Victoria and Abdul (2017)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Lee Hall (Screenplay) Shrabani Basu (Book)

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Adeel Akhtar

 

Plot: Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.


Tagline – History’s most unlikely friendship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enlightening Historical Moment

 

Story: Victoria and Abdul starts as Abdul Karim (Fazal) and Mohammed (Akhtar) are selected to travel from India to England to present Queen Victoria (Dench) with a gift from the Indian Empire. When Queen Victoria sees something in Abdul, sees becomes friends with him, learning about the Indian culture in a way she could never understand from the English textbook.

While their relationship becoming the talk of the palace, they even start to question whether it is good for her, but the relationship gives Queen Victoria a chance to express the lost loves of her life, a face she could never have on front of her subjects.

 

Thoughts on Victoria and Abdul

 

Characters – Queen Victoria is the elderly Queen of England, Albert has passed on, her children have their own lives and now she goes for countless routines of meeting different people, with most people almost waiting for her to die. When she befriends Abdul she gets a new lease for life and she looks to embrace the Indian culture. Abdul is a clerk from India, he gets selected to present Queen Victoria a gift, he soon finds himself being her closest aid, teaching her about the Indian culture, causing a potential rift in the royal household. He treats Queen Victoria like a person rather than a royal figure which is what helps her enjoy her later life.

PerformancesJudi Dench is fantastic in the leading role, bringing us a performance that could rival her Mrs Brown performance as Queen Victoria too. Ali Fazal is brilliant in the partnership role with Dench, he helps give the light to the role that at times is treated with racial hate. The supporting cast across the board is great too showing all the different levels people treated outsiders.

StoryThe story follows the later years Queen Victoria who became friends with an Indian clerk against the will of rest of the palace. We see how this gave her a new lease for life if only for a couple of years. The story that history wanted you to forget about becomes a fascinating watch because like most interesting moments in history they have faced being erased.

Biopic/HistoryQueen Victoria was one of the great known members of the royal family, the former longest ruling monarch, she had many stories and this is another one that shows us what she was like.

SettingsThe settings all feel authentic for the time showing us what it was like for Abdul to learn the new culture.


Scene of the Movie –
You will respect Abdul speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end while following history is frustrating to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great history lesson on the iconic leader of the country. It has two wonderful performances and enough charm to enjoy for everybody watching.

 

Overall: Enjoyable historical film.

Rating

 

 

 

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay) Agatha Christie (Novel)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Lucy Boynton, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.


Tagline – Everyone is a suspect

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drawn Out Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Murder on the Orient Express starts as we meet the great Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he solves another mystery but is summoned back to England for another mystery, where he catches the Orient Express from Istanbul. On the train we have a host of character, Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), Dr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr), Bouc (Bateman), Marquez (Garcid-Rulfo), Pilar (Cruz), Hector (Gad) Ratchett (Depp), Masterman (Jacobi), Count Andrenyi (Polunin), Countess Andrenyi (Boynton), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Princess Dragomiroff (Dench), Higegarde (Colman) and Gerhard (Dafoe).

Half way through the trip one of the passengers is murdered leading to Poirot needing to get to the bottom of this mystery, that looks unsolvable with every passenger a potential suspect, this could be his greatest case yet.

 

Thoughts on Murder on the Orient Express

 

Characters – Poirot is considered the greatest detective in the world, he solves the unsolvable but has a quirky side to him too, he needs order in his life. He uses his skills to figure out the truth about the suspects in solving the murder. To be honest I found this character annoying, and I like quirky detectives, Monk was one of my favourites but the style he presents himself just didn’t click for me. As for the passengers we have the people from different walks off life which makes them all suspects in their own way but until the end we don’t learn enough about any of them, which is guess is the point as we only learn what Poirot is learning.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh takes the roles as Poirot and for me he doesn’t deliver, he isn’t quirky enough to be quirky but is proper enough to feel proper, he just seems plainly odd. Much like with the characters it is hard to say anything bad about the cast which is an all-star cast, nobody stands out and nobody seems out of place, they are just fine.

StoryThe story is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, well it might be and I am sure when you read it, you will be left on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. The problem is that is doesn’t work on screen because we are trying to over play the eccentric sides of these characters in a mystery that when you stop and think about it and how it is shot doesn’t add up by the end. I am not saying the novel is bad, just how this movie tells the story.

Crime/MysteryThe mystery is who murdered someone on a train, this works I like a good mystery but the final outcome while great in its own way, doesn’t work for someone who likes to try and solve the mystery as they go along.

SettingsOnce we get to the train it is all plain sailing for the settings which work for the audience knowing the killer would have nowhere to run.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsHere is a classic case of trying to make a classic novel into a movie and failing, the style the film is shot it doesn’t click, the performances are just average, while the mystery doesn’t add up once you get to the final reveal.

 

Overall: Disappointing adaptation of the classic novel.

