ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Y – The Young Victoria (2009)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Julian Fellowes (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.


Tagline – She was the queen of an empire, but her heart belonged to one man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: The Young Victoria starts as young Victoria (Blunt) has been guarded from the world, knowing she will be next in line for the throne, Sir John Conroy (Strong) has been trying to get her to sign a regency order, meaning he would become king until she came of age, only for Victoria to refuse. We follow her 17th year as she starts meeting suiters for her husband, Belgium’s Prince Albert (Friend) being the prime candidate.

When King William (Broadbent) dies, it places Victoria in the position of Queen of England, Lord Melbourne (Bettany) must try to guide her in the decisions that she may face, while Victoria and Albert stay in contact through letters, that shares their love.

 

Thoughts on The Young Victoria

 

Characters – Victoria was raised to become Queen one day, forced to follow strict rules including walking down stairs holding somebody’s hand and sharing a bedroom with her mother. She is always under pressure about signing a regency, only to refuse because she knows that one day she will become Queen, she wants to make her rule, her own, which sees her wanting to pick her love, instead of following the rules the rest are trying to place for her. Prince Albert is the son of King Leopold of Belgium, the two fall in love and know that their union will keep the countries together stronger. Lord Melbourne is the advisor to Victoria, he has his own agenda which he wants to put into place, making him a danger figure in her connection to the common people of England. The Duchess of Kent is the mother of Victoria, who has been following the rules to protect her daughter and stuck following whatever John Conroy says.

PerformancesEmily Blunt shines in this leading role as the young Victoria, she brings the grace and determination to change the country through with her performance which you could believe the real Victoria doing to Britain. Rupert Friend as Prince Albert is wonderful too as he shows us the one person that would truly stand up against the Queen as many others would be in fear of her. Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson round off the main cast as they both are great in their roles through the film.

StoryThe story follows the firs year that Queen Victoria was on the throne, we see how she had to learn quickly with how the politicians would try to sway her, meet a husband and try to help sort out a country with big divides between the upper class and the lower class. We see that even at a young age she was able to make these decisions to bring Britain forward and mark herself down as one of the most important leaders the nation ever saw. After becoming a fan of The Crown this was an easy story to step into as smaller moments made sense, if you don’t know certain historic rules the Queen must follow, you might not get why certain scenes in the film happen.

Biopic/History/RomanceThis movie shows us how important Queen Victoria’s reign was, we might only follow around a year, but she wanted to start making changes early on which will later become her legacy, the romance that she goes through shows how the Albert came into her life and showed her, they could rule together if they challenged the rules they believed to be wrong.

SettingsEach setting used in this film feels like the true settings we would see the royals living in, each one shows just how they could be living in the upper class, with the set design showing the beauty within the buildings.


Scene of the Movie –
The ride around town which changed everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do have certain rules that never get explained, which people might not understand.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautifully shot biopic that shows us the first year’s reign of Queen Victoria, the difficulties she faced and how she overcame them all.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – B – Belle (2013)

Director: Amma Asante

Writer: Misan Sagay (Screenplay)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, Miranda Richardson, Sam Reid, Penelope Wilton

 

Plot: The mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Impressive Look a Historical Change

 

Story: Belle starts in 1769 when Captain Sir John Lindsay (Goode) father’s a child with a slave girl who has died. He begs his Uncle Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and Lady Mansfield (Watson) to care for Dido Elizabeth Belle. Facing the difficult decision Lord Mansfield accepts Belle into the household as a new friend for their other niece Elizabeth, but for the social order they must wait and see.

Belle (Mbatha-Raw) and Elizabeth (Gadon) grown up to their 20’s as Belle learns of her father’s death and potential suitors for Elizabeth with Dido staying away from visitors because of her skin colour. When Lord Mansfield agrees to take vicar’s son John Davinier (Reid) under his wing to defend the rights of the slaves after a tragic event led to the death of them on board a transport ship by the captain.

With the case running in the background Belle uses this to work with Davinier to bring down the slavery industry running through Britain while dealing with the society marriages she has found herself involved with.

 

Thoughts on Belle

 

Characters/PerformanceBelle is the black woman in higher society England, only she isn’t accepted in all the ways the white high society people are. She lives in the rich homes but not welcome to the dinners but doesn’t understand the difference until she comes of age, she is a strong minded woman whose short memories of her father motivate her into wanting to make a change to rid England of slavery. Lord Mansfield is drawn into how society is meant to be but also wants the best for his adopted daughter. John Davinier is the idealistic young man who is in search for the change in slavery who sees how Belle also wants to change.

Performance wise I do feel Mbatha-Raw gives her best performance of her career to date here with Tom Wilkinson always showing us his acting class. Sam Reid is also great throughout with the rest of the cast all performing their roles just how you need them to be.

StoryThe story is showing an important part of history as we see how England had it’s first case that could bring down slavery in the country. The story unfolds showing how difficult it was for Belle in this time because of her blood line, skin colour and social standing. I think this is an unknow and important part of history that should be known.

Biography/RomanceLooking into this woman’s history was fascinating because we get to see how her choice in love help change a nation look at slavery.

SettingsEach setting looks perfect for time the film is set showing how the upper class looked at the life they had.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film I wasn’t sure about but found myself enjoying from start to finish.

 

Overall: This is a good film for all history buffs to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Tim Burton Weekend – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Kevin Yagher, Andrew Kevin Walker (Screenplay) Washington Irving (Story)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee

 

Plot: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.


Tagline – Who will it come for next?!

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Fantasy Horror

 

Story: Sleepy Hollow starts in 1799 when forward thinking constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is set from New York City to the small farming community of Sleepy Hollow, where a series of murders have been happening by a headless horseman, who takes the heads of his victims.

Requested by Baltus Van Tassel (Gambon), Ichabod gets to use his forward-thinking ideas to investigate the crimes and learn about the town’s people with their strong male hierocracy that controls business, until he teams up with Baltus daughter Katrina (Ricci) to unlock the truth about the legend of the headless horseman.

 

Thoughts on Sleepy Hollow

 

Characters – Ichabod Crane is a constable who wants to start using the science to solve crimes instead of the torture techniques being adopted for the time. He becomes the fish out of water in the farming community trying to solve a crime that is surrounded by supernatural, he must use his skills to solve who is behind the supernatural events, using his quirky ways. Katrina is the daughter of the Van Tassel’s who is looking for husband, she takes a liking towards Ichabod and helps learn the truth. Hessian Horseman is the legend that slaughtered many before being defeated and beheaded, now he has risen from the dead to take the heads of the community. Lady Van Tassel is the wife of Baltus, she has a secret from him and for the most part enjoys the new life she is living. Baltus is the man that called for Ichabod to help solve the murders, he is one of the few that will stand up for Ichabod to get the truth. We do get plenty of different town’s people to meet that fill the gaps to help us understand the hierarchy of the community.

PerformancesJohnny Depp was truly making his name at time of this release and we knew he was capable of the quirky, this shows him balance the act perfectly in one of his more underrated roles. Christina Ricci is good, though she doesn’t seem to need to do more than be the damsel in distress. Miranda Richardson does a good job n her role showing her experience of how to handle the period piece films. Christopher Walken does give us a delightful dark character though I do know he doesn’t do a lot of the headless scenes in the film. if you look at the rest of the cast we have some of the great British actors mixed with Casper Van Dien who at the time was hot property after Starship Troopers.

StoryThe story is based on the legend of the headless horseman, which in its own right is an interesting fantasy horror. We keep to the time where science was first trying to get pushed in the crime world and still looked down upon, we also get the idea that science is meant to solve crime until the supernatural is thrown into the mix throwing everything out the window. The story does give us a serial killer to try and see stopped which can keep the detectives in the audience happy and the pace things unfold give us enough time for the twists to have effect in the story.

Fantasy/Horror/MysteryThe fantasy side of the film comes from the horseman coming back from the dead to take the heads of the community. This does play into the horror elements of the film too because we see how the community become scared of whether they will be next, this does also give us the blood and the creepy atmosphere before his arrival. The mystery gives us the questions about who is behind the horseman and his return, this does give us twists along the way too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to the best levels as we get to see the excellent built sets to make us feel like we are in 1799 farming community.

Special EffectsThe effects use mostly excellent practical effects with the lost heads, the CGI moments do work well too when used mostly with the re-creation of the horseman from the skeleton to human again.


Scene of the Movie –
Horseman vs Ichabod & Brom, excellent fight sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The science does get forgotten in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy horror that gives us an iconic killer with a crime to solve around why he has targeted the farming community.

 

Overall: Fun horror with Burton’s token quirks.

Rating

 

 

Stronger (2017)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: John Pollono (Screenplay) Jeff Bauman, Bret Witter (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Richard Lane Jr, Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, Patty O’Neil, Clancy Brown

 

Plot: Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.


Tagline – Strength Defines Us

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Inspiring Drama

 

Story: Stronger starts as we meet Jeff Bauman (Gyllenhaal) a likeable supermarket worker that is a regular in his local Boston bar, while trying to rebuild his relationship with Erin (Maslany) who is running the Boston marathon. Jeff plans to be on the finish line to supporting Erin, this is where his life changed forever, when he is one of the victim in the bombings.

