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?

No Return Land by Jeff Storm (Determine Your Destiny #2)

No Return Land was the book I bought at Montreal Comiccon. The question is: how would it feel to feel like you are playing a video game while you read. You know, capture the feeling of being in control of your choices. When I met the author Jeff Storm at their booth, his enthusiasm for this idea sold me on it almost right away. Determine the Destiny series recently released its third book. I still need to read the first one since I decided to pick up this one. However, the stories are not linked together. Most of you are thinking Choose Your Own Adventure series right now (or if you are old enough to remember it like I was) but this has a little twist. Hear me out, okay?

No Return Land (Determine Your Destiny #2)
by: Jeff Storm

No Return Land

The deadly flooding of our planet… an evil lady with astounding mental powers… a desolated island faraway… an army of crazy fanatics… and YOU…
This time you must fight to determine our world’s destiny. Your decisions and exceptional skills will decide the fate of the Earth. Only YOU can succeed. Get ready to defend the lives of seven billion people and hang on to yours! – Goodreads

 Determine Your Destiny takes what we remember as Choose Your Own Adventure and adds in some gaming elements. It is also the reason why they were the only book showcased in the indie game zone at Montreal Comiccon. How do you make that happen, you ask? Every book starts with a different story. Before the book starts, the author makes sure we know what we are getting into by telling us how to read the book. Then he proceeds to tell us our character’s story, our mission, and what we are about to face. But, that still doesn’t make it a video game yet. What makes it filled with video game elements is that he presents our character with magical skills. There is a list of magical skills that we can choose from. In No Return Land, there are fifteen. Each with their own description so that we can weigh the pros and cons when we choose which five we want to accompany us on our mission. These skills come into play as you make choices. Having certain powers will grant an extra path you can take. You can see how this drew me to want to read this even if it is geared towards kids. But hey, I’m a gamer (officially since Game Warp started) so there’s this child in me that is reignited and this appeals to me even more.

No Return Land is the first book of the this series that I’ve read even if it is the second adventure. Right off the bat, it is definitely geared towards children because it feels like we are controlling the life of a skillful protagonist facing an enemy that might not be all that brutal in adult eyes but suffice for kids to really feel the danger and want to save the world. Our antagonist in this one is Zenkay who believes that technology is destroying the world because of something that happened to her so her goal is to give the world a reboot. The journey there is challenging. In my story, my character had the skills of Invisibility, Heavenly Shield, Eternal Breath, Tight Web and Laser Eyes. I feel like a superhero just saying those powers and I questioned at the beginning if they will all come to use as choices and they did. Effectively, when the choice was available, I’d choose using magical skills. However, even so, there are choices like Choose Your Own Adventure that is just simple choices and these sometimes are the tricky ones that can lead to death. I died probably a little over a handful of times and went back to backtrack and go down another path. Exploring those paths was what made this book even more fun to read.

No Return Land is a short and quick read. Flipping through them is easy as it is manages well to jump through the parts.  The story is simple and engaging. That particularly helps in feeling the need to make the right choice and weighing the options before choosing. Everyone can play a game or read a book but putting in elements of the best parts of both world into one is a truly fun, engaging and especially unique idea. I look forward to checking out the other two books in this series and whatever else comes up!

Fantasia Festival: Before I Wake (North American Premiere 2016)

If you are an independent horror fan, this next movie in the Fantasia International Film Festival will have you filled with joy. Before I Wake is Mike Flanagan’s upcoming horror, due for theatres on in September 2016. Mike Flanagan has showered its audience with fantastic horror starting with Absentia (which also premiered at Fantasia), followed with Oculus and earlier this year, Hush. You can check out the podcast we did recently over at That Moment In. What is even better than getting Before I Wake as a North American premiere is that Mike Flanagan was hosting the movie. As it turns out, Kate Bosworth also made it along with producer, Trevor Macy.

Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake

Director and co-writer: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Kate Bosworth, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane, Annabeth Gish, Antonio Romero

A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. – IMDB

Possibly one of the harder reviews to write for this festival is going to be Before I Wake. For those that know his work (and if you don’t, you should go check it out), Mike Flanagan is known for being very unique with his directing and writing. He knows how to build a great atmosphere and capture the feelings whether it is fear or dread or whatnot extremely well. It is something incredibly rare in the rather saturated horror genre. Before I Wake is a supernatural fantasy horror film. Before we start, I should reiterate that this was filmed quite some time ago, even before Jacob Tremblay started filming Room (review). Some other bits to take away from Before I Wake is that it was originally called Somnia and meant to be the third part of a themed trilogy with Absentia (review) and Oculus (review) being the first two.

Before I Wake

Before I Wake is no exception to what Mike Flanagan has achieved so far in terms of greatness. Although Absentia remains my favorite so far, this one is a beauty to watch and the ending it gives is always a wonderful surprise that pieces together the things that many of us may have missed.  It makes it extremely smart. However, it isn’t only that. Before I Wake starts off magically. Maybe not initially because we get introduced to the idea of what horrors we will encounter but it sets up who our front player is. Its of course Jacob Tremblay who plays Cody, a little boy whose dreams turn into reality while he is sleeping. And man, his dreams are beautiful from colorful butterflies to the images he captures. Unfortunately, his abilities does have a downturn and it causes him to be sent from one foster home to the next. Finally, they land with Jessie and Mark, played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane respectively. This is their first foster child they are are taking in except they both are also healing from the loss of their son, Sean. Suffice to say, this loss has damaged their relationship. While they still love each other, they are healing in a different way. Cody brings something more to their relationship and highlights who these two characters are and how they are truly dealing with the loss of their son.

Before I Wake

Here is where we need to take a moment in embrace the stellar performance from our cast, especially the young Jacob Tremblay. In the Q&A (which I hope to be able to put together a video soon), they describe Jacob Tremblay’s audition and image as a boy that we want to protect and that is true. Jacob Tremblay is a charming boy. We can see his character and he captures the moment and the expression needed perfectly. Jacob Tremblay’s Cody shows a boy that has gone through a lot and seen a lot as he is transferred from foster home to foster home. At the same time, he realizes his abilities and tries his best to protect those around him. In fact, while his sleeping sequences brings in a lot of joyful that eventually drop to scary moments, he also brings in a lot of humor. He has tricks up his sleeves as he tries every way possible to stay awake or the things he says. For the most part, we fall in love with him and his character.

However, we can’t discount Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane (or anyone else). The story is not only about Cody but also highlights Kate Bosworth’s character Jessie quite a bit also because we see her active attempt to heal from her loss. Jessie is the character that changes and develops the most during the entire movie. Thomas Jane plays something different. His character emits a true effort to accept Cody in the family. He is ready for a new start. He is in check with reality and is far more objective even if he is much more awkward, especially feeling like he tries too hard but it is deliberate in the script to evoke some funny moments.

Before I Wake

Aside from some great performances, Before I Wake is not exactly a full on horror. There is some great creepy moments but the heart of it is in telling a more emotional story. The moments itself and the monster he creates that are in Cody’s dreams is genuinely horrific. What is also notable is that it was played by a contortionist and not done with computer graphics. The sequence of introducing the monster and the supernatural bits are effectively scary even if there is a few jumpscares wrapped in the mix. With that said, Before I Wake is visually appealing especially with the imaginative bits. It is almost magical to watch. The most notable is the creation of the butterflies with Christmas lights that just brighten up the scene and a great sequence for creating an great atmosphere is that scene above for one of the creepier moments.

For someone looking for outright horror during the entire movie, this may not fit your slate. However, for those looking for something horror but with a little more, Before I Wake is a great pick. It carries some equally effective emotional moments that work well within the story. It has a creepy monster and a captivating performance by Jacob Tremblay and Kate Bosworth. There are some laughs and some jumpscares along with a clever way to wrap up the movie.

