Here’s Jack Blogathon: Terms of Endearment (1983)

Today is Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday. In celebration for that, Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews is hosting the Here’s Jack Blogathon celebrating his work. Jack Nicholson is one of those actors that has been around ever since I was little, and way before. I can’t remember exactly when was the first move I saw Jack Nicholson but definitely one of the first that I remember vaguely was his role in Terms of Endearment even if I realized in this rewatch that I misunderstood a ton and was really too young back then. There were some scenes that feel familiar and it is a much delayed rewatch.

Let’s check it out!

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment

Director: James L. Brooks

Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, Lisa Hart Carroll, Huckleberry Fox, Troy Bishop

Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter’s family problems. – IMDB

Terms of Endearment is a comedy-drama centered around Aurora, a single mother and her daughter, Emma who don’t exactly have a great relationship on the surface but deep down, they have a strong connection. From a young age, Emma had left her home against her mother’s will to get married to an English professor, Flap. As they live separately and keep contact, we see their lives as they both grow and change. Aurora, with the leaving of her daughter, learns to embrace being alone while also accepting and opening up herself to another relationship with her next door neighbor, Garrett. On the other hand, Emma grows into being a stay at home wife and then mother living in a less than perfect life economically as her husband moves them from city to city pursuing his career. It truly brings out the reality of life sometimes handing out both good and bad without any prior notice and having the ability to deal with it. The star of this movie is both in the script that carries out these events in Aurora and Emma’s lives and also the great performances from the entire cast which portray both the joy and devastation of the situations thrown at them.

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment shines in their performances and more specifically the way we see the characters develop. Not only do Aurora, played by Shirley MacLaine and Emma, played by Debra Winger have depth to their characters and make us connect or simply believe in their story and love their mother and daughter relationship despite them have their differences in opinions. Their supporting characters also carry quite some depth. Perhaps the acting experience helps but playing opposite of Shirley MacLaine is the older gentlemen: an honorable astronaut but also a man who lacks commitment, Garrett who moves next door to Aurora and is played by Jack Nicholson. Garrett is not exactly a complex character but there is some depth as we grow to see him shift his views from the playboy that he starts off as who goes after young girls and tries to impress them to accepting to go on a date with the older Aurora and yet still be mesmerized by how she teaches him some things about life. We can see that he likes the simplicity of their relationship which is more physical than outwardly emotional and in their own bubble and he has a harder time when he starts to feel that he needs to be someone that she can rely on and feels that he will let her down. However, we do know that there’s something a little more to him than that. Sometimes, people aren’t exactly who we expect them to be: a lesson that constantly is reminded to us over and over again, and perhaps its these surprises that makes us want to keep watching this drama as they tug on our heartstrings over and over again.

Not to mention that these relationships are all quirky in their own way. These moments are the comedic bits that break up the dramatic parts and they are very well-timed and suitable to cut through the tension or change the pace or direction of the story. Perhaps this movie fits really well with the Here’s Jack Blogathon because what I remembered the most of Terms of Endearment from when I was little watching this next to my dad was Jack Nicholson’s role and as I watch it again, those are the parts that really make feel unsettled just like it should for Aurora. Jack Nicholson tends to remind me of many roles where he is a tad eccentric and its part of the fun of watching him because he fits into those roles so well. This is no exception for playing Garrett because he does the most unexpected things and sometimes also shares some deeper thoughts than we’d expect. He definitely was one of my favorite characters here. His scenes with Shirley MacLaine are possibly the most entertaining in the film in such an odd and uneasy way.

Terms of Endearment

Looking on the side of Emma and Debra Winger’s portrayal of it, who does a great job at really making us see her character a whole lot from the ups and downs. On top of that, her supporting role is her husband Flap played by Jeff Daniels. I’m the first to stand up for liking Jeff Daniels even in his not to big role in Speed, but this one he does a fantastic job, perhaps its the fact that his characters has a decent arc and that there’s something that contrasts about his character as well, there’s a hidden something there that opens up what this story is telling. Their relationship are some of the good moments as their relationship grows as their family gets bigger with the kids. The kids are pretty cool as well. They don’t have a huge part but there’s something written for them and how they accept who their parents are especially with their oldest played by Troy Bishop in the role of Tommy. However, they aren’t the focal point in this relationship but really how Flap and Emma’s marriage has changed as they also change over the years together.

