Maggie’s Plan (DVD Review)

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15 – 95mins – 2015


QUAKER OATS

Indie queen Greta Gerwig is perfectly cast as vibrantly independent but controlling thirty-something Maggie in director Rachel Miller’s adaptation of Karen Rinaldi’s short story. An emboldened intellect determined to have a child despite having never managed to hold down a relationship that lasted beyond half a year, Maggie strikes up a complicated friendship with married anthropology professor and father-of-two John (Ethan Regression Hawke). Complicated because it soon blossoms into more than just a friendship at the same time Maggie is attempting artificial insemination…

… Keep Scuttling!

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Power Rangers (Cinema Review)

12A – 124mins – 2017


 

MORPHING THE MORPHERS

“Alpha, Rita’s escaped. Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude,” Zordon instructed at the beginning of every episode of Saban’s phenomenally successful mid-90s appropriation of footage from Japan’s Super Sentai series. But, if truth be told, the five Mighty Morphin’ teens lacked any kind of edge; they were clean-cut do-gooders who vanquished evil, taught bullies a lesson and saved the environment without a cross word, mood swing or cuss between them.

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Sausage Party (Cinema Review)

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15 – 88mins – 2016


 

WIENER FEST

Ten minutes in to this Point Grey Pictures anthropomorphised-foodstuffs-make-crude-jokes-and-swear-lots CG ‘toon for those old enough to know better, I feared the (not so) cute concept would become very tired very quickly – particularly when devoid of the deliberate hoodwink of the jaw dropping Pixar-parodying trailer.

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The BFG (Cinema Review)

PG – 117mins – 2016 – 3D


 

A WHOOPSY-SPLUNKING ADVENTURE

“Human beans is not really believing in giants, is they? Human beans is not thinking we exist.”

A Steven Spielberg blockbuster is usually a safe bet – doubly so when he is re-teamed with ET scribe Melissa Mathison; triply so when working from the source material of the world’s number one storyteller. But my reservations before sitting down to this centenary-marking Roald Dahl adaptation last night came from growing up with repeated rewatches of Brian Cosgrove’s BAFTA-winning 1989 animated interpretation. Voiced by David Jason, it nailed the look and sound of the benevolent twenty-five foot high dreamcatcher in a way I feared a motion-captured Mark Rylance possibly could not.

Additionally, The BFG 2016’s trailers had me worried, as the titular Big Friendly Giant just didn’t quite look right – his neck too long and his eyes too small for his flapping ears… But in all his visual splendour, away from the brief snatches of footage teased in the previews, my fears were allayed by Oscar-winner Rylance’s country bumpkin approach to the towering sandal-wearer. It is a reserved and charming portrayal – even if on paper he is a lonely old man kidnapping a young girl…(!!)

Ruby Barnhill as bespectacled ten year old orphan Sophie occasionally veers into “little madam” territory, but some concessions to fear and anxiety do soften the feisty-but-diminutive redhead, making for an assured performance from the newcomer in her debut big screen performance.

Kiddles (that’s children to you and I) will be positively awestruck by the wondrous realisation of the magical rainbow-lit dream tree and the misty mountains of Giant Country, with John Williams once again expertly orchestrating the necessary emotional undercurrent. The nine “filthsome” 50 foot brutes – with names such as Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) – who plague the reserved “runt” of the litter are just about silly enough not to give little ‘uns “trogglehumpers” (nightmares).

By having the same group of actors portray the CG-enhanced “frightsome” Giants as were early-on reprimanded by insomniac Sophie for causing a drunken scene during the witching hour, I was deceived into expected an additional narrative twist to Dahl’s classic tale (for instance, is it all a “ringbeller” dreamt by Sophie?), but Mathison – in what was to sadly be her last screenwriting credit – sticks to the well-known plot, with the final act visit to “Her Majester” Queen Victoria (Penelope Wilton) propelling the narrative – and cast list! – far beyond the slower and more tranquil pace of the opening half.

Once you have adjusted to the unconventional “gobblefunk” dialogue, human beans of all ages (and heights!) will find something to smile about in this family film, while the target demographic will be howling with delight – particularly when the royal corgis are “whizpopping” around Buckingham Palace after lapping up some “frobscottle”. Add an extra CR@B to The BFG’s Claw Score if you’re below double digits.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

The Angry Birds Movie (Cinema Review)

U – 97mins – 2016 – 3D


 

OINK MISBEHAVIN’

When an island community of incessantly chirpy flightless birds is invaded by a boat-full of porky-telling neon green pigs, only ostracised and irritable Red (Jason We’re The Millers Sudeikis) is cynical enough to see through the mysterious visitor’s pretence of friendship – but his disagreeable temperament sees his valid claims fall on naïve beaks.

When the greedy snout troop – led by their bearded king, Leonard (Bill Hader) – makes off with the bewildered birds’ unhatched newborns, the feathered flock put their full faith in Red and his fellow Anger Management attendees, Chuck (Josh “Olaf” Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride), to lead the resistance and claim back their eggs before their babies become breakfast for bacon!

With a script penned by the king of the animated movie genre, Jon Vitti (he has written or consulted on everything from Blue Sky’s Ice Age and Robots to The Simpsons Movie and Alvin and the Chipmunks), The Angry Birds Movie is as colourfully chaotic and hilariously hyperactive as you would expect from a film based on a mobile phone time-waster.

While it feels like it may be slingshotting into cinemas a couple of years too late, it is still a cloyingly app-dictive viewing experience, doing a flocking decent job of transplanting the “swipe-out” simplicity of Rovio Entertainment’s platform game into the central proponent of a larger universe-building (and destroying!) narrative.

It may favour style over substance and laughs over logic, but when there are this many giggles to be got (“Calvin Swine”, “Brad Pigg”, “John Hamm”, “Bomb’s Shelter”), you’d be bird-brained not to jump upon this trampoline. Sure, its garish mentality and maddening persistency does veer mighty close to overkill, but the strike rate is impressive enough to forgive a few missed targets.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars