Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ultimate 90’s blogathon is done and wrapped up. It is time to embrace some movie reviews. I have to admit that I actually didn’t watch a lot of movies over the last three weeks. I took the opportunity to catch up on TV series and gaming, which was a really nice change in pace.

I am a fan of Anna Hathaway and especially in those Princess Diaries days and I am also a sucker for princess/Cinderella stories which makes Ella Enchanted all the more fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to see this one so I was excited to see it land on Netflix! Lets give it a go!

Ella Enchanted (2004)

ella enchanted

Director: Tommy O’Haver

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Aidan McArdle, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Punch, Jennifer Higham, Eric Idle, Vivica A. Fox

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling. – IMDB

Ella Enchanted is an innocent fun movie, actually much more than my first impressions that I remembered of it back when it released. While it does give a Cinderella-esque story, Ella embodies quite a few princesses we are familiar with. She does have an evil stepmother who brings two stepsisters and they do push her aside but Ella also has a fairy in the household and ends up getting a curse, like Sleeping Beauty except her curse is one of being obedient. While it seems great as a baby for their parents, as she grew up, it started to cause her to do many things she didn’t want to. Ella lived with no choices and under people’s desires because of this curse. However, she is very kind and accepting. It is hard to not cheer for Ella when she sets out on her journey to find Lucinda, the fairy who granted her this “gift” and feel bad for her predicament when she gets caught up in bad situations.

Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does a great job at being Ella. There’s a bit of the whole innocent and Princess Diaries’ vibe in her at this point. It is a likeable trait and shows lot of potential in being more as an actress. We do know that she is capable of bigger and more mature roles nowadays. Most of the scenes with Ella as some of the best because she is so fun to watch. Along with the fact that her and Hugh Dancy have pretty good chemistry that it makes their love story even more appealing. I haven’t seen Hugh Dancy in a lot of movies. The one I remember slightly might be a few years ago when I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic (and then IMDB tells me that I’ve also seen him in Blood and Chocolate and The Jane Austen Book Club, oh well). He is a charming man for sure and fits well in the role of Prince Char. Perhaps the most entertaining part of Ella Enchanted is watching these two characters. While over the top to a certain degree, still manages to remain believable.
Ella Enchanted

Aside from our main characters, Ella’s crew of friends that she makes along her journey probably are the silliest. She has a magical book that is her household fairy, Mandy’s (played by Minnie Driver) boyfriend. There’s an elf who wants to be a lawyer and not sing and dance. There’s some silly orcs (I think) and of course, some friendly giants. The story is that Char’s uncle is ruling over the kingdom before he comes into coronation, which is pretty much when the story is set and he has decreed rules that make the other species feel repressed and treated cruelly. These friends while filled with a heart of courage and help with making this funny, sometimes can be a little off beat from the story. It still is fun and innocent especially seeing as this is a truly harmless story and one that we’re pretty familiar with.

Ella Enchanted

Finally, our villain. All fairy tales have one. Ours is none other than Char’s power lusting uncle Edgar played by Cary Elwes. And he also has a sidekick which is a magical CGI snake called Heston. Are you sensing an Aladdin’s Jafar feeling here with his Iago? Either way, Ella Enchanted is very lighthearted and even in its most sinister and dark moments still manages to keep it light and funny. Edgar is completely comedic in many ways. The other villain, in some ways, is the stepsister played by Lucy Punch who really just wanted Ella out of the way in order to get her hands on Prince Char for herself. Nothing too threatening about this character other than the fact that she’s merely a pawn in the whole ordeal to Ella’s dilemma. What makes sure that we are definitely watching a mash-up princess movie and not Cinderella is that our villain isn’t the stepmother who would mimick the role of Lady Tremaine but really has a small role here and who is not at all threatening.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is an innocent and fun movie. It never lets us forget that we are watching a fairy tale story with an impressive heroine geared towards a younger audience. It keeps it light by staying comedic and making it a funny affair to watch. There is good chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy who are clearly the strength of this film. The story is familiar and simple and quite predictable and yet, there’s something charming about it. Perhaps it is because fairy tales, especially live action ones nowadays are getting so dark that its nice to visit one that remembers to keep it fun and fantastical.