Overall, Terms of Endearment is a movie with great performances by the cast and a fantastic script that leads us down the road of these two ladies as they grow with the things that happen to them separately and in different phases of their life. Its really nice to see a movie that has a great direction and execution of highlighting the characters and every one gets the same care including the supporting roles as well. Also a great pick for myself as I rewatch this and realize that this might be one of my most memorable roles of Jack Nicholson if not one of my first roles that I saw him in, not to mention that its one of those memories of movie watching with my dad and in one of the final scenes, it actually made me remember a moment with my dad that made that moment tug on my heartstrings even more.

A huge thanks to Gill for thinking this up! It was a ton of fun (and tears) to rewatch Terms of Endearment!
It also makes me want to rewatch some of his other movies and catch up with the ones I’ve missed (which are a lot)!

I’m at the brink of the date that Gill gave me to release this post (in my time zone), so here it goes! Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

What are your thoughts on Terms of Endearment? What Jack Nicholson movies stand out for you?

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

There is an undeniable love for The Fast and the Furious franchise over here. My husband and I are huge fans. We own all the movies and have seen most of them in theatres. No doubt, we got our tickets and went to go check this one out.

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

fate of the furious

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron

When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before. – IMDB

Bigger, badder and a whole new meaning of family comes together in the eighth instalment of The Fate of the Furious. And we can’t and shouldn’t expect anything less. There is no doubt at this point that as any franchise running this long, the die-hard fans will eat this up and love every minute of it. For newcomers, this might not be the one to start with. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws of long franchises is that it is hard to be self-contained. The Fate of the Furious is also prone to bring back characters and build on past events and storylines. The best way to describe sitting down to watch a Fast and the Furious movie, particularly the later instalments starts from the fourth till this most recent one, is a gathering with old friends or even a family reunion. If you walk in on this one, well, you might just get caught up in a lot of inside jokes and feel like you walked into someone’s life and really trying to grasp onto what happened before. However, this storyline isn’t overly complex as they usually aren’t and focuses a lot on high octane action with car chases and explosions, lots of witty and funny one liners and a team that can really bring it on with the best cars and fantastically well-plotted heists. If over the top action is what you like, this movie definitely delivers. Everything you expect of a Fast franchise movie is all here and I loved every minute of it starting from the beginning. About maybe half an hour in or probably more since this movie flew by so fast, it was obvious that I had a grin and just enjoying it so very much.

Image: Universal Pictures

The Fate of the Furious is about family. This franchise is about cars and action and crazy stuff that just gets bigger and badder but in the core, it is about the family and the team. This time, we really zero in on Dom who has some hold that has brought him to go rogue and now his team needs to go up against him. While everyone’s views are starting to falter about whether he’s really just lost it, Letty won’t let up. She knows that look in his eyes and that through everything he makes each choice for a reason no matter how dangerous or how crazy or how ridiculous. There’s something more and she’s out to find it. And everyone knows that when Dom’s not around, they listen to Letty. Michelle Rodriguez is not a great actress, I’m going to be completely honest on that and yet this tough chick thing works for her. Same goes for a lot of the team. Ludacris is getting a bigger role and I truly love his character Tej. He delivers some really fun lines especially when he always mocks Roman, played by Tyrese Gibson. There’s a great emphasis of mocking Roman’s whiny and scaredy-cat personality and just his loud screaming in general and I love how they address it by no one greater than Luke Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson, the addition that possibility made this series even better and his presence is so appreciated all the times. This time his feud with Jason Statham’s character, Deckard that joins the team because of the common enemy, creates some great hand to hand combat moments and some great chemistry there with one-liners, particularly one that was laugh out loud and completely memorable. Finally, the rookie of the team enters where as “Little Nobody” which is somewhat of Mr. Nobody’s (played by Kurt Russell) minion who is learning the ropes and there are some funny moments with that.

The Fate of the Furious

In terms of enemy, we have the mysterious “organization” or just smart lady, Cipher played by Charlize Theron. Cipher is pretty cool character. She has some nice outfits and seems to be really philosophical about what she does and choice theories and all that talky stuff. Its good seeing as this franchise isn’t about talking so it adds a nice layer to it even though evil Charlize Theron always seems to be very similar, but then I only have Snow White and the Huntsman as my comparison and other than the different setting, it didn’t feel all that different. We know that she can drive since she was in Mad Max and she can do the badass bit well enough (which she does alright). Don’t get me wrong. Charlize Theron was fine. She is a great actress with a lot of range and you don’t really need all that much acting chops to be in Fast because of the action and yet, I kind of hoped to see some more from her. There were some parts that she seemed to channel in the right balance of cyber security hacking genius and yet, I don’t quite know how to word what is missing. Teaming up with her is the rogue man, Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto. Dom obviously has an agenda and we soon find out why he’s joined forces with Cipher. I’m not going to spoil it for you. Dom is Dom. I love him because of who he is: a man of few words and solemn expressions and yet there’s this gentle side to him when he’s with family and yet still so very manly. Anyways, its Dom and I love his character.

