Hook (1991)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: James V Hart, Nick Castle, Malia Scotch Marmo (Screenplay) J.M. Barrie (Books)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Caroline Goodall, Charlie Korsmo, Amber Scott

 

Plot: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.


Tagline – What if Peter Pan grew up?

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun-Filled Fantasy

 

Story: Hook starts as we meet businessman Peter Banning (Williams) who has started over working leading to his children become distant, his wife Moira (Goodall) forces him to visit his Granny Wendy (Smith) in London for Christmas, where she sees how much Peter has changed since his childhood of never wanting to grow up.

Captain Hook (Hoffman) takes Peter’s children, which sees Peter needing to be pushed into returning to Neverland, a place he has long forgotten about, with Tinkerbell (Roberts) taking him there only for Hook to be left disappointed by the man Peter has become, Tinkerbell has three days to restore Peter’s faith in Neverland to save his children.

 

Thoughts on Hook

 

Characters – Peter Banning is a lawyer that has been neglecting his family, his Grandmother sees him losing his young heart that made her take him in, in the first place, Peter must confront his past to save his children from his old nemesis Captain Hook in Neverland, a place he has long since forgotten about. Peter has become everything he once hated as a child and shows how at times parents can get buried in their work. Captain Hook has been waiting for the day Peter Pan returns, he is left disappointed when he does return a shell of the boy that left, giving him three days to prepare for a battle, while having his own plan to get revenge on Peter. Tinkerbell comes to Peter to bring him back to Neverland, she helps transform him back to his original self, while showing him what he is still fighting for.

PerformancesRobin Williams was a great choice for this role, he gets to manages the serious adult side of everything as well as the playful side of Peter Pan with ease being able to swap between the two whenever he needs to. Dustin Hoffman as the villainous Hook has great enjoyment in this role where he does get to play along with his character. Julia Roberts does all she needs to do without being as involved as the lead too.

StoryThe story follows an older Peter Pan that must return to Neverland to save his own children after his old nemesis Captain Hook takes them there. This spin on the Peter Pan story is a wonderful on because see Peter grown up becoming everything he promised he wouldn’t shows us just how difficult being an adult can be, you will turn your back on parts of your childhood become what you once feared. This was always the meaning behind Peter Pan in the first place, finding an escape from the busy lives, now an adult must use this to save his own relationship with his children and family, which is what is important in life.

Adventure/Comedy/FantasyThe adventure side of the film takes Peter to Neverland to relive moments of his childhood in a fantasy battle against pirates with fairies on their side. We do get elements of comedy, but even Robin Williams is held back from going into his full routine like we saw in Aladdin.

SettingsThe film uses the same settings that we know from Peter Pan, the London setting might well be a more modern one, but Neverland hasn’t aged a day since Peter has left.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Pop culture references.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical version of Peter Pan’s adventures showing how life can change for adults who never thought they would be when they were children.

 

Overall: Magical adventure.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

The Lady in the Van (2015)

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Writer: Alan Bennett (Screenplay)

Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Francis De La Tour, Rufus Allam, Dominic Cooper

 

Plot: A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that’s parked in his driveway.


Tagline – A mostly true story

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Comedy Drama

 

Story: The Lady in the Van starts as we meet Miss Shepherd (Smith) who lives in her van on a residential street in Camden, London. When Alan Bennett (Jennings) moves in to one of the houses, she sees how the residents accept her in places but he tries to be kind and friendly towards her.

When Miss Shepherd is about to need to find a new place to stay, Alan offers her a place in his drive way where he continues to learn more about her and her past where the mysterious Underwood (Broadbent) turns up as the two go through the ups and downs of a relationship.

 

Thoughts on The Lady in the Van

 

Characters – Miss Shepherd is the elderly woman who lives in her van, she is welcome in some places but in others she doesn’t get on with. She believes she knows the world which we are led to believe is being true. Alan Bennett is the playwriter that offers her a chance to live on his drive way and over time they build a strange relationship as he reflects his relationship with her to his own mother.

PerformancesMaggie Smith is fantastic in the role showing the vulnerable side the character has even though she is stronger than believed. Alex Jennings is great too, as he is telling us the story through his character.

StoryThe story shows how Alan opened his door to Miss Shepherd willing to listen to her stories that could easily be considered fake but as the time unfolds he learns the truth behind them. The story gives us a chance to see how we would react to a homeless person that has been left forgotten by the world. I do wish the timeline had been made clearer through the film and we would have seen more interaction between the two leads though.

Biopic/ComedySeeing these two almost random people does feel strange for a biopic, the comedy works in places but in mostly light-hearted material.

SettingsThe settings show us how residential streets could be used to show how people can come together to work together to help someone in need.


Scene of the Movie –
Lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The timeline seems strange and jumps too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy drama about listening to people’s stories, but it doesn’t pull on the levels it could have,

 

Overall: Good solid comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Q – Quartet (2012)

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Writer: Ronald Harwood (Screenplay) Ronald Harwood (Play)

Starring: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs

 

Plot: At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.


