Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The final part of the Toronto ComiCon weekend meet-up with Drew is our Friday’s night movie going adventure to see the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I both have Disney segments on our respective blogs and it really highlights how much we love it in general. Plus, we just finished our 90’s Blogathon so hey, it all fits perfectly together. As objective as we would like to be, it is hard to not compare it to the original animation. I am just going to be honest here before we start.

Lets check it out!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty and the beast

Director: Bill Condon

(Voice) Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson

The beauty of animation is how magical they can be because they are imaginative and creative. To bring something like that to life creates a lot of challenge. There has be matching music and atmosphere and most importantly, the magical chemistry that we can feel with these characters which is usually easier to believe when its animation than in real life. I would be lying if I didn’t go into Beauty and the Beast optimistically skeptical. Why? I haven’t watched anything from Emma Watson since Harry Potter series ended and I only know Dan Stevens as the creepy dude in The Guest and an extremely small part of Season one of Downton Abbey. Not a lot to compare to and I didn’t really look too much at the voice actors either. The question now, after a few days of the initial excitement and thinking about it: does it live up to its original? The answer is no. I have to reluctantly say that because of a few aspects. However, I also never expected it to live up to the original so I still had a lot of fun with it.

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast’s best part is creating its atmosphere and the world. It is absolutely gorgeous. The effects and CGI put us right into the setting of the town and especially the castle and forest areas. There was a darker tone however, it does manage to capture a great part of the magic that made the first one great. Of course, the original animated film offered up some of the most beautiful animation with its rich colors and catchy musical tunes. That comes to the second part that gives this movie something more. While retaining a lot of the music from the original, they manage to put a few new songs in. The nostalgia and magic of the old music still is the fun parts of the movie plus it shows a true determination of creating a animated film with this one that stays true to a musical with actually not a lot of dialogue.

Beauty and the Beast

Belle is one of my favorite heroines/Disney princesses. To be honest, Emma Watson did a decent performance. I can’t say that she was particularly memorable though. She fit in well because she had a good enough singing voice and the movie’s overall magical appeal swept me away. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like her. I just can’t really pinpoint a part of hers that stuck out to her. On that note, her chemistry with the Beast worked well enough that the story made it easy to fall in love with the story again even knowing what would happen and in that final scene where there’s that twist, I had tears in my eyes, which was definitely unexpected. Turning over to Dan Stevens as the Beast, his face was pretty much CGI and yet perhaps it is because of that, it was easier to keep it imaginative. When he was angry at the beginning, there were moments of fear and later as he softened, his features also made it so much more gentle. There was so much more to love in how Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast than Belle which seems to be the opposite of how I remembered the Disney animation.

Beauty and the Beast

The stars and the most dynamic characters of the original was almost always these supporting animated enchanted characters. Who knew that clocks and candelabras and teapots could make us fall in love with them, right? That is something that really stands out also in this live action. The voice cast is a fantastic ensemble with Cogsworth being voices Ian McKellan, Lumiere by Ewan McGregor, Mrs. Potts by Emma Thompson and of course, the man who tends to sneak into every movie in some supporting part and almost makes it shine, the grand piano (Maestro) by Stanley Tucci. I loved them the most in this live action adaptation (or is it a remake?). There are so many similarities to the original but somehow their enchantedness makes it easier to imagine them in this way.
Beauty and the Beast

Finally, we can’t not talk about the most self-absorbed villain, Gaston. I honestly like Gaston quite a bit and his sequences especially the Gaston songs and bits are quite humorous in the animation and I’m pretty happy about how they approached this character and Luke Evans take on it. There were a lot of funny moments and it helps a lot. The ending battle with the Beast was a little underwhelming but it was never meant to be overly long even in the original. Gaston isn’t really a true threat ever. I’m not sure any believes that he’ll amount to anything too much especially not when his right hand man is Lefou who is just there for comedic relief. Josh Gad didn’t quite stand out as much either.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a decent live action take of the original. In comparison, it is hard to meet the original’s masterful animation however there is still a lot to love especially because this one takes good care in creating a beautiful environment and magical atmosphere. The winter and snowy landscape with the dark but beautiful castle captures lots of mystic, especially watching the take on the castle falling apart as the magic wears away from each rose petal falling. While some characters are a little underwhelming in their portrayal, the majority did a pretty great job however the magic of the story itself did carry itself and shadowed the shortcomings in the moment.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?

