Tangled – Review

To preface why I’m reviewing Tangled: This year, 2018, I have set myself a goal to watch and review as many of the 56 (57 by the end of this year with Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2 being released in November) Disney Animation Studios films as I can.

Tangled loosely retells the fairy tale of ‘Rapunzel’. A story of a beautiful girl with long magical hair who is locked in a tower and rescued by a prince. In this iteration it is Rapunzel who is royal, a kidnapped princess, who possesses long, blonde, magical hair that can grant youth and heal injuries. She meets a thief whom she convinces to take her out of the tower she has been locked away in so that she can see the world and the floating lanterns she sees one night every year. The film features a few songs but I wouldn’t consider it a musical.

Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is an eighteen year old who longs to see the world outside her tower despite what her mother says about it being full of evil. She sees floating lanterns at night every year on her birthday and is convinced that the world cant be all evil. Eugene Fitzherbert, who sometimes goes by the moniker, ‘Flynn Rider’ (Zachery Levi) is a thief who barely scrapes through life while trying to be someone he isn’t. While Flynn Rider wold most likely rat Rapunzel out to the highest bidder it’s Eugene who begins to care for the lost princess. Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) is a twisted old woman who after kidnapping Rapunzel uses her to grant herself eternal youth and beauty. Once she discovers Rapunzel has escaped she does anything and everything she can to get her back and reclaim her power. I like these characters, Rapunzel is fun and Eugene can be suave and dorky at the same time but the real stars of this film are the two non-speaking sidekicks, Pascal the Chameleon and Maximus the Horse. Their characters have some much life and depth despite not having a single line but the way the animation is done, these characters steal most of the scenes they are in.

While we’re on the topic of animation style, this film has a nice flowing 3D animation similar to the style they would go on to use in Frozen. The animation of Maximus and the way the horse moved was scaled back a little when creating Sven in a similar style. I preferred the scaling back but I’m sure the way Maximus moved and acted in the film was loved by kids. Tangled was directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, both have been working with the company since the late 1990s, the latter of which has co-directed on recent Disney animated features like Bolt and Zootopia.

Tangled is one of my favourites of the ‘Revival’ era of films because of it’s fun and light-hearted approach to adapting a fairy tale.

Rating: Above Average

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Black Panther – Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off its tenth year in style with its 18th film, Black Panther. The film brings brilliant directing, acting music and design to the forefront of this origin story of sorts for the MCU’s first black lead character.

Black Panther is set a week or so after Captain America: Civil War as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home after the death of his Father to be crowned King of Wakanda, only for his reign to be challenged by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). The film’s storyline, while good, is probably the weakest part of Black Panther as it doesn’t offer much that is new. It’s a ‘sins-of-the-father’ plot that we have seen before in the MCU especially in Iron Man 2, though this is executed better. While this film repeats the traditional hero with specific powers vs villain with very similar powers plot point, I would say that this is probably one of the best versions we have seen because of the time taken to develop the villain. Erik Stevens AKA Killmonger is the hero of his own story. While from our point of view he is the villain, the film sets him up with enough background and emotional development that he is a villain we like and understand. This is something that the MCU has struggled with in the past but not in Black Panther.

That isn’t where the character development stops in this film. Black Panther is full of strong, likeable and developed characters. From T’Challa struggling with his rise to power to his good friend and chief of security, W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) who sees some of Wakanda downsides, everyone gets their chance to shine. The old saying goes that behind every great man there is a great woman, in Black Panther though there are many great women. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend who acts as a Wakandan spy in the outside world. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the head of the Dora Milaje, a team of women who serve as the special forces of Wakanda. Shuri (Letitia Wright) T’Challa’s sister, Princess and tech-genius. Shuri is the Q to T’Challa’s Bond while also developing new technologies for the nation of Wakanda. We round out the main female cast with Ramonda (Angela Bassett) T’Challa and Shuri’s mother and the Queen of Wakanda. Also bringing fantastic characters to the table are M’Baku (Winston Duke) the leader of the Mountain Tribe, Zuri (Forest Whitaker) an elder spiritual leader in Wakanda and friend of the former King T’Chaka. Andy Serkis reprises and improves on his role from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ulysses Klaue and Martin Freeman returns as Agent Everett Ross.

