Tag Archives: Charlize Theron

Review Kubo and the Two Strings by Jonathan Evans

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(5 / 5)

 

As our main character tells us at the start of the movie “Blink and you might miss something.” If you do blink you will miss one of the frames that have been conceived, crafted and filmed through intelligence, love and enthusiasm from the people at Laika. Kubo is a film that’s the whole package, it has color, laughs, visuals, tears and action.

Kubo is a child that lives on a mountains edge with his mother that suffers from a damaged memory. During the day he goes down to the village where he plays his shamisen which manipulates the paper into origami to tell his stories, the main story is about the great warrior Hanzo and his legendary three pieces of armour, however he never finishes his tales. He must return home before night so that his evil aunts and grandfather will never find them.

So naturally that’s exactly what happens. His aunts (Rooney Mara) are the first to arrive and before they can take him, his mother performs a spells that takes him far away. He wakes to find a white, talking baboon sitting by him telling him they have to move. She is simply named Monkey (Charlize Theron), they move across the icy mountain and through non-forced exposition and fun banter now understand that Kubo must retrieve the three pieces of the armour. While traveling Kubo then meets a large creature that looks like a man, but encased in black armour that resembles a beetle so he is named Beetle (Mathew McConaughey). He knows that he was a samurai warrior, but was cursed and is in the form he is in now and only has pieces of who he was. But he still has his skill’s as a warrior and his memory’s have a connection to Kubo’s father so he joins them on their journey.

But beyond the cuteness and likability of its characters is also the talented script-writing. Where everything has a point and comes back in the end. Having funny jokes is good, but its real talent when you can take those jokes and make them seeds for future character reveals and important plot points where you are able to tell that your with the professionals that earn they’re paycheck.

Laika as a studio is both recent and unique. They started in 2009 and have now produced four feature films, all stop motion. They are all family films but not light ones, no there films have had very dark shadows and monsters with claws and teeth. They are more like the movies of Don Bluth, where they understand you need to teach children about the stakes in life and give them entertainment that challenges as well as makes them laugh.

Probably the reason there is so many good things in this movie is because with stop motion literally nothing happens by accident. Everything from an expression, to a piece of hair moving has to be be manipulated by an animator. So everything that is not necessary and would save on hours upon hours of work is worked out and what is left is the spectacular and the necessary.

The way death is handled in this movie is permanent. There are real stakes and it makes everything so much sadder. This may be obvious but in children’s movies death has always been diluted, characters are either not really dead or they’re death is not total, as in they can come back or still be talked to as a ghost. Here there is a clear line of the living and the dead, this movie takes it on itself to tell children about death and not sugar-coat it.

If you know anything about the rigorous effort that goes into animation at all then you will appreciated nearly every second of this movie in some way. If you care for literally well-crafted stories then you’ll be satisfied. If you demand some more heartfelt messages that will nourish as well as entertain our children then this movie shall fill it.

Review The Huntsman: Winter’s War by Jonathan Evans

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If you know the previous movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a little of a prequel and a sequel to a movie that was also retelling a classic Grimm’s Fairy Tale. But when you simply look at it with non-subjective eyes it’s just another fantasy movie with all that entails.

We are told the story by an unnamed narrator (Liam Neeson) he tells of how there were two sisters. One was the evil queen we know (Charlize Theron) that would manipulate her way to power and the other her younger sister (Emily Blunt) that falls in love with one of the Kings and has a child with him. But when tragedy strikes the child her heart grows cold both figuratively and literally. This gives her the power of ice (because this is a magical world!), she then creates a kingdom up in frozen mountains where children are taken from their families and groomed to become her huntsmen. Of these children two of the best are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), over the years they fall in love and get married, but love is not tolerated in this Ice queens heart and she separates them.

Time passes and we now move forwards to the events after Snow White and the Huntsman. Eric is recruited by the king (Sam Claflin) to find and destroy the magic mirror that has slowly been driving Snow White mad. On his quest he eventually gains traveling companions, as one must when on any kind of quest! They exist to for exposition and have some witty repartee. There are four dwarfs. There is Nion (Nick Frost) returning from the last movie, Gryff (Rob Brydon) who’s really more interested in profit, Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) a Fe-male rough and tumble kind of dwarf and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) a well meaning although also air-headed individual that serves to balance out the groups personalities and dynamic.

Chris Hemsworth returns to play the role of Eric the Huntsman. He is a devil-may-care, swashbuckling hero, with a Scottish accent that should probably think-out his plans more but has a smile you just can’t resist. For a variety of reasons, Snow White is physically absent from the movie. She is mentioned at numerous times and seen briefly from the back in one scene. But the character and Kristen Stewart is absent from the film.

Though this film serves as a prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman it is still its own movie. We can gather from the storytelling exposition earlier on what the characters situations are and the kind of world this is.

While on their quest there is banter and conversations among the members, ranging from fun and sharply tongued to rather stupid. A shame because its a case of the weaker moments of poor writing letting the other moments down when we know there could be better material. But the actors are able to remain dynamic throughout and are clearly having fun with it.

Although greatly decreased from the last movie Winters War still comes with it’s own share of unique visuals to the fantasy genre. There are a few moments of unique visuals in the movie (you’ve never seen Goblins like these) and also a few clever moments. But to compare it with the original, it is much less bountiful to the eye.

This is director Cedric Nicolas- Troyan’s first film but he served on the second unit on the first Snow White movie and Maleficent so he knows how to make this movie feel like the others. It’s fine as a first full-length feature goes. Plenty of knowledgeable camerawork, able to get the hammy but controlled performances from his actors.

Parts of it are refined from the last movie, like the performances while other moments are lacking like the visuals. But this really is another fantasy movie with a few neat ideas and at times clever visuals and characterization along with a few performances that are at least memorable. It’s a good-looking movie that has fun with what it is.