Netflix A-Z: Nanny McPhee (2005) & Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Heading into the second half of the alphabet now, we’re going with a little double feature.  I figured if Netflix offers us the chance to watch a series of movies, I might as well take advantage of it, especially if there is only two 😉  So here we are with Nanny McPhee and its sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns (otherwise called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).  I’ve been avoiding this one because it feels like a rip-off of Mary Poppins.  For most of you that know me, I’m a huge Disney fanatic and Mary Poppins is among one of my all-time favorites.  I can watch it over and over and over again, know all the words of all the songs and maybe even the dialogue. So, Nanny McPhee has quite the competition if its anything like that.  Honestly, I don’t know much and they are all assumptions but assuming is not a great thing and I’m trying to not do that.

By the way, its October!! Magical nannies…kind of works, right? I keep thinking Nanny McPhee might be a witch so I guess it works that way 😉

Let’s give this a go! 🙂

Nanny McPhee (2005)

nanny mcphee

Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Angela Lansbury, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton

Cedric Brown has lost his loving wife and now has to make his living and take care of his seven young children.  However, his children are so misbehaved that they have already scared away 17 nannies ever since.  With his Aunt Adelaide who provides him with a monthly allowance to sustain him and his family’s living, she gives him an ultimatum that he either finds himself a wife by the end of the month or she will cut her support.  Its here that Nanny McPhee arrives at his doorstep.  Magically, she offers to teach 5 lessons and her rules are simple: she will stay as long as she is needed but not wanted but when she is wanted but not needed, she has to go.

nanny mcphee

I have to admit that Nanny McPhee is a little odd.  Except, it quickly turns into a charming little movie.  I guess you can’t call a movie little when it has a ton of talented cast from Emma Thompson playing Nanny McPhee to Colin Firth being Cedric Brown and Imelda Staunton being Cook.  Not to mention, Aunt Adelaide being played by Angela Lansbury.  All that talent for this movie with kids that are practically unknown.  Well, they were unknown back then.  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, now 10 years later is rather known especially because of The Maze Runner, Nowhere Boy and before that, it had to be Love Actually. With such a solid cast, Nanny McPhee can’t help but deliver strong performanced across the board.  Plus, Emma Thompson is also responsible for the screenplay.  I’m sure that gives her a little more attachment as the main character and adds a little spark to what she’s doing.

nanny mcphee

While Nanny McPhee does have certain features very similar to Mary Poppins plot-wise and at times, feels a little like the cross-over of The Sound of Music with all those children also, it has its own little magic.  It is obvious that this movie is meant for children to teenagers perhaps and the lessons it delivers is great in terms of a family comedy.  Its a ton of fun and reinforces that a family being together means learning together.  Nanny McPhee may seem like she is teaching the children but she is also teaching the father valuable lessons on taking extra care to how he treats his role.  It may seem silly the simple things like going to bed and getting up when told in the beginning but its about discipline and respect, listening and being honest and accepting consequences.  All very relevant to children and grown-ups alike.