Black Panther features a stunning setting in the Afro-Futuristic Wakanda a nation with incredible technology that is tied together with it’s spiritual roots that creates some stunning visuals. The design of the world of Wakanda is beautiful and my only issue is that we don’t see enough of it. I would return to Wakanda in a heart beat and judging by the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, it looks like we will, even for just a little bit. The costume design incorporates that same vibe of the future coupled with traditional African culture, so colourful and vibrant, it continues the MCU’s departure from the muted tones of its earlier entries. One of the biggest tools used to immerse the viewer in to the world of Wakanda is the music. The score by Ludwig Göransson is inspired by local musicians from Senegal and South Africa. It brings a feeling that the film is in touch with the culture it is portraying. It helped make Wakanda feel real.

Director Ryan Coogler has created an amazing world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He and co-writer Joe Robert Cole brought the characters and story from the comics to life in a way that the MCU hasn’t done before. They were able to bring the idea of a secretly futuristic African nation and somehow still ground it in a bit of reality. Coogler brought out the very best from his actors to the point where you could say this film has some of the best and most developed characters in a single film in the MCU. I can’t praise his work on this film enough. Quick shout out to cinematographer, Rachel Morrison who helped bring this world to the screen and came up with some really nice shots including a inverted shot that turns 180 degrees!

Black Panther is a great film and just what we needed to get us excited for Avengers: Infinity War in just a few months. The film benefits from great acting, direction, writing and world-building. The sum of all this come to one of the best ‘solo’ MCU film.

Above Average

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Review

In the year 1996, about a year after the events of the first Jumanji film, the mysterious and deadly board game is found washed up on a beach by a jogger. He takes the game home and gives it to his son, Alex, who discards it because “no one plays board games anymore”. Disheartened (I guess is the word I’m looking for), the game transforms into a console and cartridge overnight so that it can claim its next victim. Alex wakes up and plays the game only to be sucked in and never seen again… Fast forward 20 years and four teenagers are cleaning out a basement at school for detention. They find the game, start to play it, and they get sucked in too.

Sounds familiar? Yeah, the plot line of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is pretty thin however is the performances of the actors, the comedy and the self-awareness that really makes the film stand out. When I first heard that they were making a new Jumanji film, I thought that it would end up being a cash grab. Then, I saw the trailer and where they wanted to take the franchise and it piqued my interest. The film takes the characteristics of the game and modernises it to create something that feels fresh but at the same time, familiar. The video game aspect was an interesting take and it led to some good jokes about NPCs and other video game cliches. I say the plot line is thin, and it is, but at the same time, a lot of video games, especially the older ones, have very short plots. It’s usually “get this thing to that thing” or “save the world” (hint: they may have something to do with the movie).

Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart play the video game avatars of the four students played by, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Madison Iseman and Ser’Darius Blain. The actors both portray the characteristics of the characters really well. The standouts to me were Karen Gillan nailing a Morgan Turner impression and Jack Black playing a teenage girl in a middle-aged over-weight man’s body. While the characters felt a little weak at first, you have a nerd, a football player, a popular girl and a shy bookworm, they grow a little through the film and learn to trust each other. So there is a small amount of character development.

Rounding out the cast is Nick Jonas as Alex(the kid that went missing in 1996)’s avatar in the game. Bobby Cannavale as Van Pelt, the evil explorer who wants to control Jumanji and Rhys Darby as the game’s guide. I thought the cast all did good jobs and you could tell how much fun (especially the in-game characters) were having on set.

The film is surprisingly good. The jokes are funny and the actors and the chemistry between them is light and fun. The action is good even though some of the CGI animals looked a little rushed and fake. There are also some nice little hints to the original film.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a standalone sequel in the Jumanji universe, you don’t have to have seen the original (although do, it’s a great film). It’s refreshing to see something that isn’t rebooting or remaking a story, while some could consider it a soft reboot, it is also very much a sequel. I enjoyed this film but I don’t see any new films in the universe for a while. This film is very similar thematically to the original so they would have to go in a very different direction for a sequel so the franchise doesnt go stale.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Surprisingly, Above Average

The Greatest Showman – Review

Hugh Jackman returns to the musical genre in a modern, loose retelling of the story of P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman. The film is set in the late 1800s and follows a rags-to-riches storyline in the guise of a true story. The early life of Phineas Taylor Barnum in the film does not resemble that of the real-life counterpart, the timeline of events is also skewed to serve the story. The film, unfortunately, doesn’t reflect the arguably more interesting true story of P.T. Barnum, that being said, when you separate the ‘source material’ from what you see on the screen, it’s still a very enjoyable film.

