Se7en (1995)

‘Seven’ is a psychological thriller, a crime mystery; based on a reluctant and desperate to retire Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman), who finds himself on a homicide case unlike many others. By his side is determined, young Detective Mills (Brad Pitt).

First thing to mention is that this 1995 film is an 18, so therefore is inappropriate for younger ages. There are many different reasons for this, first it is a psychological thriller. Second, there is the use of inappropriate language, a lot of swearing. Thirdly, there is the use of guns and a lot of graphic dead bodies. So keep in mind that the age limit is there for a reason so only people above the age of 18 would be able to watch this film, for understandable reasons.

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The plot is a very intriguing one. It is based around a bunch of murders that are all connected to the seven deadly sins. ‘Seven’ is a tense film, full of suspense. It is a good watch, a film that will get you thinking and wonder the reasons behind the killer and his psychological matter. Murder after murder and it just seems that the killer is laughing at the detectives. You feel unsure to whether they would figure out who the killer is before he completes his task by using all the seven deadly sins to kill all of his seven victims. You find yourself watching the film very intently, thinking something isn’t quite right, this uneasy feeling continues throughout the film, especially even after the film has finished. It is a film that requires the audience’s full attention; so if you expect to watch an easy film, this is not the one.

Some scenes are a bit slow, but it just adds to the suspense and confusion of what is happening or what is going to happen in the film. It makes you feel unsure to what you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to. There isn’t a lot of time in the film where you feel comfortable or that things are going to go well. So in this sense it is a brilliant thriller. Definitely not a film that is a feel-good film, instead the opposite, to make you think and feel tense.

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The actors are brilliant in ‘Seven’. I can’t say there are any faults in the acting of the film, how can there be when it is the excellent Morgan Freeman and the great Brad Pitt? Morgan Freeman plays this pessimistic detective, one that doesn’t see much good in the world and believes nothing will ever change. Whereas, Brad Pitt plays the opposite character, a detective who wants to make a difference in the world, puts his emotions forward, even if in a lashing out way. In Somerset’s (Morgan Freeman) eyes he believes Mills (Brad Pitt) is naïve about the world. These two range in characters are not only brilliantly played, but portray opposite characters in the film, two to try and understand, but as they rarely agree, it shows both of these protagonists are complex, especially for the audience to get their head around.

Overall, I believe that this film is a brilliant crime mystery, even if some scenes are slightly slow and a bit boring, the ending of the film and the film altogether makes it a good film to watch and think about even after the film has ended. Definitely not one to forget in a hurry.

Johnny English (2003)

When a “national crisis” arises and all the agents of MI7 are killed but one, Johnny English is reluctantly, understandably, put on the mission to save the Crown Jewels of England. ‘Johnny English’ is a light-hearted action movie based on “a fool that keeps showing up” trying to save his country, unsuccessful in many ways.

One of the best aspects of this film is that it is the legend Mr Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson. Personally, I believe the film wouldn’t be nearly as good without Rowan Atkinson, he perfectly executes the humour of the character, and the agent comes to life. English is a character who is clumsy, referred to as an “idiot”; but he still tries to save his country and no matter how much goes wrong, he tries again. The opposite of Johnny English’s personality is Bough (Ben Miller), his sidekick, the more sensible one, that without Bough, English would be more than a lost puppy. However, the power dynamic is that Johnny English is above Bough, so Bough’s constant referring to English as “sir” adds more comedy because clearly English is the reason for many of the things going wrong, yet Bough believes whatever he says. Johnny English and Bough

This film is predominantly comedy, although there is action in the film, but I would definitely class it as a comedy rather than an action-based film. The humour is very obvious humour, it’s sometimes ironic, but it’s also silly situations you just know Johnny English is going to get himself into. It is just stupid, silly comedy, like saying “I am always careful” then bumping his head, very obvious and ironic; this humour is repeated throughout the film. Some scenes are a bit too overboard for me, for example climbing up a sewage pipe is more gross than hilarious to me, but then again having a load of poo chucked on someone might be other’s humour, I don’t know. Although, I still find the film comical, mainly because of Rowan Atkinson’s character’s personality, of his many mistakes, over-cleverness thinking and ironic mishaps.

Additionally, the comedy is shown through the music, the over-dramatic music to make it feel over-exaggerated. But also the music of the continuing use of Abba, which is a controversy to an action film as Abba isn’t exactly dangerous music, yet happier, dancing music. Furthermore, the camera is key to adding this comedy, for example the restriction of an element for a couple of seconds to be shown slightly later to contradict what Johnny English has said. The audience very much knows more than the characters do on the screen, this also adds to the comedy. The humour probably is for certain people, some people might find it just stupid, so it might be an acquired taste, but it’s just so ridiculous it’s hilarious to me.

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‘Johnny English’ is appropriate for children, so there are no twists in the plot, and of course goodies and baddies are defined from the beginning. So don’t be expecting some massive shocking ending or thinking of who stole the crown jewels throughout the film, you are told straight away. This adds to the humour though, as you get the insights of the baddies, not only the goodies. The baddy in this film being sarcastic, yet brilliant acted by John Malkovich. The film is also quite short, about an hour and twenty minutes, but as I’ve said before I prefer films that are shorter because I find there are less boring scenes and it makes them an easy watch. This is also because the film is a PG so appropriate for children, I can imagine some children would become more fidgety and bored in say a two and a half hour film.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted comical film, that involves accidental darts fired at an assistance or an agent ranting about how the bad guy broke in when there’s a massive hole behind him, then you would definitely enjoy this film. The film is just a repetitive plot of things that are just not going well for poor Johnny English, but he tries. He just wants to save England.

Hotel Translyvania 2 (2015)

‘Hotel Translyvania 2’ is a brilliant kids’ films based on monsters living in Dracula’s (Adam Sandler) hotel, however after the first film, humans are also brought together by Johnny (Andy Samberg), Dracula’s daughter, Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) “zing”, in other words, one true love. The first film reflected the misunderstanding between humans and monsters, so the second film leads on from that.

The film throws you straight into this fantasy atmosphere from the first scene, the “slacker” and the vampire wedding; a mixture of humans and monsters. In this film, the clash between monster and human worlds become broader, especially as Johnny and Mavis have a child and Dracula yearns for his new grandson, Dennis, to be vampire, rather than human. This is repeated throughout the film where Dracula struggles as Dennis becomes more human and he feels he’s lost his own heritage. This plot is very good and easy to understand, but also has a deeper meaning. As you are more invested into the monsters’ lives rather than the humans, you find yourself wanting Dracula to get what he wants; although as the film proceeds, more becomes clear and you start to believe that the child will never be like his “cool” vampire grandfather.

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The film combines monsters vs humans in a comical way, with silly yet humorous jokes. It also adds in known pop music and has random break dancing moments. Sounds random, but all together it is funny and a feel-good film to watch. The technology of humans is thrown into a monster world where Dracula is confused and lost and we see him struggle with things we are familiar everyday, this adds to the comedy. The film isn’t long, under an hour and a half, not surprisingly as it is a children’s film, but this also means there are no boring scenes. Dracula is definitely my favourite character, a traditional vampire raised to believe humans are the worst species, yet adapts in ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and becomes understanding to humans. This is sort of repeated in the second film that even though he accepts Mavis’ husband, who is a human, he still wants the traditional vampire idea to run through his family through Dennis, but obviously still loves him as his own. Dracula jumps from kind and human-like to trying to prove his vampire instincts, which also adds a comedy to the film.

Children watching this film, experience a range of monsters to find comical. From Frankenstein (Kevin James) to the invisible man (David Spade). They’re aren’t scary even if they try to be, just jolly and amusing for the audience to enjoy. Also there are some well known voices to be recognised, that are all brilliant. Besides, three out of the characters from the main cast of ‘Grown Ups’!

