Paddington 2

Paddington Bear has settled in well to life living with the Brown family. When he finds a pop up book of London in Mr Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) shop, he decides to get a job to save up so he can buy it for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday present. Unfortunately, the actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) is also after the book as it reveals a hidden treasure, and when he steals it from Mr Gruber’s shop Paddington is wrongly sent to jail when trying to apprehend him.

This is absolutely delightful sequel which more than lives up to its predecessor. It’s full of fun, hilarity and some genuinely emotional moments. The animation is beautiful, particularly when shifting between scenes, but also Paddington himself is so lifelike and endearing. Ben Whishaw’s voice suits him perfectly. However, Hugh Grant is the star of the show as Phoenix Buchanan. Brilliantly hammy and hilarious!

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

In the second instalment of the Kingsman films, almost all the members of the secret spy association are wiped out within the first 10 minutes, meaning that the remaining two members Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) have to head to the USA to meet their American counterparts, the Statesmen. They work together, along with the resurrected Harry (Colin Firth) to try and defeat Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the leader of a drugs cartel who lives in a recreation of 1950s America including a diner, bowling alley and cinema in Cambodia. She has poisoned her latest batch of drugs and will only release the antidote if the US President agrees to end the war on drugs.

As with the first film the action sequences are fantastic, fast paced and almost cartoon like. The highlight has to be the Elton John cameo which was absolutely hilarious, and I’m glad that Harry was brought back. The main weak points for me where the Glastonbury scenes (where Eggsy has to plant a tracking device inside someone) and the scenes with Princess Tilde. There wasn’t any chemistry between the actors and I thought Hanna Alström was a little wooden.

Overall this film was thoroughly enjoyable and a great sequel. I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as the first film, but I think that’s just because that was completely new and original. Fans of the original should definitely see the Golden Circle.

My Cousin Rachel

Whenever a film adaptation of a novel is released I always plan to read the book before I watch the film version, but I rarely manage to do so. However, with My Cousin Rachel I actually finished the novel only two days before seeing the film at the cinema.

Philip Ashley lives on his cousin Ambrose’s estate in Cornwall, and while Ambrose is abroad in Italy Philip receives a letter from him informing him that he has married. However, a few months later Philip receives more letters from Ambrose that seem to suggest that his new wife Rachel is trying to kill him. After Ambrose’s death, Rachel arrives in Cornwall and Philip is determined to dislike her, but things aren’t that simple.

Rachel Weisz is fantastic as Rachel. She is sure of herself and knows how to use her sexuality to her advantage, all the while being completely unreadable and we are never sure whether she really is guilty or not. Sam Claflin is also very good as the innocent and naive Philip. The locations of the film is absolutely beautiful, both the scenes in Cornwall and the brief scenes in Italy.

Although in general this is a successful adaptation, as the novel was so familiar in my mind I was very aware of the few changes there were. Some changes I didn’t mind at all and could understand why they had been made, for example, sex between Rachel and Philip is only hinted at in the novel but is shown (to a certain extent) in the film, and although at the beginning I was a little unsure about the fact that we weren’t actually going to see Philip and Ambrose together (Claflin plays both) by the end I didn’t think that it was needed. However, there were some other changes that I felt made Rachel seem more innocent than she does in the novel, such as Philip finding the laburnum seeds outside rather than in Rachel’s room. Nevertheless, I thought this was a strong adaptation of the novel, and well worth a watch.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

In this second Guardians of the Galaxy film, Star Lord/Peter (Chris Pratt) and his friends have built up a reputation for protecting space. They have been chosen to protect the batteries of a race called the Sovereigns, led by their leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and in exchange they are given Nebula (Karen Gillan). However, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) decides to steal a few batteries, which causes the Sovereigns to hire Yondu to find the Guardians so they can have their revenge. They are rescued by Ego (Kurt Russell) who reveals that he is Peter’s father.

This film isn’t quite as good as the original but it is so much fun! The story is fairly entertaining but the film’s strengths are its great characters and the dynamics between them, and there’s a fantastic combination of humour and action. As with the original, the soundtrack is great, and the film is worth seeing if only for adorable Baby Groot!

Colossal

Colossal is a comedy science fiction movie. When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is thrown out of her boyfriend Tim’s (Dan Stevens) apartment due to her persistent drunken behaviour, she moves back to her home town and catches up with a childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). When they see a giant beast attacking Seoul in South Korea on the news, Gloria starts to see patterns with her own behaviour. Is there a link between her and the robot?

This is meant to be a comedy but I didn’t find hardly any of it funny. Anne Hathaway gives a good performance but her character started to frustrate me at times. Not as much however, as the two lead male characters who are both consistently horrible to Gloria.

I knew this would be a silly story going in but I was hoping for a bit more comedy.

Beauty and the Beast

I had been so excited about this film since it was announced, and grew even more so every time another cast member was announced as they all seemed such perfect choices. As the release date grew nearer I did start to feel a little apprehensive that it might not live up to my expectations or not be as good as the original, which I love so much. I’m so pleased that it did not disappoint in the slightest!

The film is full of nods to the original, including some exact shots, but there are also some wonderful additions. I loved the background stories to Belle and the Beast’s childhoods. The casting is indeed perfect, particularly Luke Evans as Gaston, who is hilarious! It is a beautifully shot film and is so magical.

If I had to be very picky and criticise something, I would say that Ewan McGregor’s French accent as Lumière was patchy at times, but I loved the characterisation in general. I also think it was a shame that some of the songs from the West End/Broadway production weren’t used fully, but I liked that some of them were used as a background soundtrack, such as ‘Home’.

I adored this film, I laughed and I cried and I wanted to watch it again immediately as soon as it finished!

 

Logan

Logan is the latest and it would seem last Wolverine film from the X Men franchise. It’s generally a much more ‘adult’ film than others in the franchise, being far more bloody and a very sombre tone throughout.

It is a good film but it has some sad moments and I found that I missed the usual comedy of other X Men films. There were also some events mentioned, particularly by Professor X, which weren’t explained or elaborated on, which was a little frustrating. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are wonderful, as expected, and I thought Stephen Merchant was good in an unusually serious role for him.

La La Land

La La Land is the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician who meet as they are pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles.

This is a beautifully made film, with several nods to classic musical films from the golden age of Hollywood, and there is a sense of nostalgia throughout the film, made all the more clear by Sebastian’s passion for jazz. The colours and cinematography are stunning, with many single takes used for the musical numbers.

The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is fantastic and there is plenty of humour. Much has been written about the ending and without giving anything away, I think it made the film much more memorable that the ending wasn’t necessarily what you would expect.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the story of Newt Scamander, the author of the book with the same name, during his visit to New York and his encounter with the city’s secret community of witches and wizards, 70 years before the time period of the Harry Potter novels. Newt is travelling with a magical suitcase full of creatures that he accidentally loses, and while trying to retrieve his animals he encounters the mystery of the obscurus that it attacking the city.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it was so lovely to be back in the world of Harry Potter with a new story. Eddie Redmayne was fantastic as Newt, portraying a character who’s much more comfortable with animals that humans. I didn’t particularly warm to Tina (Katherine Waterston) as a character but she grew on me a little towards the end so that may not be the case in future films. I thought Kowalski was a lovely character, wonderfully played by Dan Fogler.

I am looking forward to the sequels, but I hope that there is enough of a plot for all of them. However, it would seem that J.K. Rowling has a lot of back story to tell, so I am optimistic!

Finding Dory

I am always a little apprehensive when I go and see sequels to films that I love, and this was certainly true for Finding Dory. However, I needn’t have worried as this is a very strong sequel that is thoroughly enjoyable, funny and emotional.

It is a year on from Finding Nemo, and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) begins to get flashbacks from her childhood. She decides to go on an adventure to try and find her parents, with Marlon and Nemo’s help, and they end up in a Marine Life Institute, where she finds more friends who are willing to help, including two sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominic West), Hank the octopus (Ed O’Neil) and a beluga whale called Bailey (Ty Burrell).

The animation is absolutely beautiful and the new characters all live up to their predecessors from the first film. There are plenty of laughs throughout and there are some genuinely heartwarming and moving moments. If I were to criticise anything, I would suggest that it is maybe slightly too long, and the ending slightly OTT (I know that might seem ridiculous when the entire film is about a talking fish with short term memory loss!) but this is a lovely film that is definitely worth seeing.