The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum and Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle, a fictional playwright and Barnum’s partner and protegé. The supporting cast is made up of Michelle Williams as P.T.’s wife, Charity, Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler and Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, a bearded lady. The film sports a wide range of other actors portraying some real-life and some fictional wonders and oddities. The performances in the film are top quality, there was no one that I felt phoned it in and the singing was pretty good. Admittedly, we are in a day and age now where we are spoiled by Les Miserables where ADR song tracks don’t feel as real as singing live.

Hugh Jackman is fantastic and looks and moves like a much younger man. It’s in films like this he really strives and I would love to see more of this from him. Zac Efron is not the young man we saw in High School Musical, he has become a very good actor and singer in his own right and again, I would like to see him in a few more musical roles. Zendaya is great in this film. I liked her in Spider-Man: Homecoming but this is where she really shines. While I enjoyed Michelle Williams as Charity, I thought P.T.’s daughters stole her spotlight and they definitely deserved it.

The music in the film is for a modern audience. Many of the tracks could have an electronic backing track added to them and you could find them on a top 100 chart. A lot of them have an inspirational, Calvin Harris-y vibe with constant references to dreams and stars and stuff. While you can tell they tried to add complexity to the songs, a lot of them felt very generic and samey. The performances of the songs were also very modern with choreography that did not match the time or the period costume. The stand out performance for me was Zac Efron and Zendaya’s performance of ‘Rewrite the Stars’ that featured the two actors in an empty stage with rope work and it felt like it fit. It’s a stark contrast to the opening and the closing performances of ‘The Greatest Show’ (which is an ultra-contemporary number) where there are numerous examples of unreal CGI and a ridiculous amount of people doing everything littering the screen.

For all it’s problems, The Greatest Showman is an entertaining movie. It features a simple plot and modern music which should appeal to a wide audience. It’s far from the ‘greatest show’ it claims to be. It’s also not a very good story of P.T. Barnum, the film takes a lot of liberties and really just uses the elements of his story that serves the film’s story. It could be seen as the version P.T. Barnum would tell, a fantastic version of real-life events. But his life was much more interesting.

The Greatest Showman: Average

Love Actually – Review

To be honest, this is the kind of movie that almost everyone has seen. I’m not going to be saying anything too crazy about this film. It’s great. It’s a masterpiece of Romantic Comedy – so much so that it has set a template for many other rom-coms to follow in the last fourteen years. Love Actually was written and directed by Richard Curtis, the genius behind films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Boat that Rocked. Just like the films I’ve named and almost all the other ones I haven’t Curtis has proven that he can create characters that are relatable but can also be put in ridiculous situations, be they romantic or not, and create comedy. I’ve said a few times that there is usually only one good romantic comedy film a year, but if this is the standard of good, there’s probably one every five or so years.

I can’t see this review being very long so I’ll brush over some things I liked and some things I didn’t. Many of the characters are believable and are introduced briefly into the story, and yet you know almost everything you need to know about them by about ten minutes in. This is an example of how you create a good ensemble. Give your characters a chance to grow but keep them as simple as possible. This isn’t a criticism, I like that all I need to know about John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) is that they are body doubles for a film with a sex scene in it. Their relationship blossoms from that point. I also like that in the first meeting between Prime Minister, David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) you feel the pomp and circumstance that would usually come in the air of 10 Downing Street disappear the moment both of them say ‘fuck’. It’s good writing and great introductions that makes this film stand out to me. It is something a lot of the ‘copycat’ films have been unable to achieve.

Whether it’s the lost in translation love between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz) or the misguided sexual adventure Colin Frizzle (Kris Marshall) embarks on, everyone has their favourite Love Actually story. Mine is the Step-Father and Son relationship between Daniel (Liam Neeson) and Sam (Thomas Sangster) and their own journeys to find love after the death of Sam’s mother.

I’m going to wrap this up now. Love Actually is probably one of the best Christmas films and one of the best romantic comedies of all time. Admittedly, that statement is coming from someone that doesn’t like either of those genres all that much. But you’ll have to take my word for it, it’s a great film that pulls on all kinds of heartstrings. It’s hard to imagine a Christmas without it.

Love Actually: Above Average

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Review

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without watching at least one Shane Black film. The director sets almost all of his films around this particular time of year and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my favourites.

Harry Lockhart, played by Robert Downey Jr. is the narrator and main character of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and as in a lot of his films, is pretty much Robert Downey Jr. This movie was released in 2005 and I think it was a major contributor to him getting the role of Tony Stark in the Iron Man film. The character is erratic but well-meaning. The film also stars Val Kilmer as Perry van Shrike and Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane.

