Archive for September, 2015

Noah

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

As a young boy, Noah witnesses his father, Lamech, killed by a young Tubal-cain. Many years later an adult Noah is living with his wife Naameh and their sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After seeing a flower grow instantly from the ground and being haunted by dreams of a great flood, Noah takes them to visit his grandfather Methuselah.

They encounter a group of people recently killed and adopt the lone survivor, a girl named Ila. Noah and his family are chased by the murderers but seek refuge with the fallen angels known as the “Watchers”, confined on Earth as stone golems (nephilim) for helping humans banished from the Garden of Eden. Methuselah gives Noah a seed from Eden and tells Noah that he was chosen for a reason. Returning to his tent that night, Noah plants the seed into the ground. The Watchers arrive the next morning and debate whether they should help Noah until they see water spout from the spot where Noah planted the seed. Once a forest grows quickly, the Watchers agree to help Noah and his family build an ark.

After birds fly to the ark, Tubal-cain arrives with his followers and confronts Noah. Noah defies Tubal-cain and remarks that there is no escape for the line of Cain. Tubal-cain retreats and decides to build weapons to defeat the Watchers and take the ark. As the ark nears completion, animals of various species enter the ark and are put to sleep with incense.

With Ila having become enamored of Shem, Noah goes to a nearby settlement to find wives for Ham and Japheth, but upon witnessing the settlers’ cannibalism, he abandons his effort and begins believing that the creator wants all of humanity dead. Back at the ark, he tells his family that he will not seek wives for his younger sons. After the flood they will be the last humans and there will be no new human generations.

Devastated that he will be alone his entire life, Ham runs into the forest. Naameh begs Noah to reconsider but, when he will not, she goes to Methuselah for help. Later, in the forest, Ila encounters Methuselah who cures her infertility. Meanwhile, Ham, searching for a wife on his own, befriends the refugee Na’el.

After rain starts falling, Tubal-cain becomes angry that he was not chosen to be saved. The followers of Tubal-cain make a run for the ark. Noah finds Ham in the forest and forces Ham to save himself but leave Na’el to die when she is caught in an animal trap. Noah’s family enter the ark except for Methuselah, who remains in the forest and is swept away by the rushing waters. The Watchers hold off Tubal-cain and his followers as long as possible, sacrificing themselves to protect the ark from the mob and ascending to heaven. As the flood drowns the remaining humans, an injured Tubal-cain climbs onto the ark and solicits Ham, playing on anger toward Noah for allowing Na’el to die.

Ila discovers that she is pregnant as the rains stop and begs the creator to let the child live. Noah interprets the ending of the rain to mean he must ensure the extinction of humans and, against his wife’s protests, resolves that, if the child is a girl, he will kill her. Months pass, and Ila and Shem build a raft to escape Noah’s resolve, but Noah discovers and burns it. Ila gives birth to twin girls. Tubal-cain, Ham and Shem attack Noah. As they fight, the ark strikes a mountain and Ham kills Tubal-cain. Noah prepares to stab Ila’s twins, but he spares them upon looking at his granddaughters and only feeling love.

Upon exiting the ark, Noah goes into isolation in a nearby cave and Ham leaves his kin to live alone. Having reconciled at the behest of Ila, Noah blesses the family as the beginning of a new human race and all witness an immense rainbow.

REVIEW:

We all know the story of Noah and the Ark. It is one of the first stories told to us as children, especially if you’re from a church-going family. Noah is the latest attempt by a studio to ride on this growing wave of religious propaganda and dark retellings. Does it work? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

This ambitious adaptation of the story of Noah depicts the visions that led him to voice dire prophesies of apocalypse and to build an ark to survive. As he labors to save his family, Noah asks for help from a band of angels called the Watchers.

What did I like?