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

nanny mcphee returns

Director: Susanna White

Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Asa Butterfield, Rhys Ifans, Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor

Isabel is a young mother with three children living on a farm and trying to make ends meet while her husband is away at war.  Secretly having a massive debt at the casino, her brother in law wants to coax her into selling her half of the farm.  Except, she doesn’t want to despite the struggles.  When her sister sends over two cousins because of the war situation getting more serious in the big city, she ends up having to take care of two more children, and extremely spoiled rich brats on top of that.  It is at this moment that Nanny McPhee shows up and offers to help her with teaching 5 lessons (side note: not the same as last time).

nanny mcphee returns

Nanny McPhee Returns is a great addition to this series.  The cast still retains to be incredibly strong.  Emma Thompson comes back as Nanny McPhee and she just does it so perfectly.  Then we have an even younger Asa Butterfield (because he’s still pretty young right now) in the lead boy among the children.  Along with that, mom is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and there’s ever a small role for Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.  Nanny McPhee definitely returns with the same charm but this time, it adds a lot more goof.  At times, it felt a little ridiculous but for the most part, I was able to not mind it too much.

nanny mcphee returns

The best part, other than the fun characters, is really that learning the 5 lessons the Nanny McPhee has to teach never feels strained.  If anything, this time, the lessons were more straightforward and even more relevant than the last time.  We in the land of courage, bravery, imagination, taking leaps of faith, and more.  Like I said, relevant with what they are dealing with and with a contrast of children from different backgrounds, the learning is even more substantial.

Nanny McPhee Returns is a very fun sequel.  With lots of lovable characters and an outstanding cast even to its supporting and cameo characters.  Its magical and adventurous even between some of the unnecessary goofiness that they add in this time around.

Its a pity that Nanny McPhee only has two movies in this series. It would be a fun one to keep going.  You can always argue that Mary Poppins is better and she is in fact irreplaceable but Nanny McPhee has her own little charm and its just so relevant no matter when you watch it.  Its a ton of family fun and very much worth your time. 🙂

Have you seen either of these Nanny McPhee movies? Any thoughts?

Netflix A-Z heads into a week of Horror before stepping aside for the Halloween Marathon.  
What O horror takes the spot? Any guesses?

Netflix A-Z: Men, Women & Children (2014)

Next up on Netflix A-Z was a redrafted one.  I just couldn’t find the motivation to watch my previous choice so I don’t even know why I chose this but it was just to fill the space and I vaguely remember hearing good things about this one, despite eventually remembering that Adam Sandler was in this… So here we are: Men, Women & Children.  I’m hoping it’ll be quirky? What more can I say?

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Men, Women & Children (2014)

Men Women and Children

Director: Jason Reitman

Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie Dewitt, Judy Greer, Emma Thompson, Olivia Crocicchia, Kaitlyn Denver, Ansel Elgort, Timothee Chalamet, Elena Kampouris

A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.- IMDB

 Movies with multiple storylines going on with various characters are always tough.  They want to address certain issues but also develop the characters properly while still finding that balance to not make it too long and messy.  Men, Women & Children is hard to determine whether it did a good job.  The beginning was intriguing with narration by Emma Thompson who pops up a few times and then the ending wraps things up okay.  The point isn’t quite lost when the story wraps up but the fact is, there wasn’t sufficient amount of time to cover all these characters without making some of them feel empty and disconnected.  Because of this, I blame it mostly on the middle act that kind of loses its pull gradually and I started checking the time, wondering when it’ll end and still trying to figure out where they wanted the characters to go, as individuals or as a family or whatnot.

Men women and children

One of the themes here is how our lives have influenced us because of this digital age that we live in.  We have social media and how much control is needed (especially parental control), online gaming and the community, the accessibility of porn and other sexual arousal mediums and finally, the easily found support on various things that influences our self-image and somehow lose reason but at the same time, the ignorance of the technology as well and just the lack of human interaction. We’re looking at 5 families (I think) and within these families, they are connected through the parents or the kids.  To be honest, its a relevant statement what this movie is trying to attack but it just keeps emphasizing it so much in the middle part with no build-up for most of the relationships that it gets a little boring.  It kind of seemed like it lost its purpose until it peaks and things turn to crap before they are resolved for each and everyone of them.  Of course, the resolve has different level of intensity as well.  However, because of the lack of connection by the underdeveloped characters, there was only a few characters that I felt was built well enough for me to care and feel bad when things took a bad turn.