Rating

 

 

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

shakeDirector: John Madden

Writer: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck

 

Plot: A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Oscar Heavy Classic

 

Story: Shakespeare in Love starts as Philip Henslowe (Rush) has been struggling to pay his debts to Hugh Fennyman (Wilkinson) and with his star scripter William Shakespeare (Fiennes) working on the latest play for the theatre which can clean his debts.

Shakespeare looking for his latest muse sees just how Queen Elizabeth (Dench) sees his work where we get to meet Viola De Lesseps (Paltrow) a wealthy daughter of London who dreams of being in a Shakespeare play. When William meets Viola the motivation behind Romeo and Juliet is born and with Viola is undercover as the lead actor of the play but is also being forced into marrying Lord Wessex (Firth) by Queen’s order. With the love between William and Viola being kept a secret one of the most iconic plays in history becomes the reality in the famous Rose theatre.

 

Thoughts on Shakespeare in Love

 

StoryThe story here plays along the lines of seeing how love can inspire the best work from playwrights as we see the struggling Shakespeare re-discover his best work once he falls in love once again. The parallels to what is going on with the play and everyday situation all comes together very well as we see how the final pieces of the puzzle comes together. This does have a full stage feel to everything going on which could easily be a turn off for some people though.

Comedy/Drama/RomanceWe have good theatre based comedy without being a joke a minute throughout this film, the film really does focus on the romantic angle between William, Viola and the problems she must face with arranged marriage to Lord Wessex.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all loosely based on real people that also become the characters within the Romeo and Juliet story that we have all come to know. The performances are all brilliant here showing us that if we want a stage play movie we can turn to these actors for first choice.

SettingsEach setting fits the time period perfectly as we would all be willing to believe we are in the middle of 1593 watching the creation Romeo and Juliet.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that not everyone will but is easily one of the most fascinating ones around as we learn the creation of one of the greatest plays ever written.

 

Overall: Classic in its own right.

Ratingcard

 

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

missDirector: Tim Burton

Writer: Jane Goldman (Screenplay) Ransom Riggs (Novel)

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L Jackson, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell

 

Plot: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tim Burton’s X-Men

 

Story: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children starts as we meet every day average American teenager Jake (Butterfield) who has never fitted in. When his estranged grandfather Abe (Stamp) who has told Jake all the stories about Miss Peregrine and her home for peculiar children gets murdered his family tries to make Jake realize everything is just a story to deal with his loss during a World War II.

To help Jake get over the loss of his grandfather his father Franklin (O’Dowd) take him to a small Welsh island where Abe was once at a school only to discover that it was destroyed by a bomb in World War II. While exploring the ruins, Jake finds himself being followed by some strange children led by Emma Bloom (Purnell) who take Jake back to 1943 to meet Miss Peregrine (Green). Miss Peregrine has been guarding the children in a time loop from the evil Barron (Jackson). Jake learns of the impending threat coming towards the home he learns his own ability that will be key to saving the children and his grandfather.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a good fantasy film that tells a story that could easily get pushed off as covering for a traumatic event in a life. We get the tradition teenage character that needs to find his place in the world and is portrayed to be so average it is unbelievable. We get the mix of peculiar children who are basically X-Men with their own abilities that will help then to defend themselves. Eva Green gives her best Johnny Depp impression by playing the over the top strange character and Samuel L Jackson brings his own stamp to the villain role. This is slightly too dark of a film for the younger viewers but also has too many moments that adults won’t like either so this is an good film either if it is slightly too long.

 

Overall: The peculiar look at dark fantasy concept in the X-Men style universe.

Rating65

 

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Weekend – J. Edgar (2011)

hooverDirector: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Dustin Lance Black (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney

 

Plot: J. Edgar Hoover, powerful head of the F.B.I. for nearly 50 years, looks back on his professional and personal life.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Moving Biopic

 

Story: J. Edgar starts as we learn that J Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio) wanting to tell his story as he goes back to 1919 when he witnesses the crime being committed against his boss Mitchell Palmer. We see how Palmer give Hoover a chance to search for the communist which are targeting high ranking members of America.

With Hoover’s first act he plans to deport any non-America who poses a threat to the country a new law was born and peace came from the rebel. Being put in charge of the Bureau of Investigation Hoover cleans out the corruption to build his own force as he wants to use new technology to help fight crime. While his professional career shines and rises his personal life where he tackles his own relationship with Clyde Tolson (Hammer) that has to remain a secret. The birth of the FBI is told through this story too.

J. Edgar shows the amazing career and life of one of the most important men in American history as we see how he came to help change how law was thought and studied. This will never be questioned but his methods on achieving this could be questioned as he does push many morale boundaries. It is the look into his personal life which also interests because for a man rising against authority to be homosexual at the time would have been looked down on so Hoover also becomes victim to the personal choice being the thing that held back his career. The problem with this film is not in the performance because DiCaprio shines in this role but the problem comes with the fact that this is slightly too long at nearly two and half hours long we could have easily have had a two-hour film because the whole film feels slow at times.

 

Overall: Slow biopic with heavyweight performances.

Rating55