The Victorian Hawk Dragon provides reviews of fantasy films.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
First and Foremost, this really is one of the most Peculiar (and best) Fantasy Films, that I have ever seen! It's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children:
For the first third of the film, did I find the storyline both somewhat odd, and slow to get going - as I wondered to myself, exactly what is going on? For the second third of the film, did I find the storyline both somewhat spooky, and perhaps even scary - as I watched it in the dark, with the wind howling out! Yet was I blown away, by the final third of the film's storyline - through both a draw-dropping character twist (twice I fell for their Fairy Glamour), and some sitting on the edge of my seat, as I'd realised that this Fantasy Film, is in-fact mesmerising :) I simply could not believe, how everything just fell into place, and the film's main Fantasy Character (Jake), is suddenly revealed as a Peculiar himself - whose both powerful and commanding, with an important task to perform: he has to help protect/guard, the other Peculiar Children, when they are attacked by Monsters (from the Darker side of Fantasy). What of the Peculiar Children - the film's main Fantasy Characters? Well ... I liked the fact, that they all seemed to have, a particular Magical trait :) My favourite is Emma, whose Lighter than Air - with the ability to fly, and wield/command, the Element of Air. Next is there Enoch, whose Meaner than Most - with the ability to animate, and wield/command, the Puppets he Makes. Then is there Olive, whose Redder than Furnace - with the ability to heat, and wield/command, the Element of Fire. Next is there Bronwyn, whose Stronger than All - with the ability to move, and wield/command, the Element of Might. Then is there sssssshhhhhh, that would be Telling :) For I found the Peculiar Children, to be a Happy Family, that care for each other - and who are themselves, overseen by none-other, than Miss Peregrine herself! And what of Miss Peregrine? Well ... She's the strangest of all :) A shape shifting Peregrine, who has the ability to control Time - albeit a Loop, a Bubble in Time! I especially liked the fact, that her Fantasy Character, comes across as somewhat eccentric: everything's Ship Shape, Timed to the Second - with just a Twist of Spontaneity :) Yet when faced with the Creatures of Darker Fantasy (here called Hollowgasts), are Miss Peregrine's thoughts - just for the safety of her, Peculiar Children. What of this film's Fantasy Locations/Realms? Well ... The first fantasy location, is really the Children's Home itself. It exists out of time (being 1943), and is full of the Fun and Games of the Children (especially in it's Gardens). Emma helps a baby Squirrel - Football for Bee. Bronwyn pulls a mighty Carrot - Tailor for Tree. Yet in stark contrast, does the Children's Home, also appear to be derelict (when Jake first encounters it) - seeming to me, as though it's haunted by ghosts. The second such fantasy location (and my personal favourite), is the Sunken Liner/Ship, that is Emma's secret hiding/thinking place (where she goes for some quite time). I just loved the appearance of the Grand Stairway (leading to the Skeleton dining tables), and the Magical Realm that appears, when Emma commands the Element of Air :) It is also here, that I found my favourite Fantasy Scene (within this film) - as both Emma and the Peculiar Children, raise the Liner from the seabed :) I especially liked the parts, where Emma breaths Air (to expel water from the ship), and Olive wields Fire (to relight the ship's boilers). In turn, does this fantasy location of the Liner, connect with the third: Blackpool Pier. And it is at the Pier, that the final fight between the Peculiar Children, and the Darker Fantasy Creatures (the Hollowgasts), actually occurs: Enoch commands an army of Skeleton Warriors, to combat the Hollowgasts :) Added to this, is the brilliance of the plan by Jake, who solves the challenge of the Hollowgasts being invisible (to all but him), with a childhood solution: snowballs and candy! Even so, did I find the showdown between Jake and Mr Barron (the Darker Fantasy King/Hero), to be steeped in Fairy Glamour - aka who's who? Then did I find more Fairy Glamour, as I found it somewhat ironic, that the Time Loop (that they were fighting in), just-so-happens to be in/outside the Pier's Ghost Train (which for me, looped back to the concept of the derelict Children's Home). Overall: this is a Fantasy Film, whose storyline gets better as it goes through (I feel deliberately). It's also a Fantasy Film, that makes more sense - after you've watched it a couple of times (especially with regard to the Time Loops). I also feel that the storyline, merges several genres/areas of Fantasy ... For I found something of the Mermaid (the Sunken Liner), mixed with something of the Fairy (Air Fairy, Fire Fairy, Garden Fairy etc.), mixed with something of the Mythical (the Powers of a Troll - or in this case, Twins), mixed with something of the Ghostly (the various glimpses of the Peculiar Children, especially in black and white photos). And at the end of the Day? Miss Peregrine winds away :) Or is that flies away? Only Emma can tell you :)
An Urban Fantasy Tale, that's now a Classic, that defined the Pearls of Fantasy, and the Spirits of Adventure - for many a Sunday afternoon :) It's The Goonies:
Whilst the Pirates Fantasy storyline, may take a while to get going - once The Goonies find that Treasure Map, there's no stopping them ... And it is here that this Fantasy Film, connects strongly with the Dreams of my Childhood - as I always thought that it would be fun, to find a Treasure Map! There'd be Parchment Frays - that Guide the Way. There'd be Spanish Prose - that Give a Clue. There'd be Island Shapes - that Rock the Boat. There'd be Skull and Bones - that Mark the Spot! And so it is, with the Fantasy Locations, that are found within - The Goonies ... There's Glowing Lantern Caves - with Falling Rocks and Pit of Spikes. There's Silent Guarding Stones - with Voices Bat and Waters Fall. There's Tranquil Wishing Well - with Pegs of Three and Skeleton Key. There's Caves of Door in Skull - with Glowing Eyes and Slippery Logs. There's Awe and Shock Piano - with Rights of Tune and Screams of Fall. There's Drawbridge cast from Rock - with Water Chutes and Shout Geronimo! But the best Fantasy Location for me, is the Pirates Hidden Cove/Cave, with the Pirate Ship of One Eyed Willie (the Inferno), moored at ease :) I just loved the appearance of the Pirate Ship, which appears somewhat magical, in the majestic jewel-like waters (of it's Fantasy Cave). I also liked the idea, of this Fantasy Cave, being the final refuge/hiding place, of the Mythical Fantasy Pirate - One Eyed Willie :) And of course, it is both the Pirate Ship, and the Fantasy Cave, that form the centrepieces, for the Swashbuckling climatic action: the finding of the Pirate's Treasure, the greeting of One Eyed Willie, the Plundering of the Loot, the Walking of the Plank, the Climbing of the Masts, and the Raising of the Anchor! And of my favourite Fantasy Characters? Well ... First: there is Chunk (a Goonie). I was sold on that scene, where he first enters Mikey and Brand's parents house (two fellow Goonies) - as its just the way he stands there, telling a tale (after the Truffle Shuffle!). Chunk's character, primarily revolves around the thought of food, and is intermixed with his ability to break things (such as smashing down doors, and dropping Treasure Maps). Which in-turn, leads to two of my favourite comedy scenes (of all time): i) where Chunk tells the Tale, of the Fake Puke :) And ii) Where Chunk becomes - Captain Chunk! I almost fell of the sofa with that one - especially with his Cutlass, and Pirate's Hat :) Second: there is Data (a fellow Goonie), who adds to the comedy of the film, with his range of Crazy Inventions. It is Data that falls into the Pit of Spikes - only to be saved by his Pinchers of Power. It is Data that covers the Boat Mast Bridge, with an oily substance (secreted from his Slick Shoes/trainers), that leads to an hilarious scene, with the villains of this film. And it is Data, that falls through the roof/hatch of the Pirate Ship, and goes into a whole ranting rave! Watching that rant with subtitles (turned on), really made me laugh :) Third: is the Fantasy Pirate, One Eyed Willie himself. Granted, he may only appear for a short time within the film (as he is a Skeleton) - but his character is built from the outset, as a Pirate that ... Stole a Pirate's Loot - with little hope of running a Navy Blockade. Who is instead forced to hide his ship (the