Ark. The Ark is one of the artifacts I’m surprised hasn’t been found in some form of another, either in real life or some expedition in the movies. What is even more shocking to me is how few times we’ve seen this massive structure on screen. Counting this film, a couple of other occurrences come to mind, Evan Almighty and the “Pomp and Circumstance” segment from Fantasia 2000. I’m sure someone out there is saying, “what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that while the design isn’t what we have seen in pictures, it is a huge enough vessel to carry every species of animal, as well as Noah and his family quite comfortably for unknown period of time, as per the direction given to Noah.

Flood. We’ve all heard of the great flood and how God used it to basically start over with mankind because they had become so evil and uncaring (not unlike today, if you think about it). In all the tellings, I do not believe I have ever seen one that shows the suffering of the people under all the water. It is quite chilling, especially for what is widely considered a children’s story

Drunk. A character flaw of Noah that is often glossed over is that he was a mean drunk. Well, when you have 2hr + film, you have some time to explore that, even if ever so briefly. No, I am not condoning this behavior, but it does make Noah more human than the superhero we are led to believe he is through Sunday school stories. Seeing him at his low points, watching the anger fester and boil, and then seeing how he handles the repercussions are interesting parts of Russel Crowe’s performance, I’ll give you that.

What didn’t I like?

Watchers. I’m no bible scholar, far from it, as a matter of fact, so correct me if I’m wrong, but the Watchers are not in there. What are the Watchers? Apparently, they are fallen angels who have now taken the form of stone golems that protect the innocent or something like that. I’m not too clear as to what purpose they truly serve is. Now, it would be easy to sit here and say that they aren’t from the source material, but that would be too easy and there is something much bigger that needs to be brought up. These things were created to bring in the young male demographic. The ones that are into all the hardcore action, blow stuff up kind of film. They weren’t introduced to enhance the film or any of that nonsense.

Animals. If you remember nothing from the story of Noah’s Ark, you do know that he had 2 of every animal on the ark. That is like the one thing that was a must. Well, there were other things, but most of us read this in Sunday school and never really went any deeper than what we learned back then. Anyway, I saw some animals get on the boat, but I don’t recall seeing them line up 2 by 2. Granted, I am still under the weather and dozed off in a couple of places, so it is possible this scene missed my gaze, but I don’t think so. This director seemed to want to keep the focus on Noah and his family, which is fine, but one cannot just ignore the animals or how they were supposed to have come on the boat.

Beowulf. If you can believe it or not, there actually is a villain in this film. No, it isn’t the flood or some wild animal causing trouble, but rather some guy that is a descendent of Cain (he of Cain and Abel fame).  Like the Watchers, I believe he was added in to flesh out runtime and create conflict. That being said, Ray Winstone does a masterful job of keeping him just the right amount of insane. I do have issue with his voice. Every time he talked, I couldn’t help but see Beowulf

Noah is another entry into the studios’ attempt to sap all the joy and happiness from everything in our childhood and make it real and depressing. Darren Arronofsky is one of those directors who doesn’t seem to have every been happy, so he shows it in his film. That said, this may actually be one of his lighter performances. No, we’re not going to see dragons, unicorns, etc,. laughing as their fate is sealed, although that would have been better than sitting through this boring excuse for a character piece that we got anyway. Do I recommend it? No, because for all it tries to do, it just adds more useless things that are nothing more than filler for a film that should have bee oct. 07  I’m sure there are those will eat this stuff up, but I am not one of them.

3 out of 5 stars

Dear White People

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Sam White is a bi-racial film production major at Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. With her sharp tongued and witty radio show Dear White People and her self-published book, Ebony and Ivy, Sam causes a stir among the administration and student body alike, criticizing white people and the racist transgressions at Winchester.

When Sam wins the election for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all black house on campus, tensions rise. In winning the election, she beats her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks, the son of the school’s dean. Troy harbors dreams of being a comedic writer rather than a lawyer, but his father prefers that he not give white people a chance to profile him, and will accept nothing less than his best. Coco has an issue with Sam because the reality TV producer she is trying to win over would rather do a show on the witty light-skinned black girl than her. Lionel Higgins, a black homosexual student, gets a chance at finally finding his place at Winchester by being recruited by the school’s most prestigious student paper to write a piece on Sam and the black experience at Winchester. When Kurt, a white student and son of the school’s president, and his club come up with a blackface theme for their annual party in response to Sam’s outspoken show, black students appear at the party, and a confrontation ensues, leading to a brawl.

