Tag Archives: Helen Mirren

Cinema Dispatch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

It’s not often that Disney just let’s something slide under the radar like this.  Every Marvel movie and Star Wars episode gets a HUGE marketing push (even the comparatively small Solo got more coverage than a lot of other movies), their animated films are almost always guaranteed to be at the top of the box office, even something as out there as A Wrinkle In Time was pretty omnipresent prior to its release.  With this film though it’s like they want to sneak it out as fast as possible which, given what we saw in the trailers, is probably a good call and even more reason for critics like me to make sure it gets it’s turn in the spotlight!  We may love Disney for a lot of things, but they’ve had their share of horrible mistakes and I’m not in a lenient mood this year!  Does this retelling of the classic tale turn out to be a Disney Blunder on the scale of Treasure Planet, or did they simply not know what to do with the greatness they had in front of them?  Let’s find out!!

Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is the daughter of a wealthy English family who is not having a very good Christmas, mostly due to her mother (Anna Madeley) having died the previous year, and her father (Matthew Macfadyen) is insisting they at least put up appearances and go the Christmas ball as tradition dictates.  Oh and she has a brother and sister (Tom Sweet and Ellie Bamber), but who cares about them.  ANYWAY, Clara goes to the party in a rather dour mood and sees her kindly godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) who makes clockwork novelties and presumably lost one of his eyes when a cuckoo clock got too close, but more importantly he seems to be the only one who understands Clara as she too has an affinity for mechanical devices.  However, there’s one that still eludes her which is a locked mechanical egg that she got as the last gift from her mother, and when Drosselmeyer sees it it’s clear that SOMETHING must be done!  Okay, see if you can follow me on this.  First, he sets up an elaborate gift giving system for the kids where very long strings are tied to a pole in the courtyard with each child’s name on one of the strings, and they have to follow said string to the gift.  Clara’s string apparently winds all through the house which leads to a… magic door I guess that takes her to the fantasy world of THE FOUR REALMS that’s populated by nutcrackers, fairies, and mice.  Well it’s certainly a good thing that none of the other kids mistook her string for theirs, though even if I was dutifully following a string with my name on it, I’d AT LEAST start to question something when it starts snowing and we’re no longer in the middle of the city, but I guess I’m not young enough to get the whimsy of being out in the cold without a jacket.  The string by the way leads to a key which could be the one needed to unlock Clara’s mechanical egg thingy, but alas it is taken by a mouse that runs off into THE FOURTH REALM which is a place of fog, dead trees, and clowns.  After meeting up with a nutcracker solider (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and making a valiant effort to chase after the mouse who took her key, she eventually retreats back to the big castle just outside THE FOURTH REALM where all the rich people are partying, the guardians of the GOOD realms are residing (Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, and Richard E. Grant), and Clara’s mom is apparently still crowned as queen despite being dead for over a year which we soon learn is even LONGER in Fantasy World Time!  So with that, Clara is given the royal treatment but has to take on great responsibility in her mother’s absence to… I guess eradicate THE FOURTH REALM which is so obviously evil while also getting that key back and finally uncovering whatever secrets her mother left in that egg!  Will Clara be able to overcome whatever challenges face her once she goes back into THE FOURTH REALM?  What are the rulers of the other realms planning to do once Clara fulfils her duty, and will she be able to return to her old life?  Is it just me, or did almost NONE of that have to do with The Nutcracker!?

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“And THEN we signed the peace treaty with the dragons of marshmallow mountain which allowed trade ships to travel down the chocolate milk river.”     “uh huh.  That’s nice…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Winchester

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Winchester and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and CBS Films

Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig

SERIOUSLY!?  We managed to go through ALL of January without a single notable horror movie!?  Okay, I mean there was that INSIDIOUS movie but that one doesn’t count because… I didn’t see the other films.  MY POINT IS that it’s been PRETTY light so far for a month known almost EXCLUSIVELY for terrible horror films, and for me this is the first one of the new year so I’m STILL gonna consider it a January horror film!  Besides, that’s not even a particularly hard rule of thumb considering last year’s worst horror abomination Rings didn’t make it out the gate until the first week of February either.  Will this be another entry in the never ending list of terrible first of the year horror movies, or are the people behind this just too darn talented to make the same mistakes that everyone else did?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who is the widow of William Winchester; the man who started the Winchester Repeating Arms company and got SUPER rich doing so.  Now she has all this money, but she’s been using it to build and rebuild and rebuild and add on and then do some MORE rebuilding on here house.  Why is she doing this?  Well she believes that the ghosts of the victims of Winchester rifles, instead of haunting say… their murderers, are haunting her house and I guess the multiple rooms and weird architecture confuses them or something.  Anyway, Dr. Price (Jason Clarke) has been sent by the Winchester Repeating Arms company to assess the mental fitness of Sarah in an attempt to oust her from the company, but he’s not interested in being their lap dog and seems to genuinely want to help her; not like he’d get away with being so duplicitous what with her niece Marion (Sarah Snook) watching his every move.  Of course, things start to get strange almost immediately as Eric starts to see creepy things of his own and Marian’s son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) is “sleepwalking” all over the place.  Is Miss Winchester correct in believing that there are ghosts in her house and that they’re after her for what her company’s weapons did to them?  Does Dr. Price have a much deeper connection to this place than either he or Sarah initially thought?  Why does it matter if the house is a confusing maze of dead ends and random staircases!?  GHOSTS ARE NON-CORPOREAL!!

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“BOO!!”     …     “What?  Ah, damn it!  She’s not in this room either.  WHERE THE HECK IS SHE!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Fate of the Furious

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Fate of the Furious and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by F Gary Gray

I hope all of you out there appreciate what I do for you!  A week ago, I had never even SEEN a Fast and the Furious movie, and yet I managed to binge watch ALL SEVEN OF THEM so that I can properly review this new one as the series now has a continuity more dense than the freaking Terminator, and that’s SUPPOSED to be convoluted!  I HAD TO WATCH TOKYO DRIFT FOR YOU PEOPLE!!  Sigh… alright, well it’s not like I even HATED any of the movies (other than Tokyo Drift) as most of them are at least DECENT if not all that engaging.  For me though, they didn’t pick up until part six when the BUDGET finally started to match the VISION that was always there, because let’s face it; Fast and the Furious was NEVER a serious series.  It was ALWAYS balls to the wall insanity, just at different degrees depending on what they could afford (except for Tokyo Drift which was just garbage).  So with the last two films finally managing to reach the potential this series was always capable of, does that trend continue with this film?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in Cuba where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) have settled down since the last movie where their house got blown up, and they’re doing their typical first act shtick of racing cars, talking about family, and forging new friendships!  That is until a super hacker hilariously named CIPHER (Charlize Theron) corners Dom at one point and shows him something that will CHANGE EVERYTHING FOREVER!!  Cut to a few days later where good ol’ Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) calls him and the rest of the crew up (Tyrese Gibson, Chirs Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) to do another mission.  Everything goes according to plan except… DOM BETRAYS THEM!!  Their mission was to take an EMP from someplace in German (for reasons that I’m sure make sense) but he crashes Hobbs’s car right at the end and takes it for himself; leaving Hobbs to get thrown in jail back in America which JUST SO HAPPENS to be the same jail that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is locked in as well… and they get cells right across from each other because reasons.  So now it’s up to our favorite crew of street racers along with Frank Petty (Kurt Russel) from the last movie who’s the leader of some sort of spy organization as well as his new protégé of sorts Eric Reisner (Scott Eastwood) to find out what Dom is doing, what CIPHER wants from him, and hopefully how to solve all this without taking him out as well.  Just what is the reason that Dom betrayed the one thing he cares about more than anything which is FAMILY?  Just what is CIPHER planning, and is it bad enough that the crew may have no other choice than to take Dom out?  Will Vin Diesel FINALLY give that Oscar performance he’s been hoping for!?

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“I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!!  SLLLLLUUURRRP!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Collateral Beauty

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Collateral Beauty and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David Frankel

Is it that time again for Will Smith to try and win that Oscar he’s been so desperately seeking for some time now!?  Hey, since DiCaprio got his we need another underdog to root for, and Will Smith is as good a candidate as any.  Well… except that HIS Oscar bait films tend to be stuff like Concussion where he’s a boring scientist while Leo jumped off mountains and did massive amounts of drugs trying to get his.  This movie, just from the awkward title, doesn’t inspire much hope that The Fresh Prince is ready to put himself out there in something fun and risky to win his Academy Award, but then maybe this movie doesn’t need any of that and is a truly moving film in its own right.  We can only hope…

The movie begins with Howard (Will Smith) and Whit (Edward Norton) as two best buddies as the heads of some advertising company that seems to get motivational Howard Speeches on a daily basis.  That is… until the tragedy.  We jump straight to three years later where Howard has gone from The Fresh to Hancock (well… Hancock without the fun) and is now spending his days building up elaborate domino sets instead of working.  Not only that, but he’s so preoccupied with the grief of what happened (it doesn’t take long before we find out his daughter died) that he’s letting the company gone down the tubes financially and can’t even be bothered to sign the company over to Whit as well as Simon (Michael Peña) and Claire (Kate Winslet) who could save the company if Howard would just give them the authority to do so, though I’m not sure what the law is about letting someone literally sit on his ass all day while all his employees are left to watch things crumble.  Eventually, our trio of good buddies decide that Howard needs to either lose his fucking mind or get better (it’s never quite clear which one they’re going for) and decide to Christmas Carol his ass using actors (Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, and Helen Mirren) who will play Love, Time, and Death; all three of which are concepts that Howard has been writing letters to as a way of expressing his internal frustration and rage.  Will this strange plan to convince Howard he’s seeing his delusions come to life make him deal with his problems, or drive him further into his unhealthy state of mind?  Will he eventually seek help from a local support group led by Madeleine (Naomie Harris) which seems like a less risky way for him to deal with his daughter’s death?  Seriously, isn’t there like a MILLION ways this plan could go horribly wrong!?

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“Without love in your life, you couldn’t even appreciate the time you had with her, and-”     “Oh!  I see you have a guest!  What will she have?”     “Wait, you can see her!?  She can see you!?”     “Uh…”

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