A Christmas Prince, The Royal Wedding: Is It A Nice Day For A White Wedding?

‘A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding’ is a Christmas romantic comedy film that serves a continuation of the Christmas Prince saga, carrying on directly from the first film. The plot this time around focuses on yes you guessed it a Royal Wedding, as well as an embezzlement scheme; because why not I guess.

For me, this is a weaker film than the first in many regards, mainly in terms of plot. The first film knew what it was, a romantic comedy, the main event of the narrative was Amber, (Rose Mciver) and Prince Richard, (Ben Lamb), getting together; yes there was the subplot of Richard being adopted and, him having a will they won’t they sort of relationship with the crown but, at the end of the day, these were never more than subplots, dressing to go along with the main romantic journey.

However, this time around the titular Royal Wedding seems to be an afterthought, the two main plots of this film are that Amber doesn’t feel like she belongs in the Royal Family, yes I know can it get any more cliched, and the other being that King Richards’ economy-boosting initiative is failing and, they have to find out why. My issue with this is that both of these plotlines take up the majority of the film and, one is boring and, the other annoying; they both feel like filler, almost as though they didn’t have the budget to shoot a Royal Wedding sequence.

The Amber doesn’t fit in storyline and, her feeling like she is losing control of her own wedding has been done to death and, is completely unoriginal. Not only this but, it turns Mrs Averill,(Sarah Douglas), from a passive background character to almost a loathsome sub antagonist, which would be a bold move if you actually cared about the character but, you don’t. Moreover, these films like to flip flop when it comes to her character because sometimes she is supposed to be likeable other times she is the bain of everyone’s life this tonal split personality is present in all the films but, especially here. The other plotline about the embezzlement can be summed up in two words, boring and predictable.

Finally yes the they know they’re trash tone of the previous film is still here and, everything still looks just as cheap, but the charm just isn’t here. This is no longer something easy to watch when you’re hungover something to turn your brain off to; it is simply boring and, drab.

Overall this is a step back in many different ways for the ‘A Christmas Prince’ franchise as it is a film to bogged down in all its different plot threads to ever be entertaining.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Elf: The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

‘Elf’ is a Christmas Comedy film that follows Buddy, (Will Ferrell), a human who was raised as an Elf at the North Pole, one day Buddy starts to question why he doesn’t look like everyone else and, find out that he is adopted; after learning this he quests to New York City to find his biological father and, a place to belong.

‘Elf’ is a lot of people’s favourite Christmas film and, the reason for this is because of how sweet it is to see this pure soul, Buddy, who isn’t bogged down by any of the pressures of modern life and, is just a jolly person who wants to make other people happy and, spread Christmas cheer. This film definitely came out when Ferrell was at his comedic peak, at this point in time all of his films were hits and, guaranteed to be good for at least a chuckle or two. Ferrell plays Buddy with all the innocence and, sweetness of a kid unwrapping their presents on Christmas morning; which is incredibly endearing to see, he definitely nails the tone of this film.

This film talks a lot about the meaning of the season and, the love of family. To this extent, it is heartbreaking when we see Buddy’s dad Walter Hobbs, (James Caan), reject him but, it is a cheer-worthy moment when Walter changes his mean and cold ways, and realises the power of family. Seeing Buddy, who is effectively a child, interact with his dad and his step mum is very sweet, it doesn’t come across in the same way Billy Madison does when it almost feels mean spirited.

My one issue with this film is that Buddy’s relationship with Jovie, (Zoey Deschanel), can feel a bit icky at times. Jovie works alongside Buddy in the department store and, they form a bond together. A lot of the scenes the two share are happy and, nice but, there are a few mainly the shower scene that feels a bit uncomfortable. What I mean by this is if we ignore the fact that Buddy has the mentality of a child and, view it for what it is a grown man hanging around the showers as a young woman sings it just feels off. Whatsmore the fact that we are supposed to think this scene is endearing and, wholesome makes it far worse. However, on the whole, their relationship is cute.

To conclude this a very good-natured film and, it will definitely make you smile if not laugh out loud, Ferrell and, Deschanel both to a good job; this should be on your Christmas viewing list.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Johnny English: Bean Meets Bond

‘Johnny English’ is a spy action comedy film, the plot revolves around a bumbling super-spy Johnny English, (Rowan Atkinson), as he tries to stop the nefarious plot of a french mastermind Pascal Sauvage, (John Malkovich), and retrieve the crown jewels.

The reason why ‘Johnny English’ works so well is because it is such an excellent spoof of the British national treasure, James Bond, this parody works in every respect. It makes a joke out of everything the gadgets, the girls and of course the spy himself all of which bring genuinely good laughs. This film is one of the funniest I’ve seen in a long time and, it has a lot of moments that don’t simply make you smile but, rather they make you laugh out loud.

A lot of this is due to Rowan Atkinson his comedic delivery is always on point and, he plays someone playing at being a suave charismatic spy well. There is also a vulnerability to English that Atkinson captures extremely well we know that he knows he’s a rubbish spy deep down, but that he is trying his best and, that is what makes him so loveable. He is the underdog hero that we all want to see succeed.

The actual events of the film are all entertaining to watch they expertly capture the wacky over the top plots that some of the later Bond films, before Craig, suffered from; this is shown as Suave’s evil plan is to turn all of Britain into a huge prison. There is also some decent tension built across the film as there are moments where it looks like it’s all over for English and, we can’t help but feel sad at these times.

The one element of the parody that ‘Johnny English’ doesn’t do so well is its spoof of the Bond girl trope. Natalie Imbruglia plays Lorna Campbell an Interpol agent; who gets roped into Johnny’s manic craziness. Until writing this review I genuinely didn’t know what the character was called. Rather than be given something to do, or maybe even reject English, which would be a great spoof of how Bond always gets the girl, Campbell instead follows the same characterisation of a lot of the past Bond girls given the paper-thin development of also being a spy while actually just being a romantic interest destined to end up on Johnny’s arm.

Despite this dated depiction, this film is still an incredibly entertaining spy spoof film and, a must-watch. Perfect for over the holidays viewing.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Miracle on 34th Street: The Reason For The Season?

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is a Christmas comedy drama about the time when Santa Claus himself started working in a department store all goes well until the Macy’s psychologist Granville Sawyer, (Porter Hall), takes old Kris Kringle to court, believing him to be delusional and, wanting to see him locked away.

A ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is a Christmas classic it is in known throughout the world for being the embodiment of the Christmas spirit with it being almost synonymous with the season itself. It has been remade and reimagined but, nothing is as good as the 1947 original.

The reason why this film is so well regarded at least by me is its excellent performances. This is perfectly captured by Edmund Gwenn as Father Christmas himself, he is so lovable and warm and, his performance reflects this even down to the last detail. The moment when he converses with the little Dutch girl in her own language is touching. There is such a good nature to this film it is almost palpable.

The courtroom scene in the films third act is a fantastic sequence, as Kris has become so ingrained in our hearts by this point in the film the idea of him becoming institutionalised devastates us. Each development in the case has us more and, more on edge as we want to see him a freeman. Also, Hall does a great job as the villainous Sawyer, he is a villain you love to hate and, he epitomises everything wrong with the season.

The best thing with this film is its message it shows the reason for the season and, just how far a little bit of Christmas magic can go.
This is shown through the transformation of the leading lady Doris Walker, (Maureen O’ Hara), who goes from a Christmas cynic to fully believing Kris is who we says he is, even going so far as to tell her daughter to believe in him.

Another key component of this film is its romance the love story between Doris and, Fred, (John Payne), is sweet and well done. Their journey from strangers to friends to a couple is perfect and, you really see how much they care for each other which is endearing. The romance as well as the film as a whole can’t help but make you smile.

Overall ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is a rare kind of film the kind of film that perfectly captures a season or a holiday in this case. This film is the definition of the reason for the season and, is by far a must watch this holiday season. Does this film show that we need to return to an old sort of Christmas before it became so commercialised? You watch and, decide for yourself.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Ghostbusters: Who You Gonna Call?

Ghostbusters is a fantasy comedy film by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murry, Dan Aykroyd and, Harold Ramis as a group of scientists who not only believe in ghosts but, want to catch them. They form the Ghostbusters.