The fate of the furious

How do we not talk about action, right? The last part is all about that. While others have issues with the unrealistic and over the top ridiculous action and the bigger and badder, it comes at no surprise at this point that its my cup of tea. I love it for the high octane adrenaline rush fun. This time, we get auto-drive cars down New York City and the ice fields in northern Russia or something and submarines and missiles. Its full of explosion and destruction. I love how the movie starts with the face-off for pink slip or respect. It is a great time through and through.

This review was supposed to be so objective and yet, it ended after the first paragraph, maybe. There’s a lot to love here and a lot of it has to do with the love of the team and just the franchise and its over the top action that works all the time. It helps to cheer the characters over and over again. It might not live up again to the awesomeness of Fast Five but its definitely somewhere in line with Furious 7. The Fate of the Furious, I believe, was sprouted because of Paul Walker’s desire to make this so although we all know he isn’t there anymore, the spirit of his character still lives in this one as he gets one mention and its something that I like a lot. This movie has its flaws, no doubt about it. Its not very deep and Charlize Theron leaves a lot to be desired in a villain and yet, the emphasis on family is never as important, plus there’s a few new characters that work well.

Unforgettable (2017)

Its been since September and Queen of Katwe (review here) but finally, we got selected for the advanced screening for the next movie. Its funny because I didn’t even know about this movie until we went to the theatres for Ghost in the Shell (review here) a few weeks ago. Unforgettable snuck in without really a lot of previews or trailers and totally under the radar. Since Grey’s Anatomy, I had my eye on Katherine Heigl but it seems that she has vanished the last few years and well, Rosario Dawson is quite the opposite especially with her involvement in the whole Daredevil and such Netflix Original series. With that said, not sure what to expect with this one.

This is the first time we had the advanced screening at a Cineplex VIP lounge and at the theatre near us so it was quite a unique experience. Not only did we get the advanced screening but it also came with some appetizers (buffet-style) and a ticket for beer or a glass of wine. Pretty classy and enjoyable. I actually didn’t expect the whole nine yards so it was pretty awesome.

Now for the main feature, let’s check it out!

Unforgettable (2017)

Unforgettable

Director: Denise Di Novi

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Cheryl Ladd, Isabella Kai Rice, Whitney Cummings, Simon Kassianides

A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new wife. – IMDB

If you haven’t been to these free advanced screening before, when you leave the theatre, there’s these people running these events that ask you what you thought about it. I had a lot of thoughts that had solidified during the film already. Its a pretty rare occurance to be so clear about where I stood with the pros and cons. I’ll dive deeper into it later but I could stand there for 10 minutes talking about the film if I had to but I just gave a score of 6 out of 10. Honestly, I could be convinced to bump it to a 7 out of 10 but various reasons did drop it down a point and we’ll talk about it. I’m not one to do a rating system (unless I’m writing for That Moment In), so that is just a guideline of what to expect.

Unforgettable

Let’s start with the pros. Unforgettable has a solid cast. The majority of the cast delivered on their performances. Rosario Dawson was fantastic as the new woman with a secret past trying to just live her life in this new reality with the love of her life and learning to be a mom. She is plays Julia and probably has the most depth and character development. Playing across her is Katherine Heigl, as Tessa, the ex-wife who just can’t let go, channeled her crazy and did a pretty good job. They were really the focal points of the film so it was important that they delivered. Her character also did have some depth. On the side, we have the husband David, played by Geoff Stults. While he was here quite a bit, the script didn’t write his role to be too much and that is okay. For what he needed to do, he did his part pretty well. The little girl who was the daughter Lily is played by Isabella Kai Rice and she wasn’t annoying at all, in fact, she did alright. My fave does go out to the most uplifting part as Rosario Dawson’s Julie’s friend, played by Whitney Cummings. It was a supporting role and yet her character brought a nice contrast. Please note the emphasis here is on performances. I will elaborate further on it later on because the nitty gritty con is about the other part of the equation.