men women and children

Another pretty big issue it was address was the whole sexuality issue.  We have boy overexposed to it, and then there’s the idea of where our morals lie and how that spectrum has slipped down a slippery slope because the internet sets less boundaries and therefore, it makes people feel less vulnerable when its online (or whatever the theory is).  Its also the image of what sexuality is, like attraction based on appearance like how skinny is sexy.  Those are basically the children’s side of the spectrum.  I might have missed something since so much is going on.  Whereas the adults have their own issues with lack of desires in real life (or excuse me “in RL”) and then having the whole accessible porn (similar to teens but change in what the look for) and then there’s the whole having an affair or not because its so easy to do it.

Here’s where I was thinking: great timing to watch this after the whole Ashley Madison going on. Then I started wondering, do the sponsors include various porn sites.  My guess is maybe?

men women and children

First of all, story wise.  The best one goes out to the whole Ansel Elgort’s character Tim Mooney and this girl Kaitlyn Denver plays called Brandy.  Their high school love blossoms with a nice build and just their characters seem to be taken the most care in forming.  While at the same time, these two have their own parents who form rather interesting characters. Although developed not as in depth, Jennifer Garner who plays Brandy’s mom plays the over controlling parent who just strangles her daughter with monitoring her every online move and her whereabouts, never giving her the freedom.  I won’t spend too much time diving into all the stories because this would just turn into a neverending essay and we all have better things to do.  The intentions of the story were good.  It just spends a lot of time repeating the message over and over again, especially in the middle part that it just gets a little dragged out without ever achieving the goal of us connecting with more characters.  I’m not ragging on it because while most of the outcomes of the events, from turning bad to learning whichever lessons for each character, was pretty predictable, it still has good intentions about families, balance in relationships, control and freedom, limits of sexuality and all this with the new mentality we all have because of living in this digital age for whichever reason applies.

While this may be one of the more enjoyable characters played by Adam Sandler in the last few years, its a little sad that I found that his relationship with his wife in this story was probably the worse.  Maybe its because I don’t relate and don’t understand the final outcome.  Maybe its the view I have of it or just how I found certain events a little ridiculous.  In the end, I can get why they chose that decision but the start of it just made no sense. Its about desires and he desires his wife but she doesn’t want it anymore or it seems… but why then would she do what she did? If you saw this, you might understand what I’m saying.  The story and the decisions just don’t seem to make sense initially.

Men Women and Children

This has been running a lot longer than I expected but Men, Women and Children have a pretty strong cast.  Its sad that the story wasn’t more compelling to watch from beginning to end. With Adam Sandler in a more serious role and young stars that have great potential in Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Denver.  I personally enjoy Judy Greer and Jennifer Garner as well and very short appearances from J.K. Simmons and this guy thats in Under the Dome (I can’t remember his name).  That’s just a quick overview of the cast, of course.  With so many stories intertwining, there are lots more.

Overall, Men, Women and Children is an average kind of dramedy.  I didn’t find it all that funny personally but it had some moments.  They have a decent cast and even Adam Sandler does a fairly good job.  Its just the story he’s in didn’t work well.  There’s something here, especially the message it tries to sent about our digital world, the information accessibility, the dangers and all the influences bad and good and how it changes the dynamics and expectations for everyone: men, women, children, families, relationships, etc. Was it effective? Mildly.  I wouldn’t resist sitting through this again because there were parts I liked but its nothing mind-blowing.  I mean, other than the story with Tim and Brandy (and a bit about this other teenage girl’s story) that I enjoyed more, it was Emma Thompson’s random insert of narration about the world and the satellite and just the everyday life.  That opening was really thoughtful and it felt unrelated but then it ends with the same thing about satellites and Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and that quote is the perfect place to end this:

That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being that ever was, lived out their lives…on this mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam. How frequent their misunderstandings, how fervent their hatreds.  Our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe are challenged by this point of pale light.  Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.  There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.  It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known. – Men, Women & Children

Have you seen Men, Women & Children? Any thoughts on it? 