Inferno) in a Pirate's Cave - whilst devising an entire series of Booby Traps (to protect his Treasure). He is also a Pirate, that has an Eye Patch to match - who sits Pride of Place, at the Captain's Table :) I also liked the twist, that surrounds Willie's Gold - as there's one more Booby Trap, that's only to be triggered, by those who are too Greedy! Would that be you then? Who took those Golden Coins? In any case, I found something of a parallel, between The Goonies, and One Eyed Willie's Pirates Crew - as both seemed to me, to be of Motley Crews :) Overall: I love the fact that this film, takes the Fantasy Tales of a Pirate, and merges it with the Childhood Friends, that we all once had ... There's something of the Pirate: Treasure, Treasure Chests, and Pirates and their Pirate Ships. Mixed with something of our Childhood: when we'd all just hop onto a bike, and head off of out for an Adventure :) There's something of Romance: a Childhood Kiss, a First Real Love - of Pirates and their Pirate's Lore! As we all wanted to be a Pirate - didn't we? And there's something that I just learnt - as it's only recently (watching this film), that I have at last, finally realised/understood, exactly where Mikey's bag of Gems and Jewels comes from (towards the end of the film). For some reason (over the years), I'd managed to miss Mikey with that line: bye bye marbles (at One Eyed Willies Captain's Table). It's Captain Chunk you know!
If Ever there was a Theme Park ride, that was turned into a Comedy Ghost Film, then that role belongs Solely, to Disney's - the Haunted Mansion:
As I have rode the Haunted Mansion ride (in Magic Kingdom) many times, I felt that this Fantasy Film, had a steep milestone to live up to (or is that a steep Gravestone to live up to?) ... For starters, it is hard to have a Haunted Mansion, just by itself. You need a storyline, and this film's storyline, of a love triangle (with a twist), really fits the Raven's bill! The film starts properly (for me), at the Iron Gates of the Haunted Mansion - which are of course, padlocked. Yet with some Ghostly magic, do the Mansion's Gate's then open ... And it is here, that I raised an eyebrow - as would I have been brave enough to enter? Probably not! Fortunately, such concerns are not faced, by the adventurer's of this film: the Evers Family :) And through those Iron Gates? Well ... First and foremost, I love this film's Fantasy Location - the Haunted Mansion itself :) There's Haunted Hallways, and Ghostly Stairs - with Spooky Curtains, and Guardian Knights. There's Spectral Ballrooms, and Darkened Bedrooms - with Glowing Candles, and Spying Portraits. There's Mothballed Libraries, and Marbled Studies - with Secret Passages, and Gothic Fireplaces. For this Haunted Mansion's, all Shroud in Dark - with Shimmering Cobwebs, and Scurrying Spiders, to Sleepless Tombs, and Spectral Carriages! For this Haunted Mansion's, all Cast in Light - with Flickering Candles, and Fiery Chandeliers, to Maleficent Green, and Whispered Balls! And of this Mansion, do I feel - no finer home, for Ghostly Haunts :) And it is here that I found, the next part of this Ghostly Tale, that I quite like ... As the Mansion itself, plays right into the variety of Ghosts, that are found within it's Haunted Halls :) There's Apparitions (both Touch and Wraith). There's Ghostly Balls (both Soul and Guide). There's Musical Instruments (both Sound and Chase). There's Replay Memories (both Masquerade Ball - and Locked in Time). There's Hitch Hiking Ghosts (both Speak and Hide). There's Suits of Armour (both Haunt and Axe). There's Spectral Horses (both Cart and Gallop). For in this Haunted Mansion - there's always My Way, You Know! Yet in all of this, did I find - three particular Ghosts, that are my favourites. First: is Ramsley (the Butler). For his Fantasy Character (being both straight faced and straight backed), helps guide the film, and is fundamental to it's storyline. Added to this, is the fact that Ramsley, made me jump three times: i) when he appears from the Knight's Corridor (in flashes of lightening) - would you hold your ground? ii) when he appears right behind Mr Evers (making him jump). iii) when he appears right behind Mrs Evers (making her jump). In all three, does Ramsley appear - to be Lending a Hand ... Second: is Madame Leota (the Gypsy Tarot Reader). Who for me, provides