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As this film is predominantly for children, there is a moral to the story. The moral is that you should be who you are, even if you’re different you will always be accepted and loved by your family. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s a true moral for children to understand.

I would say that if you haven’t seen the first film, this film might be confusing in some senses, just some small jokes or comments in the film, for example what happened to Dracula’s wife; although it’s not important to watch the first ‘Hotel Translyvania’, the second is understandable enough. However, I would recommend that you do watch the first film anyway as it does make the second better. Personally, I do prefer the first film over the second, although ‘Hotel Translyvania 2’ is close to its first and it is definitely not a let-down.

Overall, it is a good children’s movie, most predominantly for children, younger ages would enjoy this film the most. I wouldn’t recommend for older ages. Although, I still did like it and would recommend it if you have younger siblings to watch with them as I did, good film to have a chuckle and enjoy the combination of monsters and humans. The film makes monsters loveable for children.

Besides, the majority of Adam Sandler films are great, (come on – films like, ‘Pixels’, ‘Big Daddy’ and ’50 First Dates’!), just because this is an animation doesn’t make that fact any different.

That 70s Show (1998-2006)

‘That 70s Show’ is a comical television programme set in 1970s Wisconsin, when actually aired from 1998-2006. The show of eight series follows the stories of a group of six friends; the lives of teens, careful Eric Forman (Topher Grace), confident Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), “rock ‘n’ roll” Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), dumb Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), “foreign exchange student” Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) and bossy Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis). That 70s Show

Every episode has a new storyline, however, there is a continuing plot arc over the series, for example, following the relationship between Eric and Donna or even Hyde’s living situations. The show is mostly based at Eric’s house, or their meet up place which is his basement. This means there is the involvement of Eric’s parents, Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), who bring in their own comical element to the film. Red being the harsh father and Kitty trying to make things easier for Eric but mostly failing to do so. Red’s repetition of “dumbass” and kicking asses, adds a comic throughout the whole of the series that will always make you laugh. It adds a predictable feel but also familiarity to the show.

Each episode is just under half an hour long, which is the perfect length to quickly just watch an episode whenever. The show is very much episodic, so you can dip into any episode and still understand what is going on and enjoy the show even if you haven’t seen any other episodes. All of the seasons are also on Netflix if you own it.

There is a unique style of the camera and editing to ‘That 70s Show’. This is something which makes it different to other sitcoms. The show is split into this unique style but also has normal story telling edits of the young adults’ lives. There is the use of flashbacks, and black and white interpretations of character’s thinking of a moment, and much more. There can be some scenes that are obviously overplayed by actors to add an unreal feel the show, but this is done on purpose, it is almost sarcastic and adds comedy. Sometimes even the actors look into the camera pretending the audience are the characters. Between each scene there are happy bright colours of flowers or the actors jumping in the air. The whole show gives a slight over-exaggeration to the use of camera and editing, this shows that it is clearly not a show to be taken seriously. Some people may consider these aspects to be silly or not necessary, but personally I think it just adds to the humour, and gives a moral to not take everything so seriously. However, don’t make this think that it’s not relatable because the majority of scenes are just following the lives of these teens which is realistic, just this use of camera makes you realise you are watching a TV programme.

The age restriction is at 12 and should be obeyed as there are repetitions of drug use and sex throughout the series, so not appropriate for younger ages at all. There is an over-exaggeration on the use of drugs, this shown through what I’ve previously said on the use of camera and editing, for example, Red and Kitty’s heads becoming different shapes and sizes when Eric is high and trying to be serious in a conversation with them or the wall moving in different ways behind his parents etc.

If you like shows like ‘Friends’ or ‘How I Met Your Mother’, you would like this one too, there is added laughter to the programme alike these, although in ‘That 70s Show’ it follows the lives of teens rather than adults. However, be warned things are over-exaggerated, but it adds to the humour in my opinion, this is especially different to shows like ‘Friends’; as ‘Friends’ tries to keep a reality and realistic feel for the audience, whereas ‘That 70s Show’ does in the majority of scenes, but also links to this emphasis on the unreal and sarcasm. Overall, I think it’s a great, playful programme to just watch and make you laugh, and easy to just watch a couple of episodes as they are short yet all equally as good.

Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

‘Stonehearst Asylum’ is a horror film set in an asylum in the middle of nowhere, in the “wilderness”, hard to get to and hard to escape from, in the late nineteenth century. There is an eerie, unknowing feel to this film, where you don’t know what is going to happen and you find yourself not sure what to believe or who to trust. As the film proceeds more secrets reveal themselves, but nothing is certain for the audience until the very end, where something is revealed that you will never expect.

All of the characters are excellently played by the actors and actresses. Characters are unsure and not fully explained throughout the film to add an uneasiness to the film. This is especially seen in Mr Finn (David Thewlis) and the head of the asylum, Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley).

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‘Stonehearst Asylum’ is about a Dr Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), who travels to Stonehearst Asylum in hope to finish his training to become a doctor in asylum medicine, travelling from Oxford University. The audience is left unsure what to think when Dr Newgate becomes more fascinated into one patient only, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). The connection between these two protagonists makes the film have more aspects into a drama film, however still predominantly a horror. Dr Newgate lands into an asylum that has more secrets than wished for. And therefore, finds himself out of his depths. Additionally, Lamb and the new doctor seem to clash minds in what is happening inside the asylum; but the audience don’t truly know what either of them are thinking.

Many of the scenes are dark with restricted lighting. This adds tension to the film. Pathetic fallacy is obviously used to add to the horror of the film; for example, mist makes things harder for the audience and the characters to see. All of this mise en scène is brilliant in creating the setting of the asylum and the time it is set in; the late nineteenth being something which is not relatable to today’s audience.

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This film is definitely not appropriate for younger ages, the drama of the film can be frightening. The age limit is 15, so should be stuck to, as it is a horror. However, it is not a horror of jump scares or terror, but one that confuses you, makes you feel uncertain to what is going to happen, some scenes are even stressful. It is a very tense film, something is always going on.

If I were to rate this on if it’s the best horror, I would say it isn’t, as it plays on the mind and “madness” of the film, rather than scaring you to death. Personally, I found the film to be better when you’re watching it for the first time, as things are more secretive and mysterious, whereas watching it for the second time, these aspects are lost and you know what’s coming. However, it is still a good film, and makes you wonder what is happening in each of the character’s minds, as they are all unpredictable. So if you’re looking for a tense film, where a new doctor is stuck in an asylum and unable to help, then you should choose ‘Stonehearst Asylum’.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

The second Harry Potter film, ‘the Chamber of Secrets’, starts with a self-punishing house elf and a flying car, which leads to chaos. Straight away from the start of the film, you know something bad is going to happen at Hogwarts. Yet no matter the punishments and persuasions, Harry Potter finds himself in second year at Hogwarts, his “home”. It is a very good beginning, persuading the audience to want to know the secrets of Hogwarts and what is going to conclude this year.

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After multiple students are “petrified” and threats conquer Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione, take it upon themselves, once again, to discover the secrets and sort the problems in hand; even though Harry was advised not to attend the School from the beginning. Throughout the film, there is an effort and personal aim towards Harry, this repetitiveness adds excitement to the film and makes the audience wonder what is happening. Along with this, the plot in this film is misleading for the audience, we are told to believe certain aspects whether they are true or not; however, this is not done in a confusing way.