The next pro goes to capturing the suspense with camera work. There are a few shots in this film that really do a good job of using a first person perspective with the camera to create suspense. Now, I say this as various shots and a lot of them are in the first act, because things start falling apart really quickly and it doesn’t have much to do with the camera work or the potential for suspense but rather the downfalls of Unforgettable.

Unforgettable

The downfall of Unforgettable is that it is quite forgettable. A movie can have fancy performances and a solid cast that delivers everything but a good script, intriguing dialogue and even more than that, executing it well is a must. What makes it hard to swallow is that there was such great potential especially with this cast and some scenes showed it off so well, like I said, in the first act, then things just fell apart. Act 2 was supposed to hit a climax. It was supposed to give character development and meaning and yet, it was just a contrived and predictable sequence after sequence. There was no subtlety in it. It was like they were scared the audience was too stupid to link one thing to the next to there was an over focus on certain movements. It made the next scenes incredibly easy to figure out taking away all the thrills it had as it reached closer and closer to the end. Not to mention, the dialogue sometimes just couldn’t hit the right note and gave off a rather awkward feeling. Its not a “I’m talking to a crazy person” awkward, but a more forced sort of awkward. As it closed to Act 3 and we stepped near the finale, it started hitting the right notes for a second before falling even farther apart with some nonsensical conversation between these ladies which made the entire movie want to hit something deeper that felt like it was really just trying to find a way to end this with a little twist or something extra and yet, somehow it didn’t work that well.

Thrillers are hard to do. I get that. The effort here was solid. In fact, the director here may have produced a long list of movies in her filmography but this is the debut full-length and in that regards, does a decent job at it. The main issue here is the script and the execution of the story. The thrills just aren’t consistent. The scenes are predictable. While the performances were great and everyone did what they could with what they had, it just wasn’t enough to pull it all together which is a complete shame because the potential was there. However, this isn’t the bottom of the barrel, in fact, its probably a good choice for a rainy day or a lazy Sunday afternoon because the performances here are pretty impressive.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect was a hit for myself a few years back. You can find that review here. It had so much fun and crazy and musically catching. There was so much that worked even if it hit some absurd notes here and there. While I had my criticisms, it proves to be one that I watch over and over again and somehow love more and more. The way the first movie ended left it wide open for a sequel and in 2015, we got one. I’m not sure why I waited so long but maybe its a part of me that wonders how feasible a second one could be.

Lets check it out!

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

pitch perfect 2

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Ben Platt, Anna Camp

Oh, Pitch Perfect 2, so much good and yet so much felt a little overboard and disjointed. This franchise’s strength is in its musical numbers and in many ways, the sequel follows a similar formula to the first. Disaster at performance, loses credibility, new girl new ideas, losing group magic and journey to regain it and finally the final hurrah and of course, you can’t forget to throw in a great rival. What Pitch Perfect 2 adds is that these girls are all heading into graduation and call it a final showdown before they grow up and go their separate ways or whatnot, its also about letting go of this safety net they built and finding the courage to move on. This sequel also has following and gives them a pass because there is already some knowledge about these young ladies and we can’t help but at least like them. If they are leaving, then how are we getting a Pitch Perfect 3? While I don’t quite know the answer to that, there is something of a handing down the baton as we get a new member here played by Hailee Steinfeld and she, like Becca in Pitch Perfect, changes the formula of the Barden Bellas.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 didn’t quite hit the greatness of its predecessor. The main reason being it seemed slightly disjointed. Some absurdities was really there because they could put it there and never seemed to serve much purpose. However, you can probably argue that these moments define the characters and show off the essence of the movie and is for comedic effects. And in some ways, it certainly delivers. In others, perhaps it tests where your funny bone lies, aka what makes you laugh. There was certainly a lot of humor here that worked for myself because I had the background of the first one and the respective characters. However, there were some rather ridiculous bits that just felt a tad a stupid and unnecessary.

Pitch Perfect 2

Fact is, Pitch Perfect 2 has a lot of parallels to Pitch Perfect. The rivalry or the riff off now called something else. There’s the bonding and rebonding. There are familiar faces that come back and extensions of relationships. There are new hurdles as they step into a new world just like the previous. The mash-ups aren’t as good as the first one but they are acceptable. It really elevates the concept that Pitch Perfect was great for its cast and this one brings them out as much as they can. They create more growth for Becca as she somehow strives hard to grow outside of the Bellas, Fat Amy connects with herself a little more and with Bumper (who makes a reappearance after his irresponsible exit in the first movie), Anna Camp stops by for a tough love bonding experience cameo, etc. Hailee Steinfeld plays Emily, the new addition with a knack for making original music and adds to their skill set

Overall, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about Pitch Perfect 2. It made me want to watch Pitch Perfect (again) and see the movie in its full glory. There’s a lot of similarities in the second one even in the story arcs and yet it never quite lives up to the original perhaps it lacked its own personality. The new characters didn’t bring anything new. The old characters still had their charm which is what kept it fun to watch. There were some laughs and equally some meh and some WTFs. In the end, it was an average experience.

Have you seen Pitch Perfect 2?

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

My goal this year was that if I could go see all 10 movies in my 2017 anticipated list, I’d be pretty happy. Now, of course, this year is a mammoth of a year with a ton of great looking movies, however, I do have to say this movie remake is one that I’ve never been more on the fence about but we do love the anime quite a bit and the trailer looks pretty decent so we decided to head out. Hopefully, it will be decent. Ghost in the Shell was great and honestly, last year was the first time I finally saw it.

Let’s check it out!

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

ghost in the shell 2017

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Chin Han

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. –IMDB

If you would like to hear a quick discussion review over at That Moment In, you can find it below:

Now for my own full review below:

When Ghost in the Shell opens, its hard to not be drawn in by its appealing visuals. One of the biggest strengths also lie in this wonderment of the neo-Hong Kong that has been created visually. Some of the most appealing scenes are replicated almost as beautiful in their own way as the animated feature showed. It is colorful and a little dark and extremely technologically advanced. There is no doubt that the visuals steal the entire show. There is also a very pretty score that accompanies it to elevate the emotions and the story and even the suspense. Those two factors are absolutely my favorite part of Ghost in the Shell. Going back to creating the futuristic Hong Kong, I think the best compliment from myself who has been to Hong Kong many times, is that there were many moments and locations and settings that reminded me of the city be it residential or architecture.

Ghost in the Shell

However, Ghost in the Shell does fall short a little in various places. For myself, I felt that the way that Scarlett Johansson portrayed Major, who is the first of her kind “ghost” who is composed of a mechanical body but powered by a human brain, emphasizes heavily on overacting as simple as her walking motions seem more robotic. There’s something that seems so abrupt and blunt in her character. Perhaps the best word is that the story is now deducted to a more simple basis and is more straight forward with less between the lines moments that will make you think too much. Most answers will be revealed by the finale and that is something that is very different. It might not be just the character of Major that lacks depth or character development in some ways. There are still moments and bonds in the story that are apparent and that work well. Characters such as Batou played by Pilou Asbaek, Aramaki played by Takeshi Kitano and Dr. Ouelet played by Juliette Binoche definitely were memorable characters which decent arcs.

Ghost in the Shell

As someone who isn’t very familiar with the original manga or the animated feature released in the 90s, I looked at this one from a more standalone point of view. Obviously, there were scenes that were so memorable from the animated movie that I remembered and was done well here. I’ll go more in depth for a comparison soon in the new segment I’m working on after I take a look at the manga but as a standalone, there is something about making a story that is more linear and straight forward like this one which makes it easier to digest for a new audience and for those like myself who aren’t incredibly in love with the source material or the original movie. The visuals and score are beautiful and suitable for what they are trying to tell. Everything on the surface works really well even if it wasn’t quite the in depth experience that perhaps the source material had wanted to put together. The story could have more between the lines aspects however as an action popcorn flick, the action sequences are done well and flow smooth.

Ghost in the Shell

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is a relatively good action popcorn flick. It brings in beautiful visuals and a moving score accompanied with a linear story and a decent cast who pulls off a good homage to the animated movie. There are some odd story choices here that justify why we have the whole “whitewash” aspect especially casting Scarlett Johansson and the answer might be acceptable to some (like my husband) or odd to others (like myself). However, the action scenes are done well and the story, while could use some depth, was pretty good although a little slow in the beginning. Between me and you, I fell asleep for 15 minutes somewhere in the first half, so blame it on a late showing or that it was slow because I haven’t figured out which it is yet but it did happen. As a standalone, it works well enough and a good movie experience.

Have you seen Ghost in the Shell? What did you think of it?
Are you a fan of the manga and/or animated movie?

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?

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?