REVIEW:

It is a shame that, love him or hate him, the thing President Obama will be known for is bringing out the racism in people. I shudder to think what would happen should Hillary Clinton get elected. Will there be a steady upswing in violence against women? Dear White People is a film that, by the title alone, will upset some, but is it a quality flick?

What is this about?

A satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.

What did I like?

Start the conversation. There has been a problem with race in this country since the Pilgrims came over and assimilated the Native Americans. What this film is brave enough to so is tackle a fairly taboo subject, but do it in a way that isn’t preachy or militant. We all have our personal prejudices, whether we care to admit them or not, and this film is sure to open your eyes towards the problem those views may be causing.

Identity crisis. It may be hard to believe, but most black people don’t go around speaking ebonics, listening to rap music, eating chicken and waffles, etc. As with other stereotypes, there are those that fall into that pigeonhole, but for the most part, most members of the race are well-spoken, educated, upstanding members of their community who don’t wish to be confused with the inferior, for lack of a better term, individuals. Tyler James Williams’ character is one of these people. He doesn’t fit in with his own race and the white people don’t care for him, either. The fact that he is a homosexual doesn’t help matters, either.

Unknown. Dennis Haysbert is the only recognizable actor in here. Well, you may recognize Williams from Everybody Hates Chris or his recent stint on The Walking Dead. The rest of the cast is a bunch of nobodies. I was thinking how would this work with a cast of name actors, and I just don’t think it would, so kudos to the casting director for finding new blood and unleashing their potential.

What didn’t I like?

Cartoon antagonist. I hear critics and movie reviewers all the time say that this villain was too cartoony or that one belonged in a cartoon. Never have I been in 100% agreement with them, until I saw Kurt. Typical of a college antagonist, he is rich, entitled, and has connections to power (his dad is the school president). What makes him such a cartoon is his speech patter and various mannerisms. Think of some of the sleazy guy from your favorite college film and multiply it by 10 and you have this guy.

Comedy. Like many others, I assumed this was a comedy and as such, I went in expecting to have some laughs. Other than a couple of side jokes, this was more of a serious drama than I had intended to view. That being said, I think it works better as a drama than it would a comedy. Does that change the fact that I was disappointed it wasn’t a comedy? No.

Spike. Spike Lee is not my favorite director. As a matter of fact, save for about 3 or 4 of his films, I can’t stand him. Everything he does he has to make sure race is put in there. I can only imagine what he would do if he made a film in today’s climate. This filmmaker obviously studied Lee, because I see a lot of his trademarks in the films, such as close-ups of a group of people, race rap, etc. Is this a good thing? Time will tell.

Dear White People is the kind of film everyone needs to see, but I can easily see how this would be uncomfortable to watch with a mixed crowd. While this is a satire on the racial situation in our country and an allegory for individual freedom, it is also sadly more fact than fiction. Why just this year some fraternity in…I want to say Alabama…was caught and suspended for having a party in blackface. I was talking to a friend the other day about why certain films and cartoons from yesteryear are changed/censored. The answer is that people today are offended by what folks back then didn’t know. Watching this film will educate a few people, I think. Do I recommend it? Well, it isn’t the most interesting picture, but as I said, it needs to be seen, so give it a shot!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/24

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 24, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Earlier this week, Jimmy Fallon pulled off the impossible, reuniting Keenan & Kel on his show. In case you missed it, the clip is all over the internet. One of the highlights of their reunion was a sketch from their cult hit, Good Burger.

I got to thinking, why not use the trailer for that film for this week’s “Trailer Thursday” So, please enjoy!!!

