Tuesday’s Reviews – Christmas Inheritance (2017)

boring, bullshit, Christmas, films, fucking awful, Netflix, review, rom-com, romance, terrible, uninspired

There’s a thing with Christmas movies that mean the expectations regarding quality shift. I mean there’s got to be a reason so many people love the film Love Actually when it is, clearly, the worst thing ever made. I mean it’s a horrible mix of plots that are offensive and irritating and really not very romantic. I have a complicated enough relationship with Richard Curtis without this affront being played a million times every December. But there is a genre of Christmas films that really scrape the bottom of the barrel. The kind of unoriginal TV movies that are churned out in amazing quantities by the likes of Hallmark. And, apparently, Netflix have been trying to get in on the act. Last week I reviewed the film that the Christmas film of 2017: Netflix’s original A Christmas Prince. I watched it and, to my surprise, didn’t totally hate it. I mean I mostly did but I still found some festive pleasure watching it. Still, I was happily done with the “genre” until I was shown the trailer for Netflix’s second big holiday production: Christmas Inheritance. I’m starting to worry about the inevitable increase in the number of recommendations I’ll get from the age 12-14 film category because of these films. Ah, what the heck, my recommendations are already pretty fucked up thanks to all of the 90s gross-out comedies that I’ve watched.
Whilst it might seem that A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance have a lot in common that simply isn’t true. Both feature a female as their protagonist but these protagonists are very different. One is a terrible journalist whilst the other is a terrible CEO. Oh my god, so different! In the latest film, Ellie (Eliza Taylor) is the daughter to the CEO of a fairly twee and family orientated gift company. She expects to take over from her father, Jim, some day but she is more preoccupied with partying to care about the traditions that her father and his business partner started so many years ago. In order to push Ellie into learning more about the company’s values, Jim sends her to the small town where everything all started. She has to go undercover and with only $100 to her name. Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense but it is the only thing that drives this film forward so I’ll go with it. Unluckily for Ellie, Snow Falls is in the middle of nowhere with no amenities and very few ways to contact the outside world. Can she get over her New York ways and prove she deserves to run the company?

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Christmas film without the added touch of romance. Whilst Ellie is engaged to an obvious wrong-un from New York, she finds herself drawn to literally the first (and seemingly only) young man she meets in town. He runs the inn owned by her father business partner and has no time for her big city bullshit. Until he finally starts to see the kind heart that she hides underneath, of course. This is standard rom-com fair: high maintenance girl sent out to hicksville and getting her hands dirty before falling in love with the local dishy Samaritan. But this is different because… it’s Christmas? Obviously, he eventually finds out she’s been lying about who she is and, suffering from his own inner demons, our flannel wearing hero turns his back on the rich young thing.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought after my reaction to A Christmas Prince that I would react more favourably to this film. I didn’t. Just like their previous offering, Netflix’s new film is a mash-up of so many romantic-comedies that have come before it. This time it manages to be as unfunny, inexplicable and unoriginal as A Christmas Prince whilst also giving us a heavy dose of its patronising attitude towards simple rural folk. There is always going to be problem with the conceit of a young rich girl going back to her roots: it always has to imply that there is something so twee and magical about small town living. It forces us to believe that these folks are so backwards that their good nature and kind hearts are an unusual thing. It’s fucking annoying. Snow Falls is the manic pixie dream girl of small towns. An unrealistic place that manages to show the main character who she is and who she needs to be thanks to its endless parade of outdated stereotype characters.

I also found Christmas Inheritance’s inevitability much more annoying. I kind of accepted that A Christmas Prince was going to be exactly the kind of film I thought it was going to be and found it funny to second-guess the plot. Here it seems much less acceptable. Maybe it’s because this film tries to ground itself closer to reality or because it takes itself more seriously? I don’t know. What I do know is that I was much angrier when I was shouting the future plot strands at the screen this time around. In reality, Christmas Inheritance is no worse a film than A Christmas Prince but, if you were to really push me, I’d definitely pick the latter to watch. But it’s entirely possible I never got over my childhood dream to become a princess one day and it’s affecting my life’s choices.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie (2017)

boring, cops, films, fucking awful, fucking weird, meh, murder, Netflix, reviews

This week there was Cannes controversy when audiences booed the film Okja during its screening at the festival. It comes within a week where the French film festival has condemned the online streaming service despite 2 of its current titles being included in this year’s line-up. It all started when Cannes changed its rules to only allow entries from films that have been shown in French cinemas. This year’s jury president, director Pedro Almodóvar, made a statement proclaiming that nothing can stand in for the real experience of watching a film in the cinema and said that it would be a huge mistake to award the Palme D’Or to a film that audiences watched at home. Netflix has changed the way in which we are all digesting film and television but Hollywood is still trying to catch up. There are some bigger issues at play here, including French laws, but it should open a debate on what counts as a film. Netflix is loved by certain creatives because it gives them more freedom and room to create. However, it can sometimes come across as the company who make the films nobody else would bother to make. Especially with it’s comedies. There have been numerous times when trailers have caught my attention only for the final product to be really underwhelming. So when I first saw the trailer for Jeff Garlin’s Handsome I was in two minds about it. Surely it wouldn’t be as wonderful as the trailer was making it seem?

Handsome is the third feature film from comic Jeff Garlin, . The trailer set up Garlin’s classic deadpan delivery and the ability to keep his poker face in the midst of absolute absurdity. In the film, Garlin plays Detective Gene Handsome as he investigates the murder of his new neighbour babysitter. The day after Gene first meets the young woman in question he is faced with her chopped up remains on the front lawn of famous actor Talbert Bacom (Stephen Weber). Considering this films calls itself “a Netflix mystery movie” it isn’t so caught up on an investigation narrative. It’s more like a selection of sketched set in Los Angeles that are interspersed with talk of murder and lies. This is fine in itself but it doesn’t really push an audience into staying glued to the screen. The narrative plods along never quite committing itself to be anything specific.

Although, there are a handful of great moments within Handsome but it’s unfortunate that all of these moments are separate from the plot. This film is at it’s best when Detective Handsome is going about his daily business or having quiet interactions away from work. There is a lovely moment when he discusses hopes and dreams for the future with his neighbour. It’s a sincere and moving scene that could easily have been the basis for a much more entertaining film. Intersperse some deep and meaningful moments like this with a few scenes of Handsome giving too much attention to his dog and we’d be on the right track.

Instead, we have a film that paradoxically manages to be both too long and too short. The story develops too slowly to keep your attention but ends so quickly that you don’t really have time to realise what’s happened. There are plenty of absurd moments and outrageous comedy but the actual laughs are few and far between. There are plenty of running jokes that are just uncomfortable and never really land. Like the cheap jokes about Gene’s super horny partner, Fleur Scozzari (Natasha Lyonne), and the super awkward and unfunny moment when his superior officer (Amy Sedaris) sexually harasses him at the office.

I get what Garlin was trying to aim for with this film. There was potential for a murder mystery that was more laidback and sedate. A cop drama that was wholly uninterested in the cop or drama part . This could have been a super quirky, interesting and character driven affair. Instead it has neither enough characters, enough quirk or enough interest to keep you occupied. Every choice made about this film just seems off slightly. I don’t mind the lack of narrative in a film but Handsome needed something else to make up for it. If all of it’s attempted jokes had landed then it would have been fine but most of them are weak. It needed more identity and more confidence in itself. Instead it’s just another in an increasing line of forgettable Netflix original comedy films.

RANTING ABOUT GAME OF THRONES: A WEEK OF IRK AND IRE – Zom-be serious for a second. What the fuck are the White Walkers doing?

boring, Game of Thrones, George RR Martin, irk and ire, meh, zombies

So this is will most likely be my final post in my week of Irk and Ire. It’s my sister’s hen do thing tomorrow so I won’t get much time for writing. However, I think 5 posts of petty ranting seems like plenty. There’s obviously still more I can say; I mean I’ve barely started to scratch the surface when it comes to Dany’s unsuitability to rule Westeros. However, the season has been over for a while now and we’ve got a long wait until the next one. Especially now that Winter is here and the creators have to wait for suitable weather to film in. What I will say, as a final thought, is that no matter what I may make it sound I love this show more than anything I’ve watched and I love the books just as much. I know there’s a lot of things the show has got rid of that I was angry about but, honestly, when the show is this good I don’t fucking care. However, season 6 felt different to me. It felt rushed and everything felt all over the place. I know timelines don’t have to match up but it seemed too unstructured. Maybe without the guidance of George’s books the show is just too eager to get to where it wants to be. It’s worrying in a way because the books are less about the journey and more about the characters. Now the show just seems bothered about getting dragons in the Seven Kingdoms. I hope things settle down next season or we risk Game of Thrones going down the same route as Lost and nobody wants that.

We’re getting close to the end of Game of Thrones as a whole which means after years of waiting we’ll finally see who gets to permanently sit on the Iron Throne. I still have my fingers and toes crossed that Dany the grumpy teenage doesn’t take possession of Westeros’ most uncomfortable seat but it’s highly unlikely. Anyone that takes 6 fucking seasons to finally get round to doing what she’s been threatening to do better bring some fucking results. There two seasons left for the HBO series with a potential combined total of 13 episodes. We don’t know exactly how it will pan out but it seems to safe to say Dany’s taking of King’s Landing will happen before the end of season 7. Once Cersei has self-destructed and been killed, in all liklihood, by her twin brother in a mirroring of his first Kingslaying, then the crown is essentially just being left untouched for Dany to pick up unchallenged. I mean there’s literally only one other person who wants the throne and Littlefinger really wouldn’t be that hard to take in a fight. I mean does he even know how to hold a fucking sword? Look at his track record with duels. It doesn’t bode well.

If I’m honest, the leader of the Seven Kingdoms isn’t really the major thing I’m concerned about any more. I mean we’ve playing the same fucking game for so long it feels like we’re in the middle of an epic Monopoly showdown. Besides, the way season 6 has been rushing through its storylines and missing out chunks of time, it’s painfully clear how this will end. Even if we all still have slightly squiffy feelings about Dany’s unhealthy blood-lust and very rapey Dothraki hoard. Season 6 has basically taken the last 5 seasons and said “that was all just the warm up. Lannisters, Baratheons, Tyrells and Starks? It doesn’t actually matter.” The great houses of Westeros have been battling for power since before Ned Stark’s head fell off and very little has changed. Winter was still coming, people were still hungry, and crazy religious people were spouting their nonsense. Plus, you know, there was the threat of a zombie invasion. Nothing to fret about. That’s the most frustrating thing about A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s telling two very different stories at incredibly frustrating speeds: one of politics and crowns and the other of impending doom.

Now I don’t care that everything has taken so long because that’s a problem with the genre. What I object to is that everything is dragged out without an update. Especially because the story of the White Walkers is by far the more interesting part of the plot. After last seasons amazing episode ‘Hardhome’ I was super pumped for more White Walker action and the growing need to get shit sorted. Of course, season 6 gave us the fabulous yet emotional ‘Hold the Door’ which suggested shit was about to go down real soon. It wasn’t. I realise they’re waiting for Winter and the Wall has magical powers and stuff. However, it surely can’t take this long for the Walkers to do something. I mean clearly that magic thing is a bit dicey because of the Wight that attack Jeor Mormont back in season 1. There’s got to be a loophole or two. Surely dead animal zombies could be springing up all over the place and causing havoc?

The White Walkers have been a growing evil that’s always been lurking on the outskirts of the rest of the action and, as such, have become nothing more than an afterthought. I mean look at Jon Snow: one minute he’s all about stopping the zombie attack and the next he happily goes off to Winterfell to get his old bedroom back. I mean has he even stopped to think about what could happen at the Wall when he’s gallivanting around the North? Nah, mate. He doesn’t give a shit… and he’s actually fought the Night’s King. Naming the show Game of Thrones meant that they were sort of penning themselves in to the whole “who will be King question” which means that the White Walkers become much less important. Which, frankly, was a fucking mistake. Cersei Lannister might be batshit crazy but there is no greater menace in that show than what lies beyond the Wall. Anything that scares Tormund Giantsbane into trusting the Crows is definitely something you don’t wanna fuck with. So, I don’t really understand why they’ve had so little to do so far. Yes, they’ve been getting more prominent but I can’t help but feel all that time Arya spent pissing about as a bling girl in Braavos could have been taken out for more White Walker clashes.

Yeah, maybe the writers are just keeping them for the show’s big finale but that in itself is just as bad. I mean we know that in all likelihood season 7 will have 7 episodes and season 8 will have 6. This means 7 will be concerned with tying up the Throne plot and 8 will probably focus more in everyone’s impending death at the hand’s of the Walkers. It just doesn’t seem like enough time. Especially withe the way season 6 went down. Now the show isn’t being restricted by the books the creators have fucking flown forward as qucikly as they can. We’ve leisurely reached the point we were at by the end of season 5 and now we’re fucking steaming ahead. I can’t help but worry that the episode after the big Azor Ahai reveal is made we’ll see an end to the White Walkers. After all, it’s starting to feel as though they’ve become something of problem for the show, which has no idea how best to use them. They should be more than a visual treat intended to create intrigue.