Valentine Marathon: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

We’ve come to the final movie of the Valentine’s Marathon. My schedule has been sporadic and I even skipped a fun post yesterday but I’m taking this as a Valentine’s weekend of sorts so I might have a morphed up mash-up post later on today.  The problem is that I have a million ideas and I can’t do it without bombarding you with posts and I don’t like to do that. Regardless, lets get this last one done!

I had to make some serious decisions about this one.  On one hand, I wanted to see a few Netflix choices but I also received my package of Amazon a few days ago.  I finished Sense and Sensibility (the book) a few days ago and I just had to get the movie and it came in a timely fashion.  I also ordered another movie recommended to me for this marathon which I promise to watch soon but I just couldn’t resist the urge to wrap up this marathon with Sense and Sensibility.

Let’s check it out! 🙂



Director: Ang Lee

Cast: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Greg Wise, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie

When their rich father Mr. Dashwood dies, he leaves his fortune to his son while making him promise to treat his three half-sister in his second marriage well and help in whatever way they could.  However, under his wife’s influence, he ends up leaving them with close to nothing.  The two eldest daughters, Elinor and Marianne, are at the age of marriage and its then despite the opposite personality, one emotionally reserved ruled by sense while the other full of romantic sensibility respectively, they find their love and fall into similar fates.

sense and sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a wonderful adaptation of the novel.  If anything, because I didn’t enjoy Sense and Sensibility as much as Jane Austen’s later novels (that I’ve read), I may actually have enjoyed the movie more.  There is no shame in admitting that especially when its full of a talented cast.  Last year, on Valentine’s Day, in a mish-mash post, I confessed that I have a massive girl crush on Kate Winslet and she is extremely darling in this one.  I watch a little less of Emma Thompson normally but I love everything that she does.  She fully immerses herself in a role and just owns it every single time.  Both of them as Marianne and Elinor respectively are fantastic.  What I really do love most about these movies is the music: so elegant, beautiful, sweet.  And I don’t even think it has to do with the fact that I love piano music because thats the instrument I play 🙂

sense and sensibility

You know how sometimes adaptation have this really ridiculous casting choices and you can’t even picture that person you read on those beautiful pages as this person on the big screen? Its not the case here. I agreed with the choice of Marianne and Elinor, as I mentioned above.  The moment Greg Wise (who I know nothing about) popped on the screen as Willoughby, I was completely convinced. This guy who bashes in Marianne’s affection and attention but shows no restraint to his emotions even if he can’t really be the one.  He is charming and handsome and his character is kind of sad in the end.  Although they cut out the scene I thought was pretty important between Willoughby and Elinor, they did a fabulous job of putting to life is character.

sense and sensibility

Willoughby would not be as charming if we didn’t have the contrast of Colonel Brandon, same as Marianne to Elinor.  Alan Rickman is the perfect perfect person to play this role.  He can pull off that really unromantic person with hidden emotions but still kind of show his intentions in this quiet subtle way.  Thats the power of Alan Rickman because he is just so talented.  Honestly, Colonel Brandon is one of those characters who I love a lot in Sense and Sensibility.  He just deserves everything he desires because he’s such an honorable man, probably the most honorable in the story.

sense and sensibility

I kind of feel bad that I only took one paragraph to talk about the ladies while taking three to talk about the men.  Hugh Grant takes on Edward Ferrars, which is a role with rather little on screen time but has such an important role.  He literally has 3 actual phases in the story and its the same as the book in that sense.  Sure he’s sprinkled and we hear about whats going on.  There is no doubt that Hugh Grant was a great choice for Edward Ferrars and he really does a good job.  I mean, that ending scene with Marianne really defines his character a lot.  I read the book so I know what he does.

I love this adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.  I actually think reading Austen before I watch it, made me appreciate this more even if I believe I ended up enjoying my movie experience a little more.  Still, because it was so fresh in my mind, the dialogue is really true to the book and thats also something I appreciate.  With an incredible cast, Sense and Sensibility is a brilliant watch bringing Jane Austen’s characters to life one by one.  That is no small feat but Ang Lee does it and the cast themselves as well 🙂 I highly recommend this one!

Have you seen or read Sense and Sensibility? What are your thoughts?

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

Remember, I have a finale post coming up later today (or tonight since I’m out of town for a day trip)!

Christmas Marathon: Love Actually (2003)

love actuallyLOVE ACTUALLY

Director: Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio or The Boat That Rocked)

Cast: Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Rowan Atkinson, Laura Linney

I’d like to start this off with the quote that starts off the movie because I find it best describes the whole concept of this movie.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

That is what this movie is about.  Love actually is all around us, especially in London.  It is promoted as the ultimate romantic comedy filled with separate stories from all the cast that we see in the beginning of the movie either in a wedding and the others in a funeral.  The wedding is for Peter and Juliet (Keira Knightley) and we see how it rolls into the story of unrequited love of Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) for Juliet.  This event brings together Jamie (Colin Firth) who we see ends up falling out of love with his cheating girlfriend and flying to France to spend his holidays where he meets a young Portuguese housekeeper, Aurelia.  At that same wedding, we also see Sarah (Laura Linney) who we get introduced to her not so secret crush to her co-worker, Karl and how sometimes you have to make choices for family that we love.  In her office, we see the relationship of her boss, Harry who is tempted to cheat with a younger employee while his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson) tries to rekindle their relationship and keep her own family together.  Her brother, the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) starts his position and meets his lovely “catering manager”, Nathalie.  The funeral however is where we get the shot of Karen who is there for Daniel (Liam Neeson) who has lost his wife and must take care of his stepson, Sam and help him get the love of his life who is a girl in school that will be going back to  America.  In the background, we have a old rock and roll singer, Billy Mack (Bill  Nighy) who tries to get top spot on the billboard.  Lots of love stories all twisted together is what makes up Love Actually.

Love Actually is one of those movies that I know is very awesome to watch, (however I forget during the year its awesomeness).  I love watching every minute of it because it makes me laugh and smile and then by the end, I get tears of joy because of all the sweet moments.  Here’s one of the especially sweet moments of Mark’s unrequited love for Juliet.  Of course, its only one of the many but I thought it was sweet and original.

The cast is just beautiful and charming and you start getting attached to all the love that is around during Christmas in this.  It consists of such a perfect group of actors and actresses that I adore like Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson.  On top of that, we also had a few cameos of Rowan Atkinson.  I love him in general and in this one, he’s just the spectacular even for that little moment he’s on screen.  Maybe some stories could’ve been more elaborate if there were less put together but I think the point is to show the simplicity of each situation, how love is just very simple and we can find it when and where we least expect it.  We’ll do things that we don’t expect ourselves to do for it.  So great concept and great little stories, I loved them all.  However, I found that the key to the success was the soundtrack that they put together to support everything that was happening.  Just listen and look at the beginning song that pops up at the wedding.

Its some fun stuff when you find that perfect song that gets the viewers moving.  Especially when another song had Hugh Grant dancing through his Prime Minister headquarters.  We had the hilarious Bill Nighy doing his best routine of laid back old rock and roll star and swearing here and there with “Christmas is All Around”. Then we have “All I Want for Christmas” also one of my favorite songs.  There’s just so much more.  This definitely enhances the movie.

I may forget about Love Actually and its awesomeness throughout the year but whenever I see it, it just makes me feel so good.  Acknowledging that love actually is everywhere and all around is something we all want to remember when Christmas and the holidays comes around.

Brave (2012)

Now I’m getting amazed at myself.  One movie a week and both that I had anticipated this year. This one I had wanted to see for the last few weeks but never actually got a chance due to going away on vacation, and my boyfriend was interested in other movies, etc.  So what do I do? My best friend and I had a girl’s day out and went to catch Pixar‘s newest feature, Brave.

Overall, the experience was fantastic, making that 45 minute walk in 38C hot and humid weather to the farther theatre so much more worth it.  We saw pretty interesting previews also.  I had already seen on Youtube the ones for Despicable Me 2 and Hotel Transylvania but it also had the previews for Monster University (next year’s Pixar, I believe) which looked funny, and Wreck It Ralph, which I’m still thinking if it will be good.  I’ll see if other trailers come out closer to the release date to get a better idea of what to anticipate.

The other treat we usually get with our Pixar movies are the short films.  This year’s is called La Luna.  I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  The concept was cute, humorous and simple but definitely original.  It was appealing and warmed our hearts.  If you get a chance, do check it out.  I don’t want to go too much into detail because it is a short movie so there’s not much saying the plot that wouldn’t ruin the experience.

Now we get down to business.  The main feature, Brave is pretty much a movie about a princess who wants to take her life in her own hands.  She wants to change her fate and destiny simply by winning her own hand of marriage for starters.  Our princess, Merida  was a charismatic one with a cute accent and a great personality.  To some, Pixar finally falling into a princess movie to follow the line of Disney‘s long line of classic princesses might not be appealing.  To me, this princess, Merida was very different.  She portrayed a more free minded princess who didn’t want to be saved by Prince Charming.  In fact, the movie didn’t have much of any male leads except for the king (Merida’s father) and the 3 clans who came to have their first borns win her hand in marriage.  Brave featured pretty strong-minded women.  Even the king Fergus was not as good as working the crowd and controlling the environment in the room as well as his queen, Elinor’s ability to do that.  She stood up to protect when she needed to in a more emotional and psychological way whereas the men were portrayed as more physical protection.

There were a few things that stood out in this movie more than others.  I like the whole concept of taking your fate into your own hands a whole lot because it broke out of the normal and it does send a nice message to the new generation. Second, I liked how they utilized the concept of freedom.  It also shows you that everything comes with a cost.  “Are you willing to pay the price that your freedom will cost you?” The lesson behind this story was the story not only that you can change your fate, you can earn your freedom but in order to do that, you need to know that there’s always a price to pay.  Its never a free lunch.  For her, it was meeting a witch and hoping that things would change, that her fate would change but of course, we know that course of events never simply go as planned and she learns in the process of the value of responsibility for your choices and actions, and of the costs of earning what you want, but most of all, it leads us to learn something else and thats the third concept in this movie that I enjoyed. The third concept was there because it wasn’t about romance or finding Prince Charming, instead they replaced it with a family bond, the mother-daughter relationship.  This was definitely an original idea, especially for Pixar.  It showed its new ideas to touch the screen.  It set itself apart from any other princess movie.  It lead us to pull our heartstrings and keep us attached to the characters.

Aside from portraying some fantastic themes, this animated feature was very appealing to watch.  Exactly what you would expect from Pixar of course, its a standard they’ve been good at.  All the characters added a bit to the storyline, whether it was to move the story along or simply to bring in a few laughs, it was absolutely worth it.  You could hear that they successfully made us attached to the characters as when certain things happened, you could hear the audience react.  In an animated feature, we don’t expect too much from acting, more tha vocal talent which I will look at later on.  We look at the storyline, the characters they’ve developed for it, the animation itself’s quality.  With Pixar, we never truly question the quality as they’ve always brought us the best.

Now, vocal talents. Queen Elinor was done by Emma Thompson and she was simply fantastic at it.  King Fergus was voiced by Bill Connolly and he gave the King a humorous and witty spirit. Merida was voiced by Kelly Macdonald and she was great at giving life to a rebellious princess.  We had the three sons of King and Queen and they were just silly little rascals who brought in laughs in the most serious situations.  I think that is really important, especially in animated features.  The tone should never tense up too much because it should be geared towards a more lighthearted crowd.

Overall, it as a great experience.  I enjoyed the fact that Pixar did a princess movie and gave it its own twist.  It was not only original for that but also the fact that it gave us a focus on family values and relationships.