With his parents Patty (Richardson) and Big Jeff (Brown) by his side, we learn that Jeff has had both his legs amputated from above the knees. With the full support of his family, Erin, his employers and the city of Boston, Jeff starts his recovery, rehibition and learning that his life is never going to be the same again.  

 

Thoughts on Stronger

 

Characters – The characters in this movie are real people, you can’t make up their stories, their feelings and emotions about what has happened to them. Jeff Bauman is the average young man, working a normal job, living a normal life. His life is changed forever when he becomes one of the victims of the Boston marathon, losing both his legs. He must learn to accept his new reality of life, while dealing with the pressure of becoming the face for strength in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings. Erin Hurley is the on again off again girlfriend of Jeff’s it is for her that he attends the marathon, she gives everything to stick by him during his recovery, gives up her job to care for him, but she struggles to cope with extra demand on hr life. Patty is Jeff’s mother who brings the family together to support him, she does also struggle to see her son the way he is now.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in this movie, he once again shows everybody that he is the real deal, he can accept any change needed to make himself the character while showing the emotional distress his character goes through. Tatiana Maslany is brilliant in her role too, she shows the difficulty that her character must go through with each action and speech she goes through. Miranda Richardson is great as the devastated mother who must remain strong after what has happened.

StoryThe story continues on the events of the Boston Marathon after last years Patriots Day. This time we just follow one man’s recovery and how it effects the people in his life. This story plays on the emotional level that which you feel as Jeff’s road to recovery unfolds. It shows how one moment in life can change everything in life and the people you are sharing that life with.

BiopicJeff Bauman was an average person, his friends loved and respected, his life changed making him a celebrity for the city, which is where the pressure is shown for him.

SettingsThe film is set in and around Boston which is where the event happened and it shows the life the people had before it happened.


Scene of the Movie –
Carlos meets Jeff.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was difficult to find one.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama showing the strength the city showed in support for Jeff through the tragic event that changed his life, we see how he did overcome the event to become stronger.

 

Overall: This is a power drama that shows how to find strength in the darkest moments.

Rating

 

 

Churchill (2017)

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Writer: Alex von Tunzelmann (Screenplay)

Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, Julian Wadham, Richard Durden

 

Plot: 96 hours before the World War II invasion of Normandy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with his severe reservations with Operation Overlord and his increasingly marginalized role in the war effort.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Drama

 

Story: Churchill starts as World War II has been raging on with Operation Overlord about to be actioned, Winston Churchill (Cox) the Prime Minister of England is working with President Dwight Eisenhower (Slattery), but Churchill is questioning the decision knowing that if it fails it would mean defeat.

With D-Day counting down Churchill questions why he is losing power when it comes making decisions in the war with King George VI (Purefoy) and Eisenhower planning the attack, that Churchill constantly sees a problem with as Churchill questions why he can’t lead the men into battle, but Eisenhower refuses to let him knowing if Britain lose Churchill they will lose the order.

 

Thoughts on Churchill

 

Characters/Performance – Winston Churchill is considered one if not the greatest Prime Minister Britain has ever had, he came in when no one wanted to lead us to success in defeat the Nazi Germans. This is something we know, this time we watch how he is losing control over the military decisions being made leading up to D-Day the biggest swing in the war. His stubborn behaviour can hold him back but in this moment but it is his humanity to not wanting to sacrifice the men for no guaranteed win that shines through here. Clementine Churchill keeps Winston in line when he is about to lose his mind, make bad decisions and knowing just how important the decision being made are. Eisenhower is the President of the United States, he has been working with the King to plan the attack on the Germans, he does clash with Churchill while understand the same problems he knows that this is the only way.

Performance wise, Brian Cox is great as the great man throughout the film, Miranda Richardson also shines in the supporting role showing how she can keep herself crucial to each scene without stealing it. John Slattery does make for a screen presence here too showing this is an all-around very well performed film.

StoryThe film does circle around just the 96 hours before D-Day and how Churchill didn’t agree with the mission knowing it was a risk. This is an important moment of the war but only shows that moment which isn’t the part that you want to see, the story feels slow in places which does drag it down as you all you want to see if the build-up even if you skip the battle sequence.

Biography/ThrillerThis is a good snippet into the life of Churchill but sadly this isn’t the most interesting as we know his resistance could have given us a very different outcome.

SettingsThe settings all look authentic showing the secret meetings, the world where the leaders would be kept away from the know location for safety while planning.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t the best Churchill movie you will see, it doesn’t have the impact it needs to show one of the greatest leaders the world has seen at his highest moment.

 

Overall: Slow throughout.

Rating