Have you seen Ella Enchanted?

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Oscars Night!

With my new Disney addition, Lotso from Toy Story 3 watching Oscars

With my new Disney addition, Lotso from Toy Story 3 watching Oscars

I made it home in time to watch the whole Oscars night last night.  I even had time to eat dinner and get all comfortable because I knew that it would end at midnight. Whenever I come back from Toronto, there’s always a decent amount of unpacking and I’ll definitely be having another food review and some cool finds that I have.  A little sneak peek would be here as I made some tea, sat down comfortably with one of my new additions and eventually my boyfriend did join me when the actual Oscars started!

I even got to see a bit of the preshow on the red carpet and the dresses and interviews.

I opened it midway right in time to see who was presenting and interviewing everyone.  Of course, I landed right around interviewing Sandra Bullock and she was just so elegant.  After that we have Anne Hathaway.  I don’t know about everyone else and I haven’t read any tabloids but my first impression was that it looked like a pink apron.  Definitely not a good choice in  my opinion but hey, she’s still a beautiful actress and I’m sure there are people who liked her choice.

Speaking of that, my favorite three dresses of the night has to go to these beautiful elegant women in no particular order:

sandra bullock oscars

Sandra Bullock

85th annual Academy Awards

Amy Adams

For the record, if you haven’t been following me for too too long, you’d know that I only watched a small portion of the movies that were nominated but I think I follow a whole lot of movie blogs and in turn, it made me make a lot of good guesses.  I figured that Ang Lee would win Best Director and I guessed Anne Hathaway would win Best Supporting Actress (even if I still had a moment that she wouldn’t).  I figured that Daniel Day-Lewis had a really good chance at winning Best Actor but I didn’t know that this time broke the record of the first person to win 3 times best lead actor.  Now that is a huge accomplishment.  As for Best Actress going to Jennifer Lawrence, I really didn’t think she had a shot until I saw the snippets of the movies and thats when I really thought that she did have an equal chance at it.  Of course, her dress was bulky so down she fell as she was overjoyed and attempting to walk up the stairs.  Now Jennifer Lawrence is on the grid officially and I can see her with even more movies in the near future.

The biggest fight this year was probably Best Picture.  The last Oscars I watched was probably at least 7 years ago because I used to watch movies and the Oscars in totality with my dad.  It was something we bonded with.  I always remembered it having only 5 movies in the race but apparently now we’re at 9.  Talk about tough choices, right? I was surprised that Argo won.  I really was.  Lincoln had a lot going for it from what I’ve heard.  Deep down, anyone who knows me would know that I’d want Les Miserables to win but I also knew that the possibility was quite low because its not one that EVERYONE likes, it was more towards a certain group of people who preferred this sort of musical.  Argo won and I’m seriously happy for Ben Affleck among all of them.  He’s proven himself quite worthy in his whole career and he’s grown quite a bit into the director and producer that he is now.  I really look forward to seeing what his next project will be.  Definitely seeing some great things for him if he continues the way he does.

So now that we’ve looked at those big awards, I was super happy when Disney’s Paperman won Best Animated Short.  I had shared that video a few weeks ago on Twitter and it was just such a fun and cute movie.   I put in the video below just in case you didn’t get a chance to see it 🙂 And then, for Best Animated movie was Brave and believe it or not, I saw it! I actually wasn’t sure who would win for that one but I was sure that Pirates wouldn’t win (even if I did enjoy it quite a bit, you can see my review HERE).

Now on a more personal level, sitting down to watch the Oscars means a lot to me.  It included having memories of spending time with my father.  I wrote a deep personal post about moving on in December (you can check it out HERE if you’d like) related to it.  This year, I felt like since my blog was slowly getting in more reviews, it made lots of sense to sit down and watch the Oscars again.  I miss my dad of course and I think doing it made me move on a little bit more but you know, last night would be a night he would enjoy.  We had some James Bond songs and then on top of that, in the memoriam, that part really got me when Barbara Streisand came out and sang one of my dad’s absolute favorite songs.  That was the highlight of my evening. However, I can’t seem to find a video of that so maybe in a few days, we’ll have some better quality ones appearing in Youtube if you didn’t see it.