much of the comedy - whilst also guiding the Fate of both Mr and Mrs Evers (in a more helpful way). Madame Leota, is also responsible for some of the best footage, that's found within this film (in both terms of plot, and special effects). And of this best footage, do I have a favourite scene ... It's where Mr Evers first meets Madame Leota - and is soon being flown around the room: with Dancing Trumpets, Drums, Harps and Tarot Cards! Which eventually leads to, Mr Evers being chased down a corridor, by a whole ensemble - of Musical Instruments :) Third: is the Ghost Ball (which appears to Mr Ever's son and daughter). I liked the fact, that the Ghost Ball, is really a Will-o'-the-wisps - that has an honourable Quest, for the two children to undertake (even if it would have scared me, in reality!). I also enjoyed the humour, that surrounds the Ghost Ball - where the sister would follow it (being Brave), whilst her brother would not (shaking like a leaf). Even so ... There was one part of this film, that I found a little scary (especially the first time I watched it). It's where Mr Evers, undertakes the main Quest of the film (once he arrives at the Mansion), and goes down into the Mansion's Crypt. I was surprised by the Walking Dead (that he encounters down there), and felt that it would take a very brave person indeed, to Willingly Dive, Under the Water! Mind you, I now suspect that Ramsley, was solely responsible/behind this (in a bid to prevent Mr Evers, from completing his Quest). Although, if you don't like Spiders - then you'll probably be squinting, right after the Walking Dead scene, as well :) Overall: I feel that this is a lively Ghost Film, which brings the Haunted Mansion to Life - in a way that captures the fun side - of the original Haunted Mansion ride :) Yet at the same time, do I feel that the film, also contains an important message, about the need to maintain - a work life balance :) It took Mr Evers (as played by Eddie Murphy), several interactions with Ghosts - to fully realise/remember this ... Added to this, is the fact that several sub-plots of the film, are about Facing Your Fears, together with: You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail - But You Only Truly Fail, When You Stop Trying! And you get a Fantasy Film, that has much more on the Inside of the Mansion, than on the Outside :) Finally ... I just loved the comedy scene in the Library/Study - as we all want a large Painting of Ourselves, hanging above the Mantelpiece - don't we? And if you should decide to join us ...
A Kingdom of Love, with her Mum and her Dad. Two Twists of Fate, and a Test of her Spirit:
In Childhood Dreams, did Ella play - with Clouds of Horse, and Animal Chat. In Childhood Dreams, did Ella trust - with Mother's Verse, and Father's Smile. Belief in All, did Ella grow - with Twist of Fate, and dying Mother. A promise made, Truthful Ella - with Dashing Horse, and Wild of Stag. Father Dreams, new Stepmother - Merchant Trip, and Change for All ... Ella slaves, Ella plays - Ella's promise, to her Mother: Have Courage and be Kind! Yet: To Stepmother, Cinderella, to her Sisters, just a Half-wit. I love the fact that this film, tells the story of Cinderella, in a modern magical way! I especially love the portrayal, of the Fairy Godmother - who is just a little scatty! My favourite comedy scene, is when the Pumpkin grows into a Golden Coach: as both Cinderella, and her Fairy Godmother, manage to overlook the fact that there's not enough room for the Pumpkin to grow (inside the conservatory). Which leads to them both, being squeezed against the windows - and in turn, seems to be right at home, with the scattiness of her Fairy Godmother! On the other hand, does this contrast with the harshness of Cinderella's Stepmother, who at certain times, do I feel is overly mean - such as when she tears Cinderella's Mother's dress, and thus prevents Cinderella from attending the Prince's Ball (at least with her Stepmother, and two Stepsisters). Fortunately, such scenes are intermixed with further comedy: such as when the Prince's personal Oil Painter is lowered all-the-way to the floor (and accidentally finds a new painting position), and when the Prince laughs with his Father, at the girl who loses her shoes (as this reminded me of someone I used to know!). I find it interesting that the film goes to great