Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disney Fun Day- Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is a 1964 musical starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns. Julie Andrews plays Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who comes to work for the unhappy Banks family. The unruly children Jane and Michael Banks regularly drive their nannies away with their messy habits and tendency to escape for unsupervised adventures in the park. Their distant banker father decides to take the task of hiring a new nanny away from his distracted suffragette wife, but the children write their own job description, which mysteriously flies up the chimney and directly to Mary Poppins.

I love this movie. It charming, delightful, and full of magic and it still holds up for children today especially considering it was made nearly 50 years ago. The story it is based upon was actually written nearly 80 years ago! Most people are now aware of the fact that this Disney movie was based upon the book series written by P.L. Travers. Walt Disney actually spent 20 years working to acquire the rights to produce this movie, a story that will be brought to the big screen this December in Saving Mr. Banks. I am beyond thrilled to see this movie! Tom Hanks looks like he will be a wonderful Walt Disney, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the story of how Mary Poppins came to be. I do know that P.L. Travers was ultimately disappointed with the final result and felt it was a betrayal to her books. Though I can’t yet understand how anyone could hate Mary Poppins, I am looking forward to seeing a little more of Travers’ side of the story. But I am getting side tracked!! Back to Mary Poppins!

The music in Mary Poppins is delightful and the dancing is superb. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are an incredibly talented and wonderful pair! Remember the robin Mary Poppins sings with while cleaning up the nursery? That is Julie Andrews whistling! Another interesting musical fact, the song “The Beautiful Briny Sea” sung by David Tomlinson and Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks was originally written for Mary Poppins. In the P.L. Travers stories Mary Poppins takes the children on many adventures, including to the bottom of the sea! The song was ultimately cut from Mary Poppins and though I would have loved to see Mary Poppins bring Jane and Michael on more adventures, I feel that this song in particular is much better suited to the Island of Naboombu! 

I've spent a significant amount of time trying to decide which song is my favourite from Mary Poppins, but it doesn't seem to be working! So instead of trying to pick one I like the best, I've decided to include one of the most incredible routines I've ever watched "Step in Time!". The choreography, the set design, and even the pyrotechnics combine to make this show stopping number!

But Mary Poppins isn't just a musical joy as there was also incredible work put into combining the live-action with the animation such as the entire sequence within the chalk drawing. My favourite part of this is actually the carousel. This was an actual carousel that was built and painted to look like it was animated. The close up of the carousel operator is a close up of the actually carousel with the animation overlaid for the operator and the shadows passing him! Though, Bert’s interaction with the fox is also pretty darn incredible. All around there is just so much incredible attention to detail!! And we can't forget about the beautiful views of the city. These matte paintings were created by Peter Ellenshaw on large sheets of glass with holes cut to allow light to be shone through, illuminating the city. 

Now of course, I do have some problems with this movie but they are purely personal. I want to know more about Mary and Bert. What is there backstory? How do they know each other? Will they actually see each other again? I want details!! But there is one moment I know a lot of people took exception to- that Mary Poppins refused to tell the children she loved them. But I must say that I actually never had this issue which is weird for anyone that knows me. But I seemed to always be OK with the fact that Mary was there to fix the family, not become a part of it. She was there to show Mr. Banks the wonderful gift he had right in front of him.  

What I also love about this movie is that it brings together so many wonderful actors. My favourite type of movie are the ones with people in them I love so much that as soon as I finish watching I start looking for another movie with them in it, simply because I'm not finished! And then of course there is the fact that I'm just not ready to let go of that Disney magic!! And so I'd like to share my list of movies I'd like see again having watched Mary Poppins, though not all of them are Disney! I highly recommended everyone check out at least some of these incredible finds!

Ellie- 10/10

Mary Poppins is a magical story that draws me in every time I watch it. What is your favourite part of Mary Poppins? Leave a comment or

Friday, November 22, 2013

What's New?

Released on DVD this Tuesday

Tuesday, November 26
Click here to check out any of the trailers for these movies.

Retired C.I.A agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

Coming to Theatres Next Wednesday

Wednesday, November 27
Click here to check out any of the trailers for these movies.

Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

A former DEA agent moves his family to a quiet town, where he soon tangles with a local meth drug lord.

A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey.

Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked up in solitary confinement for 20 years without reason. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused is a 1993 film that chronicles a group of teenagers experiencing the last day of school before summer break. The film is set in 1976, and stars an ensemble cast of actors and actresses that would become high-profile actors in the coming years. Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Jason London, Adam Goldberg, Rory Cochrane, and Joey Lauren Adams are just some of those involved with the film.

The film takes place during the last day of high school, and focuses on two specific groups – the juniors who will become seniors at the end of the school day, and the incoming freshman. The juniors are excited to embrace being the kings and queens of the school, and are eager to haze the incoming freshmen. One of the key members of this group is Randall “Pink” Floyd, the school’s star quarterback. Much of the film focuses on Pink and his growing friendship with Mitch, the freshman brother of one of Pink’s close friends. Mitch is anxious to enter high school, and him and his friends attempt to avoid the newly crowned seniors throughout the day.

Throughout the film, the new seniors attempt to hunt down and haze all of the incoming freshman, in order to welcome them to high school. While this sort of thing is no longer encouraged today, I found it extremely funny watching all of the seniors scour the town for the “fresh meat”.  Some of the punishments were just demeaning, especially the senior girl’s surprise for the freshman girls.

Because the film is set in 1976, it is only natural to include some of the best songs from the era in the soundtrack. Bands such as Foghat and Lynard Skynard are featured throughout the movie, and really add to the party theme. Music is a big aspect of any film, and I really felt that the music in Dazed and Confused helped put the audience into the time period.

Dazed and Confused has long been my favourite movie. It is a coming of age film that really just shows how teenagers don’t always want to grow up; they simply want to have fun. One of my favourite aspects of the film is its low-key drama…the biggest problem on the minds of the teenagers is whether they should get Aerosmith tickets. While it does not focus on heavy-handed drama, the plot still flows well, making the movie enjoyable. The only complaint I have ever had about the film was Mitch’s insistence on playing with his hair… drives me nuts. Other than that, this film is simply awesome. Watch it.

Cody- 10/10

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first movie of a trilogy based on the bestselling books written by Suzanne Collins. This movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Stanley Tucci as Casar Flickerman, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and surrounds the events of the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games take place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem and involves 1 male and 1 female tribute between the ages of 12 and 18 being selected to participate in the annual Hunger Games. This selection is made during The Reaping which is essentially a lottery process set up in each of the 12 districts to select 2 Tributes from each district, for a total of 24 participants. Based on this annual event The Hunger Games film follows Katniss Everdeen as she becomes a Tribute and her journey surviving the Hunger Games.


As someone who has only ever seen the movie and never touched any of the books I am unable to comment on anything regarding differences or similarities however because of the books I was at first hesitant to see this movie. The Hunger Games arrived after all of the Twilight hype originally in theaters, so then I heard about the popularity of this book I assumed that it was just another one of those types of stories. However after seeing the initial trailers for this film I realized that I would be seeing it in theaters and it did not disappoint. Watching this movie again for this review I was not disappointed, The Hunger Games is an all around good movie. 

I could easily sit here and rip this movie apart over minor things or defend the movie from all the criticism, just like any other movie, but I think when it comes down to it this movie is an all around good movie. I find it annoying how some people will try to compare all movies on the same standard, and with The Hunger Games being a big blockbuster film I think it is just that. The story is interesting and easy to follow, the action is interesting, and visually it looks stunning. 

Maybe it’s just Jennifer Lawrence, but this movie is one of those movies that I can watch over again without being bored to tears. It generally moves at a strong pace and anytime it slows down I at least have Jennifer Lawrence to look at. This isn't to say this movie is only good because she is in it, but she certainly was a very strong cast for this movie. 

The problem for me though while watching this movie was that it left me wanting to know more, and being that I have never read the books I am left waiting for Catching Fire to come out. Now I could just read the books, but I read comic books and have enough of those to catch up on, so I am rather excited to see Catching Fire to continue this story.

Chris – 8/10 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Condemned

The Condemned stars Steve Austin as Jack Conrad, a former member of the United States army who is imprisoned in El Salvador. At the beginning of the film, he is "purchased" by a company along with nine other criminals. The company is led by Ian Breckel, who has purchased these criminals to take part in a battle to the death. This event will be broadcast over the internet, and the survivor will be granted his/her freedom. All of the contestants are forced into this event, and are fitted with explosive ankle bracelets that will explode if there is not a sole survivor after thirty hours. The rest of the film follows Conrad as he attempts to survive the game.

The film brings up an interesting question of morality. Many people find Breckel’s idea to be despicable, and find that airing this content is the equivalent of a global snuff film. However, he argues that these criminals are already condemned; they are set to die anyway, so should he not be a hero for letting one of them have the opportunity to survive? A number of people oppose Breckel, including members of his own crew, who initially support the idea until they see it in action. While many of the members of the crew are excited for the game to begin, they get a quick dose of reality when they realize these criminals are not simply going to act civilized. Some of the rape scenes are difficult to watch at times, and the amount of brutality between the criminals is excessive.

The film itself suffers from a number of issues. The entire FBI side plot seemed disconnected in relation to the events on the island. We are not given a real reason why this FBI agent is so invested in the case of Jack Conrad, and for the most part it does not seem to fit with the rest of the story. Also, throughout the film Breckel mentions how many millions of viewers are currently watching the battle to the death take place. Other than Jack’s friends at the bar, the film lacks any scenes to show how the world is reacting to Breckel’s game. We are led to believe that while many people oppose his tactics, the majority are tuning in to the game. Even a simple scene showing people around the world watching the game would have helped solve this issue.

Jack is also able to infiltrate the crew’s base way too easily. They just released ten, dangerous, murderous criminals on an island, and they don’t have a ridiculous amount of preventive measures to ensure their own personal safety? Guard dogs, a battalion of armed guards - even a fence that can actually keep people out would have been nice.

The Condemned is a nice action flick, but the number of issues with the film prevent it from being a truly enjoyable movie.

Cody- 6/10

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Disney Fun Day- The Nightmare Before Christmas

This weekend I had a hard time deciding what movie to watch. I am still feeling some residual Halloween holiday movies, but Christmas is quickly approaching and I've already made a list of those holiday movies I plan to watch this year. With these mixed holiday feelings there seemed to be only one movie to choose… The Nightmare Before Christmas!

Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman and Chris Sarandon) longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!

This is another of those movies that I didn't see until I was older, and haven't really watched since. I was honestly really creeped out by all the monsters even as a young adult and I really wasn't all that fond of Santa being kidnapped! But watching it again this week I was able to see the movie in a new light. Especially now that I fully understand the workings of stop-motion animation, I was blown away by the skill that went into making this movie. Below is part one of a really great behind the scenes video for the making of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is a little long (25 minutes in 3 parts) but is definitely worth a watch! Did you know there were over 400 heads made for Jack Skellington? They were changed out to make his various expressions throughout the movie. So much work and such unbelievable skill!

The musical numbers in this movie are awesome! They are both gruesome and hopeful, a perfect match for the film. My two favourites are the classic "This is Halloween" and "Kidnap the Sandy Claws". I understand that it is odd that one of my favourite songs is one of the reasons I didn't like the movie the first time I saw it. All I can say is that I found it really catchy and found myself singing it for hours after the movie was done!  Even though I do still find Lock, Shock, and Barrel very scary they do make one good musical number!

What I love most about Jack is his enthusiasm. Sure, he lets things get a little out of control by trying to take over Christmas. But he does it with his full heart- no holding back! And once he finally realizes the error of his ways, he immediately takes action to set things right. And Jack has got some serious skills! It was very impressive watching him avoid the traps set by Oogie Boogie!

I also love the finale. In true Christmas spirit Santa helps bring Christmas to the citizens of Halloweentown, even though they kidnapped him and attempted to take over Christmas. Everyone is able to experience Jack's wonder and excitement over something new and different. Then there is of course the beautiful finale between Jack and Sally. Who doesn't love a happily ever after?!

Honestly though, this isn't one of my all-time favourite movies. I'm not sure if it's just my lack of nostalgic connection to the film, but while I find it entertaining it isn't a movie I'm going to sit down and watch for anything other than a special holiday movie once in a while. But the world Tim Burton has created is so wonderfully unique and the characters that inhabit it are both terrific and terrifying. It is because of this that I do enjoy the film, though it is mainly because of my appreciation of the amazing talent that went into making this work of art.

Ellie- 7/10

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week 9 Films

This week The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released in theaters. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, the sequel continues where the first film left off, as Katniss is once again thrust into the Hunger Games arena. The film also welcomes the return of Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody HarrelsonElizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Donald Sutherland.

This week we will be reviewing the first Hunger Games film, as well as The Condemned. Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, a young teenager who is chosen in a lottery to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games competition. The Hunger Games is a survival-based competition, where competitors are pitted in a battle to the death.

The Condemned stars Steve Austin as a condemned prisoner who is purchased to star in a television show. The show features ten convicted prisoners who must fight each other to the death, with the winner receiving their freedom in addition to a cash prize. Vinnie Jones also stars in the film as one of the other prisoners.

Excited for The Hunger Game: Catching Fire? Tweet us @moviereviewclub!

Friday, November 15, 2013

What's New?

Released on DVD this Tuesday

Tuesday, November 19
Click here to check out any of the trailers for these movies.

A DEA agent and naval intelligence officer find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew the other was an undercover agent.

Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Klark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.

Coming to Theatres Next Friday

Friday, November 22
Click here to check out any of the trailers for these movies.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

An affable underachiever finds out he’s fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit to reveal his identity.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday- Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, Trains & Automobiles tells the story of Neal Page, a man who just wants to get home for Thanksgiving. After a series of unfortunate events he finds himself searching for other means of transportation home for the holidays with only an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman as his companion.

I was not sure what to expect with this movie. All I knew about it going in was that is stars Steve Martin and John Candy and that it is one of those movies I've heard mention of plenty of times and always intended to watch. I was a little worried when the movie first started. A "comedy of errors" movie has to be really well done for me to not just get fed up and irritated with the characters. Luckily Planes, Trains & Automobiles did not disappoint!

Steve Martin and John Candy were the perfect fit for their characters. In fact, they seemed to me to be just playing exaggerated versions of themselves instead of completely different characters. I definitely identified with Neal Page at the outset of the film. Del Griffith was a loud blabbermouth and not just a little gross. I actually had to turn down the sound when Del was "clearing his sinuses"! So I was right there with Neal when he first loses it… for about 10 seconds that is. Del was so completely crushed that my heart went right out to him. His ability to stay positive throughout the film, despite constant insults from Neal, is envious. The world would be a much better place if everyone were that generous!

My favourite scene in the movie would have to be Neal's rant at the car dealership. But it may not be for the reason you're thinking. Yes, we all have those customer service horror stories and I'm sure there have been multiple occasions when we would have liked to unleash a similar tirade. I work in customer service which means I am actually more critical of it as I understand what basic level of service that everyone should meet. However, I have also been on the receiving end of someone else's bad day and that is just not fair. So this scene is my favourite simply because of the employee’s response at the end! It is what I have wanted to say to countless customers over the years. Even though the audience is supposed to be empathizing with Neal, I felt very vindicated by this woman's cheerful put down! See the video below to enjoy the classic scene again!

I also love that when this movie was done I wanted to go watch Father of the Bride and Cool Runnings! I loved these people and wasn't ready to let them go. Though I did also want to watch The Flintstones after the sing-along on the bus!

This is a great Thanksgiving movie and I'm happy that I've finally seen it but I'm not sure that I will really be watching it again anytime soon. While there were very funny moments, it is not necessarily my type of comedy- not on a regular basis at least. Despite this, I do recommend everyone check out this movie as it can be just as touching as it can be funny.

