Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Finding Dory (2016)

finding dory
Image is property of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Finding Dory – Film Review

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olsen, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba

Directors: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

Synopsis: Set one year after the events of Finding NemoDory begins to get flashbacks about her past and her parents. Determined to find answers, she sets off on a quest to reunite with her long lost family.

Review: It has been thirteen years since we were introduced to a bunch of lovable fish that swam their way into the hearts of audiences in Finding Nemo. It could be argued that of those group of fish, there was one who perhaps swam her way into the hearts and minds of viewers more than most, this of course being the blue tang Dory. So of course it was only natural that this phenomenal piece of storytelling would get a sequel. Sequels for Pixar are generally a mixed bag, for every Toy Story 3, there’s a Cars 2. However, given Dory’s immense popularity, the head honchos of Pixar decided to make this movie about her, and what an inspired decision that turned out to be.

Nemo director Stanton, along with Angus MacLane, with a scripted penned by Stanton and Victoria Strouse take us back to the big blue, and one year after Dory has helped Marlin reunite with Nemo after the latter went somewhat astray. Seemingly content with life, and still a bit forgetful, she begins to have flashbacks about her past and believing that somewhere out there she has a family, Dory goes off on her own adventure with Marlin and Nemo in tow. Pixar certainly knows how to give its audiences full on emotional punches, as last year’s brilliant Inside Out demonstrated, and once again, they have delivered a heartfelt worthwhile story with a great new batch of characters and a script that is packed with plenty of laughs.

Once again, Ellen DeGeneres is on outstanding form as Dory, her humour ensured she was one of the funniest movie sidekicks of the 2000s but now she is front and centre and she absolutely holds her own. Brooks returning as Marlin is his usual somewhat grump self and Hayden Rolence replaces Alexander Gould as the voice of Nemo. Adding them on their quest are a great bunch of new characters, the standout by far though is Ed O’Neill’s Hank the Octopus. He may be a bit grumpy too, but he certainly adds a lot of humour to the story. Ty Burrell as a beluga whale and Kaitlin Olsen as a clumsy whale also add a great deal to the plot. The seagulls were another highlight of Nemo, yet they have been replaced by a pair of equally amusing sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West.

Pixar has certainly shown in the past that they’re not afraid to go deep (pun absolutely intended) with their films. They tug at your emotional heart-string and it’s one of the many reasons why they have cemented their reputation as an animation powerhouse. There is no real villain here, but it’s not a hindrance to the plot in any way, as the struggles of family life and finding your place in the world are themes that almost anyone out there can resonate with. A debate could rage all day about whether Pixar or parent company Disney make the better movies. However it cannot be argued that both have put out tremendous pieces of work so far this year, and both of these are centred around animals.  This particular Pixar sequel was not out of its depth, but instead swam its way to success, and that bodes well for the sequels that are currently in the works. The price of a ticket is worth it if just to see perhaps the cutest animated short you will ever see in your life too.

Pixar produces another superb piece of storytelling, beautiful animation, with more well developed characters, and another superb performance from DeGeneres, a worthy sequel to Finding Nemo. 

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Finding Nemo (2003)

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation studios
Image rights belong to Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation studios

Finding Nemo – Film Review

Cast: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Geoffrey Rush

Director: Andrew Stanton

Synopsis: When a young clownfish is abducted by deep sea divers, his timid father must brave the terrifying ocean in order to rescue his son.

Review: The big blue ocean, something that covers around 70 per cent of the surface of this planet. It’s something that is so deep and terrifying, yet there is certainly for some, a deep fascination with the big blue beyond, and the life within it. It would certainly seem that a few folks over at the animation juggernauts of Pixar have this fascination.

Fish are not exactly many people’s first choice to have as pets, and therefore to make a full length feature about them, might have seemed like a mad idea for Pixar. Yet as they often do, they pulled it off in spectacular fashion. Right at the very start, everything appears all happy and joyous, and then instantaneously it changes. Disney movies of the past certainly weren’t afraid to go dark where necessary, and the opening scene here is certainly not on a Bambi level of terrifying, it is rather melancholic. But it sets the tone for the movie and really builds the character of our main protagonist, Marlin and why he’s so overprotective of his son Nemo. As such when Nemo is whisked away by divers, Marlin has little choice to go out of his comfort zone, go after him and brave the terrifying ocean, and the ensuing adventure that Marlin ends up has its mix of delightful humour and some more darkish moments.

finding nemo

Though it’s probable not many of us have been there ourselves, certainly not as deep, director Andrew Stanton does a terrific job of immersing the audience in this ocean world. The other wildlife and the plant life are all beautifully recreated along with the animation being absolutely perfect. In addition to this, we have a very interesting collection of characters. Marlin is a clownfish, but he struggles to tell a good joke. However he doesn’t need to as he’s aided on his quest to rescue his son by the lovable but forgetful Dory, voiced by the brilliant Ellen DeGeneres. There’s a fair bit of dramatic moments mixed in with some truly hilarious ones too, such as the shark equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In Nemo’s unfamiliar surroundings, we have the likes of the serious but friendly Gill (Willem Dafoe) Bloat (Brad Garrett) a porcupine pufferfish of whom does his bit to ensure that the laughs keep on coming. The screenplay is so well written that you care about every one of the characters on screen, particularly Marlin, Nemo and certainly Dory too. The latter of whom proved to be such a popular character, that she is getting her own film, due out this summer. It’s easy to see why as a lot of the comedy comes from her forgetfulness and funny one liners. The characters are extremely well developed and the fact that the voices involved are provided by some top Hollywood talent ensures that the there’s that emotional connection between them and the audience.

There are plenty of humorous moments littered throughout this really entertaining story. Even some of the side characters provide some of the most ridiculously entertaining moments. The sharks, the turtles and in particular the seagulls especially in particular do their best to keep the laughs coming. The latter of whom although they don’t have the largest amount of screen time, they certainly make a significant impression, and you might just find yourself saying “mine” just a little bit. Whoever knew that a story about the life of aquatic based animals could be so entertaining and so heartfelt?

Beautiful animation with some great humour, along with well written, developed and lovable characters, Pixar just kept swimming onto success with this wonderful story. One of their finest without a doubt.

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Posted in Film Feature

Oscars 2014: Predictions

oscars

Hollywood’s biggest night is finally here once more. Tuxedos have been chosed, bow ties will be being tied. Dresses will have been chosen and make up will be put on. Hollywood royalty will be out in force and a select few will be clutching a golden statue once the ceremony is over.

It has certainly been an interesting year for films. We have seen con artists, abduction by Somali Pirates, one man’s fight against slavery which latest for more than 12 years, a terrifying adventure in space and one man setting up a club to help people suffering from illness. Lots of great performances from some great actors and some great directing. Some excellent music, but who is going to be the winners?  I will be making my predictions below.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

The Mexican has swept the board throughout this awards season and it’s easy to see why. His film was a visual masterpiece and one that was mesmerising to watch. Although I would like to see Steve McQueen win the award, I feel that Cuaron will take it home.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof          

Although I am hoping that Chiwetel Ejiofor takes this award home for his work in 12 Years A Slave I predict that it will be Matthew McConaughey who will win. He has transformed his career in recent years and this film in which he plays an AIDS sufferer, he gives a mesmerising performance worthy of an Oscar

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis

It will be a major surprise if Cate Blanchett is not the one holding the statute come the end of the night. She has swept the board right throughout this awards season and although I have not seen her performance, critics alike have almost unanimously given her high praise

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club as Rayon

Again, I would hope to see Michael Fassbender for his sublime work in 12 Years A Slave, I think that Jared Leto will scoop the Oscar. His performance, playing a transgender woman, was something extraordinary. He looked convincing in the role and the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman should be the winner.  That being said I would love to see Barkhad Abdi take the prize as he gave a brilliant debut performance as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld

This race seems to be a two way battle between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o for American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave. Both performances were fantastic and are Oscar worthy. Yet I have a sneaky suspicion that it will be Lawrence who claims her second Oscar from only her third nomination despite only being 23 years of age.

 Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Her – Spike Jonze

The concept of a man who has a relationship with a computer may seem bizarre, but Spike Jonze pulled it off with a wonderful story with another top notch performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I think Her will take the award

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

The story of Solomon Northup was one that was hard hitting but one that is very memorable and this film reminded the world of the true horrors of slavery and I think they will take this award home.

 Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho

The latest  Disney film is a strong favourite to win this year’s animated feature award. It is looking set to cross the $1billion mark and it would be a surprise if it was not victorious come the end of the night.

I won’t lie when I say that I have not seen any of the films in the following categories so these guesses are wild stabs in the dark:

Best Foreign Language Film: The Hunt (Denmark) in Danish – Thomas Vinterberg

Best Documentary – Feature: The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen

 Best Documentary – Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarkeand Nicholas Reed

 Best Live Action Short Film: Helium – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson

Best Animated Short Film: Feral – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden

Best Original Score: Gravity – Steven Price

The score for Gravity was wonderful and added to each scene in a terrific way. It added to the enjoyment of the film and I think it will be the winner.

Best Original Song: Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – U2

“Let it Go” by Frozen is a strong favourite but U2’s hit from the Mandela biopic was a wonderful piece of music that I am predicting to win the award.

Best Sound Editing: Gravity – Glenn Freemantle

There is no sound in space, and this film captured the terror and anticipation of the film’s events brilliantly through sound. As the debris was wreaking havoc there was no noise, it was all silent.

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro

Best Cinematography: Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

The shots that were on show in this film were first class. It made the audience feel like they were actually in outer space and I think it will take this Oscar

Best Production Design: Gravity – Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwinand Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

The effort that must have been required to turn Jared Leto into a stickly feminine transgender must have been tremendous and I think it will win.

Best Costume Design: American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson

Best Film Editing: Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Best Visual Effects: Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould

The visual effects on show here was simply out of this world (pun absolutley intended) and I think it’s no contest that Gravity will win this award

AND LAST NOT LEAST:

The Award for Best Picture

In what has been another great year for films, these are the lucky nine films that are up for the biggest award:

American Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon

Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca

Dallas Buyers Club – Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter

Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman

Her – Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, and Vincent Landay

Nebraska – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa

Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, and Tracey Seaward

12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner,Steve McQueen, and Anthony Katagas

I think the winner will be: 12 Years A Slave 

Steve McQueen’s film was a harrowing and brilliant tale of one man’s fight aganst the injustice of his imprisonment and sale into slavery. It was brilliantly told, well acted and all rund was perfectly executed. It is incredible to think that prior to this film, few had the knowledge of what Solomon Northup went through and thanks to this film, we all have this knowledge and this man’s struggle should never ever be forgotten.