Top Ten Wen-sday: A Week of Irk and Ire Special – Top 10 Most Boring Game of Thrones Moments

boring, Game of Thrones, George RR Martin, irk and ire, list, meh

There can be no denying that Game of Thrones has been one of the most exciting and dramatic television shows around these days. However, that does not mean it isn’t also guilty of being fucking boring at times. George RR Martin created an epic landscape in which to tell his tale which meant he created a lot of characters to get the job done. The fact that there are so many perspectives on offer means that there are times when people aren’t really doing a great deal. Book readers will be familiar with the dull affair that is the entirety of book 4 where we essentially read about Cersei getting drunk and fucking as many of the men in King’s Landing as possible. So, I decided as I’m already well into my week of Game of Thrones ranting, that I’d finally make it known which moments throughout the six seasons were the least entertaining.


Ten: Bran Beyond the Wall

Ah season 5, how we miss your Bran-less ways. Bran has always been an irritating character. He moans, gets angry and mopes about more than he should. For the first season he did nothing of note but fall our of a window. Then we had the whole Theon debacle which gave him a bit more to do and gave more time to his great friendship with Osha. Then he met the world’s most boring teenager Jojen Reed. The whole trip to take Bran to the Three Eyed Raven has been so bloody time consuming. He’s done nothing but be carried through snow for years. Then when he got there the biggest reveal of the season was teased until the very last moment. The only reason Bran was really in season 6 was to reveal R+L=J and to reintroduce the undead Benjen Stark. His journey to become the Three Eyed Raven was just unmemorable aside from this. It, of course, doesn’t help that he also caused the most heartbreaking death in Game of Thrones history.

     Nine: Tyrion in Meereen

Now this is only as high as it is because nothing starring Tyrion Lannister could be described as boring. The guy is a genius and Peter Dinklage is amazing. Still, it can’t be ignore that Tyrion’s journey to and time in Meereen has been utterly pointless. All he does is get drunk, walk around and make awkward conversation with Greyworm and that chick who used to be on Hollyoaks. He should be doing bigger and better things instead of making the situation with the slavers even worse. I admit, the moment that Dany asked him to be her hand had me weeping like a baby. Aside from that, Tyrion hasn’t really done himself any favours since he swore fealty to the Mother of Dragons.

Eight: Sam and Gilly

There can be no doubt that Sam is the most adorable and kind character left in Westeros these days. He’s so pure and good that it’s nearly impossible not to love him. Nearly because, when all is said and done, he’s really fucking dull. Yes, he had that awesome moment where he killed wight with Dragonglass which was fucking awesome but, since that point, he’s really only been the soppy idiot travelling around the coutry with Gilly. These two have done absolutely nothing of note since they first met. I mean Sam fell in love with first woman he spoke to. Then we’ve just seen them making eyes at each other and go on a boat. It’s taking precious time away from better stories. Yes, it could get better now he’s at the Citadel but Sam and Gilly have added nothing this season. The whole sorry affair at Horn Hill was utterly pointless and, as gratifying as it was to see Sam stand up to his father, I could have done with more Brienne or something.

Seven: Gendry

I don’t really understand why HBO decided to make such a big thing about Gendry. Unless, I’m forgetting a whole section of the books, he wasn’t that important. He left Arya pretty quickly and was hardly relevant before that. In the TV show he obviously came to fill the void left by Edric Storm so the writers made it seem like he was important. We got all this build up to something great and it ended up quietly sailing away. I mean it was a massive set-up for such a fucking boring storyline with Melisandre and Ser Davos. If we were happy to ignore Edric then we should have been happy to ignore the need for obtaining King’s blood from one of Robert’s bastards. It really added nothing except the world of Game of Thrones memes.
 Six: Jorah Mormont the lovesick puppy

 

As you should all know by now, I have an intense passion for Iain Glenn’s Jorah Mormont. I love everything about him and would happily move to Bear Island to be his Lady and wear fur coats for the rest of my days. However, it has to be said that most of his story has fast become nothing more than “oh I’m so helplessly in love with the Queen” moping. He’s so one note these days that it’s just boring. I preferred the early days Jorah who was trying desperately to get back to his home and would do anything to make that happen. It’s like the Doctor Who thing, romance just makes potentially interesting relationships more boring. This pair would have worked much better if it had been based solely on mutual respect. Jorah saw how powerful Dany was and decided to join her cause. Similarly, Dany could see how great a warrior and useful ally Jorah could be. It could have been a great Queen/Older Adviser relationship (like she had with Ser Barristan) instead of him following her round drooling and making puppy eyes. He’s better than that.