After seeing all those snippets, I just know that I have so much catching up to do now.  I’ll be working hard on that and hopefully this year, I’ll be a bit more on track with movie viewing, at the minimum try to catch the big ones.  It was a fun night for sure, and I’m definitely going to get more prepped for next year’s awards 🙂

What was your surprise win(s)? How about your favorite outfit? I couldn’t pinpoint my favorite speech, did you have one?

Les Miserables (2012)

les miserablesDirector: Tom Hooper

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Raymayne, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit

Les Miserables is a Broadway based on the famous book by Victor Hugo with the same name.  It has gone on for over 25+ years on stage and is renowned. This movie is an adaptation of that Broadway led by the producer of Cameron Mackintosh who is also the one who put it all together on stage.  I will give you a general plot summary in case you are unfamiliar with it.  Les Miserables is about the life of a man called Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman).  He was convicted because he stole some bread for his sister’s dying child and after that trying to escape, he ended up staying as a slave in jail for 19 years.  When he gets his parole by Javert (Russell Crowe), that is where his story starts.  Valjean is angry at the world and of the prejudice and discrimination he gets because of his convict.  The cause is poverty and when the priest welcomes him, he steals his silver and runs away.  When he is caught, the priest defend him and say that he gave it to him as gifts and gets rid of the police.  He then asks him to use the silver well and become an honest man.  Flashing forward eight years later, we see that he now is the mayor and is known around the town. He lets go of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) accidentally and then leads up to her falling deeper and deeper.  In regret, he saves her and promises to take care of her daughter, Cosette.  At this time, Javert has entered into the town as the police.  He learns of Valjean’s identity and then pursues him to bring him back to the law.  Valjean quickly escapes and runs to save Cosette from the innkeeper (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter).  After he escapes from town, we flash forward to another nine years later and they are at the brink of a French Revolution.  General Lamarque, who stands up for the people is on his deathbed and the people are getting ready to rebel lead by Enroljas (Aaron Tveit) and Marius (Eddie Raymayne).  We also see that Valjean and a grown up Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) has returned.  Through this, we get the love story that comes alive with Cosette and Marius.  We also see Eponine (Samantha Barks), who has a crush on Marius and is the innkeepers’ daughter and she helps.  Its here that the French Revolution happens and Valjean decides to help out in hopes to protect Marius. Long plot summary, I know but it was the only way that I could bring everyone into the picture.

Let me first by saying that out of the few 2012 movies I did see and I saw some really high expectation ones, this one is my film of the year for 2012.  Its not because I do love the Broadway and the music to bits.  The story is fantastic.  I had my doubts about this movie even though I was pretty hyped up about it.  Knowing the musical itself very well, this could have easily bombed, as most musicals adapted into movies turn out.  This one had wonderful voices to support it.  Thats one of the most important parts because it is ALL singing.  The dialogue is sang just like the original musical.  Now that we are on music and vocals.  If I was to treat this as a standalone film, its perfect.  However, I do know the actual musical, there was a few issues with casting.  Russell Crowe has a beautiful voice but I didn’t think it was strong enough for the role of Javert, but since he nailed the last solo song that he performed, I let it pass.  Hugh Jackman really made the role his own.  The BEST role was Fantine as she was captivating and just pulled at my heartstrings.  However, if I was to put a weak link, I’d say it would be Amanda Seyfried.  She has a very sweet voice and she did a pretty good job as Cosette but her voice wasn’t as high so it turned a bit shaky and that bothered me a bit.  I was extremely shocked by Eddie Raymayne.  That guy is a wonderful actor and has an amazing voice and just his expressions when he did his solo was just amazing.  I’d also like to give special mention to Samantha Barks, as she is a really awesome Eponine.  She also played this role for the 25th anniversary in concert performance and she was fantastic in that as well.  I’d really like to see her in more movies because she makes a pretty good actress.  Another special mention is to the priest who did the role of Jean Valjean in the 10th anniversary musical.  Although, I think Jackman got some pointers from him on being a good Valjean because there are similarities in the way  he expresses it.  I wonder if that did happen.