Ellie- 8/10

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The King's Speech

The King’s Speech is a biographical drama set in the 1920’s-1930’s. It stars Colin Firth as Prince Albert, who suffers from a significant speech impediment. His wife Elizabeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter, enlists the help of Lionel Logue, a speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. The film chronicles the sessions between Albert and Lionel, and Albert's eventual ascension to King of the United Kingdom. The King’s Speech also features Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, and Timothy Spall in supporting roles.

The movie is primarily a drama focusing on the real events occurring prior to World War 2. Despite the dramatic angle, the film manages to add a slight dose of humour throughout, keeping the movie from feeling too dreary or dull. All three of the starring roles contribute to this, from Colin Firth’s dry wit, to Geoffrey Rush’s confident jests, and Helena Bonham Carter’s charming humour. The comedy in the film isn’t over-pronounced, but adds just enough to keep the film exciting and fresh.

In addition, all three starring roles portray their characters wonderfully. Colin Firth in particular does an excellent job at depicting Prince Albert as shockingly timid man, who experiences a lack of self-confidence due to his debilitating stammer. While many people experience stammers or stutters primarily during public speaking, Albert experiences his in everyday life. His interactions with his daughters are not exempt from his speech impediment, and Firth does an excellent job at conveying his disappointment and sadness.

It is interesting how in an era of films that climax with a heavy action sequence or intensely dramatic event, The King’s Speech builds up to….well, a speech, but still manages to be climactic. The film manages to build up the anticipation and firmly delivers an emotional climax. It does a great job of telling the story and making the audience realize the severity of the situation. The world is on the brink of World War Two, and the citizens of England need a voice to help calm their fears and inspire them. They need a strong voice that can unite them together and represent the confidence the country has in their efforts. Albert manages to give that to them with the help of Lionel, who inspires him along the way.

The King’s Speech manages to deliver as a solid film. It is a biographical drama, which can sometimes not translate well to the big screen; however, the movie manages to deliver a dramatic experience that stays interesting throughout the film.

Cody- 8/10

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World is the sequel to Marvel’s Thor and part of Marvel’s second phase initiative. It follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he deals with the aftermath of Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers as the destruction of the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge) has caused war to break out through the 9 Realms. As Thor battles to restore order an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that is stronger than any he has faced before Thor embarks on a journey that will reunited him with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

All in all this movie has no problems standing up with all of the other Marvel movies in their universe. Like other Marvel movies it has its very funny moments, and the bulk of this humour is led by Loki and his relationship with Thor. The humor in this film helps tone down the seriousness of their situations, but in away the helps highlight the characters flaws where in even the direst of situations they can still crack a joke. I think this does nothing but add to the characters because it adds a human element to them where they are not always being serious but can have relationships, make fun of each other, and share a laugh. Keep in mind however that the humor in this film is less about the characters telling each other jokes, and more about witty lines or funny scenarios geared towards making the audience laugh.

Can you imagine the make-up everyday
Aside from the humor I found that the plot took a back seat to the growth of characters in this film. In my opinion this is a good thing for Marvel to do with their solo films because they only have so much time to develop these characters. With comic books you have the opportunity to get multiple comics a year and have much more opportunity to explore characters, but with these big budget films there is much less time to show these characters growing. I would much rather see these characters grow in their solo movies then in a movie like The Avengers. This is not to say that the plot of this movie was not good, just that I found that the villain was down played to highlight Thor and his relationships.

As a whole I felt that this movie was visually amazing. I did not see it in 3D however because I have never felt that it has added much to films for me, but as you explore the different realms with Thor each one has its own distinct look and feel. So much more of the movie takes place in Asgard and you finally get to see more of it.

He may be one of the most popular villains in movies today
But if I keep going on I’m probably going to give something away, so I’m just going to say go see this movie. If you liked the last Thor or The Avengers you will most likely enjoy this movie. As far as sequels go I feel that this movie is just as good, if not better then Thor. A must see!

Chris -9/10

             *Keep an eye out for some great cameo’s and also the 2 after credit scenes. One half ways through the credits and one at the very end, they are both worth waiting for.