lengths to illustrate two key points. First: that large houses (such as castles and country manors) may very-well be stocked full of possessions, but unless those very same houses are full of Love (from a woman that stokes the Fires of your Heart), than those same houses, may as well be empty! Second: marrying someone for any reason other than Love, is doomed to fail ... This is exactly what happens with Cinderella's Stepmother - who married Cinderella's Father for the sake of her two children. (The Stepmother drives this point home to Cinderella, when she again attempts to exploit, the Kindness that is found within Cinderella). I also feel that this film, gains much of it's magic, from it's use of Pixie Dust. There's two scenes where I feel, that this is particularly true. First: when Cinderella has her dress Geed-Up (as she twirls around in both pink, and blue Pixie Dust, intermixed with blue Butterflies). And second: when the Pumpkin is changed into a Coach (as there's Golden Pixie Dust, which glitters around the Pumpkin's sides - taking shape, forming wheels and curves, that befit the Carriage of a Loving Princess). And yet, in all of this, is there a twist: for if Cinderella had not been kind to the Old Hag (her Fairy Godmother in disguise), then it seems to me - that Cinderella would not have been able to go to the Prince's Ball (at all). Overall: I find this film to be a lovable mix of both fun (such as when Cinderella talks to her Mice - Jacqueline, Teddy, Matilda and greedy Gus-Gus), and harsh reality (such as when Cinderella's Stepmother goes to great lengths to seclude Cinderella - from family activities). An enjoyable reworking of a classic tale, that I feel, shall bring plenty of Pixie Dust into your Heart! Even so, I can't help but wonder - what would have happened, if the Stepmother (as portrayed in this film), had never overheard the conversation between Ella and her Father ...
The Tinkering of an Animal Fairy, with the Mystery of Something Gruff:
Within the Realms of Pixie Hollow, lives an Animal Fairy: who goes by the name of Fawn. A friend of Tinker Bells, with a Heart of Gold, and a scatty personality - that sees her caring, for ALL the Woodland Critters (even a baby Hawk). Yet Fawn's Heart, at logger-heads with her Head, sees her test the patience, of both Queen Clarion, and her Scout Fairy protector (called Nyx). Akin to Tinker Bell, is Fawn unable to resist, the mystery of a Forest Growl. Thus, do the adventures of Fawn begin! I like the fact that this film's storyline, revolves around a single (main) theme: that it's best not to judge a book by it's cover. At first, does the NeverBeast - scare Fawn. At second, does the NeverBeast - scare me! (as he lives within some darkened woods). But with persistence, does Fawn - learn more about the NeverBeast, as she seeks to earn his trust. My three favourite comedy scenes are: when Fawn first meets the NeverBeast (as she plays dead, then freezes, then LOOKS BIG - all with a twist of scatty), when Fawn does her Monkey impression (I almost fell off my seat - especially with the irony of Nyx's stern face), and when Fawn's dressed in Fur (to catch the attention of the NeverBeast - as this seems more befitting of Rosetta!). I initially found it odd, that this film focused primarily on Fawn - yet after watching several times, I have found myself impressed by this approach: as Fawn is the only Fairy, that could have befriended the NeverBeast! Even accounting for the fact, that it's Fawn that removes the thorn from the NeverBeast's paw - I feel that the magic of the storyline, stems from the bond, that's found between Fawn and the NeverBeast: as she's his friend! Whilst I understand where Nyx (the Scout Fairy) is coming from, I feel that her character, could have been more investigative (like Fawn's) - as opposed to being tunnel-visioned: just out to get the NeverBeast. Overall: a film that's less about Tinker Bell (although she's still in it), that's more about Fawn (who holds the film - being just as scatty as Tinker Bell), that's entwined with mystery (green clouds, comets plus stars, and the building of four towers), that's also able to bury-down-deep within your emotions, and make you cry (as this films something of a Tear Jerker - especially at the end, when the Fairies of Pixie Hollow, have to say goodbye to the NeverBeast, their friend).