Another thing that a lot of people seemed to criticize was the close up shooting of the characters.  I actually thought that it did add to the movie experience because above all, this is a musical and a lot of the acting is in how they express themselves in their faces and perhaps less their movements.  I can tell how it could be bothersome at times, but nothing beat the biggest thing that is unique to my movie experience and thats French subtitles for the lyrics flashing at the bottom which cut off part of the performer’s face because of the close-up.  It comes with the territory though, so what can I say? It was something I had to live with.

Another mention has to go out that this is produced by Cameron Mackintosh who is the one who put together the musical in the first place.  To me, he is renowned for putting together successful musicals and seeing him being the producer of this already gave it so much  more promise.  Very pleased with that!

It turned my New Year’s Eve into a slight cry fest because it was just so emotional.  To have me cry in public is not a easy thing to do, but I did because it was done so well.

This movie is a must-see because its probably the best musical that has been made so far.  I highly recommend it if you are into musicals.  If you aren’t, it might be harder for you to enjoy it.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

After postponing date night, my boyfriend and I finally got around to going to see The Dark Knight Rises at the theatres last Wednesday.  I’ve never shared the same love for this movie as many superhero fans have.  These Batman movies are definitely ranked among the  higher ones.  I had revisited the first two over the course of the last 2 weeks.  This was good because I never had seen Batman Begins and really wanted to get a better idea of how Batman (Christopher Nolan version) got to where it was, instead of Batman just already had made the decision and was fighting the big bad guys in Gotham.  I have been debating how to structure this post but finally decided to not make a quick review of Batman Begins and Dark Knight instead this is just a review of this movie alone (although it is hard to not link to the previous movie).

I did a bit of research and looked into what other movies Christopher Nolan did.  He has definitely made a lot of movies that I’ve really appreciated. I think the first movie I watched from this director according to IMDB was Memento.  That movie was amazing and original.  He did the Prestige as well.  Although this one was enjoyable.  The part that made it less amazing was the fact that around the same time frame, The Illusionist came out and I had enjoyed watching that one a little bit more.  I’m sure that could have a debate going. It just depends which one is more to your taste.  What do I have to say about Christopher Nolan? He makes movies with darker and more serious tones and his ideas are very original, from setup to the character development, etc. I’m into that genre of movies so I’m fine with that. I like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Watching those two made me want to go see The Dark Knight Rises.

Going into the Dark Knight Rises, I had taken the time in the last few months to watch most of the trailers released (I think there was 4).  I wasn’t really sure how the movie would pan out.  The trailers made the movie look pretty awesome, in a somewhat vague way.  It gave us an introduction of the cast, but we already know the cast since its mostly carried forward from the first two in the trilogy.  I’m a huge fan of Anne Hathaway so I was really excited to see how she’d pull off Catwoman.  On the other hand, I was a bit worried as well.  I really loved Michelle Pffeifer’s Catwoman as well.  Then we come to Bane.  He is the villain of the final instalment.  Last time I saw Bane was in Batman and Robin, okay, bad memories, especially since that Bane didn’t say anything.  So I have no idea what is the deal with Bane and why does he hate Batman to the extent of ruining him, and wait, was he able to talk all along?  The previews also gave us the very much aged Bruce Wayne, walking with a cane, etc., but that made sense after I finally stayed awake for the final part of The Dark Knight and he runs off into the dark, so that was a bit more clear.  Now all the issues I had are laid out, lets see how my expectations turned out.