This is a film most based upon the differences between Harry and others, he finds himself constantly in trouble, misunderstood, yet he doesn’t understand why either. It is the foundation of the understanding of Harry’s past and present and things he never wanted to know, although needs to know. ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ is also a film where enemies become more clear for the audience to understand, most predominantly the harsh comments from Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Additionally, it is a film based upon magical creatures, ones that are key to the plot, from the simple Mrs Norris, Filch’s cat, to spiders in the Dark Forest, so if you like a film that explores “monsters”, unknown to what they are, this film has that indefinitely; keep in mind that some younger ages may find the scenes with the creatures slightly tense.

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This film is different from the first as it introduces new characters, for example Dobby, a favourite character for many, and Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs); additionally, a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a self-absorbed author. But also the introduction of Floo Powder, Howlers and many more magical aspects. The Harry Potter films are very good at creating more things for the audience to learn about this unknown world of Hogwarts in each film, this means they don’t get boring and repetitive. However, alike ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, this film is appropriate for younger ages. This is shown how everything is fully explained and there are no left questions unanswered, this makes it less frightening for children.

‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ is the longest Harry Potter film. But it is understandably long as there is a lot to the plot that needs to be understood. This means there isn’t many occasions in the film where nothing is happening; something is constantly happening, most things not in Harry’s favour.

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The second film of Harry Potter is an excellent one, one rather different to the others and puts perspective on different characters than the other films do. So I would recommend this film. As a child, this was definitely my favourite Harry Potter film, I can’t even suggest how many times I’ve watched it. Always remember Harry is always there to “save the day” or so he promises.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

The first Harry Potter film, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’; is the introducing of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the houses, the classes, the teachers, and of course, the secrets. It’s a film involving a talking hat, a “pea-brain” troll, and Platform 9¾, yet it still is a gripping, excellent film. The film delves into the imagination of children to understand this fantasy of a magical world, brilliantly created by J K Rowling, but most importantly believed by thousands of children.

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Just like all the other Harry Potter films, there are the main three protagonists. In ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, the curious eleven year olds, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), find themselves uncovering the secrets of magical Hogwarts and take it upon themselves to fix the problems no matter how “forbidden” they were. At the beginning, they find that they are unlikely friends, but as the friendship grows, they realise they need each other; each one having their own individual talent.

There are a variety of characters to love in this film and also ones to feel unsure about. The loveable Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), the strict Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), the understanding Dumbledore (Richard Harris), the suspicious Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), the bully Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), the mothering Mrs Weasley (Julie Walters), and many more well-known actors and actresses to recognise.

Harry goes from a boy unwanted in his home, living a lie but unknowingly, to a completely different life, one where he is famous but doesn’t even know why. Yet he finds himself more connected to this unknown world than to his previous Aunt and Uncle’s. Although, Harry occasionally struggles between the “Muggle” (human) and Witchcraft and Wizardry world. Well he is probably the only child who didn’t know he had magical powers until he was eleven where a strange man told him “you’re a wizard Harry”. It’s clever that Harry is not understanding to this unfamiliar world, one so different to his previous life, because it allows the audience to learn with him, so when Harry is unfamiliar the audience is too, therefore it is more relatable, even if it is a film based on magic. 

This film is appropriate for children, the film reflects comical comments to lighten the mood, and it is not serious all throughout the film. The lighting is most predominantly bright as they are not many dark scenes, only a few out in the Dark Forest or on the Third Floor Corridor, however, these are expected for the audience, as Dumbledore explains that they are “out of bounds” in his first announcement. Compared to the older films, these ones are much more suitable for younger ages.

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Just because this film is the first Harry Potter film, doesn’t simply mean it is the introduction to all the others and the characters involved, because it still has its own significant story line full of tension and secrecy waiting to be uncovered. In my opinion, I think this story line is one of the best out of all the Harry Potter’s. This film has to be good, more than good, explained by the hype of all the other films. No one is going to see a second film of a series with a rubbish first film. So it is definitely worth a watch. As the trailer says, it’s where the “magic begins”.