Two Kingdoms at War, two Shades of Grey, with Human Greed, and a Dark Fairy Godmother:
This is the best Disney film that I have ever watched! For one reason: It's Sleeping Beauty - with a Twist! The Twist comes in the form of some Disney Fairy Magic - as the storyline is now placed within: The Realms of the Fairies. Maleficent is a Fairy, who befriends a human boy (called Stefan), and for a time, it seems that both Humans and Fairies, can live together in Peace (after Stefan shows that he cares for Maleficent). But alas, as Stefan grows-up, he becomes more ambitious (wanting to become King), eventually leading him to betray Maleficent: resulting in Conflict and War (when Maleficent learns the reason behind Stefan's betrayal). My favourite character is Maleficent - and I enjoy watching the development of her personality: from a young Fairy (who Heals the Branch of a Tree), to a teenage Fairy (who shares her First Kiss with Stefan), to an adult Fairy (who forgives Stefan for ignoring her), to a vengeful Fairy (who places a Curse upon King Stefan's daughter - Princess Aurora), and finally, to a Fairy who seeks to atone for her mistake (by seeking a way in which to revoke the Curse). I was fully sold on the idea of Maleficent, being a Fairy, who just happens to have lost her way - when she chose to embrace the human emotions of hate and vengeance. It is here that we see the darker side of her character - as she turns the Moors (of the Fairy Kingdom) into a dark place: by growing a Wall of Thorns (to keep Humans out), and claiming a Fairy Throne for herself (thereby forcing various Mythical Creatures, to bow to her). Despite this, I was relieved when the storyline confirms that Maleficent is not evil - with the proof coming from three scenes (for me): when Maleficent helps to feed the Princess Aurora (after her appointed nannies are shown to be inadequate for the task), when Maleficent saves the life of the Princess Aurora (after she falls off a cliff) and when Maleficent later realises, that she is indeed, Princess Aurora's Fairy Godmother (as is pointed out by the Princess Aurora, herself!). On the other hand, I found the development of King Stefan's character to be somewhat ironic (as he was supposed to be the Hero): from a young King (who wants to protect his daughter), to an older King (who becomes consumed with the idea of revenge - using his Knights to hunt Maleficent down), to an uncaring King (who wishes to exploit a weakness of Fairies - the fact that Iron burns them), and eventually, to an insane King (who ignores both his wife, and his daughter - being concerned only with vengeance - for a wrong, that was started by him, in the first place!). I enjoyed the comedy that's found within this film - especially when some mud hits Maleficent in the face: as a result of Aurora having a mud-fight, with some Toad-like Fantasy Creatures (called Wallerbogs). I also found laughter in the scenes that revolve around Aurora's three appointed nannies (the Fairies Knotgrass, Flittle and Thistlewit) - as Maleficent causes them to have some disagreements (such as when it rains inside their cottage). When it comes to the Princess Aurora, I was impressed by the consistency of her character: as, no matter her age - she cares for the animals and woodland, and it is this that has the biggest influence on Maleficent (as Aurora steals what was left of her Heart). I also enjoyed the twist that surrounds Aurora's True Love's Kiss - especially when you realise, just who Aurora's True Love is! What about the sidekicks? My favourite has to be Diaval - a Raven that Maleficent saves from death (at the hands of a human), who becomes her Eyes within the Kingdom of Men. The Raven does not stop there though - as he befriends Aurora (by rocking her cradle), and is something of a shape-shifter, as he turns into a Wolf, and eventually into a Fire Breathing Dragon (who helps to save Maleficent - from a net made of Iron). What about my favourite scenes? I have three: when Maleficent takes to the Sky (flying through some breathtaking scenery - beating her powerful Fairy Wings), when Maleficent first embraces the Dark (walking to the Moors in a darkened mood - uprooting rocks in her anger) and when Aurora visits the Moors in the Evening (meeting some Blue-Glowing Fairies - and seeing some Pink Will-o'-the-wisps). Overall: Maleficent is an amazing film! The storyline kept me glued to my seat - which is the opposite to what I had expected (as we all know that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger upon the Spindle of a Spinning Wheel). Yet, even knowing about the Spindle - does not diminish, the enjoyability of Maleficent, at all! And I should know, as I have now watched it five times, and it still seems just as Magical. I feel that Maleficent deserves to be watched in Blu-Ray/HD - as this is when the Moors, and the Mythical Creatures, come Truly to Life (I just love the clarity of the Night Time Moors, when viewed in Blu-Ray/HD). This is a film that made me feel that I was flying high above the clouds, and as such, it has stolen my Heart!
