Wallace and Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Review (SPOILERS!)

Hi guys!

Okay, so I watched this last night with my family and all I can start with is I LOVE THIS FILM! Wallace and Gromit has always been a warm presence in my childhood, as well as most of Aardman films, such as Chicken Run. I can’t remember it not being in my life thanks to the TV shorts playing all the time and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this film a hundred times but for me it never gets old! It’s a nostalgic gem for me, and will always be one of my favourite childhood films 🙂

So, in the duo’s first feature film (and I really hope they do another one soon!), Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit have started a pest control business and find themselves employed by Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to help find a were rabbit destroying the town’s crops before the vegetable competition takes place, whilst Tottington’s pompous boyfriend Lord Victor Quatermaine (Ralph Fiennes) fights for her affection with Wallace. Due to Wallace’s own mind experiment going wrong, it turns out that he himself is the were rabbit, so it’s all up to Gromit to save his master before the town find out!

The animation in the film, as expected from Aardman, is absolutely fantastic. Every frame is rich with detail and beautiful clay models of the characters we all know and love. There are some clever, funny visual gags used in a lot of the scenes which many children will not pick up on and are obviously intended for the grown-up audiences, so it’s quite amusing for me to watch it as an adult and pick up on the sense of humour. However, there’s plenty of ‘cheesy’, slapstick humour for the children in the audience, and even then it isn’t the over-the-top, in the face type, it will probably get the adults laughing too. I also absolutely love the sets in this film. Since this is a full-length feature film, the sets are much grander and on a bigger scale than those used in the original classic shorts. Every time I watch the film, I always get caught up in the typical British countryside village or town and living in Yorkshire makes it easy to relate to and admire. As always, the best part of the animation for me, has to be the way Nick Park and his team animate Gromit; the character doesn’t speak a word and yet his facial expressions such as a roll of the eyes, are enough to tell the audience what he is thinking and create a perfectly relatable, endearing character in the midst of the madness.

Another stand-out for me is the brilliant use of camera work and lighting to build up the suspense of the big reveal that Wallace is in fact the were-rabbit, and although fairly predictable for the adult audiences, it isn’t too obvious so you’re always invested in the plot, and with delightfully entertaining characters like Wallace and Gromit, you’re always going to be entertained. The film cleverly ensures that the audience don’t see the were-rabbit until a full transformation scene, with a great use of dark lighting and blocked out camera use so we only see a few shots of the creature before we see him fully transform. Of course, the plot does seem pretty silly, but what works is that the creators already know this and some of the characters make fun of the whole idea of a giant rabbit destroying vegetables, such as a policeman voiced by the hilarious Peter Kay and, of course, Ralph Fiennes’ Victor.

Another element I must mention is the incredibly EPIC score by Hans Zimmer. Whilst writing this review, I’m currently listening to it now, and it makes perfect sense that Zimmer composed the score. As usual, he has done a fine job here and I simply can’t imagine the film without it, it fully enhances the action scenes and adds an element of charm to the film. The stand-out for me is the main theme of the film, which plays at the beginning when the duo go on one of their pest control missions, and the montage of them getting ready is just fantastic, the music really inviting the audience to feel excited and ready for the adventure to come.

The voice cast do a splendid job, with very British voices making the film all the more relatable and charming to me. Peter Kay is always a win, his role is minor here but every line he delivers is hilarious and Fiennes and Bonham Carter do a very good job with their roles too. Of course, Peter Sallis does a great job as always, with his warm, eccentric voice perfectly capturing the adventurous, caring character of Wallace.

Amongst all of these elements and the nostlagia factor, I think what keeps me returning to this film is the huge sense of heart and the endearing relationship between Wallace and his dog, Gromit. There’s just something about a dog having to save his master from himself that always gets me invested and entertained. The relationship between the two is touching and they clearly care a lot for each other, even when Gromit has to go along with the bad inventions that Wallace makes and deal with the consequences on his own, but that’s just what makes him such an engaging character: his sense of loyalty and commitment to his master. Along with the witty banter that goes on between them (even if Gromit doesn’t say a word), my favourite scene that encapsulates their relationship has to be when Gromit saves Wallace as the were-rabbit from being shot by Victor, but then loses control of the fairground plane and before he crashes, Wallace catches him and hits the ground instead, therefore killing himself as the rabbit. That scene has always moved me, even though it is arguably a little over the top and cheesy, depending on your mood it is likely to engage you. And it’s really sad to see Gromit cry for a few seconds before Wallace wakes up as a human and everything is okay! Of course, we already knew it would be a happy ending 🙂

So! Wallace and Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will always be one of my favourite childhood films, and probably just one of my favourites in general. The film is saturated in beautiful animation, a great sense of suspense with an hilarious plot which is very self-aware, an epic music score, fitting voice cast and wonderful emotional moments that leave me smiling or tearing up. All in all, I love this film and would recommend it to anyone at all, whether you’re five years old or fifty, you’re bound to enjoy this film. It is truly a fine example of what Aardman can do 🙂

 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review (Spoiler free!)

Hey peeps! Yesterday, I was finally able to watch Fantastic Beasts because I wasn’t able to see it in cinemas. Being a big fan of the Harry Potter universe, with both the books and films making a huge impact on my life, I was looking forward to this new spin off film. I haven’t read the book under the same name as the film, so had no idea what to expect going in but from the spoiler free reviews I’d watched beforehand, it seemed like a good addition to the Harry Potter franchise 🙂

So Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in the 1920’s, seventy years before Harry Potter ever reads the book and follows the author, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who has a fascinating love of magical creatures which he keeps hidden in an enchanted old suitcase. Unfortunately, when he visits New York, some of the creatures go missing and he manages to get his suitcase mixed up with one that belongs to a No-Maj (the American slang for Muggles) Jacob and Newt has to find them all before they cause chaos to New York.

So Fantastic Beasts was directed by David Yates again, who also directed Harry Potter films 5-7, who I thought did a pretty good job on those films, but not particularly in terms of book to film adaptations. What I liked about this film was that the story was about the author of the book and the screenplay was written by J K Rowling, so there wasn’t any adaptation errors to worry about here. The film looks fantastic! Throughout the 2hr 13 minute running time, I thought the cinematography and colours were used very well and represented 1920’s New York accurately. Although, I did think the lighting was a tad too dark in many scenes which really took me out of the film at some points, because it was too hard to actually see actors’ faces.

I thought the character of Newt was very likeable as an awkward, bumbling introvert with a huge passion for caring for magical creatures and Eddie Redmayne was a perfect choice for him. I’m a massive fan of Eddie, I think he’s a really good actor and he presented an endearing character, handling the interactions with the CGI creatures with believable love and devotion, and his emotional scenes very well. But the one who stole the show for me was Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski as the No-Maj who accidently gets roped into the fantasy, action adventure. His reactions to what was going on around him when encountering the magical beasts were absolutely hilarious and appropriate reactions to say the least. There was a funny scene when Newt climbed into his suitcase as if going down some stairs and it cut to Jacob’s reaction which was on the nose perfect, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it 😉

If I’m honest, I do think the other ‘good’ characters, which consisted of witch sisters Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) could have done with more character development. I found them to be quite flat characters, not at all unlikable but for me, simply lacked motivations, ambitions and rounded personalities. Especially because Porpentina acts as Newt’s love interest and the two even share a small moment at the end of the film, so I found it a bit disappointing that I didn’t feel too much emotion for the two, though there was definitely chemistry there between the actors. Since we are going to have about another 5 films in this series, I really hope these characters have more development and personality that matches the detail poured into the original trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

On the flip side, however, I thought Colin Farrell as Percival Graves was really good! He was very intimidating and chilling in his scenes, especially in the final act where the final battle takes place, but I promise not to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I will just say that J K Rowling never disappoints with her clever twists in the plot and this film includes a pretty predictable one but also one I honestly didn’t see coming. It’s handled really well and lead to an emotional climax. However, I did think that this film did sometimes suffer with pacing issues and balancing action with exposition scenes. There were times when it did drag between scenes and I was just waiting for some excitement again, so I thought the film could’ve done with a bit more editing and chopping down but it wasn’t noticeable for the whole time 🙂

Additionally, I did think the animation on the magical creatures was done very well. Most of the time the human eye can usually spot what is real and what isn’t, which of course is no exception here, but I really admire the detail and creative ideas that have gone into these creature designs, ranging from as small as a grasshopper to as big as a bus!

What did really surprise me most about the film was the dark and depressing tone it had towards the end! I wasn’t expecting it to be similar to the Harry Potter films anyway since it follows a cast of mature adults in 1920’s, so I suspected that it would be a tad darker in places, but didn’t expect it to be quite depressing during the climax! I did think it was handled well with good performances by the actors and a moving score by James Newton Howard, but as I mentioned before, I thought the film could’ve done with being edited to appear a little brighter.

All in all, I thought Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a really promising start to the new franchise on it’s way and to any Harry Potter fan who is worried about watching this film, I would definitely recommend for the excellently executed action scenes, detailed creature designs, good performances by the actors and more magic!

Moana Review

Hello peeps! So I’m trying to post regularly to get a good system going so here goes 🙂

A few months ago I went to see Disney’s latest CG animated film, Moana, with a friend and I have to admit it was one of my best cinema experiences in a long time. I remember coming out and turning into the biggest fangirl I think I’ve ever been for a Disney film, I just couldn’t wait to watch it again and show it to my other friends and family to see what they thought and to double check whether the film was actually as good as I initially thought it was.

Moana is about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, she meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.

So today I watched Moana again on DVD (which of course I ordered on the day it came out) and unsurprisingly loved it just as much as the first time! This film is a great example of what Disney has achieved recently, not just in beautifully rendered animation but also having a more modern take on an independent female lead and a focus on a different culture which we haven’t seen too much of from them. Of course they did Princess and the Frog, but it was really nice to see another film respecting and admiring other cultures that are different to the traditional Western representation in most of their films.

Of course, many people have been reminded of Frozen when watching this film and for obvious reasons, with a strong female lead, musical numbers and funny sidekicks. And I definitely think it shows Disney is taking a step in the right direction. The characters, especially the main leads Moana and Maui, are very likeable and well developed with their dialogue coming off as hilarious when the two have to get along and soon an endearing friendship blossoms between the two. It’s also nice to see that Moana never gains a love interest in the film, for the majority of the time, the film focuses on her individual quest and her strong, but relatably adventurous personality that bounces off Maui’s arrogance and wit perfectly. There’s a great balance of humour and emotion as their friendship develops, with a delightful script that will entertain both children and adults.

I’ve seen many comments comparing Moana’s ‘How Far I’ll Go’ to Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ and to be honest, I can see why. This film’s main theme, sung beautifully by Auli’i Cravalho, not only captures the adventurous and daring character, but also invites the audience along on her epic journey to save her people. Speaking of Auli’i, it was nice to see when I watched behind the scenes footage, that Disney chose an actress originally from Hawaii to match the nationality of Moana, which I thought made her the perfect choice. She made a fantastic job at capturing Moana’s adventure, determination and quirky side and a powerful, promising performance in ‘How Far I’ll Go’. I also really liked Dwayne Johnson as Mauii, who was really good at capturing the typical arrogant, carefree character, whilst also packing a lot of power into ‘Your Welcome’. The two bounced off eachother so well I was actually surprised that they didn’t film their lines together! Another nod must go to Rachel House, who provided a calm, sweet voice to Gramma Tala, and was a welcoming extra to the film to provide support and love for her granddaughter, Moana.

There are so many sequences in this film that are stunning to watch. The animation on the water was essential to look good since the water is a character in itself, and it didn’t disappoint! So much creativity and effort has obviously gone into this film to make everything look as realistic as possible. This even included characters’ hair movements, especially Moana’s which looked incredibly realistic. Without giving anything away, I must say that the final confrontation towards the end was my personal favourite scene in the whole film because of the gorgeous animation and the moving musical score perfectly woven in underneath.

Anyone who hasn’t seen Moana yet I would definitely recommend you watch it! Without trying to exaggerate too much, it’s definitely one of the best films I’ve seen recently with memorable, relatable characters, a terrific musical score, talented voice actors, a strong story and female lead, and stunning animation-a must-see for Disney fans and anyone!