Category Archives: Musical

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Watson as Belle
Dan Stevens as The Prince/Beast
Luke Evans as Gaston
Kevin Kline as Maurice
Josh Gad as LeFou
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette
Director: Bill Condon

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

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Although Beauty and the Beast was on my most anticipated films of 2017 list, it was a movie I was feeling mixed about. It had a lot of potential with it having a good cast. At the same time though, it’s yet another live action adaptation of a Disney movie, which feels like just another cash grab. Overall that’s pretty much what this movie is, it’s not necessarily a bad movie though. On the contrary actually, it’s a pretty decent movie. The acting and most of the execution worked really well. However some of the directional decisions made were rather questionable and took me out of the movie.

The story was good overall, I had no real problems with it. With that said, from what I can tell, this story follows the original story quite closely. So, I don’t take much issue with the story itself, it was some of the decisions made in delivering that story that I felt a little mixed about. I personally liked the second act the most (though again that’s most likely due to the directional decisions being the best).

The acting was generally good all around. Emma Watson did a pretty good job as Belle, I still saw her as Hermoine Granger as Belle, but she did well in her role. Dan Stevens was also really good. Most of the time he is under a lot of makeup and costume but yet is able to convey emotion underneath all that. Luke Evans was great as Gaston, it was a larger than life performance, it was very over the top, which it did take me out of the movie. But from what I can tell it is still less over the top than other versions of Gaston. I will say that Evans fully embraced the role. The standouts to me were Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, they were voicing Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively and were quite entertaining.

I like most of the directional decisions made. The effects involving the Beast were very effective, I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to make it so that Stevens could be able to express his emotions through it. The costume design was great overall. The CGI was effective for the most part, although some of the CGI in the last act was a little fake. I liked most of the musical number. Despite many of the directional decisions I liked, there were some very over the top elements that took me out of the movie, such as the opening Belle song and the last act. Now I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t tell if some of the decisions were to pay homage to the original film. But either way with some I just couldn’t get into it.

Beauty and the Beast was a pretty good movie overall, with the acting and most of the directional decisions made being decent. I did however have a lot of issues with some of the directional ideas chosen, these ideas really took me out of the movie. As I said, it was not necessary for this movie to exist, it’s yet another okay enough live action Disney adaptation. But despite it being unnecessary, I still think that overall I think it’s a decent movie and if you are a fan of the original film and are interested in seeing this version, see it. You’ll most likely like it a lot.

La La Land (2016) Review

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Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder
Emma Stone as Mia Dolan
John Legend as Keith
Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura Wilder
Director: Damien Chazelle

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

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I didn’t know what to expect from this movie. I like some musicals but I wasn’t like a massive fan of them. However, this movie had Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and was directed by Damian Chazelle, who directed Whiplash, my favourite movie of 2014. Both the talent involved as well as the critical acclaim got me to watch the movie. However, I was not prepared for how much I would love this movie. Everything in this movie is top notch, the acting, directing, cinematography, music, everything is excellent about this movie. This is such an incredible film.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in LA LA LAND.

Basically, the movie follows Sebastian and Mia, their romance and their stories as Sebastian tries to be a Jazz musician and Mia tries to be an actress. They are clearly passionate about these things and its very easy to get caught up in that. I found it very compelling to see them try to achieve their dreams and the things they go through (without spoiling anything). It’s also very easy to buy the romance, it’s handled very well. I will also say that La La Land is one of the best romance movies in a while. Now this movie is a musical and before you wonder, no, it’s not singing all the way through the movie. There are plenty of musical sections and while they are great (which I’ll get into later), the film overall is a perfect blend of musical and story. Also, the ending of the film, I wasn’t quite expecting it but worked very well for the movie.

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The movie is really focussed on Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and they are absolutely fantastic in this movie. I said earlier how it’s easy to buy their relationship and a large part of that is because their chemistry was perfect. It was just so fun and easy to watch these two interact. They perfectly conveyed their characters and their passions. Also, their singing and dancing in this film was excellent.

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The direction of this movie is absolutely perfect, which really is no surprise as Damian Chazelle directed this movie. With Whiplash and now La La Land, he’s proven that he really knows how to incorporate music into movies. A notable aspect of the film is that the cinematography is so beautiful. A lot of the scenes, especially the musical sequences are made to look like they were done in one shot, which is very impressive, it must not have been easy to do that. The choreography and dancing was also perfect, as was the music. The transition to the musical sections are also done well, it never felt abrupt or out of place. They transitioned seamlessly into the scenes. This movie is overall one of the best directed films of the year.

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La La Land is unexpectedly one of my favourite films of the year and one of my favourite experiences in the cinema this year. I don’t really have any problems with the movie. It’s one of the best directed films of the year and I think it’s one of the best musicals ever made. I slightly love Whiplash more than La La Land but it’s really close. La La Land is such an excellent movie. Even if you don’t like musicals I strongly recommend checking it out when you can, I think you’ll be surprised. I can’t wait to see more films from Damian Chazelle.

Into the Woods (2014) Review

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Into the Woods

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Meryl Streep as The Witch
Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife
James Corden as The Baker
Anna Kendrick as Cinderella
Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince
Tracey Ullman as Jack’s mother
Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s Stepmother
Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood
Daniel Huttlestone as Jack
Johnny Depp as The Wolf
Director: Rob Marshall

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy)-all tied together by an original story involving a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

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Musical movies can go either way for me. Even when I haven’t watched the live action versions, I liked Sweeney Todd and even Les Miserables, so I was optimistic upon starting to watch Into the Woods. Unfortunately, Into the Woods wasn’t really what I hoped the film to be and has some problems. I think that this movie is really not for me, particularly with its style, however even with some good things that helped the film from being mediocre, there are some pacing and plot parts in the story that really didn’t work for me.

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The first part of the movie was fine; a lot of things were happening at the same time but I was going along with the plot. The style wasn’t for me and wasn’t one that I particularly like, a lot of the movie did feel very cheesy. Also, some of the comedy worked, other times it really failed, at least to me. I do admit that I did find it entertaining seeing a party mix of multiple fairy tales. The movie wasn’t boring, there were times that the story didn’t interest me but it at least had enough for me to keep watching. The film near the end of the second third or the first half actually felt like it’s finished; however the movie just went on longer. I know that this is part of the musical but if that was the case, they should’ve shortened the first part, or at least made it entertaining enough that we are willing to watch the next part. It felt quite long already; I lost count of how many times I checked my watch. However the actual ending did resolve everything nicely, so I’ll give some credit for that.

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Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and most of the main cast were pretty good. My favourite performance was from Emily Blunt, who gave one of the more grounded performances of the movie. Johnny Depp was good in the couple of scenes he’s in but honestly, anyone could’ve played his part. At time there were some over the top characters like Cinderella’s step family with really take me out of the movie. Occasionally Chris Pine as the Prince fitted in this category as well; he did well, but he did have some over the top moments. Some characters are meant to be cheesy but at the same time there are some grounded performances, so it felt a little out of place when those characters appeared.

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On the technical side, Into the Woods does really well. One of the strengths of Into the Woods is the special effects, especially whenever magic was being shown. It’s also a great looking movie, and an overall greatly shot movie. The makeup was also done very well, especially with Meryl Streep. The actors did sing well but I just wasn’t really a fan of the tunes, they sounded the same but it may be different for others who watch this movie.

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If you are a big musical fan (or fans of the Into the Woods musical) then chances are that you are going to like Into the Woods more than I did. I was disappointed with Into the Woods but I have a feeling that it’s just not my sort of movie. I know of a lot of people who really enjoyed the film. So if the film still looks appealing to you, I say check it out and see for yourself. If you don’t like musicals, Into the Woods won’t change your minds.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) Review

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Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett
Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin
Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford
Jayne Wisener as Johanna Barker
Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli
Laura Michelle Kelly as Lucy Barker/Beggar Woman
Jamie Campbell Bower as Anthony Hope
Ed Sanders as Tobias Ragg
Director: Tim Burton

After years in exile for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker, now Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns to London to find his wife dead and his daughter Johanna (Jaine Wisener) in the hands of the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Sweeney relocates his barber business to the top of Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) pie shop. Todd wants revenge and works with Mrs Lovett by killing the unsuspecting public while giving them a shave; the bodies are turned into Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. With the plan being successful, all Todd needs to do is convince the Judge to sit in his chair.

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Tim Burton can do some good adaptations (Batman) but recently some of his recent adaptations haven’t impressed me (Willy Wonka). However that is not the case with Sweeney Todd. It is the right type of material that’s suited to him; it’s dark and bloody and Burton successfully adapted it for the big screen, respecting and representing the source material perfectly. This is added to the acting and direction which is great and furthers the movie even more.

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If you don‘t know already, this film is adapted from Sweeney Todd, a musical about Sweeney Todd, this is the first time I ever seen any version of Sweeney Todd in any form of media. One thing that is notable is that unlike most musicals in which nearly all of the dialogue is singing, Sweeney Todd has 75% of the dialogue involving singing. Fortunately the dialogue is well written for these characters and doesn’t feel inconsistent when the actors switch to just talking. I think my favourite song in the movie is between ‘Pretty Women’ and ‘Epiphany’. Both of these songs are done perfectly, with the acting, singing and the directing. This film also has a consistent dark comedic tone throughout, especially with the gallons of blood spilt.

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Johnny Depp is great as Sweeney Todd and embodies his character completely, never slipping out of character once. Also great was Helena Bonham Carter; the chemistry between Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was great, it wasn’t just how they were in other Burton movies, here it feels genuine and fresh. Also good was the supporting cast. Alan Rickman was deliciously evil and was really good in his role, as is the case with Timothy Spall. Sacha Baron Cohen also steals the few scenes that he’s in. All the actors do a great job, particularly with the singing.

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The production design of this movie is really good; it really shows the town being really dark. Tim Burton has a great sense of colours and uses the right colours for the right moments, most of the time they are dark. One thing should be noted is the blood, when a character is killed there is so much blood I wonder if Quentin Tarantino was involved in those scenes, it was almost darkly comedic; I’m pretty sure it was meant for it to be like this. The score was also really well made, accompanied by the voices of actors who could sing. All of the songs are sung and directed perfectly, with none of them being weak.

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Tim Burton’s take on Sweeney Todd shows once again that he can do adaptations, just as long as he’s given the right source material. His direction along with the acting and singing makes for one of the best movie musicals I’ve seen (even though I haven’t seen many). If you love the musical, chances are you will be satisfied with how it turned out. As a person who doesn’t usually watch musicals I was pleasantly surprised.