Harry is a thief turned actor who, while on a detective lesson with Gay Perry (for a role) witnesses a murder. He and Perry follow the threads and uncover a plot that is very involved and even connects to a former best friend of Harry’s from his hometown (Harmony). The film naturally unfolds as the characters find out more about the conspiracy and start to piece it together. Things we saw early in the movie are worked back into the plot and everything gets tied up in a nice little bow (like a Christmas present). Harry cuts in and out of the story with his self-aware narration that lightens the film up in some of the darker parts. If you haven’t seen this before but have seen Black and Downey Jr.’s other film Iron Man 3 it will feel very familiar to you. Harry is telling a story that has already happened, in this case, he is making it into a movie.

Shane Black has a very interesting way of setting his films at Christmas which amplifies his creative choices. His noir style of characters on bright night time backgrounds is enhanced by Christmas Lights and snow. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the LA Christmas Party settings are some of the most striking. While it is not often a major contributor to the films, and it isn’t in this one, Christmas (as Shane has said in interviews) make lonely people lonelier and, in some cases can make the bringing together of or reuniting of a family that much more important.

The three leads are fantastic together, mind you, I’m a fan of the actors in almost everything they’re in. While Robert Downey Jr. is very much his usual character in this film, there are some nice intricacies that shine through. Val Kilmer is probably my (and most likely everyone else’s) favourite character, “Gay” Perry is the ‘wise sage’ in this film who with his detective skills works out the case long before the audience of Harry does. Sure he makes mistakes from time to time but he’s a private investigator, most of them are schmucks anyway. Rounding out the cast is Michelle Monaghan whos character Harmony is a twist on the Femme Fatale trope. She’s sexy and smart but also fallible which just gives a nice little extra depth to the character, something you don’t often get in Film Noir.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a great crime-action film with interesting characters and a funny side. All set over the backdrop of Christmas, it is a must watch for this time of year. You won’t be disappointed.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Above Average

Christmas Inheritance – Review

Christmas Inheritance is another of Netflix’s entries into the Christmas movie market for 2017. Before ‘party heiress’ Ellen Langford can inherit her father’s gift business, she must deliver a special Christmas card to her dad’s former partner in Snow Falls, the small town where the company began. It’s here she learns the true meaning of Christmas and in turn the values of the company, through earning her keep in the town.

Sounds pretty straightforward and tacky? Well, you’d be right. But that’s not a bad thing – I enjoyed this movie more than A Christmas Prince. It is a simple film that doesn’t push for any twists or turns and that makes it easy to follow. Of course, you can see how this ends from a mile out but isn’t that what Christmas movies are about? Isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

The film stars Eliza Taylor whom you may recognise from her TV roles as Janae in Neighbours and Clarke in The 100 (but I will always remember her as one of my childhood crushes, Rosie from The Sleepover Club) and Jake Lacy (who, I don’t know,  he was in Season 9 of the Office? Maybe you’d recognise him from that?). Both fill the requirements for their roles and don’t stand out from anyone else in the film so I guess, they were good leads? The only other notable actor in this film is Andie MacDowell who serves as the heart of the film and I liked her in that role.

There is very little else of note to review here. The movie isn’t bad, it’s nice and it will most likely fly under the radar with A Christmas Prince hogging a lot of the limelight as the ‘Best Worst Christmas Movie’. Christmas Inheritance is almost a pallet cleanser after watching something so awful. It brings you back to a nice middle ground.

Christmas Inheritance: Average

PS: Eliza Taylor beats Rose McIver any day!

Better Watch Out – Review

This isn’t a very long film, so it doesn’t warrant a very long review. Better Watch Out is a Christmas psychological horror film that tells the story of one terrifying night. Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is a 17-year-old babysitter who is taking care of 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) when strange things start happening around the house. Phone lines cut and doors being left open tell Ashley that something isn’t quite right. Luke, who has a crush on Ashley tries to act tough in order to make her like him. After a brave attempt to stop the bad guys it is revealed that the whole thing was a prank of Luke’s design aided by his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). But after the prank is revealed, things take a turn for the worse.

While I don’t mind these sorts of films I thought that Better Watch Out was just one in a crowd. While the film has an interesting take, it’s not anything I haven’t seen before. The three leads are all young Australian actors and they all do a great job in their respective roles. Admittedly it is a horror film and it’s not crucial that they can all act but it is nice to see them stick to their character and keep the audience invested. Levi Miller captured the 12-year-old manipulative psychopath very well when the character screams or yells sometimes his voice cracks (not sure if it was real or purposefully done but), it gave a reality to the character. The Christmas setting doesn’t do all that much to the actual storyline but it adds some little touches to a story that could only happen at Christmas.

While not scary at all, I felt that the film was a bit sadistic in parts and very much played on a horny 12-year-old boy not getting what he wants and turning to terrible things to get it. This could rub people the wrong way because of the ages of the characters. I didn’t mind the film but I wasn’t on board with some of the choices the characters made. That, however, did help with the way I felt about all of the characters in the film – uncomfortable.

Better Watch Out is an Australian-American co-production that features a lot of Australian actors. The director, Chris Peckover is an Australia-Canadian dual citizen and wanted to make a film outside of LA after his last film, Undocumented. This resulted in a decent horror film that is fun to watch but won’t be topping any ‘best of’ or ‘worst of’ lists for 2017.

Better Watch Out: Average

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review

This review contains spoilers. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for a few days now and it’s time to give a more full review on it. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is your warning to not read this post.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is very satisfying however, there were a few things that I didn’t like. Some parts of the film, particularly a few of the bits of humour and some of the choices some of the characters made weren’t my favourites, there are even some scenes that I felt didn’t quite belong. The film is a culmination of every Star Wars film that has come before it, like previous entries, you feel that ‘poetic rhyming’ the franchise is said to have. By that, I mean this film is definitely not like The Force Awakens, in which the whole thing felt very ‘A New Hope’. No, this film takes little hints and vibes from the whole of the Star Wars saga. As well as drawing in (in my opinion) similarities from other big franchises like Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica and Lord of the Rings.

The Last Jedi picks up almost straight after Episode VII, the First Order retaliates after the destruction of Starkiller Base, heading straight for the Resistance base in the middle of the new band of rebel’s evacuation. This leads to a cool space battle with a dash of humour thrown in. I say dash, it’s pretty full on and hammy – a lot of people are not going to enjoy the humour in this film. The Resistance escapes and moves to their next stop in the storyline, which also happens to be the last stop because the next plot point is a doozy. The First Order track them through hyperspace which results in a ‘chase’ scene for the majority of the film. Imagine two cruise ships on the sea, both with the same engines, propellers etc. both going full throttle – not exactly thrilling. Yet, somehow it works and towards the end of the film, there is a dramatic payoff that is probably one of my favourite scenes.

We’ll come back to the chase between the Raddus and the Supremacy later on. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) learns what has happened to Luke (Mark Hamill), why he is on the planet Ahch-To (the planet we find him on in The Force Awakens) and she seeks to learn the ways of the force. Luke Skywalker’s arc is an interesting one. He is reluctant to train Rey as he believes that the Jedi and their teachings are not the answer to the Galaxy’s problems. I can see why there was a bit of a cloud hanging over Rian Johnson’s choices from Mark Hamill’s point of view. He is definitely not the Luke Skywalker from the ‘Legends’ material. But I can see that this is how he has ended up and I don’t mind that. The dynamic between Luke and Rey (Mark and Daisy) was strong and I thought that it was the most interesting of the character combinations. Most interesting, but not the best… No, that goes to Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), over the course of the film their force connections across the galaxy are so good and fun! Their teamwork in taking down the Praetorian Guards after the murder of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) was another one of those great scenes in the film.

Now it’s time to look at my least favourite plot points – almost everything involving Finn (John Boyega). While the setting of the planet Cantonica and the city, Canto Bight were interesting, nothing that happened in that setting was of any use or importance. Finn may have had a bit of character progression where he might have learned to stop trying to run away but other than that, Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), ‘DJ’ (Benicio Del Toro), getting aboard the Supremacy, fighting and killing Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), it was all in the end, pointless and pretty uninteresting. On that too, one of the main issues people had in The Force Awakens was the lack of screen time for Captain Phasma. How did they address that in this film? They gave her less. The running with the Fathiers (space horses) was probably my least favourite scene in the entire film (worse than ‘Super-Leia’, more on that soon), it felt so much like a Harry Potter scene and the John Williams score didn’t help that either. As great as the score was, it added to the Harry Potter vibe. The film improved a lot more after Finn and Rose left Canto Bight.