The 1984 Ghostbusters film will always be very important to me; it was a film that I had on a lot when I was a kid and, it and its sequel were among the films that got me into the medium in the first place. There is such a loveable B movie charm to this film that makes it hard not to become enamoured with it. It is very like its contemporary Gremlins in that regard.

The original Ghostbusters has to be regarded as an icon of cinema as a whole as well as for the horror genre and, what would become the nostalgic 80’s genre. A lot of this praise comes as a result of the fact that this is a film that is firing on all cylinders, the acting, the effects, the tight script; all of it leads to a hell of a film.

The leading trio are all fantastic and, all have a very specific role to play, Bill Murray, of course, steals the show a bit from Aykroyd and, Ramis but, this is to be expected as Murray is front and centre the whole film. Murray is on top form here being effortlessly charming and, witty, his rivalry with Walter Peck, (William Atherton) is wonderful as Peck is a villain you love to hate and, the film always has Murray’s Venkman get the last laugh, usually with an excellent quip, which is hilarious to watch. Sigourney Weaver is also superb in this film as Dana Barrett doing a lot with very little and, making for a very memorable character; her whole performance after becoming possessed by Zuul is exactly what you would want out of a cheesy 80’s horror-comedy.

The ghosts themselves posses a duality being both fun and, loveable, here’s looking at you Slimmer, but also menacing. The Library Ghost and Zuul and, his heralds are all quite scary and, do give off a very palpable sense of dread when they are around. This tonal tightrope walk between silly and, scary is something this film does very well and, is something you don’t see much anymore as most films either go one way or, the other; even with modern horror comedies a lot of the time.

Overall this is a timeless classic good for all times of the year and, a must-watch. The sequel ‘Ghostbuster 2’ is also very good but, I never thought this film needed to become a franchise and, I think the apathy towards recent sequels proves that; I’m hoping Afterlife proves me wrong.

5/5

Reviewed by Luke

A Christmas Prince: Who Needs Kate and Will?

‘A Christmas Prince’ is a Christmas set rom-com the plot revolves around journalist Amber, (Rose Mciver), as she is sent to the fictional country of Aldovia to cover the coronation of the new King, Prince Richard. While there she starts posing as the princesses nanny, all in the hopes of finding some juicy gossip, but in a rather predictable turn, she starts to develop strong feelings for the King to be.

The romance is wholesome and, sweet yet exactly what you would expect; they grow more fond of each other, then it is revealed that Amber isn’t who she says she is and, finally there is a big romantic gesture at the end, all very formulaic and, as you would expect. These Christmas Prince films almost feel more like a made for TV sort of films and, that is more than half the charm. The plot is laughably predictable, the set and, costume design all look very cheap and, the drama almost feels straight out of a reality show, but rather than have these things be a bad thing ‘A Christmas Prince’ is very aware of what it is; it knows it is a trashy made for TV film that most people will watch when they are hungover and, it seems proud of it.

The monarchy of Aldovia seems more than a little inspired by the British monarchy over the years it surprises me to say this but, of Netflix’s two properties that feature a monarchy, the other being the Crown I like this one more. The monarchy of Aldovia can have a laugh at their own expense, treating the whole idea in a very tongue in cheek way.

Rose Mciver does the best she can with a very limited script; her Amber is very down to earth and, likeable and, she makes some great points about monarchies in the modern age. The rest of the performances are all serviceable, nothing to write home about, but they aren’t the worst performances either.

‘A Christmas Prince’ also expertly sets up the wider Netflix shared universe, the most unknown of the shared universes, which features the likes of ‘The Princess Switch’ and, to a lesser degree ‘The Knight Before Christmas’ as well as the flood of ‘Christmas Prince’ sequels. These films all tie together in a very nice subtle way, even going so far as to point out and become meta, that they are in fact films in ‘The Princess Switch’.