Expectations were definitely not failed.   I thoroughly enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.  As usual, the effects were fantastic and the story had enough going on for me to stay awake through the whole thing (and I don’t even want to talk about how bad my day was).  The final instalment was definitely exactly that.  You probably would enjoy the experience so much more if you had gotten around to watching the first two movies.  I don’t see this as a problem though.  The trilogy was meant to be seen as a whole to portray the story of Batman in a complete way from how he came to be to how he rose up.  I’m not sure who would actually go see the final instalment, after seeing all the previews and expect to be amused.  Well, you would probably still be amused because its a decent storyline and there was enough action and obstacles to keep your attention.  Either way, my suggestion, if you want to see this one, do go see at least The Dark Knight, just to have an idea of what how the characters had developed to where they were, especially how Batman got to this stage in life and better understand what he does.

Stemming from that, I loved the fact that they were able to keep ALL the actors from the previous instalments for all 3 movies.  Lets just say, I enjoyed this trilogy because they casted a lot of actors that I liked.  Michael Caine (playing Alfred) is remarkable as usual with his comments and he came out with this one with a bit of a different approach, showing his deep care for Batman/Bruce Wayne and had a pretty heartwarming and heartbreaking moments.  Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox) was awesome also.  He captures that role pretty good.  Gary Oldman (as Commissioner Gordan) was fantastic.  The new additions were great.  We have Anne Hathaway (as Catwoman/Selena) which pretty much has convinced me that she can play any role (the anticipation for Les Miserables is growing).  She played a pretty captivating role with a nice side story.  Another actor that was included in this instalment was Joseph Gordan-Levitt (as Blake).  My goodness, this guy is moving up so fast and his acting has improved where he can do well in roles of many genres.  We come to another actress that I love a lot is the elegant Marion Cotillard (as Miranda). I’ve seen her in mutliple movies before and she has always owned up to her character. Finally, Christian Bale (as Batman/Bruce Wayne)…..I’m at loss for words.  He is one hell of an actor, I’ve loved him in so many movies.  He sure kicked most of the previous Batmans in their ass.  So with the characters, at this point in time, we have all bonded with the people on screen and its due to the repeating cast appearances and familiar faces.  We have grown to understand their characters and their influences and significance to Batman/Bruce Wayne.  The only thing that brings on mysteries is now that Batman has retired and we see Gotham City 8 years later after the previous incident with the Joker and Rachel and Harvey’s death, we see the changes that have occurred and the good part of the beginning is set in introducing the new roles and also the new situation being on new dynamics between the cast.

I won’t sit around and say I liked which one in the trilogy I liked more.  I found all of it contributed to  an exciting Batman experience.  I thought this one was great and gave it a nice ending.  The only issue I always had was how the villains were never really awesome.  Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow was alright but was he an exciting villain, not really in my opinion.  But then, on the other hand, who can comment about Heath Ledger’s The Joker…he was crazy.  What made his character as a villain extremely convincing was he had no reason behind what he was doing.  You never knew what his next step was, and who likes to watch movies where you already expect the next step.  This was my issue with Bane as the villain.  I watched a good part of the movie and the reason why I was intrigued was not that I had no idea what he wanted to do but why? I kept waiting for the reason to come up.  Or at times I wondered if I missed it because of the comprehensible voices for the characters.  I had three movies to adapt to Batman’s voice, but now you give me Bane who has a muffled voice because of the breathing apparatus.

Other than that, this movie was a thrilling watch. As usual, there was character development for Batman even if his appearance was not very abundant.  The only issue was that there was a whole lot of side stories also.  Everyone seemed to have a story but there was not enough time to go in depth for anyone.  I felt at times that Blake could have had more character development especially with how they ended the movie.  The ending was done very well as it tied up the loose ends that were question marks throughout the movie.  So I was pleased with it all, especially since the ending had a slight unexpected factor.

Overall, this movie was an enjoyable movie experience. I would definitely recommend people to go see it, but with the urge that you have seen the previous movies of the trilogy to fully appreciate what this one has to offer.

On a side note, The Dark Knight Rises was so hard to review by itself.  I almost wanted to add a mini review of the first two just to have a more thorough review.  If you had a chance to see the movie, tell me what you thought about it.

Lots of good movies being released..I should be heading out to the theatres soon enough.