first one, so I do believe this is the best in the franchise for the story of Po.

 

Overall: Enjoy the third chapter of this franchise.

Rating

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weaker Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 2 starts as we learn of an evil peacock named Shen who has mastered the art of fireworks and has gone into hiding to make the perfect weapon. Meanwhile Po is continuing his training working as a unit in the now Furious Six and when not fighting he is training with Shifu.

With the Furious Six going into battle against Shen, Po must face the truth about where he came from as he finally confronts the realization he was adopted and what happened to his parents.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 2

 

Characters Po is still clumsy but a warrior never the less but this time he must face his past while seeing his heroes disappoint him. Shifu lets his team do the work this time not being overly involved in the story. Shen is the peacock looking to conquer China with his powerful unstoppable weapon. The Furious Six all play their part again too with Tigress seemingly getting the biggest part. The characters do all work for the film and do make this feel like a sequel adventure for the characters taking on a new villain.

StoryThe story does feel slightly flatter this time around, now Po is trained it is just the group taking on a new villain as we try to learn about where Po came from and why he is the only Panda around. It feels like a sequel but lacks the punch the first one had by trying to go overly emotional.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is all what we expect, big and martial arts that only works for animated, the comedy seems to have dried up more just not clicking enough. This is fine for a family film though that will keep the kids happier than the adults.

SettingsOnce again the settings do look great for battling kingdoms which are surrounded with smaller town.

AnimationWe know the animation is fantastic and once again it doesn’t let us down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker sequel that just seems to lack the heart the first film had, leaving it all feel like it could have been a straight to DVD sequel.

 

Overall: Weak sequel you just can’t enjoy as much.

Rating