Double Feature: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019) & The Greatest Showman (2017)

Welcome to the next double feature! Half 2010s decade catch-up effort and half holidays viewings meshed together. I’m expecting that to be something of a trend for this month since I have a lot of movies to watch and don’t want to put the reviews on hold for too long in fear that I’ll just forget about what I watched in general. So here we are!

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019)

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

Director: John Schultz

Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Kevin Shen, Momo Yeung, Sarah Douglas, Theo Devaney, Richard Ashton, Crystal Yu, Tahirah Sharif

It’s Christmastime in Aldovia, and a royal baby is on the way. Amber and Richard host royals from a distant kingdom to renew a sacred truce, but when the treaty vanishes, peace is jeopardized and an ancient curse threatens their family. – IMDB

You can find my reviews of the first two movies below:

A Christmas Prince
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Other than the first movie that was a rather fun little holiday romance story albeit all its formulaic tendencies, the follow-up last year was rather lackluster. It had some of those fun elements but felt like a lot of the chemistry in the first one fell apart. Third movie now and we’re talking about babies because that’s the obvious next step. I don’t have an issue with it going in this direction but rather, its a step into the whodunnit deal where they await the introduction of Penglia and even shows a map highlighting the ficitional universe that Netflix has created with mentions of Belgravia (aka The Princess Switch). Its very clever to pull it all together and I maintain that point however, the chemistry isn’t quite there. Everyone seems rather wooden and there’s a good deal of overacting.

It falls short but somehow comes up a little bit ahead of last year’s The Royal Wedding to me at least because it feels less about the romance and focuses on some fun elements, as improbably as it is for it to happen if a precious treaty had gone missing. There’s a ton of plot holes in this one but then, other than reviewers, I’m not exactly sure who goes into this one to just relax with a simple and uncomplicated movie is really looking for these things (as glaring as it all is).

Movies are to its audiences so unless you review these things for the holiday season, there is no reason to go into it if you believe that you dislike these films in the first place. That’s my warning for you. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby is the third movie in its franchise so you know what is coming and it doesn’t pull any funny tricks and is as formulaic as you’d expect it to be. If you like these films, you’ll enjoy this one and if you don’t, then don’t watch it to save yourself the misery.

On a side note, I ended this movie and started thinking about where I can find that Christmas Tree game because that sounds like a fun party game perfect for Christmas.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackson, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson

Celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of musical, The Greatest Showman was one of the first movies to add to the catch-up roster for the 2010s decade. Its one that had a lot of hype and a soundtrack that is well-known even without the context of the film. There’s a lot of grandeur and big production scenes and splendour in its set.

The Greatest Showman is a biopic and perhaps because of that, it has the burden of giving Hugh Jackman’s role as P.T. Barnum a more ambitious turn of events that highlights his thirst of success and to make something of himself to not be looked down by the others around him and being able to immerse himself in the upper class society where he forgets the most basic reason that he does all this: for love and his wife and turns it into a more selfish ordeal. This type of success story is actually rather familiar and frequently scene whether its as a biopic or in fictional stories about finding the way and seeing what’s important so on so forth.

Deal is, put those things aside and The Greatest Showman is a wonderful musical that stays true to its genre because while it has its drama, it is a great big show with a lot of musical pieces that comes in frequently. The singing is done well and some of the set and choreography are wonderful to look at like Zendaya and Zac Efron’s scene together or the whole This Is Me or The Greatest Show. There is one that is particularly sweet with Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams as they go through the years together which is a neat little way to move time forward quickly without having to add a lot of extra dialogue and content.

There’s a lot of technicalities that work in The Greatest Showman that makes it a fun musical to watch. For musical fans, it does fit the bill relatively well and its one that shows that a familiar story, even though its based on a real life story, with good execution of its elements can be very entertaining and engaging to watch.

 

Steve Jobs (2015)

Biopics? Man, I watch so little of these and they appeal to me even less that I always go out of my way to avoid it.  It feels like Steve Jobs has had a lot of biopics over the last few years. Or maybe its some other influential tech “giant” thats been around and done awesome things. However, Michael Fassbender is up for an Oscars nomination and if you read my review on Fish Tank, well, you know I’m a huge fan of his. Plus, it was one of the few movies with the Best Male Lead for Oscar nominations available.

Let’s check it it out! 🙂

Steve Jobs (2015)

steve jobs

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. – IMDB

Who remembers the iMac? I was using an iMac in high school.  I remembered our computer lab one day filled up with these little weirdly shaped transparent-like computers.  They didn’t look like the PC I had at home.  I even did my computer class learning HTML codes and binary numbers and designing cutesy colorful labels with those.  When I used those computers, I didn’t know who Steve Jobs was.  Do I know his history any better as I grew up, even with the explosion of Apple products? Nope. That’s all to say that I don’t know how accurate these depictions of his character is and I’m not one to go digging into his history either. What I am saying is that Steve Jobs is an enjoyable biopic.  The idea to focus on Steve Jobs and the people around him highlighting the events of his life and how he faces them differently (or similarly) each of these times is what makes it focused and well done. It shows character development, adds some drama and creates a well enough balance for us to understand this man a little more each time.

steve jobs

What was great about this is that they don’t try to paint Steve Jobs as someone who is perfect.  This biopic works hard on focussing on his flaws actually.  Steve Jobs is influenced in many ways by his past and the choices he makes are based on one view that he has and his obsession with having control over the end-product. He made mistakes and he actually isn’t afraid to be that person who makes the tough decisions.  Just like most successful entrepreneurs, they aren’t exactly glorified human beings.  They make ruthless decisions and maybe throw a few people under the bus or whatnot to make sure they succeed.  They are extreme at times and stubborn at others and the people around them don’t quite understand what is going on in their minds. The story of Steve Jobs through his three product launch focuses on revealing his character from that first launch, what has changed in the second one and finally who he is by the third one.  Michael Fassbender captures that aspect of the character full of observations and monologues very well.

steve Jobs

While we see a lot of Michael Fassbender’s Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and the three girls that play the daughter at different ages play also a big part in amplifying the character development of themselves as their roles also show the importance that they have in his life regardless of how he treats them.  It brings out that humanity that we don’t often see in biopics.  While the girls that play the daughter’s role tugs on very much the emotional strings and make us see especially that there is an emotional tie that Jobs may not admit but it also makes him susceptible to having feelings as well.  However, the show stoppers that really seem to appear in the background but actually are rather central to this story is Kate Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman who is absolutely fantastic in this one and Seth Rogen, playing his innovative friend Steve Wozniak who started this endeavor with Apple II with him.  While having a small role, Jeff Daniels deserves quite an applause also.  Its nice to see him back in action doing some serious roles.  I appreciated his role as John Sculley, who is a pseudo father/mentor in some senses.

steve jobs

With my limited experience of biopics, there isn’t much left to say.  Steve Jobs is an excellent movie.  Its choice to highlight on 3 significant events of his life while showing his character through his interactions and decisions in those hard-pressed situations while flashing back remotely to some other past scenes makes for a well-paced film.  It retains his humanity and that he is also a real person with flaws despite being gifted in many ways. With a powerful cast like Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen and even Jeff Daniels, a well-written script and great directing, Steve Jobs exceeds my every expectation.

Have you seen Steve Jobs? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of biopics?