Overall these films are trashy Christmas set rom-coms and, they know that they’re good junk food to watch over the holidays and so I would say by all means check them out.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Golden Compass: The Bear, The Witch And The Compass

‘The Golden Compass’ is a fantasy adventure film based on the best selling ‘His Dark Materials’ series of novels; with this film serving as a loose adaption of the first book. The plot follows Lyra Belacqua, (Dakota Blue Richards), a young girl living in a parallel universe to our own, in her universe children are born with their souls on the outside of their bodies, said souls take the form of an animal these are called daemons. This world is ruled over by a tyrannical group called the Magisterium, who seeks to oppose any free thought and, instead force their will on the people. When children start going missing Lyra ventures to the far north to try and, find out what is going on and, rescue the missing children.

I think that this film is criminally underrated with it being a fantastic fantasy film. The thing that hurt this film upon release was the fact that it decided to not lean into the anti-religious message of the books and, this upset some fans. However, if you can look past that this is a marvellous film; the plot and, the world is rich with lore, with every scene leaving you wanting to know more, but not revealing much- teasing you.

The performances are great as well Nicole Kidman is a fantastic Mrs Coulter having just enough warmth to allow you to let down your guard, while also having just enough malice to be always threatening, this is her and, Richards film. Richards for a firs time outing is a very likeable lead she is very easy to root for and easily relatable.

Daniel Craig, James Bond himself is also in this film as the heroic Lord Asriel Lyra’s Uncle, Craig makes the most of the few short scenes he has and, does leave an impression however, his character does feel as though he could have been fleshed out a bit more. Likewise Craig’s ‘Casino Royale co-star Eva Green portrays the Witch Queen Serafina Pekkala and, much like with Craig does a good job with not much to work with; she is easily the most interesting character in the whole film and, the one you want to learn more about.

To conclude this is a fantastic fantasy film it sets up a world which seems rife for exploring, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be as the film never became a franchise, ‘His Dark Materials’ has recently been adapted into a TV series. However, despite having some good moments the series can never live up to the film. ‘The Golden Compass’ truly was something special it could have been the next ‘Lord Of The Rings’, but alas we will never know.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Nativity 2: A True Testament To David Tennant’s Acting Abilities

‘Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger’ is a British comedy Christmas film and, is the second film in the Nativity series. The plot this time around focuses on the children of St Bernadette’s as they enter the ‘A Song For Christmas’ competition, for the chance to have their song be a Christmas number 1. This time around the class is lead by anxious teacher Donald Peterson, (David Tennant), taking over from Mr Maddens, (Martin Freeman), and his character arc revolves around becoming comfortable being a father and, beating his twin brother at ‘A Song For Christmas’.

Nativity 2 is better than the first film, make no mistake these are still very average films, they’re both good films to turn your brain off and, zone out to, or to have on in the background while you are tiding; for a bit of holiday cheer. The thing that makes ‘Danger In The Manger’ better than the first film is that it throws all logic out of the window, very early on. The first film had fantastical suspend your disbelief moments, but by and large, it tried to maintain a sense of realism, that under the right albeit extreme circumstances that these things could happen in real life.

However, this approach was a crutch and, one that was holding the film back, by completely letting go and, giving in to the insanity and, the inherent obscured nature of the premise this film can give us both barrels; throwing everything at us and, not worrying about if it makes sense or, being coherent.

This new approach also helps to make Mr Poppy, (Marc Wootton), more bearable. Now for anyone who has read my review of the previous film, you will know that Mr Poppy was one of the major downsides for me, he makes the film loses any sense of adult appeal and, made it feel as though it was solely aimed at kids. This time around Wootton is better, not because he has given any better of a performance because believe me he doesn’t but, because the film knows how to use him better; or at least in a less grating way.
He is given less of the limelight which greatly helps and, his back and forth with Tennant is far, far better than it ever was with Freeman.

David Tennant for me makes this film he easily gives the best performance and, puts everyone else to shame. He manages to play both the loveable well-intentioned teacher as well as the evil sibling/ strict teacher effortlessly. He truly is a credit to this film.

To conclude ‘Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger’ is better for letting go of any notion of sense or, logic and Tennant as always elevates the film far beyond anything the script or, other performances can do. There are also some more cute songs, but you knew there would be going in.

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Inside Out: A Peak Into The Mind Of A Child

‘Inside Out’ is an animated comedy-drama film, focusing on a young girl Riley, (Kaitlyn Dias), who moves away from all she knows and, ends up in a scary new land. The story is mostly told through the point of view of Riley’s emotions, who are all characters in their own right. The drama of the film comes when Joy, (Amy Poehler), and Sadness, (Phyllis Smith), lose Riley’s core memories, the memories that make her who she is, and, so have to go on a quest to get them back; going through everything from Imagination Land to Long Term Memory.

My issue with ‘Inside Out’ and, a lot of these sort of animated films is that they feel manipulative, by that I mean it feels as though they are designed to make you cry and, have a response; not to tell a story or, be entertaining, instead to pull on your heartstrings. Some moments do this well, tastefully, and had me tearing up a bit but, other moments felt so forced and, disingenuous that it left a bad taste in my mouth and, soured me on the film.

My other issue with the film is that Joy as a character is incredibly annoying. I understand that her character arc is supposed to be she thinks her way is the right and, the only way, which she then learns by the end of the film isn’t always correct, but in going through this arc she is just insufferable. Joy constantly forces her way on every single one of the other characters even when it is painfully clear to see she is wrong she goes on and, on and a lot of the time is actually quite unpleasant to the other characters. This isn’t the first film to feature an unlikable protagonist, but it is the first where I have actively wanted to turn it off because of it.

The one thing I will give ‘Inside Out’ credit for is that it captures what it is like having to face a change in your life really well. The filmmakers consulted with psychologists while making this film to try and, get Riley’s response just right and, you know what it works it works really well. All of the stages and, shifts in Riley’s emotions are very relatable and, easy to recognise from my own life.

Overall I think ‘Inside Out’ is deeply, deeply overrated, especially if you consider it won an Oscar, the plot often feels like it is trying too hard to make you feel something and, Joy as a character is unbearable from the moment she comes on screen. For anyone doing a Pixar films ranked list this belongs at the middling to the bottom end of it.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Shrek Forever After: My Kind Of Fairytale

‘Shrek Forever After’ is an animated comedy film serving as both a concluding chapter in the Shrek franchise as well as a sequel to ‘Shrek 3’. The plot revolves around everyone’s favourite angry green ogre Shrek, (Mike Myers), who after the events of ‘Shrek 3’ has become a family man however, there is a part of him that yearns to be the feared ogre he once was again. Rumpelstiltskin, (Walt Dohrn), the villain this time around, tricks Shrek into signing a contract that would allow him to return to his glory days but, at a terrible cost.

The Shrek franchise is legendary not just for its films but, for its effect on the animated movie industry, the first Shrek film ripped up the rule book on fairy tale stories and, wrote something entirely new that took pop culture by storm. ‘Shrek’ and ‘Shrek 2’ were masterpieces in their own right they captured the idea of wanting to be someone else, but over time learning to love yourself as you are so so well this is what made a lot of people like them. Then ‘Shrek 3’ came out and, though I liked it personally a lot of people didn’t, a lot of people though the franchise should have ended after 2, so it could have gone out on a highnote; not being milked for all it was worth.

To those people, I say, “you want to check out ‘Shrek 4”, not only isn’t it a cynical corporate sellout, it arguably has the most soul of any of the films in the series. The plot of this film highlights how we all grow and, change as people as we get older, no doubt a nod to the audience that has grown up watching these films. As well as this ‘Forever After’ see the most character development for Shrek himself since the second film, Shrek realise the value of family and, what his life is without it; the choice to have true loves kiss not work the first time around is genius as it put Shrek in a real sense of danger, as well as uncharted territory narratively.

Also, this film finally gives Fiona, (Cameron Diaz), something to do, the other films had flirted with this idea in the past but, had mostly sidelined her character. It is nice to see her leading the resistance against Rumpelstiltskin as it finally gives her a purpose as a character beyond being a wife and mother and, occasional sidekick to Shrek.

‘Shrek Forever After’ lets the series go out on a high note, it has heart and, a much-needed message. A lot of people tuned out after ‘Shrek 3’ and, didn’t give this a chance but, that is a real tragedy, as this is a great instalment in the series and, one of the best-animated films of all time. I can’t wait for Shrek 5.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke