Categories
Animation Features Movies

Minions: The Rise Of Gru

Directors – Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, Jonathan del Val – 2022 – US – Cert. U – 87m

***1/2

Three plots involving the Minions, their pre-teen, supervillain master Gru and a gang of supervillains called Vicious 6 compete with each other – out in cinemas on Friday, July 1st

This starts off bravely for a franchise entry with the introduction of a raft of six new supervillains who comprise the gang Vicious 6, their names thrown at the audience in rapid-fire vignettes too fast too absorb, suggesting the makers have half an eye on freeze-frameable, home viewing platforms and half an eye on merchandising. The fabulous, motorbiking Belle Bottom (voice: Taraji P. Henson) who appears to have wandered in from 1970s blaxploitation with enormous Afro hair and disco diva clothing is the main focus of an enthralling car chase in which she outwits the cops with incredible stunts.

Her co-villains are voiced mostly by a roster of action stars known for that rather than animation voice work: the crab-pincered Jean Clawed (voice: Jean-Claude Van Damme), the Scandinavian-sounding Svengeance (voice: Dolph Lundgren), Stronghold (voice: Danny Trejo) and nunchaku-wielding nun Nunchuk (Lucy Lawless).

(A quick aside: older readers will recall that back in the 1970s, nunchaku were a no-no for the BBFC who would prune their use or even excise them altogether, sometimes in the most innocuous of contexts.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Pinocchio

Director – Matteo Garrone – 2019 – Italy – Cert. PG – 125m

*****

In cinemas from Friday, August 14th, on BFI Player rental from Monday, December 14th

Impoverished woodcarver Geppetto (Roberto Benigni) decides to make the greatest puppet the world has ever seen, tour the world with it and make his fortune. A wood merchant lets him have a log because it seems to have a life of its own. Unaware of its animate properties, Geppetto begins carving his puppet, a life-sized representation of the son he’s never had.

After he starts talking to it as its “Babba”, he is surprised when the puppet (nine year old Frederico Ielapi) talks back. Geppetto names him Pinocchio. No sooner has he carved the feet than Pinocchio runs out of Geppetto’s workshop to discover the world. In many ways, that defines the character and the story to come. The innocent Pinocchio is forever in pursuit of his own gratification, prey to the perils of the world around him and initially devoid of any sense of morality, something he struggles to learn throughout the course of the story in his quest to become a real boy.

There have been numerous versions of Pinocchio in film, television and theatre since it first appeared as a written serial in an Italian newspaper in 1881.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Director – Tim Burton – 2005 – US – PG – 115 mins

*****

UK release date 29/07/2005. Currently screening on Netflix

An adaptation of Roald Dahl’s eponymous 1964 children’s book previously filmed under the title Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971), this also marks the second collaboration of Burton with screenwriter / adapter John August. The duo previously made Big Fish (2003), which film had all the desired Burton trademarks (larger than life, nonconformist outsiders, sense of wonderment, distinctive and zany visuals) while sidestepping the flaws (narrative incoherence, weak characterisation) which beset many of the director’s previous films. They’ve repeated the trick with Charlie, elaborating upon and extending Dahl’s original text without ever compromising it. Lead actor Depp is something of a Burton regular having previously appeared in Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999).

Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore, current critics’ favourite child actor following his terrific turn in Finding Neverland, Marc Forster, 2004) lives with a family (Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor and grandparents including David Kelly and Liz Smith) so poor they live on cabbage soup in the shadow of the Wonka Chocolate Factory. Mysterious, reclusive owner Willy Wonka (Depp) closed it years ago following his celebrated recipes’ theft by rival confectioners and hasn’t been seen in public since.… Read the rest