Tagline – Four friends looking for a little harmony

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Drama

 

Story: Quartet starts as we head to Beecham House retirement home for musicians, where Reggie (Courtenay), Wilf (Connolly), Cissy (Collins) are preparing for their latest show for Verdi’s birthday with director Cedric (Gambon). We follow their everyday life at the home before an icon of their industry Jean Horton (Smith) arrives causing old wounds to be opened for Reggie.

The four must rebuild their friendship to bring their once famous quartet back to the stage for the concert, but some bridges are harder to build for Reggie compared to the others, can they forgive and forget before the concert.

 

Thoughts on Quartet

 

Characters – Reggie is the calm member of the quartet, he has lived in the home for a few years with two of his former members Wilf and Cissy, he conducts himself well and teaches when the students visit, but his life is pushed when his ex-wife arrives leaving him resenting being there needing to learn how to forgive his former love. Jean is the biggest name from the former quartet, but now she is left alone in the world needing to get used to her new environment, where she is forced to come out of retirement for one final recording. Wilf is a horny former musician, he flirts at every opportunity, he gets the funniest lines through the film because he knows how to use his charm to enjoy the moments in their lives in the home. Cissy is the absent minded member of the group, it is her age getting to her but Reggie keeps her mind in the right track when needed to be directed the right direction.

PerformancesMaggie Smith is great in this role, this great British actor shows she can handle any role with grace and ease. Tom Courtenay is great too being the strong leading role where he shows the dignity his character requires. Billy Connolly is the perfect choice for the added comic relief of the film, he gains a laugh in nearly every scene, even the serious ones you know he can pull off the laugh needed. Pauline Collins rounds off the leading quartet and she is great throughout the film too, the cast gives us everything we want from their performances.

StoryThe story shows how the once respected performers reaching the retirement age, will need to find something to do in the retirement home to continue their love of music. The main group we follow have their problems between them but to have that one final moment in the spotlight drives them all to perform. The four have sacrificed during their lives to be known as the best, including families which they regret at times but wouldn’t give up what they achieved in their limelight.

ComedyThe comedy comes from how Wilf looks at life and the everyday life within the retirement home.

SettingsMost of the film is set in and around the retirement home, this shows us how the members are still enjoying life, now with like-minded people in their later years.


Scene of the Movie –
The performance building.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While funny, sometimes Wilf is just seemingly there for comic relief.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable light hearted comedy drama showing us just where people can be enjoy their passions at any stage of their life.

 

Overall: Nice touching drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – G – Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Director: Kelly Asbury

Writer: Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathey Greeneberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Kelly Asbury (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham

 

Plot: The neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet are at war, but the gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, are in love.


Tagline – An epic tale on a tiny scale.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Kids Will Enjoy

 

Story: Gnomeo & Juliet starts as we learn about two rival gardens, the Montagues and the Capulets, one has blue gnomes the other has red gnomes and they are at war when the humans are not around. Gnomeo leads the assaults from the blue side while Tybalt attacks for the reds.

When Gnomeo goes out on a solo mission he meets Juliet, a red that has been sneaking around only for the two to fall in love. Can their love bring an end to the war between the two sides.

 

Thoughts on Gnomeo & Juliet

 

Characters – Gnomeo is the leader of the blues he is doing everything to fight for his garden, until he meets Juliet and falls in love, he must continue his fight while trying to stay on Juliet’s good side, risking everything. Juliet is the daughter of the reds, she is forced to stay safe even though she wants her own adventure, she meets Gnomeo and the falls in love wanting to end the war from her side. We do get plenty of Shakespeare based characters with the aggressive Tybalt being the most interesting of them all.

StoryHere with this story we get another example of Romeo & Juliet being told, the waring families and forbidden love, only with gnomes and garden ornaments. The love story is fine, one we know and can learn from no a problem, the bigger problem comes with the idea of this wanting to be Toy Story with garden ornaments, but they just don’t seem to care if they upset their humans, even though when humans see them they stop.  You need to focus on one side and this just felt like something we have seen before with too many puns.

Comedy/Family/RomanceThe comedy is mostly garden puns, which can work at times, but like most puns has you groaning at times. We could see families learning from this which is good to see a proper message to people and the romance is what we know from Romeo & Juliet, you can find love in unlikely places.

SettingsThe film takes place in the gardens which have their own designs, this works for the film and makes this enjoyable to see the different designs people have for their gardens.

AnimationThe animation can’t be faulted here, everything looks the part with no problems for the audience to see.


Scene of the Movie –
That Pixar moment. Though this isn’t a Pixar movie.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The characters not caring about the destruction to the gardens while also not wanting to be seen moving by humans.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable family film, it tells a simple story with moment soft peril and puns all around, it is generic in its telling of the story and has a few funny characters.

 

Overall: Family film night sorted.

Rating