 Five: Jon Beyond the Wall

I’ve always found Jon to be really boring. The only interesting thing about him was the whole R+L=J and even that wasn’t much of a mystery. Jon is the emo kid of A Song of Ice and Fire who sits in his room listening to MCR whilst the rest of the world are out sorting shit. He broods about every little thing and it’s fucking boring. So, when season 2 took Jon away from the much needed comic relief of his fellow Night’s Watch it made it even more apparent how dull and irritating he was. Also, how fucking useless he is. Letting Ygritte go and causing the deaths of all those Rangers? Smooth move Snow. Now, I know there is a lot of love for the Jon/Ygritte romance but, to be honest, I just didn’t get it. She was far too good for him and if I’d been her I’d have ended up with Tormund instead. Seriously, that guys a fox. This plot in the books plays out better because we hear Jon’s thoughts as he weighs up his true loyalties. He really thinks about joining Mance Rayder and comes to respect his ways. In the show we see him falling for the first girl who shows him some interest and waiting for the moment he can betray everyone around him. I hated every minute of this.   

Four: Daenerys in Qarth

Dany Dany Dany, where did it all go wrong? I mean we know where it all went wrong: your husband died, you tried to bring him back and that started your unbreakable habit of fucking everything up. Getting stuck in the Red Waste without provisions was stupid and trusting the people of Qarth to take you in was even more so. The whole time Dany and co. were at Qarth was a fucking waste of time for everyone. It didn’t move her story along at all and didn’t get her any closer to Westeros. Dany spent most of her time shouting at people or wondering where her fucking dragons were. The only good thing about the whole sorry mess was her time in the House of the Undying. But one thing in an entire season does not make up for hours of “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS!”

Three: Everything that’s happened in Dorne

Anyone who’s been around for a while may remember my Top 5 Female Role Models in A Song of Ice and Fire. Number 5 on that list were the Sand Snakes and Arianne Martell. They stood out in the books for their fucking awesome skills as a warrior and their desire to avenge the death of Oberyn Martell. So I was fucking excited when it was announced we’d finally see Dorne on screen. Unfotunately the Dorne that HBO introduced us to was nothing like the one we knew from the books. The characters were all weak and fucking boring. Prince Doran was just the naive and shitty ruler that he was pretending to be in the books. Arianne Martell didn’t seduce Ser Arys and try and kidnap Princess Myrcella. There has been no reveal of the Dornish pacts with Viserys Targaryen and no sightings of Quentyn Martell making his way to Meereen to try and wed Dany. What we’ve had is lots of talking and arguing in the Water Gardens and the sand snakes being played by fucking awful actors. 


Two: Arya in Braavos

As I mentioned yesterday, I loved Arya Stark when I first read the books. She was a great character until she got stuck in the most boring story in the world. Something that is all the more upsetting considering she was starting her training to be a crazy, face-changing killer. I realise that every good warrior needs to be taught the tricks of the trade but this was ridiculous. We wanted to see Arya kickin arse not begging on the streets of Braavos. It was a boring idea in the book and, weirdly, even more boring on the show. We can only hope Arya has some more exciting things in her future. 

     
One: Daenerys in Meereen

I remember first reading the books and having such high hopes for Dany. The journey she went on from being the poor little wife of Khal Drogo to being a fully fledged Khaleesi who meant business. From the moment she decided she hatched her dragons and swore to take Westeros the entire audience have been on tenterhooks. That was at the end of season 1. It’s taken 5 more seasons for her to even try and get back to her home. Instead, she decided to be a fucking idiot and stop slavery. I admit, that isn’t bad in principal but her whole storyline has been an example of the West forcing their beliefs on the East. It’s shown what a terrible leader Dany is and distracted her from the bigger picture. The whole Meereen Saga has been super repetitive with Dany trying and failing to keep the ex-slavers on side. Her new marriage barely registered and the whole dragons killing people thing was dull. Even her affair with Daario wasn’t enough to make up for the boredom. The end of this story was the best thing in Game of Thrones history.