 

Frankie & Alice

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film primarily takes place in Los Angeles in 1973. Frankie, a black female gogo dancer, unknowingly suffers from dissociative identity disorder, caused by a traumatic incident from her childhood (the death of a white man she was in love with, and her mother murdering her newborn when she realized the child’s father was her white lover), which she has repressed. The film begins with Frankie performing at a local strip club. She is one of the best strippers at the club, and often demands the attention of wealthy Wall Street businessmen. One night the club’s female employees go out for a “Girls Night”. As the girls observe all the men at the bar, Frankie gets the attention of a well-known bartender. She agrees to go to his home for casual sex. Before the two can engage in any sexual activity, Frankie switches to an alter ego and cracks the man’s head open with a vase. Word of Frankie’s violent activity spreads to the strip club quickly, and Frankie is fired from the needed job. The same manic episodes occur while Frankie is at the laundromat and a wedding. During a session with the psychiatrist Frankie learns that she has two alters: Genius, a seven-year-old child; and Alice, a Southern white racist woman, whom Frankie struggles to overcome. Through regular psychiatric sessions with her doctor, she begins to recall the traumatic events that led to her split personality. She realizes that a white man with whom she was in love died in a car accident while they were on the road. In the same session, she also uncovers the memory of the birth of her child. Moments after the birth, her mother realizes that the child is half-white and takes it away to kill it, thus triggering her personality to split.

After she watches the taped sessions and puts everything together, she begins the healing process, taking control of her life and semi-integrating the personalities that Dr. Oz assures her will always be present.

REVIEW:

There was a time when I was obsessed with all things Halle Berry. I even wanted bad things to happen to the guy she was married to at the time. To an extent, I’m still obsessed with her, which is why when I come across a film of hers that I did not know existed I have to check it out. Here’s hoping that Frankie & Alice will be far superior to Dark Tide.

What is this about?

In this true-life psychological drama, a black woman battles to vanquish the racist alter ego that’s taken root inside her unsettled consciousness. With help from a psychiatrist, she explores the traumatic childhood event at the root of her problems.

What did I like?

Oscar was no fluke. Remember when Halle Berry won that Oscar for Monster’s Ball? There was speculation that she only got it because she got naked and had dirty sex on screen with Billy Bob Thornton. Only the voters know for sure, but i can say that she acted her firm little behind off in that movie and is doing just as much if not more in this one. She has to portray not one, not two, but three distinct characters, but they all live in the same body. It takes some talent to pull that off, true talent, ladies and gentlemen! Now why couldn’t she do Storm justice in the X-Men films?

Mama, is that you? I’m from the era where families would gather around the television every night and watch shows together. With my family, one of these shows was The Cosby Show. I shudder to think of what it would have been like had I had Claire Huxtable for mother and got in trouble at school. “Let the record show” that this woman was beautiful, successful, and able to do her matronly duties. What a woman! Phylicia Rashad more or less disappeared after the show ended, popping up here and there. I must say that i can see her as Halle Berry’s mother, though. They have enough of a similar look, even though Rashad has not aged well, to pass for mother and daughter. Good on you, casting people!r

Music. Set in the 70s, one has to know that you’ll be hearing some good ol’ soul/r & b hits, but i wasn’t expecting to also get a nice influx of jazz, as well. Not just a random jazz song playing in the background, mind you, but an explanation for why he was listening to jazz. For this jazz lover and aficionado, I really was able to appreciate it because typically these films just give us some popular songs of the day and a current rap song to play over the end credits.  By not following that pattern, this film earned tremendous amounts of respect from me, and many others who have similar viewpoints when it comes to film music.

What didn’t I like?

Supporting players. Halle Berry and Stellan Skarsgard are not only the focal point of the film, but they are the shining points of this film. While this is great, the other cast members do little to nothing. Why is this? Who knows? My theory is that the writers were so intent on making sure Berry was given a meaty part that everyone else’s suffered. I also believe that there were some scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, which would have fleshed out some characters and not made them so one-dimensional, such as Berry’s sister, played by Chandra Wilson.

Alice. I wonder how it is that Frankie came up with a southern belle racist as one of her personalities. What triggered the mixture  e, if you will, that would go on to create such an ironic personality? Seems to me that she didn’t see Frankie’s reflection in the mirror. She must not have. I can just tell this is the kind of woman who would go crazy if she saw she was in a black woman’s body. This isn’t Quantum Leap, after all! Alice is the creepiest of all the personalities. They should have made this a genuine thriller and let Alice run wild.

Tara. A few years back, there was this show called United States of Tara in which the titular character had multiple personalities brought on by childhood trauma. As the show progressed, a new personality appeared and began to kill off the others. It was…interesting, to say the least. Where am i going with this? Well, i can’t help but wonder if that was made with that show lingering overhead. The similarities are there, women with multiple personalities, supportive families, etc.

Frankie & Alice is a dark, emotional, psychological drama that captures the audience’s attention from beginning to end You are constantly invested and intrigued as to what will happen to this woman and her other personalities. I think that is the real selling point for this film. Such a shame that it didn’t get better publicity. I believe this could have been a contender. Do i recommend this? Yes, it is isn’t very often we get to see Berry flex those acting chops, and her ability to seamlessly transition between characters is remarkable. You need to check it out ASAP!

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/17

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 17, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

The last time I visited Disneyworld, I meandered over to MGM Studios and took a ride on “The Great Movie Ride”. A rather tame ride, if you must ask, but for a movie geek such as myself, it was like taking a bath in chocolate.

While standing in line, waiting to board the ride, we were treated to the trailer for a film from the 30s, Footlight Parade. One of these days, I’ll get around to watching this film, myself, but in the meantime, check out the trailer…

The Other Woman

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Carly, an attorney, has just started a relationship with Mark, a man she had sex with eight weeks prior. She is upset when Mark tells her he has to go out of town but decides to go over to his house to seduce him. She is horrified to meet Kate, Mark’s wife. While initially hostile, the two women befriend one another. Kate then discovers that Mark is seeing another woman, whom she initially believes to be Carly, but both she and Carly discover that Mark is seeing a third woman, Amber.

Carly and Kate travel to the beach, where Kate has a run-in with Amber, and the two women inform her that Mark has been cheating on all of them. They decide to take revenge. They spike his drinks with estrogen to give him breasts and a laxative to cause him diarrhea, and put hair-removal cream in his shampoo. In the course of carrying out their pranks, they discover that Mark has been embezzling from various companies at his workplace. Meanwhile, Carly begins to connect romantically with Kate’s brother Phil. In addition, Amber confides to Carly that she is seeing someone else as well. However, their camaraderie begins to fall apart when Kate finds herself falling in love with Mark again after an investor’s dinner. Carly exposes Mark’s fraud, upsetting Kate.

Later, when Mark goes to the Bahamas on a supposed business trip, Kate decides to follow him there and expose him. She finds Carly and Amber at the airport, who explain what Mark has been up to – using Kate as the owner of the companies he defrauded, which if discovered would result in her going to prison. She also finds out that Mark has been seeing yet another woman: someone he has met on this trip. This, and the possibility of facing prison, motivate Kate to take action with the help of Carly’s legal expertise.

When Mark returns from vacation, he visits Carly at her office. He is locked in the conference room by Carly’s assistant and friend, Lydia, and is shocked to find all three women who proceed to confront him with his infidelities and embezzlement. With Carly as her attorney, Kate presents divorce papers and a list of their assets. Kate reveals that she has returned the embezzled money to the companies, which saves the couple from prison time but leaves Mark bankrupt, much to his shock and hysterical outrage. Additionally, Mark’s business partner Nick arrives and fires Mark upon the discovery of the crime. In his anger and rush to leave, Mark smashes into the glass office twice, the second time shattering it and severely injuring himself. He then finds his car being towed away and earns a punch in the face from Carly’s father, Frank. Appreciating Kate’s honesty, Nick offers her the chance to take over Mark’s job.

In the film’s epilogue, Carly and Phil fall in love, and the couple are expecting a child; Amber marries Frank; and Kate works as a CEO with Mark’s former business partners, with the company making a profit under her leadership.

REVIEW:

Alright! Today, I’m going to sit here and actually watch The Other Woman. I’ve been putting this off pretty much since it was initially released. Featuring the fantasy inducing trio of Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton, I think this will be a worthy viewing. Let’s find out if I am right, shall we?

What is this about?

When she finds out that her boyfriend is married and that she’s his mistress, a woman teams up with the jerk’s wife to get revenge. Nicki Minaj makes her live-action debut in this comedy about getting the upper hand in a relationship.

What did I like?

Now and then. For the longest time now, Cameron Diaz has been the poster girl for hotness in Hollywood, but time is starting to catch up with her. Don’t get me wrong, she still looks amazing, but age is starting to show, which is a good thing, I guess, as it just shows us that she isn’t going under the knife every other day or using some other outlandish technique to stay young and relevant. I bring this up because there is a scene where she is on the beach in a bikini and sees Kate Upton’s character, immediately comparing herself to her. This brought to mind her scene from Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle for some reason. Maybe it was the body comparison. Still, seeing what used to be hot and what currently is was interesting (they both are smokin’ in my book, btw)

Working together. Diaz, Upton, and Leslie Mann should not know about each other, let alone become good friends. Interesting that the film went that way, but what I found more intriguing was how well Mann and Diaz played off each other. The comedic sensibilities of these two women was on point as they bounced jokes off each other like a seasoned comedy duo. When Upton, who is not an actress, joins them, all she has to do is tell her lines and look hot. It helps that she does seem to have a bit of a knack for comedy. Maybe if she sticks with the acting, we’ll get more of her in comedic roles.

Hit the beach. Your films stars 3 gorgeous women, 2 of which are known for having amazing bikini bodies. Do you stick them in an apartment in the city or take a trip down to the tropics where they can show themselves off? Not to mention the scenery itself was breathtaking. Now, I feel as if I should make some mention of the fact that this was nothing more than an excuse to get these women to parade around half-naked for most of the movie but, the fact is, Leslie Mann never dons a bikini, Cameron Diaz only has one scene where she is bikini clad, and Kate Upton has two. They aren’t parading around “setting women back” or whatever.

What didn’t I like?

Fart jokes. In theory, this is more of an “adult” movie. That is to say that the target audience is a more mature demographic. So, why is it that they felt the need to lower themselves to the use of potty humor? I understand that they were out for revenge on this guy, and the laxative thing was funny, up until they went all the way to the bathroom with it. Some things work better through the power of suggestion, if you know what I mean.

Schoolmarm. Leslie Mann’s character is arguably the best thing about this film. While Cameron Diaz is too busy being the cold-hearted lawyer bitch and Kate Upton is stopping just shy of being a throwback to the ahead beach bimbos of yesteryear, Mann is a bag of emotions that is normally too much for me, but I found myself easily connecting with. Maybe because I’ve recently been in a similar situation. That being said, I take umbrage with the decision to dress her as frumpy as can be. Now, given the fact that she’s standing toe to toe with Diaz and Mann, she’s bound to look a little out of place, but some of the outfits she wore were more fitting someone living alone with 12 cats, rather than a housewife with a husband (loving or not).

Annoyance. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the big screen debut of that future Oscar winner, Nick Minaj! Yes, that creature of untold fairness and absolutely no talent is here playing the typical sassy black “friend.” Making matter worse, she speaks in that weird accent she uses in her raps  and her time on American Idol. This woman, and I use that term lightly, is a pox on out society. She brings absolutely nothing to this film, other than some diversity.

As despicable a character as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is on Game of Thrones, this film let him be the total douche we expect him to play. The problem is, we don’t get enough of a backstory to allow us to form a bias one way or another. Obviously, we should be cheering the ladies on in this endeavor, but he’s just so charming. The Other Woman presents the ridiculous idea of what would happen if a guy is cheating on his wife with 2 other women. A fantasy of many a man out there, I don’t think the execution worked as well as the filmmaker would have liked and this came off more as a some sort of man-hating chick flick. Do I recommend it? Well, it had plenty of funny moments, and you can’t go wrong with 3 beautiful women but I have to say no.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Royal Wedding

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

Royal Wedding

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The story sees brother and sister Tom and Ellen Bowen as stars of a show Every Night at Seven, a Broadway success. They are persuaded to take the show to London, capitalizing on an imminent royal wedding.

On the ship, Ellen meets and quickly falls in love with the impoverished but well-connected Lord John Brindale. Whilst casting the show in London, Tom falls in love with a newly engaged dancer, Anne Ashmond. Tom assists Anne to reconcile her estranged parents and also asks his agent to locate Anne’s supposed fiancé in Chicago – only to discover that he’s married.

Carried away by the emotion of the wedding, the two couples decide that they will also be married that day.

REVIEW:

Last night, I was watching some old TV shows on YouTube and Royal Wedding was recommended for me to watch. Normally, I don’t pay attention to the stuff they recommend, but this is a film that I’ve been curious about for a while now. Hopefully, this will be worth the wait!

What is this about?

Brother-sister dance duo Tom and Ellen Bowen (Fred Astaire and Jane Powell) get the chance of a lifetime when they’re booked for a London performance on the eve of Elizabeth II’s nuptials. In the course of their journey, Ellen meets her match in Lord Brindale, and Tom finds romance with a British hoofer. Will love break up the act?

What did I like?

Song and dance man. I am firmly entrenched as a member of Team (Gene) Kelly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and admire the things Fred Astaire does. The man is a master show man when it comes to dancing, his warm voice brings emotion to the most lifeless of songs, and he isn’t a bad actor, either. What ever happened to guys like this? I know Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris can sing and dance, but the only time they get to show off these skill is when they host award shows or are in a play. Just think…NPH! Jackman! Kelly! Astaire! Now that’s some talent!

Art imitates life. It isn’t part of the plot, but there are shadows of a subplot where Jane Powell’s character wants to have fun rather than practice all the time. As it turns out, this is what happened with Astaire’s actual sister. She got fed up with him being such a taskmaster. This was about the time that he was making it big in Hollywood, so breaking the duo up was no big deal. Still, this must have been a deeply personal project for Astaire.

Solo. Early on in the picture, Astaire is waiting for Powell to show up so they can rehearse. While he is waiting for her (to not show), he performs a solo routine that is quite entertaining. Along with his trademark tap and class, he appears to parody himself and his friend Gene Kelly by using props known to both of them. It really is quite a treat to watch, if you ask me.

What didn’t I like?

Love interest. I don’t want to comment on someone’s looks, but in comparison, Sarah Churchill is nowhere near as attractive as Jane Powell. Perhaps they should have switched roles. I say this because I also bought the chemistry between Astaire and Powell more than I did between him and Churchill. When they were on screen together it was like watching magic happen, but when he and Churchill were together, the audience might as well have been watching paint dry.

Royalty? For a film called Royal Wedding, there sure is very little to do with said event. It is mentioned here and there, but not until the last few minutes do we get anything resembling royalty, unless you count the opening number. Does this hurt the picture? No, not really. I think had they forced some sort of royal in there, things would have been worse, but perhaps there should have been more of a focus toward the wedding that they made the trip to England for. Eyes on the prize, people!

Momentum. Pacing is something that nearly every film has an issue with it seems. In this case, things were going fine, for the most part, until the last act. At this point, everything needs to be resolved and tied up in a nice little package. Before we can rush into all of that, though, there has to be a point where everything comes almost to a complete stop. Why do these films follow this formula? It completely takes the audience out of it and by the time we get back into the swing of things, the film is over!

Royal Wedding was actually very entertaining. This is one of the few times we get to see Fred Astaire let his guard down and do comedic dance routines, as opposed to his normal classy ones. Great acting and some decent songs are really what spur this on, as well as outstanding production numbers. I guarantee you that without those, this would not be worth watching. Do I recommend it? Yes, this is a film that can be found pretty much anywhere, as it is currently in the public domain, so give it a shot sometime!

4 out of 5 stars