Fantasia Festival 2016: Rupture (World Premiere 2016)

Fantasia Festival is here! I know that I probably should be posting up reviews right away but I kind of want to take a new approach to give myself a few days to let the movie sink in a little and give it some thought. The first movie to kick off the festival for me is Rupture! What caught my eye for this one wasn’t even the plot but rather the director Steven Shainberg and lead actress Noomi Rapace. Not to mention it was hosted by the director Steven Shainberg and with the bonus of cinematographer Karim Hussain and one of the producers as well.

Rupture

Let’s check it out!

Rupture (2016)

Rupture

Director and co-writer: Steven Shainberg

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, Kerry Bishe, Lesley Manville, Percy Hynes White, Michael Chiklis, Ari Millen

A single mom tries to break free from a mysterious organization that has abducted her.-IMDB

 Rupture is a strange film. It is exceptionally unique but so very bizarre. From the choice of color and tone for the cinematography to the characters and their development to the story itself, it highlights a very indie all genre movie. Rupture is a fantasy and sci-fi thriller with hints of horror splashed around but also manages to remember to give its audience moments to relax in its somewhat oddly fun moments even when the situation that our main character Renee is nothing but tense and mysterious. The best part is all the attention to detail it has put in. Everything in there has a reason to be there from the lighting to the colors to the characters and the slow reveal of what is this mysterious organization. It had effective unsettling scenes as well that gave it the emphasis of a horror even if this is very much more of a thriller.

Rupture

Noomi Rapace is the main actress here and we follow a lot of her character Renee around the story. We see her from the start as a single mom and one that is independent. She is brave and smart.  Her mind moves fast in solutions on how to escape. She does what she has to to survive. These are all her traits revealed to us. Who can be so calm in situations like this hers where she is abducted and sent far far away to a closed reinforced room with strange people that she has never met asking her questions on her fears and medical history. What do they want from her? That is the question that lingers in the air throughout most of the film. It is amazing how the imagery and set up of the entire movie has such a good pacing to make us remain interested. It takes the time to set up the atmosphere of dread as she tries to escape and Renee is the hero we cheer for, even if the little criticism is that when things went crazy or she was screaming, I had a hard time understanding her dialogue, but what is great is that most of the movie can be understood by observing the surroundings

Rupture

Noomi Rapace may be the character we cheer for and a fantastic character at that, especially getting a lot of support from the local audience because her character in Rupture is from Montreal. However, we cannot overlook the other characters, especially those in the mysterious organization. There is no need to say how great Peter Stormare is in the offsetting way but some of these other characters are also familiar faces who capture the awkward roles that they are required to deliver. Kerry Bishe was in Argo before this and while there hasn’t been much from her, she definitely carries a balance to the characters. Ari Millen also reaped a lot of reaction from the audience and has the most bizarre dialogue and that is probably because he is in Orphan Black (which I have not seen yet). Another familiar face was Lesley Manville which I couldn’t pinpoint but was in Maleficent as one of the fairies. During the Q&A session, they were asked about the casting and in the end, it was focused on whether an actor could portray the vibe they didn’t to sink into this hard to grasp character that was able to deliver the mystery cleverly. This group of characters were fantastic.

Rupture

Overall, Rupture is a clever thriller that keeps its audience wondering about what the big mystery is and waiting for the reveal. It is very detail-oriented and little subtleties will all make sense at the end. The characters are constructed really well and casted well to be able to deliver the role whether it was members of the mysterious organization with their awkward personalities to the main character Renee played by Noomi Rapace who delivered a captivating performance in a strong female role who never is the damsel in distress despite the situation she is thrown in. There is a lot to love about Rupture especially the care put into every little detail. I highly recommend it.

November Rain (Bad Bloods #1) by Shannon A. Thompson

Set for July 18th release, the first book of Bad Bloods, November Rain was sent to me for an honest review by the author, Shannon A. Thompson.