Onboard the Raddus (the Resistance’s flagship), the heads of the Resistance are trying to work out how to escape the First Order when BOOM! Two TIE fighters blast the bridge and everyone is sucked out into the cold, dark vacuum of space. Admiral Ackbar, General Leia, almost the entire leadership is gone. That is until Leia (Carrie Fisher in her last on-screen appearance) uses the force and pulls her self back into the ship in a scene that can best be described as ‘Super-Leia’. Now I didn’t hate this scene. I didn’t love it either. There were definitely some ways I would have changed the scene to make it a little less corny while still keeping the ‘Leia uses the force to save herself’ element. Hell, all you need to do is cut out the shot where she opens her eyes and the whole scene is more believable. While we’re on the Raddus and the topic of believability, Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) is an unnecessarily complex character. She chooses to not share basic information with Poe (Oscar Issac) that leads to his mutiny. Only for him to be the one to announce to the audience that she can be trusted just before she drives the Raddus straight through the Supremacy and the First Order fleet. That being said, that scene and the sound design especially in it. Breath-taking. It feels like for that brief moment, all the air is sucked out of the cinema and you’re just watching something truly amazing.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a lot to process. One recommendation I will make, this movie does need to be seen a few times to comprehend it all. It amazed me. I often write that one of my favourite parts of a film is when you think you’ve got the plot pretty much worked out and it goes in a completely different direction. There are many moments like this in The Last Jedi. Plenty of fan-service while also taking the thousands upon thousands of hours fan spent speculating who Snoke is and who Rey’s parents were and throws them out an airlock.

My score hasn’t changed since the first review.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Above Average

A Christmas Prince – Review

Netflix’s 2017 entry into the genre of Christmas films is everything you need something in this genre to be. But that’s not a good thing. A Christmas Prince features every cliché in the book. It’s overly family-friendly and tries to pluck your heartstrings while wearing the mitts you use to pull a tray of Christmas Tree cookies out of the oven.

The film stars Rose McIver, a New Zealand actress that has a bit of cred to her after appearing in a lot of TV Shows, most notably iZombie where she has the lead role, as Amber Moore, a junior editor and aspiring journalist who is (for some reason) chosen to cover a possible royal scandal in Aldovia. Aldovia is pretty much Denmark where everyone speaks with a British accent, I’m not exactly sure where this fictional country is on the map, but who cares, the writers of this film sure don’t. The scandal involves the prince who is expected to pick up the crown after his father passed away, but the prince seems reluctant (WHY??? It’s more than just nerves). Anyway, after a press conference gets canceled and all the other reporters give up and go home, Amber sneaks into the castle and is mistaken for the new tutor for the young princess. It’s 2017 and Aldovia seems to have never heard of background checks. So we have a reporter looking for a scoop who is lying about who she is to get closer to the Prince. I bet they don’t fall in love before she is outed as a fraud.

I’m going to take a point here to cover the parts that made me say (out loud in some parts) “Oh, of course, this is what we’re doing”. The young princess (Emily played by Honor Kneafsey) has spina bifida and everyone misunderstands her, treats her like a ‘china doll’, and sees her as a spoilt rich girl when all she wants to do is go out and play. Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) is also misunderstood. Everybody sees him as a playboy and a philanderer but all he wants to do is archery and have snowball fights. But you see Amber gets that and she sees these people as they really are. Then there’s the evil cousin who wants the throne who forms an evil partnership of evil with a spoilt former flame of Richard’s who also just wants the crown.

All this comes together at the Christmas Eve Ball (of course there’s a ball) which also doubles as the coronation (because, why not?). There’s a Cinderella moment where Amber is given a make-over to look pretty much the same that she has for the whole film. But the juicy scandal comes out at the perfect time. As the Prime Minister recites the coronation proceedings (which are more like wedding vows then how an actual coronation goes) when he gets to the part that says something along the lines of “If anyone here has a dispute to Richard’s claim on the throne, speak now or forever hold your peace” (see? not a real coronation) the bad guys reveal that they had been snooping in Amber’s stuff and reveal that the Prince is not who he says he is.

You should watch this though to see the joke of a storyline it is and look while it’s clichéd, many could argue that it is a good Christmas film. It invokes the spirit of Christmas and Fairy Tales like Cinderella but it’s just so corny. A Christmas Prince is cheesy, sappy and super by-the-numbers but because it’s a Christmas film, it’s going to get a pass from a lot of people. But from me…

A Christmas Prince: Below Average