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Charming and positive art adventures.
Pablo has daily adventures with his animal friends in the art world. He has autism and that is okay. He simply sees the world differently and he is able to overcome daily challenges. He has positive interactions with his Mum, relatives and other children. When he has a problem, he draws pictures and imagines himself interacting with Wren, Noa, Draff, Tang, Mouse and Llama. They have their own likes and dislikes and they help him figure out what to do. The characters are all devoted to each other and are able to work through any disagreements through communication. They are voiced by autistic actors, which adds to the charm. Adults and children will be able to watch together, enjoy and understand that differences are to be celebrated. A very reassuring and positive show.
The Jungle Book (2016)
Worth a look. Some flaws.
While I prefer the older animation (8), this is still worth your time. The CGI is impressive & Mowgli interacts well with the animals. It is more serious in tone, making the lighter moments and obligatory songs out of place. I was pleased that the wolves and Shere Khan got more screen time. The cubs and the baby elephant are adorable. I wasn't keen on the re-imagined Baloo and King Louie. (Although, Phil Harris & Louis Prima would be impossible to impersonate.) The elephants, monkeys and vultures don't have speaking roles. Bagheera and Shere Khan are the strongest characters. Kaa is now female and she is given a significant scene. The ending is different. Mowgli is given a more active role. Some nods to The Lion King. It might not be suitable for younger/sensitive children. I liked that they included some of the instrumentals from the classic. A good, alternative version.
Loose Adaptation, Good Burton.
I enjoyed this as a Burton film, although it was very loosely based on the novels. I know that Riggs has approved the changes, so I was prepared to have an open mind. Characters have been altered and this will definitely disappoint some viewers. In the series, Emma has a fiercer personality and uses fire. Olive is younger and is simply light. She does not control air. While initially annoyed by this switching/enhancing, I accepted this choice at the cinema. I thought the Peculiars were well acted and I still cared about them. Unfortunately the villain is too goofy, compared with how the Wights are portrayed in the original. The darker scenes have been left out or toned down for family audiences. While the novel ends on a cliffhanger, the film has an embarrassing fight sequence and a happy conclusion. I enjoyed the visuals, some of which are stop motion or non CGI. The house and grounds are perfect. It's good Halloween viewing.
Charlotte's Web (1973)
Adorable weepy with great voice cast.
This is the very first film given to me on VHS as a child. I adored it then and now. There are cute characters, memorable songs and absolute heartbreak. (For all ages.) It is a good adaptation of the book which I also recommend. Paul Lynde easily steals as Templeton the rat. Debbie Reynolds (Charlotte), Agnes Moorehead (Goose) and Henry Gibson (Wilbur) are also perfectly cast. A gosling who wants to be just like Wilbur always makes me smile. There are tears at the start, tears in the middle and a great flood at the end so parental supervision for young or sensitive children is essential. However there are many comical moments too and the songs by the Sherman Brothers are mostly jolly. "Mother Earth and Father Time" is a haunting lullaby. One of the best animated musicals out there. Just have tissues ready.
Oliver & Company (1988)
This is my favourite Disney film of all time. It still holds up to my childhood enthusiasm. The characters are extra lovable, courageous and funny. The soundtrack is incredible - score and songs. You just can't help singing along. There are famous singers/actors in the voice cast, including Billy Joel and Bette Midler. They bring great energy to their roles. Oliver is the cutest, but is also feisty and is well able to fit in with his new pack. Georgette is a scene stealer with her vanity and jealousy. The gang are devoted to Fagin, Oliver and each other. They are all enjoyable to watch as they demonstrate their "street savoir faire." Sykes and the dobermans appear infrequently, but deliver pure menace. The 2D, hand-drawn animation is marvellous and also features some early computer work. Their decision to shut down this department in favour of full CGI is a real shame. The poster still has pride of place on my wall (and I have toys, books, the CD and an intact mug.) I regret that this film has been over-shadowed by the 90's super successes. The opening is breathtaking and heartbreaking. The whole is a delightful journey that never fails to cheer me up. Just purrfect.
A Welcome (If Surprising) Return
I was certain that the combined efforts of Film 13 "The Wisdom of Friends" & The TV Series had made Littlefoot & his friends extinct. The arrival of this sequel both pleased and worried me. (But when you hit rock bottom, you have to go up in theory.) Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This acts as a sequel to Film X - "The Great Longneck Migration" and has a brief recap. As usual the gang face various dangers outside of The Great Valley and make new friends. I liked the pterodactyl, but the feathery one was annoying. (Seemed to be a relative of Guido from Film 12 "The Great Day of the Flyers.") I wasn't pleased to see Chomper & Ruby of the TV Series included, making that canon, but they're kept to a minimum. The animation is thankfully still in 2d and is a fair standard. The songs are forgettable. I briefly wondered where Shorty was, an obvious flaw in continuity; then forgot him again. It was fine with the focus on the main five. Less involvement from the adults worked in favour. It's an enjoyable adventure and I'll be curious to see if any more follow.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
This is my favourite of the current three films. Po is as lovable as ever as he goes on a journey of self-discovery. He is excited to meet his real Dad and a whole Panda clan; but his devotion to his Goose Father and friends at home is never in doubt. The cutest moments belong to Tigress though. She gains a special devotee. While Po hopes to become a Chi Master in time to defeat a returning evil, The Five fight without him. They aren't in that many scenes though, compared to 1 & 2. This is a Panda Adventure. There is plenty of humour and a great deal of heart. The animation is beautiful. The ending is spectacular. There are strong messages about helping people to discover their strengths and that failure is a learning tool. Success comes from trying again and accepting support from others. The important thing is to be you.
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Welcome back, Buck! Fun, heartwarming adventure.
This series is a firm favourite, due to its lovable characters, great animation and sense of fun. Simon Pegg makes a welcome return as the swashbuckling Buck, stealing every scene he's in. Scrat has new misadventures in space; while the Herd race against time to save the Earth. There are new villains and love interests introduced, plus other creatures, but the film never feels overcrowded. (Unlike in The Pirate Adventure.) Diego is left on the sidelines, but will hopefully have a bigger role if they make a 6th instalment. I love the humour and the heartwarming moments. Perhaps the next step is to re-introduce Roshan (the baby from the original).
Innocent, original & fun.
This is undeniably silly. It's meant to be. I giggled through every episode. Matt Lucas is already a favourite actor of mine from previous TV shows & films. Hove and the dog interact brilliantly with him. While this series has been billed as "silent"; in actual fact all the characters speak. It's just in their own special "gibb-lish." The plots are easy to follow and full of comic visuals. Some of these are surreal. There is no crudity in the humour. Pompidou is an innocent who inadvertently causes trouble for everyone around him, especially Hove. He endears himself to the audience, occasionally breaking the 4th wall. This is evidently a project that Matt put his whole heart into and I hope he can make more. There's nothing wrong with SILLY, providing that's what you're looking for. And there's a special surprise for Little Britain fans. (Ep 5.)
Not now, Silent Singer! (A dark delirium of delight.)
I discovered this after enjoying Inside No 9. (Not a fan of The League.) Psychoville has twisted and memorable characters. The plot is gripping and successfully combines horror with humour. Also, Reece and Steve constantly homage their favourite films. One episode is set entirely in one location, reminding me of how No 9 works. Their commentaries on the DVDs are entertaining and informative. It is a shame Series 3 didn't go ahead, but there aren't any loose ends. I especially loved Reece's characters which include a bitter clown and an obsessive librarian. Dawn French is fabulous. Steve's best character is the man-child, David. There are no weak performances. The music adds to the atmosphere perfectly. Nothing is predictable. The Halloween Special is certainly the best I've seen. For the whole, Psychoville is a delicious treat at any time of the year!
Mumfie's Quest: The Movie (1996)
Cheerful adventure with catchy songs. Shame about cuts.
I'm delighted to discover my favourite animated TV series has re-surfaced. Mumfie possesses optimism and bravery. He meets lovable characters, each with a unique characteristic, and helps to re-inspire them. In return, they give him the friendship he's been looking for. There is plenty of adventure, mystery, danger and especially, hope. The songs are catchy and I love the quirky dialogue/narration. It's also in refreshing 2d. I enjoyed the story as much as ever. It's just a shame that for reasons of length and flow, certain songs/scenes were cut. This will only be jarring for the biggest fans though. I strongly recommend the movie to everyone of any age. It's full of absolute charm and heart.
Jolie perfect for re-imagined tale. Some flaws.
While there are nods to the original classic, the story and characters have been re-imagined. The narrator explains this at the beginning. This leads to various strengths and weaknesses.
Angelina Jolie is excellent as Maleficent, who is given greater motivation for her actions. The costume is perfect.
My favourite character is Diaval (Sam Riley), the raven-familiar. He shape-shifts as required.
Aurora (Elle Fanning) a.k.a. "Beastie" has a sweet relationship with both of them.
Maleficent's magical forest subjects are delightful also.
Exciting action scenes are well balanced by tenderer sequences.
This was my first 3D experience. No cheesy FX or discomfort.
The 3 Good Fairies have thankfully been re-named. They are of no use whatsoever and are simply annoying. They are insults to the originals.
Prince Philip is not developed at all and is barely seen.
King Stefan has more to do, but he is no longer gentle.
Both the animation and live-action versions have their faults, but they are both equally entertaining. Maleficent is always a treat.
Modern Ferngully. Fantastic animation. Funny characters.
I love Blue Sky's "Ice Age" series and I was delighted to see Scrat in the logo. This leads to a beautiful and energetic opening sequence. Epic has just the right mix of action, emotional scenes and humour. Perhaps the main characters are generic, but I cared about them and their quest. While it does have "Ferngully" plot elements, especially the shrinking & the destructive evil power against the benign forces of nature; these are much bigger and exciting. No preaching involved. The comic relief snail & slug are amusing and have an essential role in the plot. The scene stealer is often Ozzy the dog, who also has his part. Watch out for one of the villain's guards too. I enjoyed the creativity of the background flower, mushroom, twig population. Also the armour worn by the evil forces. The animation for the action sequences is especially impressive. The voice talent is excellent.
Alpha and Omega (2010)
I suspected from the trailer that this wouldn't be good. Being a fan of wolves & animation though; I gave it a chance. First, the good. There are sweet moments for B couple, Lilly & Garth. Also, there are beautiful backgrounds. A cuddly bear cub scene-steals. Unfortunately these are over- shadowed by the BAD. The attempts at humour are dreadful. Too much "bathroom" for a start. The golfing goose & his duck companion just don't work as comic relief. Instead their presence reminds us of a better wolf film - BALTO. The big names are wasted in this poor fodder. The plot could have been interesting, but was too much old ground. The log sledging & Kate's acrobatics get repeated over & over. Maybe not a problem for younger children. Adults will get bored. I certainly won't be watching the sequels.
Inside No. 9 (2014)
Dark & twisty. Love Reece.
While I'm not a "League of Gentlemen" fan; I loved Reece's performance in "A Field in England." Therefore I was prepared to give "No 9." a go. This series has an impressive line up of guest stars from Katherine Parkinson to Tamsin Greig. Each episode is a mini-play set in a different location. I especially liked the creepy mansion in the final one. The stories contain twists, humour & horror. Only one of them ("The Last Gasp") disappointed me. The make-up and costumes for Reece & Steve are great. "Sardines" has a terrific end to hook viewers in. "A Quiet Night In" is full of surprises. "Tom & Gerri", my favourite, is a compelling moral tale. "The Understudy" examines the price of success. "The Harrowing" is traditional horror with a scene stealing role for Reece. I look forward to a second series.
Bunny and the Bull (2009)
Unique adventure with hope and melancholy.
I love surreal films and this was one I overlooked. I'm glad I finally gave it a chance. The trailer doesn't really do it justice. My favourite cameo actor was Julian Barratt of the Boosh. (I was disappointed with Noel's scene though.) Also pleased to see Richard Ayoade. While these two provide light relief, the main story-line is dark and traumatic. It is accompanied by bizarre animated sequences and an excellent soundtrack by the Ralfe Band. Stephen and Bunny's loyal and tortured relationship is at the heart of this film though. Their adventure is revealed through Stephen's memories stored up in his flat. They are imaginatively linked. The conclusion is perfect.
Les Revenants (2012)
Eerie, compelling viewing.
This is the best creepy drama I've seen this year. I was gripped every second. The title sequence is full of mysteries. Disturbing and yet beautiful imagery. The music is by Mogwai and it stirs the soul. It is the very heart of the series. All the cast are excellent. The "Returned" characters, especially the young Vincent, are both sympathetic and scary by turns. Some are seeking love and acceptance. All are hungry and confused. They are not your typical horror monster. They are just people who happen to have been given a new chance at life. The plot-line unfolds slowly and subtly. Some scenes are left to the imagination, but there are still shocks. Certainly lots of questions which lead to questions, but that did not bother me. I was simply drawn further in. I am excited about the 2nd series.
A Field in England (2013)
Incredible Cast. Mesmerising Movie. Fantastic surrealism.
Excited by the trailer, I chose to order the DVD. I was not disappointed. The cast includes a favourite actor of mine, Julian Barratt. He's only in a single scene, but he is memorable. All the casting is marvellous, especially for O'Neill and Whitehead, the main adversaries. The black and white imagery is astounding. There is intimacy and violence, humour and surreal beauty. It's a unique experience and I was mesmerised. While I am usually slow to watch commentaries and extras, for this film, I devoured them. There's also a Masterclass available on the internet. This is definitely my Film of the Year and I would encourage you to see it. It's impossible to describe and will no doubt divide, but it's certainly a triumph for all cast and crew. A full 10 from me certainly.
Family Tree (2013)
Chris O'Dowd is an extremely lovable actor and simply perfect for the role of Tom. He carries each episode well, being charming to almost everyone, even when embarrassed. He shows enthusiasm for each new branch discovered and participates willingly in all family activities. The scene stealer, however, is Monk, the constant puppet companion of Tom's eccentric sister, Bea. Nina Conti is delightful. I also enjoyed Tom Bennett as his daft best friend, Pete. The show gently mocks the "Who am I?" documentaries, plus other genres via characters' televisions. The script-less format means there is some miss, but mainly it works well. The actors are creative and are having fun with each other. The relationships between everyone, especially Tom and Bea, are touching. I hope this can get renewed.
The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)
James Herbert Done Right
I have read the book and this is the best adaptation of a James Herbert novel yet. The first episode is the scariest - lots of ghost story clichés, but they are effective. The music, the darkness, the doors, the well & the cane especially. The casting is perfect, especially Douglas Henshall as the insane Augustus & Sarah Smart as his cruel sister, Magda. There is a change to the ending. (Stefan dies horribly in the book, but in a way that is too offensive to show.)The couple coping with the loss of their child are sympathetic and your heart goes out to every young victim and their champions. While the cruelty and child loss scenes have been handled with care, some viewers may be upset. Be warned that there is a lot more of it in the book, plus nudity.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
Scrat Steals Again. Fuzzy. Funny. Crowded.
I'm a huge fan of the Ice Age Series, thanks to it being consistently warm & fuzzy. My ratings so far have been Original(10), Meltdown(7) & Dinosaurs(9)This latest installment introduces a large amount of new characters, including Sid's grandma, a gang of pirates, a new rodent tribe & Lewis, best friend of Peaches. The film does seem rather crowded as a result, but there are less comments from the general, background animals. If you watch carefully you'll see cameos from Buck, Rudi & Scratte. The star of the film is of course Scrat, who is still on the eternal acorn quest. (With even funnier results, especially under water.)It has the feel of a grand finale, especially when it shows the actors over the end credits. I wouldn't object to more though. I just wonder what happened to all the humans.
Tom Conti's brilliant, but okay show.
I chose to watch this show because it has two actors out of Miranda (Sally Phillips & Tom Conti) and I was curious to see them in new roles. The premise seems a good one and it tries, but somehow fails. Tom steals every scene he's in, but Sally's character is unsympathetic, as is her dumb husband. The children were underused, but easy to like. The humour was in the main forced or didn't quite work. They're aiming for heartwarming and quirky, but compared to "Miranda" or "Starlings", it falls far short. If the leads are repellent, the show is not going to live up to potential. (Nothing against Sally. She's a good actress in a poor role.) I will continue watching for sake of the supporting characters, but would not buy on DVD.
The Ricky Gervais Show (2010)
Irresistibly funny. I love Karl.
There's something so irresistible about Karl Pilkington. I discovered him through the books first. Then I enjoyed watching An Idiot Abroad. I'm not a fan of Ricky Gervais usually, but that doesn't matter here. Karl takes all the teasing in his stride and can give as good as he gets. He's not a victim, although it may come across that way to some viewers. Ricky & Steve both love him and if Karl wasn't happy, he wouldn't keep on working with them. The animation is brilliant. The title sequence alone pulls you in. I don't believe there's that much acting involved. Karl is a unique person and his outlook is refreshing. His Diary is always a highlight. One of the funniest series ever, whether or not you heard the original podcasts.
Quirky & Heartwarming
With the exception of the needlessly vindictive Bell, all the characters are likable from the very first scene. Everyone will have their own favourites, for me - Gravy, Fergie & Loz. The relationship between the latter two (played by the writers) is sweet and builds nicely. They're a brilliant odd couple. I was disappointed when they were separated for one episode & sometimes Gravy has been almost forgotten. (Always a danger with a large cast.) The humour is gentle, sometimes original, and there is a lot of warmth. There are a couple of weak episodes, but as a whole the series is highly enjoyable and you'll want to spend time with this family.
This is genius! A real work of love.
While this show certainly isn't for everyone, if you love Noel & his artwork/writing/acting/stand up; then it's pure genius. And he is well supported by Mike, Tom & Dolly, who were previously in Boosh, as are most of the cameos. However the two shows aren't to be compared.
Luxury is a sketch show, allowing Noel's imagination to run free and to share his unique brain with us. If you own a copy of his Art Book - "Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton", then you can see some of his creations brought to life, most notably The Jelly Fox. (Episode 2.) There's a lot of love & hard work gone into this and I have been laughing throughout. Luxurious indeed.