For those of you who don’t know Shannon, I have reviewed her trilogy, The Timely Death Trilogy. You can find the review for it here:

Minutes Before Sunset
Seconds Before Sunrise
Death Before Daylight

Suffice to say that I’m a big fan of her work. The trilogy is done really well and she has some incredible imagination and ideas that I truly love reading. However, I believe my fave of her work goes to Take Me Tomorrow that I still hope will get a follow-up eventually. However, we’re here for her upcoming release and that is for her two part story, Bad Bloods. The first is November Rain that we will be looking at today. The follow-up, November Snow will be released a week later on July 25th and that review will be coming up fairly soon as well.

Let’s check out November Rain!

November Rain (Bad Bloods #1)
by: Shannon A. ThompsonNovember Rain

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them. Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning an election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote.

When the two unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and every bad blood they know will come together to fight and win, but very few of them will survive to see the day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy. –Goodreads

November Rain is part one of a two part story featured as Bad Bloods. It works on many levels. For one, the dystopian world here is imaginative because of its fantasy elements.  While bad bloods are a species kind of like mutants in X-Men, they aren’t too different except that they have special abilities and its our main character’s Serena’s abilities that make her special.  However, we will look at characters a little later. November Rain takes a alternating two voice narrative between Serena and Daniel. It seems to be a signature approach for Shannon A Thompson. The Timely Death Trilogy also took this approach. There is nothing wrong with it however because she manages to keep her timeline and the events of both characters very well. It helps us see a part of the story on either side but still have surprises in our discoveries as the story unfolds.

The story builds its characters and lets us feel the relationships between them carefully. It takes the time especially through the two voices to better understand the motives of our characters and their personality.  While both of them have different instincts and backgrounds, especially when they also different in the group they are associated with in the bad blood community, there is also a bigger issue that pushes the story along with the bad bloods having issues with the groups at the desperate time when humans are trying to wipe them off completely. There is a mystery connection between Serena and our male main character, Daniel and it works successfully at keeping the readers guessing on what they feel. However, it does apply to the fact that Serena, while seemingly weaker in personality and much more trusting, she still has a strong character that follows a lot of her feelings. Daniel is a little different in a way that he seems to be more planned but also carry a lot of pain in him that he struggles to let go of.

However, November Rain is only half of a complete story. It stops at a good point but does beg its readers to keep going on the adventure in November Snow. With a double narrative and a good pace to the story, November Rain delivers on building mysterious and intriguing characters in a world that has a lot of dangers for the bad bloods who are being executed, however also hoping for the upcoming election that could change everything. The secret is Serena but no one quite knows how and why she has the connection with Daniel. It drops us off with a lot of questions in the end and promises many more secrets to reveal. I can’t yet place judgement on whether this would be just better as one book or as two until I read the next one but that is something that has been on my mind.  While November Rain is a fun read and very much a page turner, I can’t help but feel that I was not as impressed as from some of her previous works that I’ve read.  There are a lot of imaginative ideas here and the approach is done well, however, there are some parts that remain to be answered. I wonder if it will all clear up after the next book.

You can find the books here upon their release:

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016
November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

King’s (The King Trilogy #1) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Back with more Kindle Store adventures, this was also during that whole batch of books I’ve been downloading with my last two reviews of those books that kind of pissed me off. At this point, I have no hopes and if this is another steamy romance, I’m about ready to rip it to shreads.  I didn’t even bother to read the description of this one and decided to just jump in.  With that, a deep breath and be brave, we are checking out King’s (part of The King Trilogy) and written by a New York Times Bestselling Author.  Now, I’m a little more confident about this one. 🙂 I mean, it can’t get worse than the last one, right?

Let’s jump right in!