Into the Woods (2015)

Anna Kendrick, boring, Chris Pine, fairy tale, meh, Meryl Streep, musical, review
When it comes to this blog I think I’m starting to come across as a bit of a grump when it comes to musicals. I don’t really understand why as I’m a not so secret lover of the genre. Whilst writing my postgraduate dissertation I listened to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack on repeat. I have been known to portray my feelings through the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber (especially when I’d finished the aforementioned dissertation). However, most modern musicals just don’t get me as excited. I see trailers and just get angry. Especially if they star Meryl Streep. Thankfully I have the good sense not to associate with anybody who responded to the release of Into The Woodswith any other attitude than “who the fuck cast Meryl Streep in another musical?” Don’t get me wrong I love the Streep but, you have to admit, it’s a bloody good question. After the travesty that was Mamma Miait’s difficult to see who would have decided casting big names was better than talented singers.

Into the Woodsis a weird fairytale mash-up of the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. These many strands are tied together through the tale of a baker and hid wife who embark on a quest to lift a curse that has left them childless. In order to get their angry neighbourhood witch to reverse her spell, the pair must enter the titular woods and track down four very specific items from each of the four tales.
The problem with cutting and pasting bits of these existing stories together is that each one ultimately loses a lot of the excitement and become a lot more complicated. Taken singly you can accept the crazy decisions that the characters make but torn into bite size pieces it becomes harder to go along with everything. The mixing of the narratives only succeeds in watering them down without adding any fresh perspectives or humour. It’s all a bit dull and unnecessary.
And fucking repetitive. The problem with musicals as a whole is the needless desire to tell the audience what is happening over and over again. Almost as soon as the baker has rescued Red Riding Hood from the belly of the wolf, she feels the need to sing about it and provide us with a flashback. Clearly targeted at the stupid or those with non-existent short-terms memories, Into the Woodsis a 2+ hour film that probably only has about an hours worth of material in it.
Which considering there has still been something of a narrative cull seems even more ridiculous. The whole plot feels as though it’s full of holes and never feels complete. Take for example the relationship between Cinderella and her Prince Charming: in the stage show Prince Charming tires of Cinders and falls for the sleeping Snow White. In the film, their relationship goes from being happily ever after to soul destroying in the blink of an eye. Despite still being pretty fucking dark compared to Disney’s big hitting musicals, Into the Woods has traded narrative integrity for being family friendly.
There is just not subtlety at work here, which, if we’re honest, is the fucking great thing about stage musicals. They are limited in how they can present their material and so can’t distract from the music and the performances. Into the Woodsis the opposite of this who steamrollers over everything else with its massive production values. The epic sets, costumes and orchestration make it almost impossible to enjoy the witty and clever work of both Sondheim and writer James Lapine, who also wrote the book for the original production.
Into the Woodsis a musical that takes itself too fucking seriously and, considering the general air of the show, is just the most ridiculous decision. I was so bored during the whole film and I say that as someone who’s natural reaction to people singing instead of talking is to jump for joy. That’s not to say that the cast don’t try their hardest and obviously many of them try too hard. Into the Woodsis full to bursting with huge names to the extent that great actors like Simon Russell Beale are mere afterthoughts. With a mix of Hollywood A-listers, musical theatre brats and classical actors, it’s exhausting.
Meryl Streep, despite the fact that I’ll never warm to her as a singer, is fabulous as the desperate witch and Anna Kendrick adds some real legitimacy to proceedings as Cinderella. Emily Blunt and James Corden make a good duo as the Baker and his wife but get sort of lost in the confusion and musical numbers. Most memorable is Chris Pine as the sleazy but charming Prince who wins Cinders’ heart. Pine, who will now forever be Captain Kirk 2.0, channels his best William Shatner for his performance. It’s a role that is a fantastic parody but never really finds its feet on the big screen.
I’m not entirely sure who Into the Woodswas made for. It doesn’t quite work for the lovers of Frozenor the faithful Sondheim audience. It’s simultaneously dumbed-down and over-complicated. The watered down script is still too edgy for children but not dark enough for an older audience. Into the Woods is all pomp and no circumstance. Getting too carried away in the spectacle that it didn’t really think about the content that they were trying to introduce people to. The whole thing just left me cold.