Belief in a day, with milk and cookies, steam in the air, with presents galore:
It's Christmas Eve when a young hero boy decides he no longer believes in Santa Claus - yet what's that outside his bedroom window? With a puff of smoke, and a blast of snow, a steam train arrives: The Polar Express - a quest for belief in Santa Claus and a trip to the North Pole! My favourite scene is when the train stops on a frozen lake - as the train has to undertake some impressive manoeuvring (when the lake starts to crack), including some high-speed sliding (to get back on track). I especially like it when the train wheels dig-in and throw ice/snow up into the air! My second favourite scene occurs just before, when the train rides Glacier Gulch - as it reminds me of being on a roller-coaster with a big drop (having to hold on tight!). My favourite musical scene is when the hot chocolate refreshments are brought out - as there's tap dancing waiters and somersaulting chefs, with cups/saucers and hot chocolate flying through the air, which when combined with a catchy tune, had me both foot-tapping and struggling to get the tune out of my head. My second favourite musical scene is when the lonely boy starts to sing on the back of the train - as he is soon joined by the hero girl, who together, sing a heart-warming song about Christmas/Santa Claus (complete with magical lights in the sky - depicting Christmas). My favourite character has to be the Conductor - as although he (presumably) works for Santa Claus, he comes across as being somewhat strict: all tickets have to be stamped, and those passengers without a ticket get thrown off the train (or at least, that's what the young know-it-all believes!). I find it comical with the way in which the tickets are punched, and I especially love that scene where the hero girls ticket falls off the train, yet with an amazing journey of its own (involving wolves and bald-headed eagles), eventually ends up back on the train! My favourite (comical) character has to be the young know-it-all as he is quick to appoint blame (who pulled the emergency brake? He did!), is opinionated with his own theories (there's no-way this train was on the ice) and is some-what nosey/ungrateful (going through Santa's sack, only finding a pair of lousy socks!). I like the way in which Santa's Elves have been depicted: small, green leggings, with red tops and hats, little brown pixie boots, and several specialists (such as the Flying Elves). I also like the city that's at the North Pole - as its something of a labyrinth, with all sorts of production and delivery facilities, yet at the same time, still reminds me of a snow-ball paperweight! Overall: I feel that this is an enjoyable Christmas tale, which combines amazing effects (such as realistic snow), with some important topics (such as learning to trust others). I like the fact that this film goes to great lengths to illustrate one point: that just because you don't see something, doesn't mean it isn't there! Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas to you all!