King’s (The King Trilogy #1)
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King's

When Mia Turner’s brother goes missing in Mexico, while on an archaeological dig, she believes that life couldn’t get much worse. But when she’s blocked at every turn from finding answers, by both local and U.S. authorities, she must turn to a man she swears is the devil. Others might be fooled by his private jet, fine tailored suits, and disarming smile, but Mia knows something dark, sinister, and unnatural lurks behind those penetrating, pale-gray eyes. And the more she learns, the more she realizes she may never be free again. – Goodreads

 Now we’re talking! King’s was a fun book to read! What makes King’s different from the other two is that it exceeds our expectations and the sexy bits are simply adding onto the mystery building both Mia and King’s character.  Its not afraid to tease its audience with the scenes as we watch their connection grow throughout the deal they have with each other.  Okay, its a little mystery paranormal mixed with a mild investigation thriller.   Its a good mix and it sets a decent tone that matches the story it wants to tell.  Point is, the writing is refined but casual enough to be an enjoyable read.  You know exactly what sort of book you are getting into and it keeps it well-paced to make sure there’s enough of both character development and mystery to make it intriguing to keep reading. However, while the writing is refined, there are still moments of clunky or cheesy dialogue.  I guess its unavoidable but with a decent story, it gets rewarded with a little laugh.

But, nothing quite beats this quote that just cracks me up and changed the tone of the book completely.

Okay.  So, apparently this entire conversation was code for, “Come and get me, muthafucka.” and “Oh, I’m comin’, all right. Your ass is mine.”… -King’s

Mia seemed rather uptight and really incredibly weird that she kept thinking about getting into King’s pants even when she claimed that she didn’t like him at all, but they kind of explain that by the end. I’m happy with that, you know, reasonable enough explanations for things that come out of the ordinary.  It adds a little weird to it since it gives Mia’s character a little mystery.  And that is where this book does well in adding some fun but folding in a little mystery for each character.  However, this book is definitely only meant as a beginning for a series because the ends with a cliffhanger that would only be answered.  That is something I don’t quite like about books (or movies) that aren’t self-contained enough.  However, I did end it right there and didn’t pursue the next book yet (but intend to eventually).

While Mia’s character is fun because we read from her perspective throughout the entire book, the character that is the most intriguing has to go to King’s, our mystery man. King’s is a dominant character here but also quite smart.  It doesn’t take long for us to realize that not only does he have some connections but also that he has some mystery skills/powers that teases us throughout the read.  It makes us wonder until one scene where its apparent of what it is even if we don’t quite know the why. With that said, there is only a limit to what I can say to make it still a fun journey for you if you haven’t read this yet.  However, there is one more character which plays a supporting role and I believe at this point has a book in the series to himself, Mack, the guy who flies the plane for King’s and is something like a right hand man and while he can’t tell more about King’s to Mia, he plays as a messenger but also a mentor to how to interact with King’s and gives his friendly advice.  If there’s anything about this series, I can’t wait to see how his character is developed.

Overall, King’s is a fun start to a series.  It might not be that self-contained but it still is well-paced and mysterious enough of a story to keep me interested in eventually reading the second one.  King’s definitely surprised me and to think it has a few more books already in the series released makes me feel like there is still a lot to look forward to. However, King’s does have a well-paced story, enough mysteries to keep the reader intrigued and good characters all wrapped up in some casual reading package and I like all that quite a bit.

Have you read King’s?

The Mermaid/Mei Ren Yu (2016)

Look at me! Back to back new movies! Because I’ve being frequenting the theatres more this week, today’s Netflix A-Z is postponed to next Tuesday.  I don’t go see movies with my mom a lot, mostly because she falls asleep when she goes into a dark space like a theatre but she was really interested in seeing The Mermaid once she knew one of the theatres here was showing it.  For those who don’t know, The Mermaid is currently the highest grossing movie of China.  It is directed and produced by Stephen Chow and boasts one of the most captivating mermaid depictions. Hearing this, you know, I can’t exactly skip it over. 😉

The Mermaid (2016)

the mermaid poster

Director: Stephen Chow

Cast: Chao Deng, Yun Lin, Show Luo, Yuqi Zhang, Ivan Kotik, Hark Tsui

The Mermaid (aka Mei Ren Yu) is story about rich real estate developer, Liu Xuan (Chao Deng) who buys the entire Green Gulf to open his biggest resort. However, to do this, he places a sonar in the water to repell and drive away all the sea animals living there. One of these species are the merfolks. In an act to revenge and stop him, they send their young beauty Shan (Yun Lin) to kill him. In a turn of events, they fall in love but not without divulging the existence of mermaids and their home.  How will he choose: Love or money?

In interviews, Stephen Chow has explained his love for fairy tales and this how he does this one. The Mermaid is an ultimate fairy tale that spans through being a comedy, romance, fantasy and action. How many people can say that they can make it work? Not a lot. But he did. The Mermaid is well deserved to be the highest grossing movie in China. The imagination, passion and details in this are impeccable. Stephen Chow may be my ultimate hero ever in movies but I have reservations on some of his previous directorial pieces but this one was entertaining, fun, and thrilling. Especially so if you know his filmography well because there are nods to some of his previous work and the style is Classic Stephen Chow.  What works well is that the story is simple and yet the script is done so well to bring a lot of his classic absurd humor but still bring out the love for the characters he brings alive on screen, making it incredibly fun to watch.

The Mermaid

I’m not as familiar with China movie industry as I am with Hong Kong.  I know the division shouldn’t be there but the quality of movies have always had a distance.  However, when the production is done together, it usually does boast a certain level of quality. With this one, the leading actress Yun Lin is a young actress and this is her first movie.  This is a good choice because she brings out a level of innocence that mermaids unknown to the humans on land have.  There’s a naivety and simpleness to her that makes her funny when met with the incredibly sly Liu Xuan.  While I am unfamiliar to the industry, I have seen Chao Deng before.  Where? I can’t remember exactly but he’s been in the business for some time as well.  He carries a style and he can carry the pretty and sly playboy real estate developer that is ambitious and ruthless and really doesn’t care for much but money.  The chemistry that builds between Liu Xuan and Yun Lin may be awkward and over the top but highly entertaining to watch.

the mermaid

Other than him, we have cameos from a few actors that you will be familiar with if you’ve seen Kung Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer.  There’s a little bit of Tsui Hark that does a small role in The Mermaid.  The evil jealous rich lady here is pretty good also and man, does she look all sorts of villainous. Stephen Chow also got huge acting veteran Adam Cheng and a singer/actress (who was in God of Cookery) to do one of the theme songs for a quite renowned Cantonese song.

What was surprising to me was the addition of Taiwanese pop star/TV drama superstar, Show Luo.  I remember a few years back when I was watching Taiwanese TV series that he was so great and some of my favorite ones till today are with him part of the cast.  Its refreshing to see him being his silly self and excelling at it even more than before.  He grasps the role of being the octopus so well. He is absolutely comedic insert here.  I’d have to say that 80% of his parts are purely roll on the floor laughing quality.

I’ve mentioned over and over again that humor and comedies are hard to achieve because different people have different types of comedy that they enjoy.  For me, Stephen Chow and his style works the best for me.  I call it absurd but I believe what some would call slapstick.  Although I can’t say for sure because I understood the film in its original language, but many of the humor is in reactions and not in words and that helps transcend through language which I think shouldn’t be a problem (even if the subtitles have their little translation problems here and there). I’m sure another review will shed on the effectiveness of the humor.

The Mermaid

I could talk about The Mermaid forever from production design to cast to humor to characters to just about anything, but The Mermaid has so much merit for being simple, fun and taking you  into a fairy tale.  This production video is in Chinese but it shows a lot of how it was constructed and whatnot. It talks about the 3D challenges and the meticulous detail and standards and also the dedication Stephen Chow had about getting this exactly how he envisioned it.

Overall, The Mermaid is a must-see.  I’d be surprised if it didn’t land on my Top 5 by the end of the year (if I did one of those). Stephen Chow’s direction and vision is definitely one of his best.  The Mermaid is done so well.  The story is a simple fairy tale and its a ton of fun to watch with a huge amount of hilarious moments. I love it so much. Talking about it gives me the desire to see it a second time.

Have you seen The Mermaid?