TBT – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

books, boring, CGI, dragon, Harry Potter, J K Rowling, meh, review, TBT
Today is St George’s Day: a time where the English get patriotic, in other words drunk, because of the story of some geezer slaying a dragon. It’s a day of English-ness, heroics and fire-breathing dragons. It’s also a day when you have to put up with fucking annoying people managing to irritate you with these aforementioned traits. It seems to me there is a perfect film out there that sums up the characteristics of the day. The film also happens to be celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this November whilst the novel it is adapted from will be 15 years old in July. Well it looks like the fates are with me this Throwback Thursday. I fucking love it when a plan comes together.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firesaw the Harry Potterfilm franchise continue its slow descent into the world of dark fantasy. Following on from Chris Columbus’ family-friendly, slightly fuddy-duddy, opening duo, Alfonso Cuarón was the surprising choice to take up the challenge and certainly upped the game. With every new release, the series, and indeed its young cast, grew more confident, mature and willing to take risks. This fourth instalment was helmed by Mike Newell, a director with a varied professional history: he was an equally unexpected choice to try his hand at adapting JK Rowling’s much-loved novels for the big screen.
I have to confess, The Goblet of Fireis my least favourite of the Potter films and that includes the incredibly childish and twee first two. This has nothing to do with the book because, whilst it will never be my favourite in the series, I love the excitement of the Triwizard Tournament and I always cry over the graveyard scene. The film just doesn’t stand-out when compared to its brothers. This is probably an unavoidable consequence of the sheer scope of the novel. It was fucking huge and screenwriter Steve Kloves had a lot material to cut to make this happen.
The film is still a lengthy affair, running at over two and a half hours, and you definitely feel it by the end. So much goes on in the novel that you can’t help but think that maybe Kloves could have taken a few more bits out? Such as the annoying and unnecessary Rita Skeeter: despite my overriding love for Miranda Richardson, Skeeter added to nothing but the film-length. There are already an exhausting number of narrative strands to follow: a Quidditch World Cup; the drama of the tournament; the new characters that need to be introduced; the children’s everyday school-life; teenage angst; romance; the Yule Ball; and the unforgettable threat of Lord Voldermort’s return. Phew.
Everything is fighting for attention and, because of this, the editing often seems choppy. There are several moments when you can’t escape the feeling that scenes were originally longer and cut for the sake of time. Frustratingly, these bite size pieces only feel unnecessary and waste even more precious time. This doesn’t feel like the kind of film Newell set out to make and it doesn’t feel like the kind of feel Potter fans were really hoping for.
It’s certainly not what I was hoping for: Newell doesn’t quite live up to expectations when it comes to the action sequences. Harry’s encounter with the dragon is never as thrilling as the legend of St. George and the subsequent Triwizard challenges never quite reach the excitement levels that they should. Everything is rushing towards the huge finale that fans of the books have been waiting for but, in the end, even this is rushed through. Ralph Fiennes is an excellent choice to bring the Dark Lord to life but his showdown with Harry doesn’t resonate as much as it did in the novel. The Goblet of Firedoesn’t feel like a film in its own right but something rather perfunctory that is leading to something bigger, better and more dangerous.
Although, to give him some credit, Newell is strong when it comes to the focus on character. If the first two chapters gave us Harry Potter’s annoying childhood, The Goblet of Fireis oozing with teenage hormones. Our heroes have suddenly entered their adolescence and sexual awakening (with a little help from some a few Veelas). The boys also have suitably rebellious yet still conservative messy hair. If I’m honest, the focus on character over action is probably where my major problem with The Goblet of Fire comes from. It focuses solely on Harry and his increasing sense of self-importance. When you’re dealing with a hero that’s as fucking disagreeable as Harry Potter is then you need some thrilling action to distract you. I’m not going to sit through a film that wastes its dragon potential in favour of pathetic teenage arguments and God complexes.

Mike Newell does a good job with a difficult task but it cannot be denied that it is problematic. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a Harry Potter film; maybe more of a cheesy American teen drama with a few CGI mythical beasts. The Goblet of Fire isn’t the black sheep of the Potter films but it is the awkward cousin who you do everything to avoid at reunions.