Dreams for a day, with laughing in mud, magic for quill, with haircuts to go:
I like the fact that this film is about being happy with what you've got (and remembering to live in the present) - rather than attempting to recapture your past. Shrek has become bored with his daily/repetitive routine (getting up, changing nappies, with no peace or quite to himself) and longs to return to the good old days (when he was able to scare the townspeople/villagers). Fortunately, there's an individual within Far Far Away that can help him with this: Rumpelstiltskin - the Shepard of your dreams! Unfortunately, Rumpelstiltskin has his own agenda: he wishes that Shrek had never been born - and when a deal is struck (for Shrek to be a real ogre again), it is Shrek that loses out. My favourite scene is when Shrek rides a broomstick through the castle of Far Far Away - as he is chased by witches, having to dodge both stairways and pumpkins, whilst finding myself foot-tapping to that catchy tune! My favourite (short) comedy scene is when Shrek grabs a witches broomstick - as the witch continues to fly, eventually ending up embedded in a tree trunk (with her legs hanging out - kicking). My favourite (short) cute/cuddly scene is when Shrek and family are flying along on the back of Dragon - as Dragon now has some seats installed on her back (to help keep Farkle, Fergus and Felicia safe), yet at the same time, there is also irony as they land: don't eat the valet! I love the atmosphere within this film - as its somewhat darker: first in terms of its characters (such as Rumpelstiltskin), then in terms of its locations (such as the Crone's Nest carriage park) and finally in terms of its lighting (with many subtle effects having been produced through the use of lanterns and torches). I was most amused by the changes in the character of Puss in Boots - especially the fact that he has put on weight! He would rather sit around drinking milk, than be out and about chasing mice (as he has now retired). I was also amused by the character of Rumpelstiltskin: he has numerous wigs to wear (business, angry or speech), he has a counter-approach to punishment (ignoring silly suggestions, whilst lashing out at sensible ones) and he sees himself as a goblet, is half-full, kind-of-guy (even when his socks have fallen down!). I approved of the cunning use of two trojan horses: the first is when the Pied Piper climbs out of a duck (to enchant the other ogres), and the second is when the ogres make use of a new glitter ball (to re-enter the castle). Overall: I feel that this films magic lies in the fact that it twists the standard (Shrek) storyline into something darker, whilst at the same time, reminding us all to be grateful for what we've got, and that even if we get what we wished for, that such wishes may be delivered in an unexpected fashion! I also liked the idea that we can be responsible for saving ourselves (from our own problems) and that you can be happy (both by yourself and with others). A fitting conclusion to the characters of Shrek!
Desires to be King, with rivers of mud, catch him I will, with pitter and patter:
I like the fact that this film is about having faith/trust in yourself - rather than listening to the opinions/negativity of others. As King Harold is taken ill, Shrek finds that his marriage comes with responsibilities: he is expected to act as the King. Unfortunately, with the Knighting of a Knight, and the Christening of a Ship, Shrek soon realises that an Ogre is not best suited to the role: so he sets out on a quest - to find the one remaining heir, Arthur. My favourite comedy scene is when Shrek/Fiona are dressed to look the part of King and Queen - as an itch causes a buckle to hit Donkey in the face, which in turn sees Shrek's trousers falling down, eventually leading to a tapestry catching fire, with Donkey licking his lips at some kebabs! My second favourite comedy scene is when Donkey/Puss in Boots end up swapping bodies - as Donkey stumbles along (wondering how Puss can walk in his boots), whilst Puss contends with an eeyore sound (struggling to control it). I also like the fact that these two characters continue to act as themselves (after the swap): Puss still attempts to use his soppy eyes, whilst Donkey still expects his kids to recognise him! My third favourite comedy scene is when Princess Fiona escapes from the castle cells - as two contrasting courses of action are taken: the first sees the Princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Rapunzel) adopting the damsel-in-distress position (i.e. utterly useless), whilst the second sees Queen Lillian smashing through walls (using her forehead!). The film benefits from the fact that both Arthur, and Merlin, are portrayed in ways that I did not expect. Arthur is a young lad (as opposed to a man), who gets picked on by others (the butt of many a joke) and does not believe in his abilities to become King (until Shrek helps him). Merlin is a bungling Wizard (as opposed to the pinnacle of his trade), who is thought to have suffered a nervous breakdown (whilst teaching at Worcestershire high-school) and does not believe that he has much magic left (until Arthur persuades him). I almost fell off the sofa (whilst laughing) at the scene where Merlin plays the Piano (after suddenly appearing next to Captain Hook). I also enjoyed the two ways in which Snow White is portrayed: the first sees her calm and placid (singing to the birds), whilst the second sees her determined and focused (using her animals to defeat two trees). My brain was fried by that crazy Pinocchio logic scene! Overall: I'm impressed that this film takes something that is different (the Villains of Far Far Away), gives them a common goal (to help Prince Charming), yet ends up showing that their not-so-different (after all). I also think that the storyline does a great job at conveying two important messages. The first: that the only opinion that matters (about you) is your own. The second: that the main person stopping you from doing things - is yourself.